This week's How-To is from Lenn Pryor who shares his experiences in the podcasting world with QuickTime Broadcaster.
Hugo Schotman has been a pioneer in sharing his early sound engineering setups for recording podcasts on the Mac. His initial diagram showing how we was able to combine GarageBand, Soundtrack, iChat, and Soundflower to record a podcast with another person remote over iChat enabled Phil and I to record our first Engadget Podcast. Phil and I modified his original set up slightly and cut Soundtrack out of the mix to save money and enable others to get in at a low barrier to entry and posted it on Engadget. We combined Line-In from Rogue Amoeba to route the mic, iChat for remote audio, Quicktime for music and clips, and recorded the whole shebang in Garageband routed through the Soundflower driver.
Recently, Hugo posted another way to
record a high quality Podcast, using his original set up with Line-In in place of GarageBand, and Apple's Quicktime
Broadcaster (free) in place of Soundtrack. Since Hugo is on vacation he quickly jotted up a post to share his
discovery. If you have never gotten his original set up to work it is hard to figure out how to add the new
components in and get it all working. I spent some time and got it all working with a little help from Hugo and I
agree ... this is the best low cost Podcast studio set up I have seen. Once you get it all going the quality is
great and it easy to use. If you are a Mac user looking to start podcasting without spending a thing follow these
step by step instructions below.
Get a good mic and headset. No one wants to listen to a radio show with bad audio. There are tons of low cost solutions for this. I use a VOIP ready USB headset from Plantronics to give me both decent sound for monitoring the recording and a good quality noise-canceling microphone. Other solutions running any external mic through the microphone port or Griffin's iMic for pro quality mics combined with a pair of headphones.
You will want to make sure you have all the software ready to test your studio set up and make sure it is working. Download and install the following free applications at the links below:
- Line In from Rogue Amoeba
- Soundflower (will require restart to run)
- Quicktime Broadcaster
Open "System Preferences" and choose the "Sound" control panel. You will need to set the audio in and output
to route to the right source for system and mic audio to be recorded.
First set the "Output" setting to "Soundflower (2ch)" this will allow sound that comes from your system such as music to route to the audio driver that will combine multiple sources and allow you to record multiple voices, music, movie clips, etc.
Set the Sound "Input" value to match your microphone source so that sound from your mic is mixed into the stream and recorded. In my case I have selected my USB headset with a built in mic. Mics connected via the mic jack on the Mac should select "Audio line-in port"
Make sure to check your mic levels in the "Input volume" slider below to make sure you are not clipping (maxing the meter) when you speak in a fairly normal tone and pace. This will result in bad quality in the recording if you have your mic set too loud.
Open Line-In and check the "Enabled" box. Set "Input" to your headphones or headset that you plan to monitor the recording with. Set the "Output" to "Soundflower (2ch)". If you do not enable this correctly you will not be able to hear everything in your headphones. Once you enable Line-In you may notice a half second delay when you speak in the microphone from latency to the driver. We are researching solutions to eliminate this slight annoyance.
Launch Soundflowerbed. It will place a little flower icon in the menu bar that looks like a daisy. Set Soundflowerbed to route the audio from Soundflower to your headset so that you can monitor the entire mix that will be recorded through Soundflower to Quicktime Broadcaster.
Set up iChat to be able to add a remote co-host or guest from iChat or AIM 5.5 on Windows and record it. Open the "preferences" for iChat and select the "video" tab. Under "microphone" and "sound output" select "Soundflower (2ch)". Check the levels of you and your guest and adjust as needed when connected.
Set up Quicktime Broadcaster to record your Podcast.
- Launch Quicktime Broadcaster
- Enable GUI Scripting using the instructions found here.
- Download and run this AppleScript to automatically configure all of the settings outlined below for you. If you run the script make sure you go to the "Network" tab and add your Meta data so that your file will display the key information in a player.
OR ... set it up manually using the following settings.
- Click the "Show Details" button to access the advanced settings for Quicktime Broadcaster
- Click the "Record to Disk" check box next to the "broadcast" button to enable recording.
- In the "Audio" tab set your settings as shown in this picture
You can select other compression if you desire. It has been my experience that recording in Apple Lossless has resulted in the fewest drops in quality and compresses nicely in iTunes after completion.
- Click the "Video" tab and uncheck "enable video stream" this should gray out the settings for video recording as you do not need them.
- Click the "Network" tab and set the parameters according to the image below. Make sure you set the address and port values as I have below.
Now you are ready to test your set up. At this point you should be able to hear any sound source in the
podcast including yourself, music, sounds, movie clips, and your iChat partner. Your iChat partner should be able
to hear everything happening on your machine as well.
Test your levels and make sure your various sound sources are not overwhelming each other or drowning out your podcasters. Adjust your iTunes, Sound Input, and other volumes to get it even.
- Have your music and clips queued and ready to play in iTunes, Quicktime, or other players.
- Test your iChat partner vs. you. Who is louder? Adjust as needed.
- Click "Broadcast" when you are ready to make a sample recording and get a feel for your studio and how everything sounds.
- When you stop broadcasting your clip will be deposited in your "Movies" directory where it will be named "MyMovie.mov"
Compress your output from Quicktime Broadcaster to MP3 using iTunes.
- Open iTunes
- Open iTunes Preferences
- Select "Importing" in the preferences pane
- Under "Import Using" change the drop down to MP3 or your format of choice
- Chose a predefined bit rate or select custom to fine tune the variables for the smallest possible file size with best possible quality for your podcast. On the Engadget Podcast we tend to go for smaller file size for quick downloads at the expense of a little quality.
Assuming your test worked out fine and you are happy with the outcome, you are ready to start podcasting. Make sure to return your settings to your prior configuration after you are done recording. Rock on and happy podcasting.
Lenn Pryor is a serial technologist who spends far too much of his time and money trying to find gadget nirvana for the frequent traveler. Lenn has spent the last 7 years working for Microsoft including a gloriously fun stint on the Pocket PC team. Today Lenn spends his days with the 5 guys from Redmond running Microsoft's Channel 9 video blog for developers.