how to podcast

This week's How-To is a three part special complete with our first Engadget "Podcast" MP3. The first part is how to get "Podcasts" on your iPod. So what's a Podcast? To put it simply, a Podcast is an audio file, a MP3, most likely, in talk show format, along with a way to subscribe to the show and have it automatically delivered to your iPod when you plug in to iTunes. The show isn't live, so you can listen to it whenever you want.

Doc Searls may have said it best: "PODcasting will shift much of our time away from an old medium where we wait for what we might want to hear to a new medium where we choose what we want to hear, when we want to hear it, and how we want to give everybody else the option to listen to it as well."

For the second part of the how-to you can listen to a Podcast we made featuring Lenn Pryor and Phillip Torrone. It's about 40 minutes long, and we're thinking about doing one each week (let us know what you think, this was just a test).

The third part of the how-to is about making your own Podcast. Think of this as DIY Radio. We looked around for resources, and while there were many ways to do this, most required buying some sort of sound software application, so for our how-to we're using a Mac, GarageBand (came free with our Mac), and two free sound tools.


Getting Podcasts on your iPod

Here are the Mac and PC ways to download the Podcast MP3s, with listings for some different feeds (audio shows) following.

Mac
On the Mac side of things, there?s iPodderX, which is basically a newsreader that reads RSS 2.0 feeds with enclosures. It takes those enclosures and automatically downloads them in the background. If the file is an audio file, it then moves it to iTunes for download to your iPod, so with iPodderX you constantly have fresh content to listen to. iPodderX downloads any type of file, (even Torrents) so you can wake up in the morning with a fresh set of audio shows, video programs, or whatever else you?ve subscribed to.

ipodderx


PC
iPodder.NET

is a media aggregator that automatically downloads content to your machine. All you have to do is subscribe to RSS feeds, and your machine handles the rest for you. It integrates automatically with iTunes, creating playlists and synching with your attached iPod.


The Feeds
Once you?ve installed the Podcast retriever, add some feeds to which ever application you?re going to use.

Now, if you don?t want to use a tool to automatically download the MP3 podcast you can right click / option click this link and grab the MP3 directly. The good part about this method is that you don?t need an iPod, just anything that plays MP3s.

Here are some feeds that are currently floating around.

Engadget PodCast feed (our beta)
http://www.engadget.com/common/videos/pt/rss.xml

Adam Curry?s Daily Source Code
http://radio.weblogs.com/0001014/categories/dailySourceCode/rss.xml

Dave Slusher?s Evil Genius Chronicles
http://www.evilgeniuschronicles.org/audio/bittorrent.rss (Torrent Feed)
http://www.evilgeniuschronicles.org/cgi-bin/blosxom.cgi/index.rss20 (MP3 Feed)

Dave Winer?s The Scripting News
http://www.scripting.com/rss.xml

Legal Torrents
http://www.legaltorrents.com/musicrss.xml

Others
Keep an eye out here for new feeds, on podcaster.net, podcasts.org as well as googling for ?podcasts?  and also check out the Podcaster?s Yahoo Groups list. We?re also going to ping some friends who do web shows as well and see if we can help get their files up in Podcastable format. We?d love to see Off the Hook and Off the Wall, just to name a few.

Making your own Podcast
We suspect there are going to be a zillion ways to make your own Podcast, after we show you how we set up ours, we?ve also including some links for other methonds that people have posted up. Once we figure out how to do the same with our PC, we?ll have another how to on that as well. The main reason you need to do anything other than hit record in a sound app for a Podcast is you?re likely to want to have other people talking, with a proper Podcast you can use iChat and record both parties talking as well as mixing in music. In our first attempt we were able to invite a friend and talk, play music as well as feed other sounds, all recording to one final track in GarageBand.

Ingredients for our Podcast recording set up
Mac (15-inch G4 Powerbook)
Headphones
Microphone (we used the built-in mic)
Garage Band
SoundFlower + SoundBed (free)
Line-In (free)

We?re going to assume you have your Mac set up, Garageband is installed, headphones, mic and you have iChat running. We?re also going to list the applications that need to be downloaded, then how to configure them all.

Soundflower
The first apps to download are Soundflower and Soundbed. Soundflower is a Mac OS X system extension that allows applications to pass audio to other applications. Soundflower presents itself as an audio device, allowing any audio application to send and receive audio with no other support needed.

Once you install the Soundflower application, you?ll need to restart. Then it?s time to run SoundBed.

SoundBed
When using Soundflower to send audio to and from applications, you may find that you are not able to send audio through another device to monitor audio output. In those situations you can use Soundflowerbed, an application that resides in the Finder?s Menubar allowing you to tap into Soundflower channels and route them to an audio device.

While this is not required, it makes it easy to test audio devices and turn it all on and off.

Line-In
Line-In is a simple application for OS X to enable the soft playthru of audio from input devices. In simpler terms

, you can use LineIn to play sound coming in through a microphone or any other device plugged in to your Sound In port.

