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Basics of the Tools for Blog Podcasts

Making the podcast for your blog requires a bit more than your fingers and a computer keyboard. Podcasts require recording equipment for audio and video. Here's what you're looking at:

  • Computer: You need a computer of some kind. You can use a desktop or a laptop, although laptops allow more flexiblibility and allow you to edit on-the-go. The computer must be able to handle editing audio files and, more important, video files.

    Video is a computer-intensive medium and requires a computer with a lot of power and disk space to process the large files that you record. Audio files can also be fairly large.

  • Microphone: Microphones these days are built into almost every laptop, and you can easily buy external microphones. Consider purchasing a good microphone from a professional audio store because the microphones that you get from the average computer store or on the typical laptop are poor quality.

    Ask a podcaster or the staff of a good audio store for advice about the best microphone for the kind of recording situation that you expect to be in. Expect to spend at least $40 for your microphone: It isn't the item to economize on.

  • Sound-recording and sound-editing software: Unless you're the sort of person who never deviates from a script or says “um,” you need software to edit your audio or video.

    Solutions range from free to the price of a small automobile. Let your budget be your guide. You may want to start small and upgrade when you know more about podcasting and your own needs. A good starting point for audio software is the free program Audacity.

    Audacity is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux/Unix. It's the program of choice for many podcasters, largely because it's free and open source. Audacity is a multi-track recording program, which means you can have two pieces of audio, such as a voice and a piece of music, and you can mix the two at different volumes or even fade from one to the other.

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    A high-end solution is Sony's Sound Forge (www.sonycreativesoftware.com/soundforgesoftware).

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