In the latest unboxing from GonnaGeek, we take a look at the Logitech Harmony Ultimat Home. Included are the remote control, a harmony hub, two IR blasters and a charging cradle. Take a look at the unboxing.
Recently I decided that as I replaced my networking components that I was going to try out the Ubiquiti line of networking products. Today I’m pleased to present the unboxing video of my first Ubiquiti product – the Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC LR Long Range Access Point. I’m excited to test this device out, but that will have to wait for a future review.
Enjoy and keep your eyes out for a future review of it.
Better Podcasting – Episode 015 – Video Podcasting: The Simple Method (Hangouts on Air & Blab)
Welcome to Better Podcasting! We talk about podcast tips, tools and best practices to help you succeed with your podcast! Just like you we podcast purely out of the love and the fun of it. Podcasting is our hobby and we love that it is yours too! We always encourage your questions and feedback and you can find all of our contact information at betterpodcasting.com.
So you’re considering a video element to your podcast? Stephen and SP have you covered with some simple ways to accomplish your goal. They run down the advantages and disadvantages of Google Hangouts On Air and Blab and give you some notes to think about concerning where to place your emphasis. Additionally they cover some basic notes on how to edit and publish the video if you choose to do so.
For the Better Podcasting Download this week Stephen and SP return to their metrics discussion from last week with responses from Blubrry’s Todd Cochrane and Libsyn’s Rob Walsh. The Better Podcasting duo then run down Soundcloud’s recent $44M loss reporting and what it might mean for a hobby podcaster.
Please remember that we’re running our give away contest of a new Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone. Listen for ways to enter.
Do you have something to say about the art of hobby podcasting? Do you want to chime in on an episode of Better Podcasting? You can always ping us on Better Podcasting on the internet at the following places:
Stephen and SP thank you for listening, downloading and subscribing to Better Podcasting. We hope you come back for more Better Podcasting!
This podcast was recorded on Saturday February 13th, 2016
Headphones can be useful while recording or editing a podcast and the right headphones can be invaluable. No matter if you are guesting on your first podcast or if you are a seasoned podcasting veteran, audio separation between the microphone and the rest of the sounds from your podcast such as co-hosts, incoming Skype calls, Blab discussions, fellow Google Hangouts on Air presenters or a soundboard are key to a clean listenable finished podcast. Monitoring your recording live also prevents many issues later including potential distorted recordings. And of course if you are editing in even a slightly noisy environment the right headphones can make a difference between total aggravation and getting the podcast produced as accurately as possible in a timely and frustration free fashion.
Aside from assembling the right engaging, entertaining, educational and informative content to prime your latest exciting podcast episode with, clean listenable raw audio recording files are key to a published podcast that can rival the best experienced broadcasters. One of the simplest ways to start producing those raw audio recordings are to separate the incoming sound from the recording microphone. If you wear headphones and silence any monitors or speakers that are a part of your recording system the chances are greatly reduced of incoming sound leaking back into the microphone resulting in unwanted feedback into the recording. While the type of microphone used and microphone positioning can also help isolate your voice recording, wearing headphones almost eliminates incoming audio feedback entirely for most recording situations. So for that reason alone I always advise wearing headphones while podcasting.
There are many choices for headphones on the market these days. So which headphones are best for podcasting? To a certain extent it depends on how you like your audio to sound. But most broadcasters and sound engineers will steer you to a type of headphone known as a Studio Monitoring Headphone. This type of headphone has a relatively flat frequency response so the listener can discern sounds across all frequencies, not just the ones that have been heightened by the manufacturer such as low bass frequencies. The right Studio Monitoring Headphones are also designed to be worn comfortably for long periods of time and with ear pads that are designed to prevent external environmental sounds from contaminating your listening experience, a capability known as sound isolation.
Taking into account wearability, sound quality, sound isolation and reliability I have researched, purchased and tested several pairs of Studio Monitoring Headphones over the course of the past year. I did this because over the holidays last year I was attempting to edit a podcast with a very full house and simply could not hear with the headphones I had been using since I started to podcast. Then the engineer and rocket scientist in me took over to get to the bottom of this for podcasting. I thought to myself, “There HAS to be a better solution.” What I found astounded me in terms of the sound quality I was listening to and the fact that I could focus on the audio and not the dog barking, the kids in the neighborhood playing outside, the monster trucks next door, the clothes washing machine and dryer, the family watching the television in the room next door, or aircraft flying overhead. In most cases I waited for each headphone set to go on sale since this is a hobby and I do not have an unlimited budget. In doing so I was pleased to discover that the Studio Monitoring Headphone models I was interested in were affordable for the hobby podcaster. So without further ado the following are my recommended podcasting headphones.
