Fast, Cheap, High Quality Recording Kit

This cool gear list is short. But it packs a punch! It just contains three parts or less.

1) A computer w/internet access – Drop by your local computer technology center, library, or a friends to use their computer.

2) Olympus DS-2 – A wonderful voice recorder with a stereo mic, a mic input, earbud headphones, a external speaker, USB, and software that creates uncompressed versions of your recordings! [Thanks for hipping me to the DS-2 Sooz!]

3) Cheap External Mic – (Optional) The Labtec AM-222 is a good handheld mono mic with a 1/8″ high impedance jack. Works great with the Olympus DS-2 and isolates a persons voice well.

[Check out last weeks podcast One Man Protests Racism at WalMart for an example of this gear in action.]

The Details:
First, I’m assuming that most computers now have a USB port. So does the Olympus DS-2. This is the exciting part of this kit. The Olympus DS-2 records digitally to a internal flash drive. This means when you’re done recording you have a audio file to share immediately. With the USB connection you can quickly copy the audio files to your computer. No more digitizing of your audio. It’s already done. Once it’s on a computer you can upload it to the internet and share.

I like to convert the WMA file the DS-2 makes to AIFF then to MP3. (You don’t have to…) The Olympus software can convert the WMA to a AIFF. Why AIFF? It’s a lossless audio file format. This way I can edit a bunch of audio together and have good sounding results in the end. Plus AIFF is a good archiving format. (BTW…the Olympus software for the PC converts to uncompressed WAV.) You can also just convert the WMA file straight to MP3. (I couldn’t notice any quality loss from the conversion process.) We share MP3s because it’s the most used audio file format in the world.

The Olympus DS-2 has a built in stereo mic. It works great. The stereo left and right channel can be important to create the auditory illusion of space. But for interviews a stereo mic sounds weird. Focusing on one person speaking, like in an interview, sounds more full and clear with a mono mic. (FYI – mono audio still has a left and right channel. It’s just the same signal in each side.) Using a external mono mic with the Olympus DS-2 really helps the sound quality.

This is all consumer audio gear that can produce professional sounding results. This stuff really helps the creative amateur to make and share audio as good and better than pros who spend thousands of dollars more. (Of course if you want to edit several files together and work in the field for days at a time you might need the Ultimate Mobile Audio Creation Kit.) 😀

One Man Protests Racism at Walmart

This weeks podcast is a short interview with a African American man with his own message. He was standing outside a Durham, NC shopping center with a sign that said, “Walmart some staff have the disease of racism. To support it is evil and demonic.” The other side of the sign said, “Racism by some staff is common. Responsible managers act.” He shares his experiences with racism at Walmart perpetrated by staff and ignored by local and regional managers. Thankfully this mans story has begun to be told. How many more stores like this are there?

MP3 3m 55s 1.8MB 64kbps

Fight the hate with LOVE

Wednesday night May 25, 2005 THREE burning crosses, in separate locations, we’re reported in Durham, NC. Hate group flyers were found at the scene. It’s not easy to explain why this hateful shit happens. But it is NOT impossible to lay some responsibility on right wing politicians in Washington and Raleigh. They have handed Christian religious fanatics momentum and emboldened hate groups. Do they think we’ve stepped back into time where the white man ruled with fear and violence? Is this 1963 or 2005? Thank goodness there were three candle light vigils last night in response. We need a much LOUDER community wide response to this hate filled and illegal event.

Ultimate Mobile Audio Creation Kit

Mike Outmesguine’s blog entry ‘Sony PSP goes cellular using a JunxionBox gateway’ just reminded me of a really cool idea. At the Mobile media conference he showed us the Junxion Box which is a Wi-Fi to cellular gateway. Meaning you can get a wi-fi connection for your laptop anywhere a EVDO cellular connection is available. I had heard about the DIY Stomp Box that does the same thing, but hadn’t seen the cool commercial one. He also brought a backpack with photovoltaic panels on it. A solar backpack to power your mobile electronics! He casually challenged us to imagine what the future of media creation would be like if grassroots journalist had this gear. So in the spirit of this and because I love lists/howtos. Here is the Ultimate Mobile Audio Creation Kit. It always could be done cheaper, but this is the ULTIMATE kit. 🙂

1) Laptop w/wi-fi – pick your flavor, i like macs
Apple PowerBook 12″ 1.5GHz small screen is light

2) Wi-Fi to Cellular Gateway
Junxion Box or make your own Stomp Box w/ Linux

3) Audio Recording Device
Marantz PMD 660 – solid state, no moving parts, records to uncompressed wav on CF cards, low impedance mic inputs, USB

4) Microphone
Shure SM58, unidirectional (cardioid) dynamic, low impedance, bulletproof

5) Headphones
Extreme Isolation Headphones – block out all that unwanted noise in public spaces with these bad boys.

