Every once in a while someone asks me a question about podcasting, and I think: “I really should share this answer with others.” So, here are a few recent podcasting tips and tricks.

Need a podcast transcript?
I used to recommend an overseas service, but I found that the quality was declining to such a degree that I had to spend way too much time editing the resulting file. Speechpad to the rescue! I’m loving this California-based service. Using their clean and attractive website, I upload my mp3 file and in 48 hours or less, receive a high-quality Word (or other format file) that needs minimal editing. They also handle rush files and offer other options. Check out Speechpad and let me know what you think.

Noisy background?
If you are using Audacity for audio editing, be sure to upgrade to the latest version, 2.0.0. Check out some of the filters and noise removal too. Of course you want to begin the podcasting process with a high-quality file, but sometimes you must remove background noise resulting from ambient sounds (air conditioning, for example). I’ve had good results with the noise removal option in Audacity. First, sample the noise (choose a few seconds of noise with NO voices on top of it), which tells Audacity what to filter out. Then select your whole file and click on OK to remove the noise.

If you don’t mind paying for software, SoundSoap is a more powerful tool for cleaning up noisy files, and I’ve had excellent results with it. By the way, whether I’m using Audacity or SoundSoap or any other audio tool, I always save my original files, and edit copies – just in case.

Noise Removal

Add a mic to your iPhone or iPad
I admit to owning more portable digital recorders than I need, because I’m paranoid about backups. With good reason.

Recently I added an inexpensive but effective gadget to my arsenal: the iRig microphone, which turns my iPhone into a pretty decent audio recorder. Actually, I’ve found that the earbud/mic combo that came with my iPhone contains a nice microphone, but it’s awkward to use when interviewing someone. So the next time you want to grab an interview and don’t want to tote anything more than your iPhone and mic, think of the iRig. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll pack it in addition to your regular recorder.

IRig Mic

Airplane mode
Speaking of iPhones and other smartphones, here’s a question that came up in a recent workshop: “I want to record audio on my iPhone, but keep getting interrupted by phone calls and texts.” I had two words for her: airplane mode. Putting your phone in airplane mode will stop all communication with the outside world, which is what you want when recording. In fact, whenever you are recording on any device, you should put your smartphone in airplane mode. Have you ever heard that awful scratchy stuttering sound that results from a BlackBerry or iPhone or other smartphone nearby when capturing audio? It’s caused by the transmitters within the phone. So either turn off the device completely or, if you’re using it to record, put it in airplane mode.

Happy podcasting!