Archive for the “Audio” Category

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, attendance at this year’s CES 2009 was down 10%. Feedback from people visiting the show and manning the booths was that it was down more than that. In previous years you could barely walk down the aisles. This year they were wide open. The following is a quick summary of the week.

Biggest Let Down: MacWorld. In previous years, ironically, the buzz at CES was MacWorld and new product announcements. With Steve Jobs a no show and barely any new announcements, it was almost a non-event.

Biggest Surprise: Palm Pre phone. Most people had written Palm off as a phone supplier since the introduction of the iPod. When Palm announced the Pre, their stock went up 35% in one day. Some comments in the blogosphere are that this could actually be competitor to the iPhone. We will have to wait and see.

Everyone has a Netbook. If you make hardware, you probably launched a Netbook at CES. The most talked about was probably the Sony Vaio P. But there were many others. There were new introductions from the market leader, ASUS and Dell, but even Viewsonic, a monitor maker, launched a Netbook.

Most over used phrase Normal People. This phrase refers to all the non-techies out there who have a tough time getting their photos on their TV, or configuring a home network, or connecting their media to all of the above. I must have heard this definition at almost every demo. It is a great focus because we all know how hard it is to do all the above, but they have been trying to get there for a long time.

Home Theatre. In previous years it was who had the biggest flat panel. Given the economic times, it seemed appropriate that this was not the focus of HDTV launches this year. It was more about the thinnest, or the technology such as LCD screens moving to 120 and 240 kHz. Also there was more focus on connecting HDTVs to the internet. The other development in this space is Sound Bars. These are replacing the 5 speaker surround sound Home Theatre In a Box (HTIB) with one bar that can be mounted below the TV. It still gives you surround sound, but without the hassle of running cables around the room.

Connected Media. All the network vendors launched storage and media streaming devices for normal people. Cisco (Linksys), Netgear, Seagate and others all have some kind of devise for home network storage and media sharing. The device that caught my eye and follows the KISS principle was PogoPlug. You simply take a hard drive, put it in the enclosure, plug it into an outlet then plug it into your router. It configures itself and makes the hard drive available to anyone on the network. With the price of hard drivers now below $100 for 1 terabyte of storage this is a great way to increase network storage.

Economy. Lastly, everyone was talking about the economy. Forecasts were showing declines in the single digits for 2009. This doesn’t really fit with the fact that Circuit City will be liquidating 500+ stores and Best Buy had a 70% decline in earnings for the last quarter.

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How often have you been in a restaurant or a movie, and someone’s cell phone blares out the latest rendition of the owners favorite hip hop track, or the blaring sound of a ring from a phone of the 60′s? I have heard that some places are considering jamming cell phones because of this.

It is annoying and many consider this to be rude.

I have found a solution. I found an MP3 file where someone recorded a sneeze. I then found the site www.coolservice.dk. It allows you to upload any MP3 file, then download it onto your Blackberry, or any phone that has internet access. You simply upload the file, and it gives you a code number. You go to the download site on your Blackberry browser, enter the code and it will be downloaded. You then save the file and it will be listed in your ring tones. Select Profiles on your Blackberry and then change the tone.

Now when your phone rings, it will actually sneeze. I have found this much less obtrusive while in public places.

You can listen and download the mp3 file below.

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Now that you have your site set up with the proper RSS feed that supports media files via Feedburner, you are ready to record. Of course you have gone through the planning of what your podcast will be about, who the target audience is, how long your podcast will be and the frequency of the podcast.

When you start out podcasting you may not know how long or how often you are going to podcast. From the feedback at Podcamp Toronto I would say to keep your podcast under 30 minutes. As for how often, that really depends on how much information you audience can handle and the big question… will you run out of things to say? The other part of how often is to be consistent. If you start a weekly podcast and skip a couple of weeks, some might think you stopped doing podcasts. Donna Popacosta mentioned the important thing is keep your listeners informed. So if you are going to take a month off to travel, let your listeners know in the podcasts before you leave.