4) Solar Backpack
The Voltaic Backpack

5) Cables – audio, power, usb, powerstrip, etc.

Now if I only had all this stuff so I could write a howto on using it all together. Hint, Hint! 🙂

Media Reform and Media Revolution

Dru Oja Jay has a well-written and detailed article called Media Reform and Media Revolution: A Critique of Free Press and the National Conference on Media Reform. Here is one of my favorite parts.

“If we want to reform the media, we must undermine their credibility and their very existence from one end, while providing a “reasonable” way out on the other. If they do not heed the call of reform, and we replace them, so much the better.”

This article makes all kinds of wonderful points. It ends very constructively with 12 great suggestions for Free Press and us. They’re about how to “water and fertilize the grassroots and sow seeds of resistance” and how the media reform agenda can mesh with radical media’s concerns for social justice and a more democratic society. It really gets to down to the issues with both sides – reform and radical – who want to change media. This article hits me to the core and puts into better focus the goals of AudioActivism. Thanks for the link Rabble!

The Barrel of the Pen

Nicholas D. Kristof has a NYT Op/Ed piece called Death by a Thousand Blogs. It’s about a grassroots journalist in China named Li Xinde. Accompanying this article is a flash multimedia piece. A slide show of images with a voice over and a bit of video. This video is of Li Xinde who says,

“Our party has relied on two barrels, the barrel of the gun and the barrel of the pen. The old revolutionaries came to power with the barrel of the gun. Guns are still in the hands of the party, but public opinion is now much harder to control.”

There are many significant differences between China and the United States, but how is this quote any less relevant to the Bush government’s media hegemony?

Jon Elliston Audio on

I just got an email letting me know that the audio I recorded and podcast here recently of Jon Elliston’s talk at the Carrboro Book Fair was included in the playlist of a online streaming radio station called Radical Radio. They found my audio via the A-Infos radio project. I THINK THIS IS GREAT! This is exactly why I put my audio under a Creative Commons license. The more we share the more we learn! Here is the Radical Radio’s MP3 stream link. (a listen.pls file that should open up in iTunes or WinAmp)

International Podcasting Endowment

We need to support *all* podcasters so they can create their work. How can we collectively support them? Here are some thoughts on how.

Today there has been a lot of talk on tha blogs about iTunes having podcatching abilities in a future version. (Podcatching is the process of downloading podcasts.) Basically iTunes would do what iPodder does and potentially replace it on many Macs. On a Engadget thread someone brought up the possibility of the iTunes music store helping podcasters sell podcasts. Several people chimed in that they wouldn’t pay for podcasts. I’m afraid neither will a large enough number of people to properly support individual podcasters. But then again some people use Google Ads and are happy with what it pays them. So selling podcasts files might be an option for some.

This conversation gave me an idea of how podcasters could be supported. A International Podcasting Endowment. A large fund in the form of a non-profit foundation that would help ensure the future of independent media creation via Podcasting. Not necessarily one supported by any government, (Because we know how bad that idea can be. i.e. the National Endowment of Arts) but by thousands of individuals.

There would be lots of issues to address before this idea could really happen but one *really* jumps out at me. How do you fairly distribute financial help to podcasters? In other words how would you provide grants from the endowment without first setting up a big bureaucracy with a expensive overhead (more than 20% lets say). A network centric model could be used. How would this work? What would the basic model look like? Here is a challenge to you all. Let’s figure this out. How can we collectively support Podcasters and raise societies perceived value of their work? Especially outside of traditional business models that favor consolidation and large multinational organizations.

Jon Elliston speaks at the Carrboro Book Fair

Here is a recording of the entire talk and group discussion led by the amazing writer Jon Elliston at the Carrboro Book Fair. [See also my interview with Ethan the Book Fair organizer.] He discussed much of the new literature on interrogation and torture in the “war of terror”. A large amount of these books came out after the horrible violence that occurred at Abu Ghraib at the hands of US soldiers. It was fascinating to hear about how much detailed information is available about this horrific crime from the US military and other US government agencies themselves. Chief among them is the Taguba Report that made it into The New Yorker article by Seymour Hirsh that broke this awful story to the US and possibly the world. Many of us at the talk questioned the trustworthiness of all of this government information. If they somehow they let us read these terrifying accounts, what more violence hides under the rocks?

One of the most interesting parts of this recording, IMHO, is the response from the audience after the talk. One gentleman in particular said the talk was “very naive” and proceeded to tell a story about being abused in a southern jail, right here in the good ole’ USA.

MP3 36m 21s 16.7MB 64kbps