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"What do you recommend as a good laptop headset with microphone for making Skype calls and voice recording?"

If you have a laptop with Bluetooth built in, you can frequently use the same Bluetooth headset you would use for your cellphone for placing Skype calls. This can get confusing if you get a phone call on your cell phone while you're in the middle of a Skype call on your laptop, so having a separate headset with built-in microphone often makes things a bit easier. I have a few recommendations for headsets I like.

"I want to do some voice recording and I know I need a mixer and a compressor, but I'm wondering if you know which mixer built-in compressor combo might be best?"

Which mixing board with built-in compressor is best for your needs depends on a number of factors. You need to determine what your budget is. Do you need only one mixer channel with compression or multiple channels? Do you want portability or is this a mixing console you plan to install permanently? Those are all questions you need to think through before making a purchase. Here are some mixers with compression built-in at various price ranges:

"I have recorded some tracks in Audacity using the project sample rate of 44100Hz. I also imported a track from a portable device at 16000Hz. All tracks sound fine when played simultaneously. However, when I want to insert an audio into the 16000Hz file, it is
distored. I have 2 questions:

1. Is there a way to integrate the two files into 1 track; and
2. Will I have a problem exporting mixed sample rates to CD?"

Mixing sample rates in an audio project can cause all sorts of problems with your final output. There is an easy fix to your problem, which is to simply resample one of the audio files so that it matches the other files.

Portable Recording Booth As someone who travels regularly, I'm always looking for creative ways to get better sound from my audio recordings. Hotel rooms tend to echo and you don't always have control over the environmental noises. I went looking for a solution that would offer a more controlled sound and ran across professional voice actor, Harlan Hogan's, Porta-Booth, which is built from some fairly common components. You don't have to travel to find this solution useful, it's also a great way to tighten up your sound when recording at home without needing a whole room dedicated to recording. Making a few slight modifications, I put together a video showing how I built my own.

Amazon didn't officially include podcasting support when they shipped the first Kindle devices, but that doesn't mean you can't listen to your favorite podcasts on the Kindle (or your favorite songs for that matter). There are actually two interesting ways to make this work:

Download mp3DirectCut

MP3 files recorded directly with a voice recorder often require some editing. Many MP3s downloaded from the Internet need editing to trim unwanted sections. Both of these scenarios result in better quality audio when the MP3 is not re-compressed after editing. Enter mp3DirectCut, which provides an interface for directly editing MP3 files without first converting to a PCM audio format. mp3DirectCut speeds up the MP3 editing process in a number of areas, providing direct access to cut, copy, and remove sections of an MP3 in a non-destructive editor without ever needing to recompress. This saves time, disk space and eliminates the generational hit of decompressing and recompressing your MP3 files during editing. Note: If you install mp3DirectCut on Windows Vista you will need to run the installer as administrator. [Windows 9x/2k/XP/Vista $0.00]

Recording environmental sounds like singing birds, wild animal calls, water running through a streambed, or the chirp of baby birds is one of the more fascinating (and challenging) aspects of audio recording. Some of the same audio recording techniques apply when recording things like car noises, lawn mower engines and other man made sounds, but you don't always get a chance to do a second take with nature like you do with machines.

Getting started in recording nature sounds requires three basic things:

1) A recording device, like a MiniDisc recorder, Compact Flash recorder, or other digital audio recorder.
2) A stereo microphone or stereo microphone pair
3) Headphones for listening to what you're recording

The big reason to use a digital recorder is to avoid the hiss that comes with using a tape recording medium. The stereo microphone or pair of microphones provide the listener with something much closer to what you'd hear in the real world than a single microphone accomplishes on its own. A microphone zeppelin windscreen is also useful for cutting noise from wind while recording.

You also need a good dose of luck and patience in order to find the specific species of bird or animal you're hoping to record. For a great overview of what's required for recording sounds from the wilderness, the Wildebeat Podcast has a great interview on recording the sounds nature with Kurt Fristurp (of the National Parks Service Natural Sounds Program) and Dan Dugan (of the Nature Sounds Society). Two great tips from the podcast are how to find places free from unnatural sounds and some of the basic techniques for getting a good sample of the sound you hope to record.

