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How to Start a Podcast: Technical Specs

How to Start a Podcast: Technical Specs

As you are aware I am a Full Sail Grad from the Recording Arts Program from 2006 – 2007. I was fortunate enough to have parents that wanted to give their all to send me to college and family that invested themselves in seeing me succeed. Some of them are no longer with me and I am dedicating this blog post to them – Thank you Uncle Ralph.

I quickly fell in love with Podcast as it was a quick way to mix many passions of mine. Music, audio, radio, production, and my own creativity. I also fell in love with microphones and my mother noticed this, so she gifted me one of the best and most used microphones in the industry: the Shure SM57.

Little by little I learned of the many different microphones, dynamic, condensers, ribbon and their patterns: omni-directional, bi-directional, cardioid, hyper-cardioid.

Later I learned that just like every single person has their own unique voice, timbre, there is an ideal application or microphone in this case for the purpose which will be used. See if I will be singing in a live environment, a club, I will be playing guitar as well, and the genre of music is Rock, please give me a Shure SM58 or a Shure Super 55, mainly because my voice is rough and raw. But if I am singing a ballad I will ask for the Beta SM58A Supercardioid. Each microphone has a different use for a different purpose and voice.

In the case of podcast and recording audio in digital format or mainly computers, a lot of people tend to use and recommend microphones that connect directly to USB ports. In my very own personal AND PROFESSIONAL opinion I am against USB microphones. The reason is simple: the converters are not good and the decay in quality is too much, losing the audio dynamics that is precious when editing audio or that makes the sound quality rich.

Microphones

Here is a list of the best microphones that I recommend and the uses for.

Zoom H1N

I have used Zoom devices since 2002. From Guitar Distortion pedals, microphones, tuners, multi effects, and so on. Zoom is a great company when it comes to quality and has always delivered mainly in microphones. I owned a Zoom H4 in 2006 while in Full Sail and loved it.

My mentor bought this H1n and it is a great compact and amazing portable recorder that can help a podcaster that wants to record anywhere and simply dump that into the computer and send it to the audio editor or to their own digital audio workstation (DAW) so they can work on the file and make make their own episode.

Journalist, podcaster, author, you are interviewing another person, or just yourself, this little recorder works wonders and records in stereo because of the two microphones in it. This bundle brings everything you need. I recommend using the headphones as reference and mainly those type of headphones and not the ones from like a cellphone as you need to lear to reduce the sound from outside and listen to what is being captured from the microphone itself so you know what will the listener hear in your final product as you can reduce but you can not remove from audio, that only works in sci-fi and spy movies…or with Jack Bauer.

Something important here, this is not designed to be used used WITH your computer. This is a field recorded. If you are an on the go, always on the move person starting out or don’t want to have a lot of hassle, this is a good solution. If you will be interviewing people across the internet, read along, many more suggestions your way.

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

This microphone is taking the podcasting, music, and radio world by storm. It is one of the best microphones I have experience and seen so far. Friends who are recording their records have used it for vocals, acoustic guitars, percussion, some plena drums, and choir vocals, and the results have been amazing. By the way, a shout out to great talented friends from Baba Gris, mainly Carlos Dimas who referred me to this microphone and blew me away!

The beautiful thing about this microphone is that it’s already made for consumer, prosumer or profesional applications. You want to use this for a hobby. Good! You want to make this podcast and take it to another level. You are set. So you will be doing the podcast and will be recording a record or was asked to record at another podcast, radio show, interview? Bring your microphone and shine bright!

One of the simple but big things it has that comes with which to me is important is the windscreen. In most cases, people don’t think too much of the windscreen, but it is a big deal for individuals such as myself that over pronounce the “s” or the “p” because being bilingual. Accents and enunciations, dictations and slurs can be reduced thanks to pop-up stoppers and windscreens as well as the breathings. So that in itself is a big one.

This microphone picks up 50 – 20khz. We listen from 20 – 20kHz the more range the better the microphone. Of course, the voice pitch doesn’t cover that but it is good that it covers a wide range because it picks up details in our timbre that makes us sound nice, rich, full. Could you imagine Barry White sounding like Alvin & The Chipmunks? If he was only given a microphone that was 8k – 20khz, that would’ve been the result. These ranges are the same thing we do when we get in the car and we go to the settings of the radio and we turn up the bass and the treble. Hence why this microphone is really great and an amazing deal for this price. 10 years ago, a microphone like this, would’ve been over $1,200 and still not have all the feature it has.

