Ambrosia Software released the much-needed Soundboard 2.0 and I share a brief review, I'm developing a WordPress theme designed specifically for podcasters, I answer Alan Bunt's question about using a compressor/limiter/gate on a Behringer 1204 mixer, and I share an Audacity tip about pasting.
Ambrosia Software Soundboard 2.0
In the Windows world, we've had the fantastic and free application PodProducer for playing sound effects into our program. When I switched to Mac, I tried SoundByte (OS X and Windows, $39), BZSoundBoard (OS X, free), and Soundboard 1.x (OS X, then $29). SoundByte had an ugly interface and high price of $39; BZSoundBoard was free and was better designed for the Mac OS X interface, but it lacked many features and functionality; and while Soundboard 1.x was beautiful and had great features, it had a serious bug (playing mono sounds in only the left channel) that turned me off from using it. So I stuck with using PodProducer running through Code Weavers Crossover Mac (to run Windows programs without Windows), albeit with some limitations (like no scroll wheel or drag-and-drop).
Soundboard's mono bug was highly reported and acknowledged. Ambrosia Software promised to fix it in the next major release, which would be 2.0. I received the email on Friday, November 5, announcing the availability of Soundboard 2.0 and new features. I was excited!
After trying the app and its new features, I knew I could be happy with it. I love that it lays out sounds on a visual representation of my keyboard, so pressing Q will activate the first sound in the second row, Z would be the sound below it, or 4 would be a sound in the top row. Rearranging sounds is easy, requiring now keyboard reassignments.
You can do some basic edits and fades within Soundboard without changing your file, and several features of the program just work beautifully, logically, and simply. Especially wonderful is a customizable Duck button. Clicking it fades the volume of all playing audio down to a set level (default is 33%, but I prefer 15–20%), and clicking it again returns the volume to normal. You can customize how long the fade is. This is great because I don't have to mess with my physical mixer board to duck my audio (partially fade it out) while I'm talking.
Soundboard 2.0 also introduces Soundpipe, which they say lets you “Record Soundboard's audio output in any audio recording program (such as GarageBand) without additional hardware or software ….” Nice! This could totally eliminate the need for a hardware mixer for direct-to-disk recordings, and it works with any program that lets you select your audio input device (including Audacity, or just set the input at the system level).
I could go on, but you get the idea. Soundboard 2.0 is an amazing program for podcasters using Mac OS X. However, what killed my enthusiasm was the price tag—$49 (but they offer an upgrade from 1.x for $19)! That makes it now more expensive than Soundbyte, and $49 more expensive than continuing to run PodProducer through Crossover Mac.
I will continue to use the trial and evaluate Soundboard's value. But for now, I think $49 is far too expensive. If you podcast with your Mac, try Soundboard 2.0 and tell me what you think.
A compressor/limiter/gate on smaller mixers?
Alan Bunt from 1GoodShepherd.org asked about why I had said in episode 11 that I couldn't use my Behringer MULTICOM PRO-XL MDX4600 compressor/limiter/gate with the mixer that I had at that time, a Behringer XENYX 1204USB. Alan has the same mixer, but presumably a different compressor/limiter/gate, and wondered why the auxiliary send (AUX SEND) wouldn't work for me.
My reason was simple. The Behringer MDX4600 is a four-channel mixer and I wanted complete channel separation so I could have different compression on my different cohosts and audio sources. The 1204USB mixer wouldn't support four channels like this because it has only a single, mono aux send. That would mix all the audio down to a single mono channel before sending it to my mixer, so I would lose channel separation.
Instead, I upgraded to a Behringer XENYX X1832USB, which has several inserts designed for taking the audio immediately after running through the preamp (gain), sending it to the compressor, and returning it back to the channel—four separate times. It was an expensive upgrade, but definitely worth it.
But you don't have to do what I did! If you're okay with mono compressing, you can use your mixers aux send to send audio to your compressor and then bring it back from the aux return(s).
Podcaster's Theme for WordPress
The Noodle.mx Network's WordPress theme is still a work-in-progress, but I'm developing it to eventually be a complete theme designed specifically for podcasters, whether they have one show or a whole network. To help me toward this, please give me your honest feedback on my theme, as I'm still developing it (and will be changing things soon), as well as send examples of other themes you like and why you like them.
Until I finish the theme (it may be a while), you can still hire me to customize my Subscribe & Follow widget for your website.
Audacity tip: pasting
Copying and pasting in Audacity is easy, but it can potentially mess up things.
If you're replacing a section with something else, save steps by copying your new section, selecting the old, and immediately pasting. It will replace what you had selected, whether it's longer or shorter than what you pasted.
But this can mess you up if you're working with multiple tracks by moving one track but not the other.
Here's how to paste without misaligning everything else.
- Have the audio you want to keep (the track you're pasting into) above your other track(s).
- Either select what you want to replace or simply click the cursor where you want to insert the audio into your now-top track.
- Hold down Shift and press the Down key. This extends your selection or cursor to the next track. Press the Down key for as many tracks as you have.
- Paste (Cmd-V on OS X or Ctrl-V on Windows, or choose it from the Edit menu).
- Your pasted audio is now in all of your selected tracks, properly moving everything in every track so that nothing is misaligned.
- Hold down Shift and press the Down key just once. This deselects the top track. Oddly, pressing the Up key will not deselect the bottom track, thus step 1's required positioning of your tracks.
- Instead of pressing delete, which will reflow all of the remaining selected tracks, press Cmd-Opt-K (OS X) or Ctrl-Alt-K (Windows) to Split Delete (also selectable from the Edit menu). This deletes the audio from the extra tracks without moving anything.
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