My number 1 and number 2 headphone picks are pretty close to each other and both come highly recommended by many audio professionals. However, I do have a definitive preference between the two top picks. My number 1 recommended podcasting headphones are the Audio Technica ATH-m40x. The ATH-m40x have a flat frequency response using 40 mm speaker drivers so the entire 15-24,000 Hz audio spectrum is heard without being overpowered by a particular band such as treble, mids or bass while attempting to isolate a particular sound during editing or troubleshooting. I’ve been using the ATH-m40x’s for months and wear them during nearly all of my recording sessions. They are light, comfortable and some of the best temperature controlled headphone sets I own so they do not over heat my ears. Although my set of ATH-m40x headphones are comfortable the one negative I have against this pair is that the headband could have been a little bit more padded. I also own the less expensive ATH-m30x headphones and that headphone model has a little bit more padding in it than the ATH-m40x. Also, the more expensive ATH-m50x definitely have more headband padding so it is a little confusing to me why the ATH-m40x has less padding than either of the other Audio Technica headphone models. Regardless, there is enough padding that I can wear and have worn them for hours without discomfort. I have not had any issues with external sound pollution either. The ATH-m40x do not completely block out the environment but everything is significantly reduced to the point that nothing around me distracts me while I listen to them. The headphone set is very sturdy and feels well-made despite a light weight. I also greatly enjoy the fact that I can remove the headset cord and decide between using a coiled or straight cord. In general I use the coiled cord since it doesn’t end up laying in loops on my floor under my chair but the straight cord is also provided in case you need the distance without the accordion spring effect of the coiled cord. The ATH-m40x comes in the box with a 9.8 foot coiled cord and a 9.8 foot straight cord as well as a decent carry pouch for mobile purposes. I do not tend to use the option for the earpieces to swivel outward 90 degrees on the ATH-m40x very much but it is an option if you need to use the headphones around your neck and still hear the speaker drivers. The Audio Technica ATH-m40x normally can be found for $99 however I was able to find them on a rare sale for $80 and in this past holiday season I’ve seen them on sale for as little as $65. All in all I haven’t found a better headset with these features for the price for podcasting. The Audio Technica ATH-m40x are firmly my #1 recommended Studio Monitoring Headphones for podcasting.
As I mentioned above, my number 2 podcasting headphone recommendation is not all that far behind the first. In fact, my #1 and #2 recommendations are an order magnitude higher than the remainder of all of the rest of my recommendations. While the ATH-m40x are my #1 recommended Studio Monitoring Headphones, the Sony MDR-7506 have been audio engineer’s top choice for decades. The Sony’s were the first higher quality podcast headphones that I purchased and the difference between the Sony MDR-7506 and absolutely everything else that I had used up to that point made me speechless. I had no idea this level of monitoring was even possible. I was amazed the first time that my family was vacuuming the floor literally right next to me and I could continue editing without pausing. Like the ATH-m40x headphones the Sony MDR-7506 have a nice flat frequency response from 10-20,000 Hz using similar sized 40mm speaker drivers. They are extremely comfortable and solidly made but since the technology is literally decades old they are a bit heavier than the ATH-m40x. Also, the Sony MDR-7506 run a bit warmer than the ATH-m40x headphones and while I still can wear them for a few hours without taking them off I do need to remove them after 2-3 hours of wear due to heat buildup around my ears. Also, unlike the ATH-m40x the Sony MDR-7506 do not have a detachable cord. However, for the majority of my uses the better of the two cord options is the coiled cord and fortunately the MDR-7506 cord is coiled. The cord length of the Sony MDR-7506 is 9.8 feet. The Sony MDR-7506 headphones were my go to headphones until I was able to purchase the ATH-m40x. I still use the Sony MDR-7506 nearly every day as I plug them into my mixer or monitors for editing purposes when using my M-Audio AV-40 monitors isn’t feasible. The Sony MDR-7506 are packaged with a nice black pouch for storage and transportability purposes. As I type this article the Sony MDR-7506 can be found for around $80 and you can occasionally get them on sale for the $65 range. You simply cannot go wrong with these headphones. If you can afford the extra jump to the ATH-m40x I’d go with the Audio Technica ATH-m40x. But if the Sony MDR-7506 are more affordable for you I’d definitely choose the Sony pair over all the other recommended headphone models. Finally, Sony does have another “digital” headphone set, the Sony MDR-V6 which are very similar to the MDR-7506. However, the headphone driver element in the MDR-V6 is not as robust or as full sounding as the Sony MDR-7506. So while the MDR-V6 headphones are still very good headphones the Sony MDR-7506 are still the better choice for podcasters in my opinion.