As my ultimate nail in the coffin to prove my point, this the microphone Joe Rogan uses. I think that, in itself, says enough.

Audio Technica 2020

Audio Technica is one of my favorite companies when it comes to making solid products at affordable prices while respecting the customer’s pocket, needs and wants. Their microphones and headphones are great and can be used for a variety of things. Guitar, voice, piano, bass, backing vocals, live performance, and yes, podcast!

This bundle brings you everything you need if you have your own little desk and corner. As I mentioned, I always recommend while recording you get used to using the headphones, not earphones, and certainly do not use Bluetooth, creates latency, Beats headphones or any noise cancelling headphones as these tend to alter what you hear.

This microphone states 20-20kHz, it’s cardioid, and it is a condenser microphone. Dynamic microphones are great for live environment, i.e. performances just like my first example, but for recording such as podcasting or radio, condensers are the best. At this price, it is an excellent starting point.

Rodes Procaster Dynamic

I know I just said Condensers are better than Dynamic, and for the most part, it is true, but there is always that one microphone that comes along to surprise everyone and sets a standard. That is the case for Rodes Procaster.

The radio industry used Rodes microphones and you can actually see in many movies the RE20 as the usual microphone for Disc Jockeys. But in this iteration, the Procraster Dynamic is a solid Dynamic microphone that will give you a full, rich sound, and as it says: “tailored-for-voice frequency response.” What these last means is that it is for voice and not for every application. So if you are set that this is the only thing you will be using for, and you are the next Don Lafontaine, you can feel confident this is a great microphone.

Mini Home Studio

“But Mikel, how do I plug in my microphone to the computer? Is there an adapter? You said USB microphones are no good. I saw an XLR to USB cable and the reviews were…okay =/. “

First thing is first: Those cables are no bueno. Now here is the piece of equipment that I personally recommend as I have used it in many occasions for simple and professionals things whether it’s been recording vocals, transmitting a radio show from Caimito San Juan, Puerto Rico across the internet to the broadcast it to the radio in Puerto Rico and the state of Florida, record a 12 string guitar, record a synthesizer, or even my own podcast show Rock ‘n’ Block.

This USB audio interface comes with a lot of free software such as a free version of ProTools, the world leading DAW, even though its a simple version you are able to scale up at any point in time if you want. If you are in a PC or a MAC you are able to download this software and record, edit and Bounce, which is the term for Publish, Save, Export in the Audio Recording world, and use the audio file for your podcast.

You have two inputs. You are able to use line inputs, such as guitar line, or XLR which are the balanced inputs, and these are the best kind. They also have the 48V phantom power, which is mainly used for condenser microphones. You have the option to plug in a pair of headphones, which in this bundle it comes with a pair of headphones, not the best but some, and you can monitor them independently from the computer right from the interface, which is the best option.

Back in 2007 I paid $249.99 for the Mbox Mini 2. In all honesty, looking back now, it was not worth it. This is much better as the pre-amps in this audio interface, another subject for another blog post, are pretty decent and provide a nice warm sound for your recordings, mainly when it comes to vocals.

Going Live

How do I get the thing on iTunes? On Spotify? On the Google Podcast? On that platform that nobody cares but helps SEO…I think?

Random guys in some SEO Facebook Group

In the past, you almost needed rocket science to start a Podcast. A website, know about RSS/XML. Have a hosting. Then the domain. Then submitting manually to iTunes and creating the feeds and such. Add the fact that you needed, artwork, music, and the whole nine yards.

In today’s world, I recommend one place that enables you to do it the most simple and straight-forward way possible. Anchor.fm. All you need is your email, the idea, and that’s it. You can record right from the app, or upload the audio from your computer to the webpage, or using your mobile device. You can also use the application to interview other people. Your listeners can use the app to leave voice messages and participate in your podcast.

They have the option to submit your podcast to iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcast, and many other platforms. This is great because without doing so much you can be in the major ones and now since the Google Home Hub is taking the household by storm, people can tune in to your podcast as part as their routines as I do with some of my favorite shows while enjoying my morning coffee.

