Since all of us are in different locations, we talk to each other over Skype.
We both record our own voices locally, direct from our microphones (rather than through Skype) using the following hardware and software:
UPDATE: Everydone switched to a Shure PG42 USB on a RODE PSA 1 Mic Arm in November/December 2012. A year or two later, Cheapy switched] to a Rode NT-USB. This setup is appropriate for a 1 person per location podcast.
Software & Production
I use 3 pieces of software for the CAGcast production
Audacity (PC/Mac - Free) Everyone on the CAGcast records directly from their mics into Audacity and exports the audio as a 128Kbps MP3 file. It's also used to produce (edit) the show.
Levelator (PC/Mac - Free) Automatically levels the audio. Great for podcasts.
Audio Hijack Pro (Mac - $32) This is optional, but I use it to record audio from YouTube and others for the CAGcast intros and outros.
How to produce a decent sounding Podcast
- First, put on a pair of headphones and plug them into your PC/Mac.
- Using Audacity, line up the vocal tracks and make sure they stay in-sync throughout the entire show. It usually only requires one or two small adjustments if everyone is recording on the same (type of) equipment.
- Run the Noise Reduction
- filter to remove background noise from all 3 tracks.
- Adjust the gain on each of the tracks (watch the meter at the top to avoid clipping) so the sound is uniform.
- Export the file to WAV format.
- Import the WAV file into Levelator. Levelator will automatically level the audio, and spit you back another WAV file.
- Import your newly leveled WAV file into Audacity. Now you can add an intro, outro, or any other audio to your show. Make sure you save your work often. Audacity will auto-backup (check your settings), but its always good to be careful.
- When finished, export your file. Select the MP3 format and click the options button to select 80kbps. After you have you file, you can use iTunes or other programs to add data (title, artists, artwork) to your MP3 file.
- The CAGcast is hosted at Libsyn.
If you are just starting out (with no audience) and money is tight, there is really no reason to invest hundreds of dollars in a podcasting setup. I'd recommend using Audacity (free) for your recording and editing duties and making due with a current mic if you already own one (and its not completely awful). If you are able to build an audience, you can then decide if its worth investing in a better microphone, in which case I definitely recommend the Samson line of USB condensor mics. The prices on these are consistently falling so keep on 'em.
Also, check out the Zoom H2 USB Mic/Flash Recorder. It's about $135 now and functions as a hand held recordable as well as a USB mic. It's a pretty impressive device.
The CAGcast and CAG Foreplay podcasts are hosted at Libsyn. Their $12/month plan should be fine for your standard 1 x week audio podcast.
General Podcast Tips
1) Prepare: Write up an outline of the topics you want to cover, and the order you want to cover them in. This is not a script, but a road map of the show. Jot down brief notes so you don't forget key points.
2) Energize: If you don't sound interested, your audience won't be interested either. Keep those energy levels high.
3) Produce: Use the above guide to make your show sound good!