There are a couple of reasons why my next recommendation, the Audio Technica ATH-m50x headphones, is placed as my number 3 recommendation. First of all the ATH-m50x comes in with a significantly higher regularly listed price at $169. I was able to buy mine on sale for $129 which is still a significant jump from my first two recommendations. Secondly, while having the broadest frequency range of any of my Audio Technica podcast headphone recommendations from 15-28,000 Hz the ATH-m50x do not have a flat frequency response. In this particular headphone model Audio Technica has inserted a larger 45 mm speaker driver and because of the bigger drivers Audio Technica decided to increase the lower end or bass frequency response. The increased bass lift is why these headphones are my favorite headphones to listen to podcasts or music for pleasure but are out performed for editing and live recording monitoring by the ATH-m40x and the Sony MDR-7506 with flat frequency responses. Nevertheless the audio in the ATH-m50x remains discernable and other than noticing a heavier boom I have not ever had difficulty hearing clear and distinct sounds in all frequency bands. Of note is that the sound isolation of the ATH-m50x, while not perfect, is the best of all of the headphones that I have tested. I use these headphones nearly every day at work to listen to podcasts and music in a somewhat dynamic and noisy environment and I’m able to zone out everything around me and focus on my work and what I’m listening to without distractions. The ATH-m50x are some of the most comfortable headphones I have used for long periods of time. The ear cups are comfortable around my ear, they are tight around my head but not excessively so, the padding along the headband makes it virtually unnoticeable to me that I’m wearing a band on the top of my head, they are light enough that I’ve never noticed any additional weight on my head, and I have seldom had trouble with the cups getting too hot around my ears even after wearing these all day long. The ATH-m50x comes standard with three removable cords. There is a shorter 3 foot straight length which is perfect to use with a personal audio player such as your mobile phone or mp3 player of your choice. Just like the ATH-m40x there are also two longer 9.8 foot long cords. One 9.8 foot long cord is coiled and the other is straight. I have used all three cords and greatly appreciate the option to use any of the three cords depending on my particular use case for the day. The earpieces on the ATH-m50x swivel 180 degrees so if I take the headphones and place them around my neck I can place the ear cups towards me to protect the drivers or I can turn them to face outward and continue to listen (although definitely not as well) without the headphones on my ears. This capability has proved very useful in a workplace environment and I’m glad I have the option available. However, this might be an option seldom used by the average podcaster and thus a little excessive for home studio use but I will leave that determination up to the individual podcaster. The ATH-m50x also come packaged with the same pouch as the ATH-m40x for storage and transportability. Finally, if style is your thing you can find a completely white style as well as a blue and brown version that is my personal favorite.
My #4 headphone recommendation is the Audio Technica ATH-m30x. The ATH-m30x have the same general fit and form as the ATH-m40x and ATH-m50x. However, there are differences between the pairs enough for a clear separation to a lower recommendation. For starters the ATH-m30x have the narrowest frequency range of the three Audio Technica headphones. The ATH-m30x 40mm drivers are responsive from 15-22,000 Hz. Also, the frequency response of the ATH-m30x is not as flat across all bands at the ATH-m40x or the MDR-7506. Additionally, the ATH-m30x do not come with a detachable cord and unlike the Sony MDR-7506 the 9.8 foot cord that the ATH-m30x does have is straight and not coiled. Another loss of feature with the ATH-m30x is that the headphone cups only swivel 15 degrees in either direction which make them for all intents and purposes fixed like the Sony MDR-7506. On the positive side the ATH-m30x are the lightest of the top 4 recommendations and are very comfortable to wear. The sound isolation, while not as good as my top 3 recommended headphones is pretty decent. I do use these headphones as I mow the lawn in the summer and have found them very suited to that task with a clear sound. The ATH-m30x do come with the same carry pouch as the other two Audio Technica pairs. The ATH-m30x are the most affordable of the top 4 recommendations as they are regularly priced at $69.00 but I have purchased mine on sale for $49.99.
My fifth podcast headphone recommendation, the Audio Technica ATH-m20x I do not own and I based my recommendation on their price point and the quality of the other Audio Technica headphones in my recommendations. Regularly priced at $49.99, the ATH-m20x deliver a 15-20,000 Hz frequency response using 40 mm drivers. The ear cups only swivel 15 degrees in either direction just like the ATH-m30x and the cord is the same straight permanent 9.8 foot long cord as the ATH-m30x. If you are on a budget and cannot wait for a sale for the ATH-m30x, the ATH-m20x should serve you well.