They have royalty-free music, images for those who just want to get started with their content and build things as they go along and you can even schedule the episodes for later times so they are released as you understand they are better. All these, free.

Heck, I would value this at $9.99/month for some extra services and still think it’s a great service.

Usually once you publish the episode it will take a couple of days for the episodes and podcasts to be submitted to the other platforms. Be patient. In the meantime, continue creating content, and sharing it to social media and other places.

I hope this How to Guide is helpful. If you have any question, leave a comment or you can go on twitter and reach out to me. I’ll help the best I can. If you’d like a mentoring session, feel free to book some time.

See you all in the blockchain!

Mikel

National Electric Guitar Day

National Electric Guitar Day

The electric guitar has been the one key instrument to influence people, genres and industries.

The electric guitars allowed companies to create amplifiers which in turn allowed live performances to be louder and reach more people in a single location.

This created tours, managers, live sessions and inspired genres such as blues, jazz, funk, rock and roll.

Les Paul was inspired to see if he could record his guitar over again. So he created the multi-track. This impacted the music industry by allowing multi-track recording, and audio engineering and audio consoles became the thing that now people were working so hard to create. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Jimi Hendrix pushed the limits and boundaries of the available tracks in the consoles and the walls of sounds they could create.

The electric guitar inspired many to create riffs, sounds, noises, orchestras, bands, solo acts, guitar solos, and video games!

So on November 27th, join me celebrate #NationalElectricGuitarDay and listen to this week’s episode of Rock ‘n’ Block

Also, please leave a review and like the podcast in iTunes.

Internet Shopping Trending Growth

Internet Shopping Trending Growth

On November 22, 1996, the movie Jingle All the Way was released portraying the stress of holidays shopping, and the extent of what a parent is willing to do to buy that toy or a special gift for their child.

As the years have passed, we have seen how the craze of Black Fridays has erupted. Almost everywhere the most sought-after items are flat screen TVs, video gaming consoles, high-end gadgets, video games, and appliances.

Browsing through Google Trends I was curious as to how the interest of Black Friday and now Cyber Monday had climbed. Here is the most interesting data that I would like to share with you in this sense.

Curious Data

In the 90s retailers and brands did not really used to participate in the whole Black Friday thing and they would not make a big deal. Now I remember Some of the 90s Black Friday. You could just wake up early in the morning walk up to the store get your things and walk out. As the years progressed, things started getting out of hand. People would start fights. I guess that’s one of the reasons why Cyber Monday became so big. It just made sense! Why would you after spending such a great time with family the day before, would ruin it by getting grabbed, bumped, pushed, hit, just to save some money while you could do so while in your jammies with a nice cup of coffee and some nice leftovers.

In all honesty with all the benefits of shopping online, the worry and hassle-free, it’s always available, fighting for parking spaces, it makes the online shopping experience a no-brainer. But there are just some items that you rather go down to the brick and mortar store and pick up yourself because you want to make sure that it is what you pay for…plus the company’s policy online for returns is not friendly and you live in Puerto Rico….wait, that’s me.

Top Retailers for Black Friday

Top Items for Black Friday

 

I Love Writing Day

I Love Writing Day

Every November 15th, since 2002, we celebrate I love to write day thanks to Mr. John Riddle. I learned about this day just recently and it was extremely interesting to me. So I decided to share some of my thoughts about the importance of writing and what I have discovered about it. 

Writing actually makes us vent out and grow as individuals. If you take the time to write daily it has tons of benefits. In a recent blog article written by Seth Godin called The first 1,000 are the most difficult he says and I quote

A collection of daily bloggers I follow have passed 1,000 posts. Fortunately, there are thousands of generous folks who have been posting their non-commercial blogs regularly, and it’s a habit that produces magic.

from Seth.Blog by Seth Godin

Writing daily such as Seth Godin does not only engages and drives and creates value for other people. We get the newspaper because we know to respect that perhaps there will be something that it will add value that we will learn that we will get on “aha” moment out of the newspaper o or we will just get the well might as well get something to read while we’re in the in the subway we’re lowering the bus or while wearing the UBER just trying to get somewhere to get to the office or whatever.

