Friday, February 22, 2008

Podcasting Adventure commences

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria received a grant to provide access to podcasts of RHSV lectures and other events via the RHSV website.

After initial research to locate information as to how other organisations were doing this and the equipment used it was time to purchase some equipment and experiment. I own a JNC digital recorder and had used it for recording interviews. I had also downloaded the program, Audacity, which I was learning to use to edit audio files so I had a small amount of experience.

For this project I wanted equipment that would provide a range of options for recording in varying circumstances.

The lectures are normally held in the former Officers' Mess - a wood panelled room with large windows looking across William Street to the Flagstaff Gardens. From time to time the noise of passing traffic can be quite loud but fortunately the majority of meetings are held in the evening when there is less traffic. The potential noise of traffic however has to be a consideration.

The meeting room seats up to 80 people so I wanted a system that would capture the voice of the speaker but not necessarily the range of other noises associated with a room full of people.

There is a podium where speakers can rest their notes and are encouraged to speak into the microphone fixed to the podium so that everyone in the room can hear them. The microphone is linked to an amplification system - not sure how old it is but it was installed many years ago.

Speakers however do not necessarily stay in one place so there is also a microphone connected to the amplification system that can be worn around the speaker's neck, if the speaker wants to use a Power Point presentation or other aid, instead of using the fixed microphone.

Any equipment purchased had to be easy to use, especially as different people might be setting it up depending when the equipment was required.

Talks and other functions are sometimes held in other parts of the former Drill Hall downstairs so we wanted a system that could be used elsewhere in the building. We also wanted a system that could be used to record talks etc at other locations, if required.

Fortunately the first speaker for the year, Andrew Lemon, was prepared to be the 'guinea pig' for recording our first 'live' audio files and didn't mind that we were still experimenting with equipment.

It was decided to trial two systems for capturing the audio files.

The first option was to be able to record a speaker from a portable recorder.
A Sony IC recorder was purchased (ICDUX70). We needed a unit that would record mp3 files and would connect directly to the computer via USB. This recorder uses one AAA battery and will use a rechargeable battery which is recharged via the computer. We also wanted a unit where the controls are easy to use. Although the unit has a built in microphone and comes with headphones we purchased a separate lapel microphone to connect to the recorder.

The second option was to record a speaker using a fixed microphone connected directly to a computer.
A trip to Allans Music Store in Bourke Street introduced me to a range of microphones. I explained to the salesman what I wanted to do and he suggested a microphone - a Shure PG48 - that could be connected to a computer provided that I also purchased the appropriate adaptor. I also purchased a stand for the microphone.

A third option was to to record a speaker using the amplified microphone via a cable from the amplifier to the computer.
As the amplifier at the RHSV is an older model we could not locate a suitable output port to do this.

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