We're in the midst of the holidays! Thanksgiving has already passed and Christmas is just a short time away. If you're looking for the right gift for your podcasting friend or family member, or you're a podcaster trying to figure out what you want for Christmas, then this short gift guide is for you! In order of price, I share ten ideas for Christmas gifts to give your podcaster (or yourself).
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1. iPod AV cable (83 cents)
Before you write this off saying that you or your loved one doesn't have an iPod, you should know that this isn't for an iPod! This No products found. is advertised and designed for use with connecting some iPods to TVs, but the cable is also a great hack for connecting many wireless phones to a mixer. With this 83¢ cable, a podcaster can easily patch in live phone calls to their podcasts, without buying expensive equipment. For $18.32, you can buy the fancy-looking No products found., but I think the under-$1 cable is good enough—I use it with my BlackBerry Curve. Just ensure that the phone you'll be connecting has a jack into which regular headphones can plug.
2. Gel Wrist Rest ($5)
Try to say that fast five times! “Gel wrist rest. Gel wrist rest.Gel wrist rest.Gel wrist rest.Gel wist west.” Despite being a fun tongue-twister, a Belkin F8E244-BLK WaveRest Gel Wrist Pad can be a godsend on—rather, under—the wrist! Depending on a podcaster's studio, using the mouse could become very uncomfortable: sharp edge of the desk, the angle of the wrist, or setting the wrist on a cold, hard surface. Although mousepads are now a thing of the past, I love how comfortable my wrist rest is on my wrist and arm while working on my computer—editing podcasting, designing websites, or just browsing the web!
3. Rechargeable AA batteries with charger ($13)
Technology is power-hungry! Many portable devices, thankfully, use standard-size batteries, such as AA. But these same devices usually ship with only standard batteries that are trash after their juice is drained. Invest in a Duracell Value Charger With 4AA Pre Charged Rechargeable Nimh Batteries (or similar) to not only save money, but the environment, too! If a podcaster already has rechargeable batteries, there's nothing wrong with getting more! After all, what good are dead rechargeable batteries without backups? I always try to have an extra serving of batteries for almost any device I carry.
UPDATE: I now prefer Eneloop rechargeable batteries. They're a little more expensive but they last a lot longer, so I think they're worth it.
4. 8 GB SD Card ($14)
This postage-stamp-sized storage media may not seem all that special, but who wouldn't be happy with more storage? Whether your podcaster has a digital camera, a HD camcorder, or a portable digital audio recorder, something like the Transcend 8 GB Class 6 SDHC Flash Memory Card will be super-handy! Most devices ship with only a 1 or 2 GB secure digital (SD) card. Even if your podcaster already has one, he can always use another one, especially if it's larger than what he already has. If 8 GB isn't enough for you, spend $26.99 and get a Transcend 16GB Class 10 SDHC Card (or even 32 GB for $50.99).
5. BackBlaze online backup ($50/year)
If you haven't already experienced a hard-drive crash, then you probably still will (I have a hard drive on my desk right now that just crashed!). Hard drives don't last forever. I'm convinced that online backup is the best way to protect your data—documents, photos, podcast recordings, edits, and more. BackBlaze online backup (like similar providers) moves your data far enough away from your computer that your house could be bombed with a nuclear warhead and your data would still be safe and easily retrievable. But online backup is also tremendously handy for revision histories. Maybe you accidentally overwrote your file with some changes you didn't want. BackBlaze allows you to go back into your history and restore an older version. I personally use BackBlaze and highly recommend it!
UPDATE: I no longer recommend Mozy because they discontinued their unlimited backup plans and offer tiers.
6. Cordless Performance Mouse MX ($75)
Whether you're on Windows or OS X, desktop or notebook, a good mouse is not only essential to computing comfort, but also crucial to productivity. I personally use this mouse, the No products found., and don't leave home without it (that is, when I'm taking my notebook PC)! What I like most about this mouse is it's tiny Unifying Receiver, which is so small I can permanently leave it plugged into my notebook with its risk of being broken; the switchable scrollwheel, which can click-turn (like normal mice) or free-spin (great for flicking gestures); the right and left scrollwheel clicks, which I use for switching tabs in browsers, programs, or customize for any other shortcut; and it's genius recharging system, which uses only one AA battery and includes a USB charging cable so that when the battery is dead (about once a week of constant use), it becomes a corded mouse while it recharges.
7. Great headphones (around $100)
Great headphones are crucial to an audio podcaster because they allow realtime hearing of audio levels and effects, as well as constrain the audio enough so that the microphone doesn't pick up an echo of itself. There are so many types of headphones and comfort levels, that your podcaster may have to pick them out himself. Go to a local store for this, but then find the headphones pair he wants on Amazon.com.