But whenever we are actually trying to get somewhere it’s amazing how many people actually just do anything, to be honest with you. Writing daily it’s not the easiest at first. It’s a habit and like any habit you have to begin with a 1% change, a 1% increment daily.

People think that to write a book you need to sit down and have this moment of inspiration that will just swoop you and you will start writing non-stop. In all honesty it has happened to certain people, but when you actually talk to people who have been in different industries, they decide to dedicate the time and commit to write a certain amount of words. They write words. They don’t edit. They write. Editing comes later. Writing is what they need to focus on first.

During the month of November, NaNoWriMo occurs. During the 30 days, you have the great opportunity to write a 50,000-word novel and submit it by 11:59 pm on November 30th. When you break it down, it is 1,666 words per day roughly. With dedication, anyone would be able to do it. But one can’t just jump into a marathon without proper preparation thinking it is like a sprint. One needs to prepare themselves. 

The identity

Becoming a writer is simply deciding to be a writer. You are who you are because you choose who what you believe, your creed, your moral compass and what defines you as a person. 

Being a writer is something that Jeff Goins Author of Real Artists Don’t Starve from Goinswriter.com talks and mentions constantly about how he became a writer and embarked on following his calling to not only write books but teach others how to become writers and even more, grow his own tribe. 

But it also all came down to developing habits and setting goals. 

Build habits

James Clear author of Atomic Habits talks in his book about how important it is that people develop habits, small changes, things that cascade and little by little build up momentum just like a train moving away from the station and on to the next stop. 

Waking up, brushing your teeth, brewing coffee, reading a chapter of a book, writing 500 words, waking up my daughter, getting her ready for daycare. That is my morning routine in a nutshell. I do a couple of things that take care of my personal well-being, my intellect and professional development as well as my writer aspect. 

So, on this I Love Writing Day: How will you celebrate it?

Gadgets for Entrepreneurs on the go!

Gadgets for Entrepreneurs on the go!

Entrepreneurs more than likely don’t have an office. They work from remote locations, coffee houses, their couch, bed, car, using their laptop, desktop, mobile phone, tablet, or any smart device they have with an internet connection and that enables them to connect to their chosen ecosystem of social media and website. 

Here is a list of the favorite gadgets I swear by that are truly remarkable and have made the 18k miles flown this 2018 a bliss keeping me as productive and as productive as possible. 

Chargers

We depend on our smartphones and tablets to stay connected to clients, family, socialites and the latest greatest with how is Tony Stark going to save us in Avengers 4 (maybe that last one is just me.) 

These two chargers mentioned here are my favorite ones. For plug-in options the Belkin has always delivered the best options and customer service ever since I had my job at Apple back in 2007. The fact that you obtain the wall and car charger plus an independent USB + (the one for your device) connection is great! The cable is resistant, strong and long. All three qualities that make it superior to Apple’s original charging cable IF that is your phone type. Apple knows how to design stuff. Especially how to design it to break it so you buy more. Capitalism?

For those who love wireless charging, I know I do, I present you this option. In my household I am an iPhone user (of course!) and my wife is an android phone user (I’m not sure why yet.) Our phones have the option to charge wirelessly and when I was looking for options I was reminded by a good friend that Anker makes really great products, which is true. I decided to pick this one up because of the review and I was not disappointed. 

In our kitchen I have setup what I call a “charging stating. We have a multiplug with two USB 2.1 A plug-ins. Each has a Lightning connector and a USB-C, but then we have the Anker Wireless Charger. You will always find one of the iPads, one of the phones,  or other gadgets charging and whenever we go and get coffee, a quick bite, do the dishes or something we just set the smartphone on top of the charging pad, leave it there and it is charging. Keep in mind that it will not charge as fast as plugged-in but hey it does the job and you don’t have to be using cables!

Headphones

Being an Audio Engineer is both a blessing an a curse. You know how to identify good sounds and you know how to identify bad sounds. The problem is…which one you think are the most common?

When I find headphones that I truly like, basically, I marry them. I do not want to be apart from them and I always want them by my side. I do not want to use any others. 

Here are my current and favorite headphones. 

