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ePodcast Creator is a suite of products for recording audio clips and editing and publishing podcasts. Created by long-time PC audio experts Industrial Audio Software, ePodcast Creator gives you precise control over your voice-clip recordings.
The main ePodcast Creator program divides itself into music and voice categories, where you compose your show with clips from each. To record voice clips, you can either click the record button on the main screen or launch the full-featured ePC Editor from the tools menu. The editor has many effects you can apply to your voice as well as some cleaning technology to remove hiss, pops, and ticks.
Once you are ready to publish your podcast, select "Launch ePX" from the Tools menu, and a publishing wizard will pop up. From the wizard you can select the podcast you want to publish, preview it, and then upload it via FTP to your web host.
The ePC Editor is one of the more complete audio editors on the market. You'd have to move way up to the professional ProTools to get more functionality. These effects are included with the ePC Editor: Amplify, Bass, Boost, Chorus, Echo, Equalize, Fade-In, Flange, Fade-Out, Noise, GateLow, PassMix, "Pops and Clicks," Removal, Normalize, Reverse, and Sound Warmer. Most of the effects have a menu of adjustments; if you have a desired level of effect you want to reach, you can usually achieve it.
ePodcast Creator also includes a powerful feature called Record Cleaner (under the Tools menu) that will process a whole sound file for cleanup of hums, hisses, and pops and clicks.
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Price to ValueRating What's Hot:
At $90, you are paying a bit more than you would for competing podcast products, but you are really buying high-end recording and audio-clean-up software. With that in mind, $90 is a good bargain.
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Product FeaturesRating What's Hot:
The best features are found in the ePodcast Editor, where you record audio clips. The equalizer, for example, gives you a full range of bands to tune bass and treble. There are many more effects, and the best way to learn them is to record a clip and then try applying each effect to see how it changes your voice. I found a bit of chorus in one channel as well as some bass boost gave my voice a bigger stage.
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Installation & SetupRating What's Not:
The installation was without issue but one interesting thing I noticed was the programs run as Administrator. I assume this is so they can operate in the Least Privileged User environment that Vista forces. The net effect is that you have to click Allow in the warning dialog box whenever you run ePodcast Creator.
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User InterfaceRating What's Not:
The UI is a bit awkward to get used to. Instead of a single timeline, you have both voice and music timelines. In addition, the publish and record functions run outside of the main application window, instead of being integrated into it.
The look and feel was somewhat dated, with battleship gray and old 3D-style buttons. This is purely aesthetics, but the technical horsepower of ePodcast Creator deserves something better. I'm hoping future versions of the product adopt a Vista- and web-era user interface.
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Creating Good VocalsRating What's Hot:
If you plan to do any talking or singing in your podcast, there are some sound tricks you can use to better your vocals. Usually, you want a bigger, fatter voice to give it that rich professional sound.
The easiest way to do this is to add a little chorus effect to the vocal track and put a little distance between the left and right channels. Using the included ePC Editor, try recording a vocal, and then choose Tools -> Effects -> Chorus to add chorus.
Another more sophisticated way to give your singing voice added depth is to double the recording. Just record the vocals a second time and play the second track at a lower volume.
As you experiment with effects on vocals to get a fatter voice, you'll find that you want a slight difference between the left and right channels--a difference in effect, time, or pitch. How you choose to put in a difference depends on what sounds good with your voice and what works with your workflow. Altering pitch, for example, by putting straight vocals in the center, slightly flat vocals in the left, and slightly sharp vocals in the right, can give a rich sound but the workflow is really cumbersome for a podcast.
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Upgrade to a HeadsetRating
You can podcast with just a soundcard, speakers, and a microphone, but upgrading to a headset can really improve your sound quality.
Any microphone that came with your PC will record, and in a pinch, you can even plug headphones into a microphone jack and speak loudly into the ear piece. (No joke!) However, your first and highest-value upgrade may actually be a set of headphones.
If you've ever watched a radio show broadcast, you may have noticed that everyone was wearing headphones. The reason broadcasters do that is to hear what their voice will sound like on the air. They are basically monitoring what goes out over the air and can make natural adjustments if need be.
Are you too close to the mic? Too far? Are you drowning out the music? If you monitor that sound with headphones you will make adjustments without even thinking about it.
Picking between a headset (microphone/headphone combo) and a separate mic and headphones depends on whether you move around while you talk. If you find yourself moving around a lot, get a headset so the mic will follow you.
Getting set up with a good headset, or headphones and a mic, will get you a lot of mileage towards better, more professional sound. I'd rank these upgrades ahead of even a better sound card or outboard sound devices and mixers.
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Suggested FeaturesThe live-studio features are reserved for the more expensive ePodcast Producer, but it would be nice to see some live-studio capabilities in the ePodCast Creator product. A Vista-era user interface would also give the product more credibility and punch. It's difficult to do podcasting on a multi-core PC with high-end graphics and see an application with such a dated look.
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ConclusionePodcast Creator hits a sweet spot of publishing capabilities and high-fidelity recording. The user interface looks dated, but don't let that fool you--the recording capabilities are very well done.