One of the best places to get a quick foundation in how to record nature sounds is the Nature Sounds Society. Their Question Bird service provides a solid foundation of answers for people looking for detailed information on the types of audio gear you need for recording various kinds of natural sounds.

You won't get great sounding recordings by recording telephone calls with an iPod, but it is possible. In an ideal telephone recording scenario, you want independent control over each person on the call, so that if the person you call is too quiet, you can turn their volume up or your volume down. You won't get independent volume control for both sides of the call when recording a telephone conversation on your iPod, but you will get a recording that you can later use as part of a podcast or transcribed interview.

To record phone calls on your iPod, you need two things in addition to the iPod. You need a microphone add-on for the iPod and you need an adapter to pass the phone audio to the microphone.

Download Wavosaur

Wavosaur is a lightweight audio editing application with VST support. All the basics are covered here, including support for multitrack audio files, trimming, adding effects, making loops, and normalization. Most processing settings are also available for batch conversions, making Wavosaur a handy tool for applying the same settings to a bunch of files. I like are the option to remove silence in a batch, which is a convenient way to speed up spoken word audio without altering pitch. A vocal removal preset also scrubs music files of vocals, so you can make your own karaoke tracks in a batch. The vocal removal doesn't always get chorus sections perfectly scrubbed, but it shouldn't hurt your ability to sing over the top of the file. The application runs as a completely standalone executable, meaning you could put it on a thumb drive and use Wavosaur anywhere. The user interface is generally more intuitive than the popular freeware app Audacity, but the two make nice companions rather than being replacements for each other. While Wavosaur doesn't bundle all the features of things like Sound Forge and Audition, it does most of the common audio tasks well at a price neither of those two apps can touch. [Windows 2k/XP/Vista $0.00]

I'm always looking for more audio sound effects - especially free ones. Beatsuite.com has a collection of Royalty Free and free as in no cost audio samples designed specifically for podcasters. Terms of use are simply that you need to credit Beatsuite.com for providing them. As far as I can tell, the collection is available only on Apple's download site and the files are listed as requiring Mac OS X, but fear not, the WAV files in the download will work just as easily for Linux and Windows users too. The list of included sounds in the Royalty Free Podcast Promo Soundpack include:

Cafe Quarter Sting
Energize Sting
Night Metropolis Sting
Urban Tribe Sting
Constellations Loop
Eko Loop
Sci High Loop
Wave Movement Loop

While this isn't a massive collection of free loops, some is always better than none.

Royalty Free Podcast Promo Soundpack

For other free and royalty free sounds, be sure to check out Meanrabbit Sound Effects and The Freesound Project.

Sonicart
Burning Podcasts to CD
DIY Microphone Zeppelin Windscreen
Podcasting Music and Getting Permission
Princeton Review Vocab Minute
Meanrabbit Sound Effects
F-Control Audio FCA202
Microtrack Firmware Update
EarThumps
How to Avoid Podcast Hijacking
Changing Audio Sample Rate in Audacity
Podcasting Ping Services
PC Recording of AM and FM Radio
How to Redirect an RSS Feed From IIS
Behringer Shark DSP110
Podcasting From IIS Server
Embedding Windows Media Player WMA
Venture Voice
Eliminating Noise from Phone Recordings
Redirecting Your Podcast RSS Feed
Updating RSS Feeds for Podcasts
iTunes Podcasting ChapterTool
iTunes Podcast Smart Playlists
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Item Tag Implementation
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Channel Tag Implementation
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - DTD Implementation
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Block
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Duration
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Image
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Owner
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Keywords
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Author
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Summary
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Subtitle
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Explicit
iTunes Custom RSS Tags - Category
The Freesound Project
Upgrade Your Podcast for Under $200
Optimize Your PC for Audio and Video
Recording Phone Calls with your PC
Publishing a Podcast
Recording A Podcast
Configuring Audacity and LAME MP3

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