Finally, the sixth headphone recommendation is the Sennheiser HD-201. Several GonnaGeek podcasters use this headphone set and I own two of them. Regularly found for around $20 these tried and true headphone workhorses are a decent find for the price. I’ve also tried several other studio monitoring headphone pairs in the price range such as the Monoprice Hi-Fi DJ Style Acoustic Pro Studio Headphones and the Behringer HPS3000 Studio Headphones and have found the Sennheiser HD-201 the most preferred pair. None of the headphones in this range have as clear or full of sound as the higher priced models in my recommendation list nor do they have as good of sound isolation. In fact the poor sound isolation of the HD-201 is what sparked my quest into finding a good set of affordable studio monitoring headphones. However, the Sennheiser HD-201 do function in a quiet environment and are comfortable to wear. The HD-201 are very lightweight and the ear cups do not mash my ears like the Monoprice and the Behringer headphone sets so. The HD-201 40 mm drivers have the narrowest frequency range of any of my recommended headphones at only 21-18,000 Hz. Even in the $20 price range the Behringer and the Monoprice headphones state a 20-20,000 Hz range. But the Behringer HPS3000 have an extremely tight fit over my head and small ear cups that squish my ears. Also, the Monoprice set I received has a very poor build quality as the headband pad was peeling off straight out of the box. So if your podcasting budget keeps you in the $20 range the Sennheiser HD-201 would be my firm recommendation.
Also of note for my comparisons I did consider the Shure SRH440 Studio Headphones and the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones. After doing some research into online reviews I choose not to explore either pair for further investigation. The Shure SRH440 had noted deficiencies in ear cup and headband comfort that could be mitigated by purchasing replacement pads. My Better Podcasting co-host Stephen Jondrew confirmed these reviews when he purchased his SRH440 headphones and I dropped them from consideration since the ATH-m40x beat out the performance for the price. Also, I read some reviews on the Sennheiser HD 280 that stated the headphones were uncomfortable and the treble range was enhanced too much to really call it a flat frequency response and since I did not have an unlimited budget for testing the Sennheiser HD 280 fell lower on the priority to purchase and review.
Overall this was a fun process to go through and I’m very happy with the end results that I am using today. So if you are in the market to buy your first studio monitoring headphones or if you are interested in upgrading to a better pair for noise isolation or sound clarity I hope these recommendations help you in your decision.
Until next time….
As you may have seen recently on the GonnaGeek YouTube channel (or on the main GonnaGeek podcast), I recently received the Audio-Technica BP40 Large Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone to review. In this article I’ll be focusing primarily on the specifics of the microphone as my Unboxing Video of the BP40 covers the unboxing and my initial impressions.
What is the Audio-Technica BP40?
The BP40 is a new microphone that Audio-Technica recently released. Although Audio-Technica has a large variety of microphones currently available on the market, many of them are handheld Cardioid style Dynamic Microphones on one hand or alternatively Condensers microphones on the other. The BP40 is Audio-Technica’s first attempt at a Large Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone, a type of dynamic microphone that you’d often find in a radio station.
One of the advantages you may find with a large diaphragm dynamic microphone (versus a smaller diaphragm, such as those in handheld units) is that there tends to be a larger frequency response. For example, the Audio-Technica BP40 features a 50-16,000 Hz response, versus the Audio Technica AT2005USB, which features a 50-15,000. While this is just one factor in the what makes the sound of a microphone, a larger frequency response range can help contribute to a better sound.
Another feature present on the the BP40 is roll-off switch, something that’ll allow you to cut the lower frequencies of the microphone – specifically the sounds below 100 HZ. This can be helpful if there is low rumbling noise near caused by distant traffic, air conditioning, or something similar. It’s important to note that this switch is only for low-level noise in 100 Hz and below range (this won’t help you with the Air Condition Unit in the same room, or that train passing your Window every hour.)
Keep in mind that just like most other microphones that are in this price point, the Audio-Technica BP40 is exclusively an XLR connection, meaning that users will need some form of microphone preamp to properly work it. As with most dynamic Microphones, the BP40 does not require phantom power which should open up your opportunities when shopping for a preamp.
So, what do I like about it? (The Pros)
I’ll start with a point that many users don’t care too much about – the look of the Audio-Technica BP40. Personally, I like the look of the BP40 much better than other microphones in the large-diaphragm category. To me, it combines the classic broadcast look of Electro-Voice Microphones (specifically coming to mind the RE320) with the thicker, heavier feel of the Shure SM7B. I’ve used the Audio-Technica BP40 on camera for several GonnaGeek Podcast episodes and I think the BP40 looks better on-camera look than either microphone mentioned above. The black paint used on the BP40 is flat, something that helps prevent unnecessary glare on screen once studio lights are going – a good move by Audio-Technica. The microphone itself also carries some weight, something that I feel should be present with a microphone in this price range.
