Mic Shootout Nady RSM4, Rode NT1A, MXL Silicon Valve, Zoom H2

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Michael W. Dean of the Freedom Feens does a Microphone Shootout Nady RSM4, Rode NT1A, MXL Silicon Valve, Zoom H2, comparing ribbon microphones in a side-by-side test with condenser microphones and a Zoom H2, using male and female voices.

Note: there is a VERY very slight “ringing” sound in a few spots, it’s not in the original audio, it’s an artifact of YouTube’s compression.

With the Nady, in this test I didn’t add any EQ. Check out this podcast where I added a tiny bit of treble on the mixer. It’s literally the best-sounding podcast episode I’ve ever heard:

http://www.freedomfeens.com/2012/02/26/michael-deans-search-engine-optimization-guide-part-8/

FREEDOM FEENS Podcast – Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi’s fun ‘n’ feisty weekly chat about Constitutional, libertarian, voluntaryist, minarchist and anarchist issues, abuse of authority by police, the War on Drugs, self-defense, States’ Rights, Natural Rights, Austrian Economics, DIY art, low-budget filmmaking, digital recording, activism, punk rock, hip-hop and more.
http://www.freedomfeens.com/

Now with streaming audio for mobile:
http://www.freedomfeens.com/streaming-audio/

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

Don’t Let PayPal Freeze Your Funds

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frozen funds

PayPal, as useful as it is, has a nasty habit of freezing funds of people who seek donations for a worthy project but don’t have a government permission slip to do so. There have been several high-profile examples lately of PayPal freezing the donations of everything from buying toys for sick kids to protecting the U.S. Constitution from abuse by police, just because those people didn’t have a 501(c)(3) official tax-free status from the IRS. I’m assuming this is the government’s fault, but PayPal is complicit too.

One of several big issues I have with this, and why I feel PayPal is complicit, is that the PayPal user agreement says nothing about this PayPal rule. I couldn’t find anything about it on the PayPal site in ten minutes of clicking on likely links. And the “setup button page” says nothing about “you must be a licensed 501(c)(3) to use this feature.”

Paypal Make Button Page

PayPal recently froze a whopping 40,000 dollars gathered by patriot sheriff Richard Mack for a Constitutional Sheriffs Conference.

I realized long ago that PayPal does this, and here are my workarounds. (Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, am not giving legal or tax advice, merely stating what I personally do.)

1.I would NEVER keep an amount of money anywhere NEAR 40,000 dollars in my PayPal account. First, it would be a quality problem if I ever got that much in donations. I’ve never even seen that much money at one time in my life, from donations or from working. But I never keep more than 200 dollars in my PayPal account. I either spend it through PayPal on expenses with people who take PayPal (like my web host, which I often pay a year in advance) or cash it out to my bank account and get cash. Spending it through PayPal does not incur a fee. Cashing it out does incur a small fee, but I feel it’s worth it for the safety of not having it socked away somewhere that it could be frozen.

2. I do not have PayPal links that say “Donate.” I either use a “subscribe” link like I have here, with the explanation that subscribing is really a contribution and does not grant additional access, or I use the PayPal donate link code, but substitute the “Donate” button for the old style “PayPal” button (shown below, feel free to grab and host on your site, please do not hotlink from my site).

In both cases, I add this text in bold, to make it clear I am not a non-profit entity under US law:

Make a donation (donations are NOT tax-deductible, but they might just make you feel really really good)

I believe these two methods to be good due diligence against the heartache of having your funds seized.

–Michael W. Dean