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.

 

Plenty of podcasters go out and buy fancy microphones, only to use them improperly. This can be discouraging, especailly when they hear good recordings made with the same equipment and wonder what they are doing wrong.

I’ve been told a number of times that the sound quality of my podcasts rivals that of NPR. Yet, for almost all of of my interviews, I use microphones that cost far less than $100, and for Boston Behind the Scenes, I usually use a mic that cost me $15!

What’s the secret? Not fancy post-processing or editing, but simple microphone placement. This isn’t hard, but it ususally needs to be taught.

The simple lesson is this: put the mic to the side of the speaker’s mouth, and as close as possible without picking up unwanted noise. The distance varies from setup to setup, but a good rule of thumb is that a foot is almost always too far away.

Here’s a little demonstration video (I’m not a video guy, so go easy on me!):

 
icon for podpress  Microphone Placement Demo [2:59m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
 
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© 2010 Adam Weiss: Podcast Consultant