Configuring the applications
Once you downloaded and installed the applications, now it's time to route all the audio to their final destination: GarageBand.

Using Soundflower
Open the Sound Preferences (Apple Menu > System Preferences > Sound).

Click Sound Effects and select "Built-in Audio: Headphones". This will play any sound effects through the headphones and not into the recording.

Click Output and click Soundflower (2ch). Before you do this you may want to adjust the volume, which is what you're hearing in the headphones.

soundflower

Click Input, again, adjusting the Input level if needed, and then Select Soundflower (2ch).

soundflower

Later, if you want to turn Soundflower on or off on the fly, you can use Soundbed by opening it now, it appears in the FInder's menubar as a flower.

Line-In
Next up, Line-In. Open the application and click "Enabled" "Built-in Audio" in the Input Device area and for Source choose "Internal Microphone".

For Output in the Line-In under device choose "Soundflower (2ch) and for source default.

line-in

This will take the microphone sound and add it to the Soundflower audio, which is where we're pushing all the audio to and then recording it.

iChat settings
Open up iChat and go to iChat > Preferences > Video.

For Microphone choose "Soundflower (2ch) and for Sound Output choose "Soundflower 2ch" again.

ichat

This takes the iChat sound (the person you're going to chat with) and adds that to Soundflower for recording.

GarageBand
Open up Garageband, it will likely ask you to start a new song, so click "Create New Song".

new song

You can name yours whatever you want, and Save As any location you wish on your system. We chose test and put it on our Desktop. When starting a project, you also have other options such as Tempo, Time, Key, bpm, but we're leaving those all as default, since we're not going to be recording a song.

garageband

Click Create.

When GarageBand starts up, it will automatically have a Grand Piano track, click that track and then delete it (Track > Delete > Track).

garageband

Add a new track, Track > New Track. Click "Real Instrument" Vocals and "No Effects". Also Choose "Stereo" in the Format selection. Click OK.

garageband
garageband

In preferences (GarageBand > Preferences > Audio/MIDI choose "Built-in Audio" for Audio Output and for "Soundflower (2ch) for Audio Input.

garageband

This will take all our sounds and record them directly in to GarageBand.

You are now ready to record. Believe it or not, this is the easy way to do this for now, though we suspect there will be a simple application that will do all of this (just like blogging started out complicated, then all these great tools hit the market). Once you hit record, you're on your way. To add sound, we opened up MP3 files in Quicktime and played them in the beginning and end of the show. We also tested to see if playing sounds from website (Macromedia Flash) would get recorded too, and it does, so that means there's a lot of potential to choose what types of sounds, music, and effects you want to add to a broadcast.

You can either have your friend on iChat before or after you start recording. We had our pal on the entire time just to do some testing, and that's what we're going to suggest here. Do some tests and bang away until all the settings are working and the results are what you're happy with.

lenn

Once you've finished recording, click the record button again to stop recording. You can also click the rewind button here to listen to your handywork and make any edits if you wanted to.

Exporting to iTunes
Click File > Export to iTunes to export to iTunes, this is where we're going to convert it to a MP3. iTunes will then open up and you can listen to it there as well, but we're not done yet.

Exporting to MP3
iTunes can convert the huge file we just sent over to it and convert it to a MP3 all with the built in encoder. For this test we used the following settings:

iTunes > Preferences > Importing, Click Setting "Custom" and choose 32kbps for the Stereo bit rate, Quality Medium, Sample Rate 16.000 kHz, channels stereo and Stereo Mode: Joint Stereo. We may ultimately change these, but for now it sounds good the file it will create is under 10mb. Click OK and then click the song and Click Advanced > Convert Selection to MP3.

itunes

Once the file is converted, you can drag it out of iTunes to the desktop or find it via Music > iTunes > iTunes Music in your music folder.

From here you can send the file, post the file, put it on your iPod, whatever, but if you want people to download it automatically, here's how.

Making the Podcast feed (RSS feed with enclosures)
RSS 2.0 allows you to have an enclosure (much like you'd send an email with an attachment), so after the feed is pulled down the file is there with no waiting (besides the download time, of course). The key premise is No More Click-Wait. Ideally, when your computer isn't doing anything, it can be using RSS feeds to automatically download audio and video content. Anyone can do this, and there is no central authority, no spectrum to allocate, and it's open to amateurs, just like the Internet itself. More on that here and here.

For our tests, and for now, here's our Podcast RSS 2.0 feed that you can use.

Here's what it looks like...at least the mp3 part that is...

<enclosure url="http://www.engadget.com/podcasts/Engadget_Podcast_001.mp3" length="1023800" type="audio/mpeg"/>

Enclosure is where the file lives, length is how big it is, and the type is what it is.

So, there it is...as this gets easier, we'll likely update with a new how-to, and if you're looking for another way to do this, Hugo Schotman has an excellent overview of how he rolled his together.


Phillip Torrone can be reached via his personal site http://www.flashenabled.com

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Engadget Podcast 001 - 10.05.2004 / How-To: Podcasting (get Podcasts and make your own)