Audio Midi Setup

I’ve been asked a number of times about this, and the answer is quite simple — though frustratingly hard to find.

The way to do it is through an application with the confusing name of Audio MIDI Setup (found in your Mac’s Applications ? Utilities folder). This program can be used to combine any audio inputs on your computer into one “Super Input” (called an Aggregate Device be Apple) that can be used in any program.

The cool thing about this is that you can assign these inputs to be different channels of the Aggregate Device, so you still get the same control in Garageband that you would with a full set of inputs on a device like a firewire mixer. You can also use this Aggregate Device in iChat or Skype for multi-way chat — just select it as the audio input in the program’s preferences.

Here are the specific directions from the Audio MIDI Setup help file:

To combine audio devices:

  1. Open Audio Midi Setup in the Applications/Utilities folder.
  2. Choose Audio > Open Aggregate Device Editor.
  3. In the editor window, click the Add (+) button to create an aggregate device. You can select the device and rename it.
  4. In the Aggregate Device Structure list, click the Use checkbox of each device you want to include in the aggregate device. The list shows the currently connected audio devices and the number of input and output channels for each.
  5. To set the clock of one device as the master clock for all the combined devices, click the Clock radio button beside the device name.
  6. After selecting the devices you want combined, click Done.

There are some more options to play around with in the program, but that should get you headed in the right direction.

 

Arranging an Interview

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You want to do interviews on your podcast, but that presents a bit of a problem: finding people who are willing to be interviewed.

Asking for interviews is a lot easier than it sounds. Most people are happy to get the attention, and will sit down with you for quite a while when asked. A technique that has worked well for me for people who are closer to “everyday” than “celebrity” is to just show up and ask to talk to them — it is far harder to say no in person than it is on the phone or via email. Just make sure you are confident and tell them exactly what you want from them at the beginning of the process.

I usually say that I’m interested in interviewing them for an “internet radio show” that is heard all around the world. This avoids the “What’s a podcast?” discussion and lends credibility right away. For my personal podcast, I’ll say something like “Hi, I’m here from BostonBehindtheScenes.com to request an interview.” If you put it like that, they may feel like they should know who you are and will assume that you are someone they want to talk to.

 

Editing can be a sticky subject for some podcasters. There are those who say editing destroys the authenticity of a show, and there are those who say editing is a necessary component of almost any successful recording of any kind. I definitely fall in the latter camp, and I’d like to tell you why.

In my opinion, the biggest reason to edit audio is that it is audio, and is therefore about listening. When someone is listening to your podcast, all they have to hold their attention is the sound. They can’t see your expressions or gestures, and they can’t interact with you in real time. You may be an enthralling an dynamic speaker, but your listeners are only getting a small fraction of your actual performance coming through their headphones. As someone whose job is to be an enthralling and dynamic speaker and who has also produced well over one hundred audio pieces, I can say that I certainly need all the help I can get! This is similar to what I said when discussing podcasting lectures: too much is lost in translation for most people to pull off a good recording without help.

Of course, I don’t advocate using editing to completely change what was said. What I do think should be done is more of a “clean-up” job. If someone rambles on for too long, try to remove part of the comment without changing the meaning too much. Removing some ums, uhhs, and stumbles can go a long way to making someone sound interesting. As many of my guests tell me, editing “makes them sound smart.”

If you edit a segment respectfully and skillfully, you can improve the listening experience without changing the speaker’s meaning or manner of speech. To demonstrate this, please listen to the two samples at the end of this post. Your task when listening isn’t to figure out what I edited out or why, but to compare the clarity and feel of the first clip to the second.

If this were you talking, which would you rather have the world hear?

icon for podpress  Sample of Unedited Speech [0:37m]: Download
icon for podpress  Sample of Edited Speech: Download
 
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© 2010 Adam Weiss: Podcast Consultant