Last month I went on a short vacation, and decided I'd try to record the Daily Update podcast during my time off. My tool of choice at that time was GarageBand on the iPad, since it provides some great editing tools that work pretty well via the touch interface. Well, unfortunately one day into the trip I received an email from a reader who said that the recording was cutting off about two-thirds of the way through. Sure enough, I recorded another podcast and it did the same thing, so I knew I needed to fix the problem. A quick search through the App Store brought up Bossjock Studio (US$9.99, universal app) and within minutes I was downloading the app to give it a try.
While traditional recording apps like GarageBand are designed to let you record snippets of sounds, layering them, making cuts (to get rid of coughs or mistakes) and doing transitions, that's not the idea behind Bossjock Studio. It's designed to record your podcast as if you're doing a live radio show, meaning that you can have a bunch of "carts" (cartridges) loaded with intro and outro music, advertisements, interviews, you name it, and then meld all of the carts together with your live recording. You can have either eight or 15 carts on the iPhone or iPod touch, or 20 or 35 carts on the iPad.
Extensive settings let you change the amount of time for fade-ins and fade-outs for carts, and the app even provides automatic ducking -- something that was removed from GarageBand in the last update. The app also has automatic gain control to make sure you're not clipping the sound by overpowering the sound input from your mic; I found that it worked well to record about 10 seconds of sound ("testing, testing, one two three four...") to have the app set the mic level properly -- I then cut that extra noise later on.
Recording is simple. You tap a large, red record button and Bossjock Studio begins capturing input. To enable the microphone, you tap on a large bar at the bottom of the screen. At any time, you can insert one of your carts by just tapping the cart button. The sound bite is played and recorded, and a timer on the cart shows just how long is remaining in the cart playback. While all of this is going on, there are easily viewed sound level meters showing exactly what's happening in your mix on both channels. There's also a big slider for adjusting volume going into the recorder from your mic, your carts or your overall mix.
Once your recording is complete, it is saved on your device and you have a choice of what you can do with it. Exports can be done in MP3, M4A, WAV or AIFF formats; mono or stereo; and overall level can be adjusted as well. The exports can be shared to email, FTP, AudioCopy, SoundCloud, Dropbox or iTunes Share, or the file can be opened in another app. I found the FTP option quite simple to set up, and within minutes I was blasting files to Libsyn for publication. When you're doing the exporting of your file, you can also add a picture and description for the sound file.
My only complaint about Bossjock Studio is that it has no built-in editing tools. If you wish to get rid of your pre-show level checks, remove sneezes or giggle fits, or cut curse words to help you maintain your "Clean" rating in iTunes, you're going to have to edit the sound file elsewhere. At this time, that means sending it to a Mac and using some other app like... GarageBand... or Audacity to do your cleanup. Unfortunately there's no way to "Open in GarageBand" on the iPad or iPhone, or you could do your cleanup work there.
Update: Dave Mansueto of Bossjock let me know that there is a way to move recordings to GarageBand for editing using Audio Copy in Bossjock, then pasting the sound into GarageBand. There's a video here that shows how to do it, and also how to open GarageBand-created content in Bossjock. Awesome!
If a future version of Bossjock Studio adds an editor, it will be the perfect podcasting tool. Right now, it's pretty amazing for doing off-the-cuff podcast recordings; an editor would make it the go-to tool for all podcast recording.
Simply stated, if you're a podcaster who loves to do on-the-fly recording sessions with little or no editing, then spend your $10 today and buy Bossjock Studio. You'll be very happy that you did.