PoP #08 Encode to mp3 and set iTunes tags

I know, I skipped a week – so sue me! what was I thinking trying to do two podcasts a week plus the Mac Roundtable plus a full time job??? In this week’s show we’ll cover the details of how to encode your huge AIFF file into an MP3 file that people can actually use as a podcast. Before I get too far in though, I want to give you a little more philosophy…

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[tags]podcasting, aiff, mp3, iTunes, encoding[/tags]

Listener Margaret and I were chatting about how I create my show and how I have guest reviewers from time to time, and I was fretting about some particular aspect and she gave me some great advice, she said, “Remember, it’s YOUR show.” It seems obvious, but it’s easy as a podcaster to get tied up into making the show make everyone happy. I DO take people’s advice seriously but only if it stays in alignment for my vision of the show. If someone told me I should never have other reviewers on, I wouldn’t take their advice. if 10 people tell me the levels are too low, i would definitely work to bring them up. If 1 person says the show is too long, I’d tell them to skip the parts that bore them! If 50 people told me to make the show twice as long, I’d tell them all to contribute content so i didn’t have to do twice as much work! If anyone told me they didn’t like Bart, and of course that’s a facetious example, but let’s just suppose, I’d tell them to shut the show off as soon as the Chit Chat Across the Pond music started! if someone told me I’m a Mac fanboy, i’d say, “well, yeah, of course I am!” I had a few people counsel me to speak more slowly, but after trying it for a while I gave up because I just didn’t sound like me.

Do you see where I’m going here? Listen to the audience, try to give them what they want, but don’t go against what YOU want the show to be. Ok, let’s kick into some more technical detail here.

When last we left our hero, we had created the show in Garageband and then taken the exported AIFF file into The Levelator to level out the sound. And then I teased you leaving you high and dry. Now let’s work our way through the details of changing this HUGE AIFF file and turning it into an mp3 file people can download as a podcast.

The good news is that iTunes has a very good mp3 encoder and once it’s set up it’s easy peasy. Don’t be intimiidated by these steps – you only have to do them once, and never again. Even if you change them for some other project, you can just put them back with these easy to follow, and yet somehow difficult to remember, steps.

Set Preferences to the correct encoding

Open iTunes, and select Preferences

Set Encoding preferences

Your Advanced Preferences may not say “Import using: MP3 Encoder” and the correct details.
1. Click on the Advanceed Tab
2. Click on the Importing Tab
3. Pull Import Using: down to MP3 encoder
4. Pull down on Setting: to Custom

Selecting bit rate

Choose Custom, not one of the pre-determined bit rates

Set MP3 encoding options

64kbps mono is perfect for audio recordings, so set stereo bit rate to 128, sample rate to 44.1kHz, and channels to mono (128 stereo/2 = 64kbps mono)

Open the AIFF file in iTunes

Right click on the output.aiff file you created with The Levelator and select Open With…. and pull down to iTunes.

Now you’re ready to convert your AIFF to mp3

If you’ve done everything right, select your AIFF file in iTunes and when you pull down from Advanced you’ll see Convert Selection to MP3. go have some coffee while iTunes encodes your audio to MP3.

Add iTunes Summary information

Right click on your newly encoded mp3 file, and select Get Info. Select the Info tab and then enter:
1. Episode name will probably already be there – this naming convention keeps the episodes in order on peoples’ media device
2. Enter artist name
3. Enter Album Artist
4. Enter Album Name, which in this case is the name of the podcast as shown in the iTunes store
5. Select Podcast as the Genre
You can enter more information than this, like the year and some comments but it doesn’t seem too important to me.

Add iTunes Options

Don’t clikc OK, click next on the Options tab:
1. Select remember playback position (don’t you hate it when you go back to a podcast and it starts over at the beginning?)
2. Skip when shuffling is another courtesy to the listener

Upload Album Artwork

Finally click the Artwork tab and click Add to upload your Album artwork so it will show in iTunes when the podcast is playing. I recommend 600dpi for this image so it looks good on AppleTV. I saw my original artwork on an AppleTV and it looked dreadful! Close the Get Info window to save all your changes.

Locate your file in the Finder

Now that your mp3 file is encoded, and you have all the proper tags applied and you have some nice artowrk in place, it’s time to move your file up to your server. You have to find it first though, right? Insead of fspending time hunting around for where iTunes has hidden the file, you can just right click on the file in iTunes and select “Show in Finder”.

Ready for uploading to your server

Now that you found your file in the Finder, you can upload that file to your server, in my case over to Libsyn. We’ll save that step for next time.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve only got a few more technical bits to walk through after this, I think I’ll show you how to upload files using an FTP client just in case this part is one of those things you think you should know how to do, but you’re afraid to ask. After that I’m going to have to start responding to questions – Please send in your questions about podcasting – what haven’t I explained? What parts are still a mystery to you? and don’t say video podcasting, you know I haven’t a clue when it comes to video! I’ll be out of town for a couple of weeks so PoP will be on hiatus, so that will give you time to send in your questions for me to attack when I get back. Shoot me an email at allison@podfeet.com. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

5 thoughts on “PoP #08 Encode to mp3 and set iTunes tags

  1. Ross Judice - July 25, 2008

    I’ve been listening to your podcasts for a while and really enjoy them a ton. I’m a pretty heavy Mac user and always learn a thing or two (or ten) from you. Your podcasting style hints at a good-natured and kind-hearted person. Keep up the great work.

  2. podfeet - July 25, 2008

    thank you so much Ross! this was wonderful to read today, nice to hear what impression I make, hope to live up to this.

  3. Terry Norton - August 3, 2008

    Allison, the PoP show content is excellent for a beginner into Podcasting. I happened to learn about you through Don McAllister’s show.

    I’m in the early stages of developing my podcast niche in the Mac arena, so of course the technical aspects of this business are an initial hurdle. I’ve learned some valuable info from Don and the ScreenCastsOnline forum about video podcasting. However, audio is audio whether just an audio podcast, or audio as part of a video.

    So to have great audio AND have it without spending the big bucks to start, I’ve ordered the PR-20, SM-1 Shockmount, a scissors boom, and the Fast Track USB. Your audio sounds excellent.

    Your series on this subject came at just the right time for me. Thanks.


  4. Jamie Cox - January 16, 2010

    Allison, I’ve been a listener a long time. I heard you mention setting the Skip when shuffling bit during podcast preparation. It turns out that this little bit, which you so blithely describe as “a courtesy to the listener” has been the bane of my podcast listening experience for four years. Please see:


    The good news is, your mention of this bit helped me to finally understand what was going on. I still hate it, but I understand it.


  5. podfeet - January 16, 2010

    Hey Jamie – I am intrigued at this problem, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone wanting to shuffle up their podcasts. The main reason the skip when shuffling thing is there, imagine you’re having a lovely romantic evening listening to your songs an suddenly in breaks my podcast! Might break up the mood don’t you think? Or if you’re running to Tusk (a great song to climb hills in Tuscany to by the way) you wouldn’t want the Mac Reviewcast to come in next, right? Even within podcasts I have so much preference for some shows over others, the b-list shows don’t get to come into the rotation until the a-list ones are done being listened to so I would hate to have podcasts on shuffle!

    It just goes to show that everyone has different needs – cool you figured out the problem AND a solution. Glad you like the show, and you have a nice blog!

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