Beats Studio 3

When the Beats by Dre came out I was working at Apple Retails Stores in Orlando, FL. I thought that they sounded too bassy for my taste. It represented and targeted a very good demographic, people who were into Hip-Hop, RnB, EDM. 

I have always been into Rock, Metal, Classical and enjoy my pop music. But if the only thing I can hear is Bass and I can not appreciate other sounds then just forget about it. 

When this new generation came out, a friend was very adamant that I try them out. I started researching them a lot. I was also never a fan of the design. Too big in my opinion. But I just decided to go for it. 

Now all I can say is…WOW!!! I bought the Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones Shadow Gray because they looked cool. Pairing them with my iPhone 8 Plus, AppleTVs (yes multiple across the house) and my Mac was a bliss. The first thing I did to test them was to listen to Call of Ktulu by Metallica in S&M recorded in 1999. I was able to listen to every single detail. Then Master of Puppets kicked in and that was it. I could listen to the crowd, the bass drum, the bass guitar, the riffs, the orchestra, everything, and then I looked up and realized my wife was talking to me but I haven’t realized because of the noise cancelling. 

So when I took my next trip first thing I packed were my Beats. I decided to test them to the extreme. What is the worst thing that could happen on a 4hr plane ride? You got it! Crying baby!

Amazing how I enjoyed listening to music, watching movies on the plane and playing Nintendo Switch on the plane, all while the baby was crying and I didn’t hear anything. When I landed – mind you I take redeye flights to maximize time and productivity during my travels – I was still fresh and didn’t have a headache, ringing in my ears or anything that would cause a headache. 

Reviews

EnacFire E19

I saw a friend using the previous version and I assumed they were BOSE wireless buds.When we got to talking and he recommended on Amazon I immediately looked them up. Reviews were mixed. But I trust my buddy when it comes to technology. 

Ordered them without second guessing myself. They are really sleek looking, kinda makes me feel like a spy, provide really good sound when it comes to music, podcasts, and while on the phone. 

Their nose cancelling is very good, although I preferred the Beats definitely. But for a day to day walking around the city without carrying anything too bulky, being in the gym lifting weights, running or something of the sort this is a great piece of technology.

The carrying case actually charges the buds and you can use the right independently. The controls can pause, skip or backtrack a song and even access Siri – although it is kind of a hassle, to be honest, I am happy with these headphones and use them daily when I am out on the mall, family gatherings, or even just walking my dog.  They are not too bassy, they don’t sound flat, for podcasting, power metal, heavy metal, symphonic metal, hip-hop, EDM, phone calls, audiobooks, they are simply great. 

USB Hub 

I am an Apple User. Every Mac is now with Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports which is better/worse. Better because through one port you can transfer huge amounts of data and many things and worse because dang it what the heck do I do with all my USB flash drives, and peripherals. Now I need dungles, and bungles. 

The benefit of this hub is that it is small, compact, a nice length cable and it is only $14.99 on Amazon. I have been using it and wherever I go, I take it with me. Sometime I don’t even use it in my computer but for other people who forget to bring their own or need to plug more than one device at a time. 

USB C Dock

When I got my Macbook Pro with only USB C, I started to look for options to maximize the ports. Most of the posts and articles suggested docks. Some of them didn’t convince me and some of them were just not very sexy looking design wise. Others were just snap on the side and that was it. Plus I would still have to use my own charged. 

Henge Docks, were different. The bring all the connections you need, a charging port, a SD Card slot, turning your notebook into a workstation with the connection to a display and ethernet as well. 

The beauty about this device is that you can set everything here and is just plug and play. This is excellent for conference rooms, for the entrepreneur who has a home office, or for his office and doesn’t want to be carrying his charging cable back and forth. You just unplug the cable from the dock to the MacBook Pro and that’s it. Simple!

Webcam Covers

Now, I am not the type of guy that is paranoid about “big brother is watching.” But after taking several courses about cybersecurity and ethical hacking, I decided to take care of certain things in my household and make them more secure. Something simple was: Webcam covers. 

These little three pack is simple enough to protect your computer, your tablet and your phone. Which is just what you need. The question is, why would you ned it right?

In a time and age where anyone can become anyone important, at any point in time, it is best to be careful and not let any window of opportunity to let people sneak in to your analog life from your digital one. 

