FLAC helps editing across the miles

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FLAC is a freeware audio codec that allows you to make the file size of a WAV much smaller with NO loss of quality. This makes it easier to send huge files over the Internet to collaborate, outsource, or Feensource editing.

When Neema Vedadi and I edit our Freedom Feens podcast, it presents unique challenges. We live in different states, but we produce a podcast that sounds excellent, and sounds like we’re in the same room. We record as a double-ender podcast, each recording our end only, then sewing them together and editing more. I used to do all the editing, but Neema has started helping.

The problem is, we send each other WAV files, not MP3 files, to preserve quality as we edit, and WAV files are huge. See, every time you make an MP3 of an MP3, or edit and save an MP3, it sounds worse and worse each time. So we do all the editing as uncompressed WAV files, and only output to MP3 once, when we’re done. That helps preserve the stunning and stellar Feens quality that is part of what sets us apart from other, lesser casts. (The other thing that sets us apart is our brilliance and humor.)

More on how we record Freedom Feens is here.

WAV files are about ten megs per minute (ten times the size of an MP3). So they can take a long time to send back and forth for editing a 90-minute cast. We record the podcast in four 25-minute chunks, send each other files to mix and pre-edit, then edit. We do it in sections, and using FLAC makes it quicker and easier to send the files across the miles via FTP.

USING FLAC:

Grab the small FLAC utility:

For Windows. For other operating systems.

It converts WAVs to FLAC, and FLAC to WAV. Works quickly, with absolutely no audio loss, and the FLACs are about half the file size of the WAVs.

Install it, then use “FLAC Frontend” to do your encoding/decoding.

I converted a 16-bit 44.1 Hz stereo WAV of a full 51-minute Freedom Feens episode to a FLAC. It was one of the older ones, before we went to 90 minutes. The WAV file was 519 megs. The resulting FLAC file size was 293 megs. Conversion took two minutes.

I converted that FLAC back to a 16-bit 44.1 Hz stereo WAV, file size returned to 519 megs, audio quality was EXACTLY the same as the original. No loss whatsoever. Converting back took about 30 seconds.

The settings I use are in the image below. Set your FLAC Front end settings like this, and set the folder you’re using. Drag your WAV file in and drop.

To convert from WAV to FLAC, click “Encode.” (Bottom right button.)

To convert FLAC to WAV, click “Decode.” (Above the “Encode” button.)

Simple as that.

If you want to test a FLAC file for audio quality, they will play in VLC video player.

–Michael W. Dean

More info on FLAC.

p.s. If any audio editors want to volunteer to help feensource our editing, let us know in a comment below.

Getting better sound out of a Zoom H2 (or any recording device or microphone)

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zoom recorder padding for better audio

The Zoom H2 handy recorder is an amazing recording device. As are the other Zoom devices that have come out, the Zoom H4, Zoom H4n, the Zoom Q3HD. All are what I call (and coined the phrase for, in 2008) the “Studio on a stick.” I use a Zoom H2 on a gooseneck stand to get amazing quality sound on my Freedom Feens podcast.

But the Zoom’s recording quality is only as good as the sound in the room. If you’re recording in a room with a lot of bare walls you’re still going to get echoy sound. That’s why I came up with the idea of a quick and cheap sound baffle that slips over the end of the Zoom, and cuts out almost all ambient sound, recording only the person talking directly in front of it.

Construction is easy, and under a dollar. Simply cut some egg crate foam into a rectangle about one foot by six inches, then tie over the Zoom using shoelace material. Here’s how it attaches on the back:

It helps if you have someone else to put their finger on the knot before you pull it tight.

Here’s how easily it slips off:

For even more acoustic isolation, you can jam another wedge of egg crate foam into the top:

You could use this same technique on any recording device or microphone.

–Michael W. Dean

VaporSmiths Electronic Cigarettes YouTube Video Review Contest

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ecigs from heaven

I’ve been helping design the new blog for VaporSmiths electronic cigarettes. (Who sponsor the Freedom Feens podcast.) They’re having a great video contest. Check it out and win cool stuff, here:

 

VaporSmiths Electronic Cigarettes YouTube Video Review Contest