8. Heil Overhead broadcast boom ($120)
Even though I have a lot of expensive, high-tech recording equipment, my previously mentioned favorite piece of equipment is my Heil Sound PL-2T Overhead Broadcast Boom. Rather than mess with a floor stand for a microphone, this broadcast boom attachs to a desk or table (there are other mounting options, too) and allows for easy movement of the microphone. It's beautifully balanced for a Heil PR40, but includes a weight for lighter microphones.
9. Apple iPod Touch ($215–370)
A good podcaster can only get better by being inspired by other podcasters and learning more about the art. Although there are plenty of ways to subscribe to podcasts, I think the Apple iPod touch is the “funnest” way to do it! Certainly, the smaller Apple iPod Nano ($140–$170) can play podcasts just as well (although the newest generation Nano cannot play video), but the iPod Touch is built with Apple's iOS software (the same thing running on the iPhone), which opens the door to a huge world of apps that can enhance podcasting productivity: soundboards, recording apps, and more. Almost anything that runs on an iPhone will run on the iPod Touch.
10. Portable digital audio recorder ($280–$300)
There are two great, portable digital audio recorders that most professional podcasters use: the No products found. ($280, pictured at left) and the Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder. Either of these recorders present the same key benefits: plug into your mixer to move recording away from the computer and never worry about the computer's losing the recording, and its easily portability allows to recording in quite high quality no matter where the podcaster is. If you're on a tight budget and don't want all of the features, the Zoom H1 ($99) is also good for portable recording.
Question: How much should I charge to advertise in my podcast?
JD from RadioCSS asked about having sponsorships and advertising in his podcast, and what a good dollar amount would be to charge. The answer is very “lawyeristic”: it depends. Three things to consider:
- How much is it worth for you to inconvenience or even annoy your listeners by running ads?
- How many downloads do you get per episode? Many sponsorships pay based on the number of unique downloads. Fewer downloads means less payment.
- Consider your expenses and what it would cost to cover them.
Audacity tip: rearranging tracks
Instead of clicking “Move track up” or “Move track down” from the Track Control Panel, Audacity allows you to easily rearrange your audio tracks with drag-and-drop. Simply click in the space just above the Solo button and hold down the mouse button, then move the track up or down to rearrange. It even works in combination with a mouse scrollwheel.
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.
Another good episode. First, to clarify, the previous iPod Nano 5th generation fully supports video including a video camera. You can find a 16gb Nano 5G for $149 USD/$169 CAD in the Apple Store under "Special Deals". But they are going quick as it's on some other "geek holiday gift lists". <a href="http://(http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC062?mco=MTM3NDc1NzM)” target=”_blank”>(http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC062?mco=MTM3NDc1NzM)
For my holiday stocking, I would ask for a shock mount to go with the new microphone boom. $25 to $100 depending on the microphone.
I'm also a defender of recording into a computer but recently I found I get better levels into my Zoom H2 than through Firewire or USB from the mixer into most computer based audio recording apps including Audacity, even though it does increase steps in workflow.
Thanks for clarifying that, Bob!
A shockmount would be an excellent gift! After all, what good is a movable mic stand if it boom every time you adjust it?
The Zoom H4n has an interesting level issue. It's not designed for line-level input, so it clips on things often and I had to experiment for a long time to find the right level. Have you had a similar experience with the H2?
The Zoom H2 has a separate a line in and ext mic in along phones/line out. On both the mic in and line in, I haven't experienced a clipping issue. When the WAV file is dropped into Audacity, it sounds good and waveforms appear as expected. But I'm still tweaking with my new Mackie mixer after switching from a Centrance Micport Pro (another great holiday stocking stuffer) with my Rode Procaster.
Even though often maligned by some Edirol users, the Zoom H2 is a very good digital recorder. At $179CAD about $150-$200 less than an Edirol R09HR or Zoom H4N and only $60 more than the less featured Zoom H1. I will often recommend the Zoom H2 to faculty who want to record lectures or seminars with something better than a voice recorder as the four microphones are useful in capturing the presenter on one side and the audience on the other side. It also works very well when interviewing in the field as there is no need to "wave" the microphone back and forth.
In order to not clip on my H4n, I have my mixer's outputs (for both the XLR and 3.5 mm inputs) set to -6 dB. The cause is that the H4n is designed for consumer levels (-10 dBV), not professional levels (+4 dBU). Here's a Wikipedia entry that helps explain the differences.
Yes, the Zoom H2 is also a lot handier thanks to its size.
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I, too, and always learning and trying to improve. Thanks for listening!
[…] not /tmp, so preserving the directory between reboots.Christmas gifts for podcastersI updated my list of Christmas gifts for podcasters with better rechargeable batteries, online backup, and I mentioned the upcoming Olympus LS100 […]