Will Social Media Run The Elections or Will The People?

Will Social Media Run The Elections or Will The People?

Ever since 2011 social media has been a constant battlefield where no matter where you go to, what timeline are, what video you play or which page you like, account follow, you will sooner than later stumble upon a targeted political ad or will stumble upon news are design for click & bait. 

Fast-Forward to 2015, and the fact that Donal Trump became the president, was no surprise. “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”  How So? Well when you continue to talk, whether it is something that causes controversy, reaction, positive or negative, it causes engagement and that is what the social media companies want. Engagement. 

We are products that validate the existence of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Google. Whenever we like, share, comment, or report the ad, unfollow, we are providing valuable data to the algorithm, which is compiled and they fixed it in a way that then it can be tweaked for success for campaign managers so they can invest and target more efficiently the audiences. Every 24hrs they can get better reports and now how they are doing, with which type of demographics, sex, religion, age, ethnic and affiliation groups. 

I am a mid 30s, hispanic, Christian faith, heterosexual, married and when it come to my gender I choose male. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, I use Gmail, have an iPhone and this blog. Love Metallica, podcasting, and Batman is the best superhero ever. 

That last paragraph is enough data to create a profile and target me to sell me things that could really and potentially interest me to click on them to read the news. Once I click on one of those it means that the algorithm of the social media will try to keep showing it to me as much as it can so I can see it. Hence why the Timeline in Facebook is no longer the way it was and you keep seeing the same things over and over again. 

Machine Learning = Humanity Predictive

Knowing that there are machines, software really, learning about our habits and gathering all that data is kind of creepy. Imaging a Dr. House + Your Mother combined into one being. Is like being Vision from the Avengers but knowing everything about everyone. 

The problem with all of this is that instead of making decisions because of values, because of reason, it will be harder because inception and little by little the influence of every post, ad, news, posts, MEME, video, etc. 

HULU now started providing ads about the elections while I was trying to watch some shows. Pandora and Spotify as well. It used to be regular TV and Radio. But now…it’s on the internet in social media. Because everyone is on social media and glued to their phone. The UX/UI studies, colors, frequency, timing, influences people, wether they know it or not. 

The Machine learns what keywords get a reaction and a rise out of you, your age group, your county, state, gender, and based on the pages you like, the public figures you follow and engage with and if those are in favor or not with the candidate the campaign manager wishes to target to so they can become supported, click on the aritcle, share it, comment on it, help it become a trend and spread like wildfire. 

Even using the people who are against the candidate is a good tactic. Controversy creates headlines and news. This is something that a lot of people forget. Rock ‘n’ Roll was “the devil’s music” during the 50s and 60s. Then it became hippie music. The satanic. Then looser’s music. Then it was Rap and Hip-Hop’s turn to be tagged with some label that didn’t really represent what that movement was about. Biggie and 2-Pac anyone?

Targeting people who are against you using your most controversial article, news or any type of content keeps you as a trending topic. If you are everywhere and everyone talks about you, what do you think will happen? 

Voldermont was no longer given power because no one talked about him nor mentioned his name. No engagement with the subject or persona.

But in this day and age, where the Baby Boomers have joined social media, and some do not understand click and bait, nor understand that not all the newspapers are ethical as they used to, shout out to Breaker Magazine for being the difference in this point, it’s so easy for those with pockets to spend millions on social media, influence as many people as they can on a daily basis and stay as present as they can. Then set themselves up for success to win. 

Should social media be allowed to have such power to influence audiences? Should target ads be so powerful that they follow you everywhere you go and promote everything you search for over and over again?

Social Media & Google: Leaders of Information

I decided to visit the Google Trends site and quickly research what was trending. These are the trending topics right now in Google. 

But what surprised me was the fact that google already had a featured article about the midterm elections with all the data ready to go. 

Here are the tops searches since halloween until today:

What does this tells us? People are looking for answers on the internet rather on people. They would much rather get convince on their own from reading on social media, and news outlet than going to the rallies and events and seeing what actually happens. Seeing what really is going on and how history is going down. 

They would rather look at history in the making through the filters of social media, than look at the real face. Think about it. 

Is social media owning you? 

Tell me in the comments below. 

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