Moving on to a more important category – the sound of the BP40 – one of the first things that I noticed about this microphone was that I seemed to be able to achieve a much more even-toned sound than with my previous microphones, with a fairly consistent sound as I shifted in my seat during recordings. In the past I’ve found that Dynamic microphones often have a bit of a proximity effect, meaning that as you move closer or further away the sound gets bassier or conversely thinner. I know that some folks actually look for a proximity effect so that they can play with and manipulate this, but for me, I find it very irritating when I hear a noticeable tone change through a podcast as the host naturally shifts around during a show.
Another area that the Audio-Technica BP40 excels in (and perhaps one of my biggest likes about the microphone) is that I’ve noticed that the BP40 does extremely well without a pop filter. I’ve operated the BP40 for several weeks doing tests both on and off of podcast recording, and when positioned right, I’ve never felt the need to use a pop filter with the BP40. This is important to highlight as I’ve noticed often users of other Large Diaphragm Dynamic microphones have had to use various windscreens/pop-filters with their microphones. I always think it’s shame to spend a good amount of money on a Large Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone only to cover it up with a piece of nylon or foam. I’ve attached a screenshot below to illustrate the position I used the BP40 on as I did find talking directly into the microphone did yield various plosives (however, talking directly into the microphone is considered by many as an incorrect microphone technique).
The final pro in favor of the BP40 that I have on my list is that overall I do feel that Audio-Technica has done a great job of achieving a much fuller sound with this microphone than something that you would notice in the $100 to $150 price point. Yes, this may seem obvious given it’s $400 price point, however, since price does not always translate to sound, it is important to point out. I personally noticed an immediate improvement in quality from the first test I conducted with the BP40. While I have a lot of experience using a variety of tips and tricks to fully utilize and maximize the sound of cheaper microphones, I feel confident that no matter what equipment and processing I applied to a cheaper microphone, the BP40 just offers an overall better, clearer and crisper sound. In fact, over the course of my experience with the BP40, fellow GonnaGeek Gearnut Stargate Pioneer made several comments about how he thought I sounded terrific using the microphone.
So What Would I Change (The Opportunities)?
After my review time with the Audio-Technica BP40, the first opportunity for improvement that I have to comment on is once again, perhaps something not too important to some user – the included microphone clip. While the included clip feels very sturdy (I believe it’s made of some form of metal), it leaves a lot to be desired. The included clip offers very little noise reduction, with every desk bang coming through to the microphone. Now while the clip does appear to be metal and offer more strength, it’s close quarters to the microphone does make me worry that over time it could damage the unit. There is a solution for this con though, as Audio-Technica does sell separately a shock mount for this microphone, but at a bit of a price tag.
The second opportunity that I’ve noticed on the BP40 is that it does appear to require a fair amount of gain to achieve that fuller sound that I mentioned earlier. Although turning up the gain may seem like a feasible solution, it’s important to remember that higher gain comes with some other downsides (such as more outside noise pickup). In addition, I’ve always found that with increased gain usually comes more variations in levels between the loud and quiet points in your recordings, something that could mean adding a compressor to your setup if you do live recordings (luckily for me I already have a compressor in line).
The third and final opportunity I’ve noticed on the Audio-Technica BP40 is that the microphone appears to be fairly bottom heavy. If you’ve ever heard any of the podcasts that I’m on, what you may not realize since I EQ my podcasts, is that naturally I do not have a lot of bass in my voice. I’ve noticed often when podcasting with it that I’m surprised how much extra bass I have in my voice versus what I know my true voice to be. For someone like myself who wishes he could have “that boomy voice-over actiony sound”, the microphone is a good fit. However, I’d fear how it sounded with someone with a bassier voice. With that said, I have noticed that running the microphone with more gain does seem to yield less bass, something that I’ve noticed is true to a degree on any microphone. I also suspect that a large amount of the bassyness could be rectified using EQ, but it is still something to consider if you have a fairly bass-heavy voice (I encourage you to be realistic with yourself as this could be something you want to have on your microphone – it’s ok that not everyone has the big-action-thriller-style-voiceover-type-voice).
So, You Want To Hear, Right?
If you’ve stuck around this long through the article, I’m sure you’re really itching to hear some tests from the Audio-Technica BP40. Below are a series of audio clips demonstrating the microphone.
Test Number 1 – The Pop Test
In this test I demonstrate the lack of pop filter moving my head from facing way to the right of the microphone gradually moving directly into the microphone and continuing through to facing away to the left of the microphone (and I’ll do a return trip from left to right, once again crossing direct into the microphone).
As you can hear, it seems to illustrate that unless directly into the microphone, a windscreen or pop filter does not appear to be needed.
