Podcast Production

Many subscribers to my show are either themselves podcasters or interested in starting a podcast.  I often speak on the topic of audio production when I am an invited participant at the conferences and conventions I attend throughout the year.  I have also received questions about how I produce the show's audio from folks with no interest otherwise in audio engineering or recording a podcast.  If you are interested in the audio work behind the show, here's some information that may help answer some of the questions you have.

My production work evolves slowly over time as I change bits of the show's sound and upgrade my home studio.  I'll do my best to keep this page up to date with how the show is currently being produced.

Bed Music

I created all of the background music currently used in the podcast, except the new music for The Inner Chapters.  I used the stock loops that came with Apple's GarageBand plus some loops from the free sample Jam Packs (which are no longer available).  You can download an archive of the raw music files and use them under the CC BY-SA 3.0 US license.

The music for The Inner Chapters is Mo Shang's Asian Space remix of Tafubar's "The Wicked Thoughts of You" from Mo Shang's remix album, "Asian Variations".  The track is used with permission from the artist.


My current studio computer is a System 76 Leopard WS running pop!_os that I've had since 2018.  It is a hyper threaded six-core system that I loaded out with 32GB of RAM.  The multiple cores and generous memory make short work of mixing audio and is still a great machine for developing free and open software.

I use an Alesis Multimix 8 FireWire mixer and dearly love it.  I was saddened to learn that Alesis has stopped production on the FireWire version of this mixer in favor of the USB model. I even bought a dedicated FireWire host controller card for my Leopard WS so I wouldn't have to switch to USB yet.  I have never had any audio quality issues with this mixer, it is a real performer with no latency and great preamps.  I drive a single Audio Technica AT-3035 mic for in studio recording.  I've had that mic for most of the show's history it being one of my earliest upgrades.  In researching for this page, it looks like the AT-3035 has been discontinued, not sure what the current model replacement would be.

In studio, I wear a pair of Sennheiser HD-280 monitors.  I have a PreSonus HP4 headphone amplifier which I use to support my monitors and up to three cheap Sony monitors the model of which I do not recall.

Field Recording

My portable recorder is a Samson Zoom H6.  I upgraded from my second mobile recorder, a Zoom H4n, a while back when working on a project that was almost exclusively interviews.  The H6 supports up to six microphones, has some very useful add on modules, and provides enough power to drive a full set of condenser mics. I can use the H6 as either a dedicated audio interface or record multi-track audio directly as raw audio. I bought several inexpensive, powered lavalier mics also for the interview based podcast project. The mics achieve almost studio quality sound and have proven invaluable when I am doing field recording in a unknown environment. I can usual clean the audio pretty well between the noise reduction, see below, in Audacity/Tenacity and having separate tracks for each mic so I can more easily edit out noise from each.


I have been using more or less the same set up on Linux since I moved off of Apple hardware and software well over a decade ago. I have used always Linux on my work computer exclusively for years. I dabbled with Apple for a few years when I first started podcasting until I was encouraged to consider a fully free and open stack. I am currently using pop!_os as my daily driver. All of the software I need, for my mixer and the rest of my process, works pretty well on any distro. I favor pop!_os simply because of the support I get for it with my System 76 machines. In addition to my main workstation, I have a Lemur Pro for light coding and writing work, and a Galago Pro for my day job.

As a practical matter, I find Linux to be an excellent platform for podcasting, especially a show like mine that includes multiple formats and tons of metadata.  I cloned my local git repo of scripts to my gitea instance for anyone interested.  By comparison, when I first started, I found OS X's support of automation to be very limited. You can overcome some of this with something like homebrew but the versions and capabilities seem slightly off to me as a full time Linux user.

For the audio editing and mastering, I use primarily Ardour.  Ardour is a pro quality audio mastering program available under the GPL.  It uses JACK, a powerful low level audio driver.  Both Ardour and JACK can run on Linux and OS X (if you are interested in free software for audio but are not willing or ready to take the Linux plunge).  There is an excellent and accessible FLOSS manual for Ardour.  I have found that my early years or experience with GarageBand translated relatively easily.  Ardour is much more powerful than GarageBand, to boot, so I have realized some nice productivity gains. Ardour is the same codebase as Ableton Live, you may find it a usable DAW coming from other ones, even if not as feature complete or powerful.

I occasionally also use Audacity.  There are a few things, like noise reduction, that Audacity does better than Ardour.  Audacity is available for both Windows and OS X as well as Linux.  It can also use JACK, at least on Linux, so if you get your audio interface working with JACK, then you shouldn't have any problem using it with Audacity.

For encoding and tagging of the final audio I distributed, see that github repository, specifically the encode.bash script.  Each format requires one or more specific tools.  All of the metadata tricks, including assigning cover art, are clearly commented in that script, along with the couple of quirks around getting the audio quality just right.