I’m on a continuing quest to discover more effective and efficient ways to share audio recordings online, and the Cinch app for iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) continues to be one of my favorites. Today at the TCEA Area 7 Technology Conference in White Oak, Texas, I used the app on my iPhone to audio record and immediately publish online (with presenter permission, of course) three different conference sessions.

Oodles of eBooks by Carolyn Foote (@technolibrary on Twitter)
Session resources on http://eisdworkshops.wikispaces.com/Oodles+of+E-books

Celebrate Texas Voices: Empowering Digital Witnesses by Wesley Fryer (@wfryer on Twitter)
Session slides on SlideShare

Creativity & Web 2.0 Tools by Randy Rodgers (@rrodgers on Twitter)
Session resources on Livebinder

Typically at a conference when I audio record a session, I use a battery operated, digital audio recorder. Over the years I’ve used recorders made by iRiver, Olympus, Sony, RCA, and mAudio, in addition to various iPod and iPhone recorder configurations. Older Olympus recorders we used for Storychasers’ workshops in 2008 (known at the time simply as “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” workshops) are shown in the image below. I generally favor and recommend battery operated recorders like these, since they don’t have to be charged up and are inexpensive, effective and reliable.

Olympus WS-110 Recorders

One of the biggest challenges of audio recording with a flash-based memory recorder like these, however, is post-production. At some point following the presentation, it’s necessary to do most or all of the following steps to publish the audio online:

  1. Copy audio files from the recorder to a computer hard drive.
  2. Open an individual audio mp3 file in Audacity.
  3. Edit at least unwanted audio from the front and end of the recording.
  4. In some cases, for podcasts like my main “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” podcast channel, add an intro, an intro musical bumper, an overview of the podcast content, a transition audio clip, and close the podcast with an audio bumper.
  5. In some cases, I’ll then export the edited audio file from Audacity as a WAV file, and then drop the file on Levelator (a GREAT free app from the Conversations Network) to normalize the audio levels in the recording.
  6. Import the WAV file Levelator outputs in iTunes to add podcast show art and ID3 tags (meta info) before compressing it into a 32 kbps flash-player friendly mp3 version.
  7. Upload the finished mp3 audio file to my server using ftp software (I like CyberDuck)
  8. Create and publish a formatted blog entry for the podcast episode.
  9. Add meta info for the episode to my podcast webfeed/RSS feed and publish that updated file to my server. (I use FeedForAll for this)
  10. Login to Feedburner and ping it to update my podcast feed.

That’s a rather long series of steps, and generally takes me at least an hour to complete for most podcasts. If the podcast is a “no edit” or “lightly edited” version and I’m publishing it to my “Fuel for Educational Change Agents” channel, powered by Podcast Generator, I replace the FTP steps with a browser-based upload. It does save time and simplify things. Still, it’s a lot of steps. I described these steps at greater length in my October 2009 post, “How I create and publish podcasts.”

Contrast ALL those steps to my process today using the Cinch iPhone app:

  1. Press record in the Cinch app.
  2. After the presentation is over, press stop and enter a title for the session in the app before clicking PUBLISH.

That’s it! By connecting my Cinch app to my Twitter account, the app even tweeted out a link to the podcast on the Cinch.fm website after each upload finished! Since I used the conference Twitter hashtag in the title (#tatc11) this content was “findable” by others following the conference as well as those following me. This is an AMAZING capability, and one which will result (I’m sure) in more audio podcasting on my part at conferences in the weeks ahead… including ISTE 2011 in a few weeks.

In addition to supporting app-based audio recording AND publishing, Cinch permits browser-based audio recording AND phonecasting. All for free! What a deal!

The additional layer of experimentation I did today using Cinch on my iPhone was using an iRig microphone ($60) to audio record most of my session, “Celebrate Texas Voices.” If you compare the audio quality of that recording to both Carolyn’s and Randy’s sessions, I think you’ll notice a big difference. This isn’t a reflection on either of them, it’s the fact that I used an external microphone during my session and this can make a BIG difference when it comes to audio quality.

iRig iMic

For more resources and links related to audio podcasting, refer to the Audio page of PlayingWithMedia.com. Cinch rocks! If you haven’t given it a try, check it out, and consider using it (with presenter permission) to share audio recordings at an upcoming conference you attend.

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