Test Number 2 – The Microphone Clip test
In this test I’ll demonstrate the noise discussed that comes by using the stock microphone clip.
Test Number 3 – Proximity Effect
In this test I’ll shift around in my seat to help illustrate any proximity effect you may get with the BP40.
After having close to a month with the Audio-Technica, overall, I think that Audio Technica has done a great job with their first entry into the large diaphragm dynamic microphone market. The company has been able to develop a good sounding, great looking microphone.
With that said, I think it’s important to reiterate that there are some serious considerations to make before buying it. For example, if you do have a naturally boomy voice, are you OK applying some EQ to bring down the bottom end? Additionally, what are you expecting to get out of a microphone in this area? Do you think you’ll need to buy the additional shock mount? Since every purchase comes with it’s own set of considerations, I’m hoping that I have helped outline some you may have to make with the Audio-Technica BP40.
Of course even with everything considered, I do feel that the audio quality in the BP40 is worthy of the $400 price point especially since at the end of the review period I can say I’ve had a fairly good experience with it. If you’re looking for a longer sample, take a look at this GonnaGeek.com Podcast episode where I record the episode using the Audio-Technica BP40. I hope that my review, samples and comparisons help you with your consideration of the Audio-Technia BP40.
Have you heard or watched some of the great GonnaGeek podcasts and thought, “I can do that!” Or maybe you are really passionate about a subject and want to share your expertise with the world? Perhaps you just want to find like-minded people to share your interests. Whatever your reason this is an exciting time to start a podcast and I can’t tell you how many people have asked me for details on how to start a podcast since I started producing podcasts myself. I am always available to chat about podcasting. It’s my hobby. I’m a serious podcasting hobbyist. I even listen to podcasts about podcasting and often talk tips of the trade with other podcasters both on GonnaGeek and outside of the network. I participate in online groups about podcasting and keep track of relevant podcasting news. So while I might not know everything there is to know about podcasting I do know a few things about how to get started as a hobby podcaster.
Anyone can do a podcast. I know paraplegics that podcast. I know 7 year old children that podcast. I know 80 year olds that podcast. You do NOT have to be a Rocket Scientist to know how to podcast. However, podcasts – even in there simplest form – have a lot of moving parts. Subject matter, format, frequency, scheduling, presenters or hosts, media hosting, podcast art, web hosting, interviews, ID3 tags, royalty free music, URLs, RSS, recording, editing, posting, preparation, and more. All of these need to be considered and most likely used. But none of those topics are tough by itself and if you have questions about any of them please ask myself or Stephen and we’ll be glad to point you in the right direction. There’s no one right answer for everyone. But given your goals and how you want to proceed we can more likely than not set you off in a direction that is the most effective and efficient.
So what if you want to try podcasting before you put a lot of effort and perhaps even money into it? I would highly recommend guesting on a podcast or being interviewed. That is actually how I did it. Chuck, Audra and Sean of Galactic Watercooler were very kind to allow me to guest on my first podcast in December 2011. I sincerely appreciate them for presenting me with that opportunity. I learned tips and techniques from that one podcast that I still use today.
Most people aren’t lucky enough to be co-located with their podcasting community these days which is why communication applications like Skype, Google Hangouts On Air and Blab have all become popular with podcasters. Not only can you communicate digitally with your cohosts real-time, but you can record and stream to the internet your live podcast session with tremendous ease.
Most people can Skype, Hangout or Blab through their smartphones these days nearly anywhere. But if you want to get the most out of your experience and open your opportunities up to higher audio quality podcasts, there are a couple of relatively inexpensive USB microphones that I would highly recommend investing in. They are dynamic microphones and not condenser microphones which means the background and room noise will be mostly mitigated and you don’t have to lock yourself in a soundproof wardrobe to get great sound. The two recommendations I have are dual USB and XLR which means if you do continue on to full-on podcasting that the microphones will grow with your podcasting setup. And these microphones have been demonstrated to hold their own with microphones that cost in the $300-$500 range. Finally, these microphones are some of the most inexpensive microphones available for the capability. They are a definite bargain for what you get.
The first recommended microphone is the Audio Technica ATR-2100 Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone. As I write this article it is retailing on Amazon for $58 but I have seen it on sale for as little as $35-$40. It’s silver and has a round microphone cage or screen that you talk into. The package comes with a little microphone stand and clip with both a 6 foot USB and XLR cord. This is an amazing deal at the price and a steal when it is on sale. I cannot recommend this microphone enough to anyone who is beginning in podcasting. You will get close to studio quality sound from it and not have to do a thing except for plugging it into whatever tech you are currently using with the USB capability. Fellow GonnaGeek podcasters Haley, Jay, Eric, Jonathan, and Stephen own and regularly use this microphone.