So now you’re ready to record. One of the great lines I heard at Podcamp was “anything worth recording is worth recording badly”. The context of this was that you didn’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to start recording. Some podcasters started with just their laptop, as it had a build in microphone. When you are ready to start spending some money, it was unanimous to spend your money on your microphone. Look to spend $50-$200 for a good quality mic. This will make a big difference to your recordings. The type of mic. used by many is a condenser microphone, which will need an external power source. (look for mixers that have a “phantom power source” for these type of microphones).

Some of the suggested products were:

M-Audio Podcast Factory. This is a good starter setup. It comes with a dynamic microphone, a mini USB mixer and software to record and publish your podcast.

A step up from there were several microphone suggestions.

MXL 990 is a condenser microphone for under $100 and it comes with its own stand and hard sided case.

There are hundreds of other choices from AKG, or Rode. One of the best sources for products is ebay.

Peter O’Connell gives a great presentation at Podcamp. (download the 75MB .mov file here)

There are a few favorites for recording and editing your software. First, there is Audacity. This software is free and is a good starting point. It allows you to have multiple inputs (more than one channel). It also makes it easier to add music or other recorded materials to your podcast.

The next step up from Audacity is Adobe’s Audition or CUBASE. Both are professional level recorders and editors. Audition recently released version 2.0 of their product. (I have heard there are issues with Audition with Windows Vista). The good news about this release is that you can probably get some good deals on the previous version 1.5 which is still a very capable editor. For a demonstration of how to edit your recordings. You can download Mark Blevis’ .mov file here.

If you are a beginner and are using Audacity. There is another piece of free software I use. It is called Levelator from Gigavox. Through a series of algorithms it normalizes and/or compresses your recording; but it does it all automatically. For explanations of these and other terms, you can watch Jay Moonah’s presentation by downloading here.

Some of you may want to record more than just one person, or do interviews on the phone. The best method I have heard for doing this is with Skype. Skype is a free software download that allows you to talk to anyone else with Skype for free. I have several posts below about Skype. What you need to know for podcasting is how to record Skype. There are many choices for this. There is one thing you should look for in this software. As you progress in your editing knowledge, you will want to have your voice and the other’s voice on separate channels. This will allow you to add some effects to the other voice to correct any issues. The 2 packages I am aware of with this feature are Powergrammo (paid version does 2 channels), and PrettyMay. Other Skype recording software is Pamela, HotRecorder and Skyperecorder.

In Jay Moonah’s presentation above, they also discussed a “double-ender” This is where both sides use the software above to record their voice. Then your interviewee sends you the file. You match the 2 files up in your editor and you have a pristine sounding recording, almost as if the 2 of you were in the same room.

The next step up, from a hardware point of view is to a mixer. 2 of the most popular are the Alesis Mulitimix 8USB or the Behringer UB802. If you are looking for something portable. Belkin has their Tune Studio mixer that uses an iPod as the recording device.

One last point about the recording. When you make your recording, always choose to record in a .wav format. This is uncompressed and will be the best sounding format. When you have completed all of your edits. Then you can convert to .mp3 to post onto sites.

And…this is where this post ends, and the next post will be Podcasting 101: posting your podcast on web sites and directories, including iTunes.

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I recently had the opportunity to test out the Keyspan Tuneview remote control. The biggest feature with this remote control, that makes it different from all others, is the LCD display on the remote mimics the screen on your iPod. All of your Albums, Artists, Genres and Playlists are displayed on the remote, just as if you were using your iPod. If you have a newer iPod with video, you can also connect the dock to your TV to watch the videos.

The installation took 3 minutes. You plug the supplied cable into the back of the dock. You attach the 2 RCA type jacks to your stereo system. You insert the iPod into the dock, turn on the remote and within 5 seconds you have your menu on the remote.

The other benefit of this remote is that it is RF (radio frequency) as opposed to IR (infra-red). This means you do not have to have line of sight to the dock. You can be anywhere in your house and access your iPod. More importantly, you can see what you are playing and what you are accessing.

Watch the video below to see this unit in action.

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