It had to happen. Podcasts are so hot, someone came out with a ‘podcast in a box.’ Mic, mixer, software, RSS feed.
Everything you need to create a podcast factory is in M-Audio’s Podcast Factory. Well, except for the writing and voice part. You know, ‘talent?’
If you’ve been visiting relatives on another planet or just awakened from a 12-month nap, podcasting became all the rage while you were away.
A podcast is an audio (soon, video) program that you import into iTunes and it’s automagically synced up to you iPod. Think of it as a new form of radio.
Someone creates an audio program (like the funny bits in a good morning drive time radio show, or a NPR interview with someone interesting) that runs three minutes to an hour.
You download it to your Mac’s iTunes, and iTunes dumps it into your iPod. It’s like radio on the go but you get to listen to what you want, when you want.
It didn’t take long for the first ‘podcast in a box’ to hit the shelves.
M-Audio has introduced the Podcast Factory, billed as a ‘Complete Professional Podcasting Package.’
Basically, $180 gets you everything you need to create professional-sounding podcasts. Except for the content, and the professional-sounding voices. There’s an implied assumption that you bring those.
M-Audio is now a part of Avid, so they know a thing or two about quality audio for the Mac.
What you get in the box is a professional 24-bit/48khz audio interface with preamp. Also included is a dynamic microphone and a desk stand.
The audio interface is a simple box that connects to the microphone and the Mac. There’s also a stereo headphone output and stereo output jacks.
The audio device connects to the Mac via a USB cable, so it’s plug and play.
Plug in the mic, plug in the audio interface (to the Mac), set up the software, and begin recording. Well, almost.
M-Audio says “Podcast Factory includes all the software you need to record and edit your program, add music by dragging and dropping loops, and create and upload MP3 files with RSS feeds.”
I did a quick search on MacUpdate for “podcasting” and there’s a few dozen applications that help users record and publish podcasting; some even handle video podcasting.
What’s also attractive about the M-Audio package is the Podcast Factory USB Audio Interface. It handles mic levels, and can handle both microphones and music instrument inputs.
“The Podcast Factory professional audio interface brings your computer both microphone and instrument inputs, plus headphone and stereo outputs—all via a simple USB cable. It can also double as a professional audio interface for most popular music software like Apple GarageBand, Sony Acid, and Magix Music Maker.”
Sony Acid? Magix Music Maker? Yes, M-Audio’s Podcast Factory is bi-directional and does Windows as well as Mac OS X.
What can you do with the ‘podcast in a box?’
M-Audio’s own ad folks assure you that you can “Create sophisticated radio-style productions that integrate speech, music, and sound effects. The included software even processes your MP3 files and automates web publishing of RSS 2.0 feeds. Designed with the same M-Audio technology used in recording studios around the world, Podcast Factory gives you both the professional sound quality and creative tools to produce stellar podcasts that keep your listeners coming back for more.”
So far as we know, Podcast Factory is the first fully packaged podcast production system that includes software, USB audio interface, and microphone.
How’s the audio quality? While the included dynamic microphone won’t compete with the BBC’s audio studios or most major market radio stations, the output should sound like a faithful reproduction of your audio skills.
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Someone had to do it and it makes sense. All the pieces you need to create decent audio podcasts. Your Mac acts as the recording studio so you can always add music, sound effects, and more before you publish the podcast.
M-Audio’s products have always been decent, attractively priced, and worked well with the Mac. There’s no reason to think Podcast Factory will be any different and the price is worthy for a no-hassle setup.
How much longer will it be before someone adds video functionality to a package. All you need is the video camera because iMovie can handle the video editing and special effects.
Jack D. Miller
I can’t tell what kind of microphone is in the package, and there’s nothing to indicate that the RSS feed is compatible with iTunes Music Store’s Podcasting listings (non standard). Otherwise, it’s an attractive setup.