The second recommend microphone is the Audio Technica AT2005 Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone. It is largely the same microphone with the same quality sound. The cage might have a better internal foam based pop filter, it is black, it comes with a neat carry case, and the on-off switch is flat to the microphone body. Otherwise it’s the same. The AT2005 is my favorite microphone because I like the look better and the functionality and versatility is a wonder to me. If I had known about the AT2005 in December 2011 I would have bought one immediately. This microphone is diligently packed away in my podcasting mobile or go-bag and I love every time I use it. As with the ATR2100, the AT2005 is owned and used by several GonnaGeek podcasters including Shannon, Lauren, Stephen, Chris, Neil, and frequent GonnaGeek guest host Ferris. The AT2005 is selling for $79 on Amazon as I write this article but it is often on sale for the $45-$50 price range as well.
If you want to try podcasting, guest hosting, being interviewed or just leaving a better quality voicemail for podcasts these two microphones will give you the experience you need to determine if you want to go further. Do you need either of these two microphones? No. Of course not. But if you want to get the best podcasting beginners experience one of these microphones will get you going in a great direction.
As always, if you have any questions please give me a shout-out!
In the latest video in our series of unboxing videos, today I’m going to unbox the Audio-Technica BP40 Large Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone. The BP40 is a recent addition to the Audio-Technica lineup, but the first Audio-Technica offers in the Large Diaphragm Dynamic category.
Take a look at at the unboxing video and initial impressions in the video below.
In today’s society it’s pretty much a daily occurrence to hear of someone who has been a victim of some form of malware. Whether it’s a string of spam-emails from a friend who’s had their email compromised or a relative who’s had their computer compromised by a non-stop series of pop-up ads, the sad reality is that these things are now part of every day life. As bad as these may sound, what you may not realize is that these two examples are child’s play compared to something called CryptoLocker.
What is CryptoLocker? Simply put, it’s a unique type of virus called ‘Ransomware’. What Ransomewhere does is essentially hold your data hostage, demanding you pay a fee to get it back (hence the term RANSOMware). CryptoLocker is believed to have been first posted to the internet on September 5 2013. While it’s believed that the original version of the virus was removed in June 2014, there are now several other variation/mutations of CryptoLocker out in full force still wreaking havoc on society.
You may be wondering why I’m choosing to write about CryptoLocker now, something that has been around for several years. Unfortunately, this week one of my fellow GonnaGeekers, Cody Gough of Unqualified Gamers, fell victim to this malware. In the latest episode of Unqualified Gamers (Episode 118) Cody recounts his experience dealing with this virus (or perhaps I should more accurately say that he recounts his hellish nightmare of dealing with this virus).
With most pieces of malware, once you’ve been infected you can often retrieve your data back using external tools to clean and retrieve (or paying the local computer store to do this for you), but this is not possible with CryptoLocker. What happens with this particular piece of malware is that all of your data is encrypted using a unique encryption key. This method of encryption essentially means that it’s next-to-impossible for a regular member of society to ‘unlock’ your data without having the unique encryption key. Of course, the hackers behind CryptoLocker (or whatever variation you have been infected by) have this encryption key for you, but you’ll have to get it at a price (in Cody’s case starting at the $500 USD mark). The bottom line is that if you fall victim to CryptoLocker, you are faced with two choices – paying the ransom (which as per any ransom request carries its own set of risks) or counting your data as a lost cause.
Let’s say that you decide that your data is in fact worth paying the ransom (and the risks that go with that). The hackers want the money quickly so that probably just a matter of paypal-ing some money somewhere, right? Of course not. Using a mainstream payment method would mean that the payment could possibly be traceable, something that the hackers aren’t going to chance. The main acceptable method of payment is Bitcoin, a virtually untraceable, extremely risky currency. As Cody Gough of Unqualified Gamers puts it, “Bitcoins are basically used by criminals.” In fact, getting Bitcoin comes with its own set of challenges and headaches. So let’s just put it this way – even if you decide to pay the fee, it’s not a simple process.
Although Cody just posted the latest Unqualifed Gamers yesterday, Cody had already shared with the rest of us GonnaGeek Network members some of his experience in the days leading up to this podcast release, which means that for a while many of us have been evaluating our own protection methods and I wanted to share some of the suggestions several of us come up with.
