Audio Production With Free Software by D.Lynch


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This the talk I gave at the Manchester Free Software meeting on 21st July 2009. In it I discuss how I produce professional audio for podcasts and other media using Linux and Free Software. The slides on their own my not be that interesting but video is coming soon. Check out

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  • Background as a musician and sound engineer working on tours, live shows and also in studios. I came to podcasting about 2 years ago and it's a good fit for me as I'm a total geek. I've also worked as a programmer and web developer for the NHS, these days I'm a FLOSS advocate and writer amongst other things. I produce a show called the Software Freedom Law Show for the SFLC in New York. They're kind of like the legal arm of the Free Software Foundation.
  • So, what is a podcast? Well I'm glad you asked me that, you'd almost think this was planned wouldn't you? I say pre-recorded because a podcast isn't live, it's produced and edited before release. A lot of people get confused with Internet radio or tv. The “pod” name has stuck but can played on any media player. It's still an emerging media but the likes of the BBC, Guardian newspaper and more are very actively podcasting. Subscribers sign up via RSS feeds. Usually they use some kind of client like iTunes, a media player or even just a news reader like Google Reader. When a new show is added to the feed they can download it automatically.
  • Bandwidth is always the key thing with podcast hosting, it can get expensive with large files but it doesn't have to be. You can get unlimited bandwidth from $5 per month. You can keep your own company or project website hosted where it is and just link to media files on Dreamhost or Libsyn in your feeds.
  • Audio Production With Free Software by D.Lynch

    1. 1. Audio Production With Free Software Freeing your ears without compromising on audio quality By Dan Lynch - Licensed Under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 UK:England & Wales
    2. 2. Agenda – what I want to cover <ul><li>Introduction </li><ul><li>Who I am / What I do / Podcasting background </li></ul><li>Audio Production 101 </li><ul><li>Principals / techniques </li></ul><li>My Production Tools </li><ul><li>Software and hardware I use </li></ul><li>Software Freedom Law Show </li><ul><li>How it came about / Background
    3. 3. Hardware & Software Used
    4. 4. Quick Demo / Example </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Agenda – continued <ul><li>Linux Outlaws </li><ul><li>How we record the show
    6. 6. Editing and post production
    7. 7. Publication </li></ul><li>Music Production on Linux & The Future </li><ul><li>A confession
    8. 8. Current problems and shortcomings
    9. 9. How do we address them </li></ul><li>Discussion & Questions </li></ul>
    10. 10. Who Am I? From the other end of the M62...
    11. 11. ...where we all look like this!
    12. 12. Background & Podcasting Musician, Sound Engineer & Big Geek :) Host of Linux Outlaws – Producer of the Software Freedom Law Show for the SFLC FLOSS advocate, web developer/host and Linux/FOSS writer Have a small production company called Half Baked Media
    13. 13. A Podcast Is... A piece of pre-recorded media delivered to subscribers for download via the web. <ul><li>On demand, not broadcast live
    14. 14. Can be audio or video
    15. 15. Nothing to do with the Apple iPod
    16. 16. Emerging media format, still young </li></ul><ul><li>Subscription based, fans subscribe to an RSS feed and are notified of new episodes as they hit the feed. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Audio Production 101 – Pre <ul><li>Fix the basics before worrying about technology </li><ul><li>background noise / environment
    18. 18. The better the source recording the easier your job editing </li></ul><li>Use the best microphone for the job and place it well </li><ul><li>Experience will help you here </li></ul><li>You don't need to be pushing the recorder. Especially with digital
    19. 19. No technology can substitute for your ears, the best tools you'll ever have </li></ul>
    20. 20. Audio Production 101 - Post <ul><li>Compression is king </li><ul><li>How does it work? Why do you need it? </li></ul><li>Noise Removal / Gates </li><ul><li>Can be really useful in a noisy environment </li></ul><li>Limiters – Getting the volume right </li></ul>
    21. 21. My Studio - Hardware <ul><li>Soundcraft 328 digital mixer
    22. 22. RME HDSP 9652 audio card
    23. 23. Standard PC tower: </li><ul><li>AMD X2 4200 CPU, 2gb RAM, various hard disks </li></ul><li>Behringher Composer Pro Comp/Gate/Limiter
    24. 24. ADK A51 studio condenser mic (shock mounted)
    25. 25. Spirit Absolute Zero monitors </li></ul>
    26. 26. My Studio - Software <ul><li>For podcast and other audio production I use Ubuntu Studio 64bit at the moment. Have used 64 Studio in the past.
    27. 27. Have JACK & Ardour set up...
    28. 28. But use Audacity most by far </li></ul>
    29. 29. My Studio – Mobile <ul><li>The latest addition to my audio kit is the Zoom H4 handy recorder
    30. 30. Very versatile. Costs about £200 new. Balanced XLR inputs, full 96/24 recording, takes standard SD cards and AA batteries.
    31. 31. Works like any normal removable storage drive </li></ul>Zoom H4 Product Page Zoom H4 Product Page >>
    32. 32. Software Freedom Law Show <ul><li>Fortnightly podcast from the SFLC about legal matters in the Free Software world.
    33. 33. SFLC enforces the GNU GPL
    34. 34. Began about a year ago
    35. 35. How did I get involved? Free Software Only!!!
    36. 36. What I do as producer: </li><ul><li>Advise on equipment and recording techniques
    37. 37. Edit the show together from recordings
    38. 38. Encode to Ogg and Mp3 for release </li></ul></ul>
    39. 39. The Fun Bit... I hope ;) <ul><li>Recorded in the SFLC office by Bradley, using Arecord terminal utility (he's hardcore)
    40. 40. Equipment: AKG C1000 mic, USB audio interface
    41. 41. Let's put together a Software Freedom Law Show right now and look at what tips and techniques it involves.... </li></ul>
    42. 42. Linux Outlaws Production <ul><li>We each record locally, UK & Germany
    43. 43. Recordings loaded to a private area on our webserver. Where I download. </li></ul>I combine, compress and normalise levels on both files Create a stereo file, keeping the tracks separate We edit in Audacity and export to Ogg Vorbis & Mp3
    44. 44. Music Production on Linux <ul><li>A dirty confession – I dual-boot XP still on one machine for music production only
    45. 45. Pro Tools, Reason, Ableton Live and many proprietary VST plugins standard in commercial studio production. </li></ul>Example: Drums I use Groove Agent a lot
    46. 46. The future? <ul><li>I think audio production on Linux is more than ready for widespread use. Music production is still very proprietary and presents problems.
    47. 47. How do we address this as Free Software advocates?
    48. 48. Are we duplicating effort with the likes of Pulse Audio, JACK and now Phonon all trying to do the similar things?
    49. 49. What about hardware support? </li></ul>
    50. 50. Any Questions? <ul><li>If you'd like to discuss audio production, music or anything else please contact me any time: [email_address]
    51. 51. Check out and
    52. 52. Any questions? </li></ul>