My first recommendation is to make sure you have a good, up to date anti-virus. For years I worked in the computer repair industry and time and time again I would see people come in who were running an expired antivirus, assuming that they were still protected. It’s important to remember that viruses are always transforming and evolving, and an antivirus is (primarily) only as good as its database of recognition. It’s also important to note that not all antivirus software offer the same level of protection. I won’t make any personal recommendations here, but I will recommend that you search for antivirus reviews so you can find comparison charts that help illustrate this. Here’s a cost savings tips – many antivirus software offer discounts on their website, and many also offer multiple PC installs included in their basic-antivirus. This is something to consider as if you have multiple PCs in your house, you may be able to save some money if you choose to buy one of the protection solutions that offer installs on 1-3 PCs. Of course protection doesn’t stop there. As mentioned, malware is constantly evolving which means that there’s a chance that you could get hit with a virus that actually is undetected by your software. CryptoLocker itself has been known to begin the encryption protection on certain files before being detected by anti-virus. This could mean that even if your Anti-Virus solution does detect it, there could be some data that is encrypted by the time you get the notice of detection.
Which leads me to my other point…. Back up your data in an off-line place. Now, while many people have in-place automated backups to sources connected to your computer (ie. a nightly backup to an external drive, a backup to a mapped drive elsewhere on your network, etc), this is something that more likely would help you if your hard drive crashed, not so much in the case of CryptoLocker. In my research CryptoLocker will often tackle the data on any of your connected drives, which in theory means that it could encrypt that connected back-up hard drive, mapped network drive etc. This could even mean that if you use a cloud-based auto-synced folder, it could possibly encrypt your data in the cloud (although perhaps the cloud-servers would have protection against this – but I wouldn’t want to chance it). So how can you protect yourself from something that conceivable attack every single piece of data connected to your computer? The answer you seek is within that question itself – don’t have your backup connected. Since constantly connecting and disconnecting a hard drive with your primary source of data isn’t convenient, a more efficient practise would be to invest in an external hard drive solely used for backup purposes which you connect only occasionally to create a backup of your data (making sure to disconnect it once the backup is complete). Although external hard drives aren’t the cheapest item in the world, I encourage you to consider the ransom fee mention above – Cody’s started at $500 (the external hard drive doesn’t seem so expensive anymore, does it?). The timing of how often you conduct an off-line backup to this drive is up to you and your use-case, remember that if you do fall victim to CryptoLocker and have to retrieve your data from the hard drive, you’ll only be able to get the data up until when you last conducted a backup. I would also encourage you to consider setting up a plan to budget the cost of buying a secondary backup-drive as all hard drives are susceptible to data loss due to failure. If you’re backing up to multiple drives, more than likely if you had to retrieve information and one of them did have failure, you’d have the other to go to (but some might argue this is overkill, so I’ll leave it up to you).
Of course now that you’ve taken the time to read this article I encourage you to self-reflect on your security and backup solutions and consider if it’s time to make any changes. I also want to encourage you to listen to the latest version of Unqualified Gamers where Cody does talk about his experience with CryptoLocker. Cody does a terrific job of explaining many issues he’s encountered in his experience, multiple that I have not mentioned in this article. So hop over to the latest Unqualified Gamers and here is account of CryptoLocker and the subsequent issues going forward with it. Cody even takes some time to tell you about how he’s fortunate enough to have somewhere else to go to record the episode, but without it, he’d probably be out of commission. If you’re a podcaster, think about all the source files you use on a regular basis when assembling a podcast (ie. your intros, your bumps, your splitters, your outro). If you’re a graphics designer, think about the templates you use on a regular basis as starting points for your client’s projects (or think about your extensive list of textures and fonts). If you’re just a regular user, think about those family photos and that awesome video you took of your cat (or that other awesome video you took of your cat). Now imagine those files are gone. If you operate without any backups, I encourage operating with the mind-set that every single piece of your data is not important and that if you were to lose it today it would be no problem. Without a backup, it’s better to always assume the worst can happen, so if it does, you are better prepared to accept the loss.
Microsoft has officially started rolling out Windows 10 and if you’re a Windows 7 or 8 user, you are eligible for a free upgrade. Of course the questions should be asked, should you upgrade?
If you only have one computer, you may want to wait a few weeks to jump on the upgrade. As usual with any new operating system, once it hits the mainstream there are bound to be a variety of bugs discovered that just couldn’t have been anticipated in any amount of beta testing.
While I was an early adopter of Windows 8, I plan to wait at least a few weeks as my eligible system is my main system (and seeing as I have a complex multi-skype podcast configuration for the GonnaGeek Podcast, I just can’t take the chance of potential downtime).
However, if you are someone who is ready to adopt early, keep an eye on the “Get Windows 10” app that should have appeared in your lower right tray of your desktop. Since Microsoft is rolling out the upgrade in phases, you may not be showing as having it available now. Keep an eye on the app as I’m sure soon enough you will be notified.
Have you upgraded to Windows 10? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. Conversely, if you’re planning on waiting, tell us your reasons why – we’d love to hear from you too.