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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

iPad podcast post-production with Auphonic

Last weekend my wife and I took a quick car trip to Ashland, Oregon to catch some plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The night before we left, I realized I hadn’t edited that weekend’s episode of The Incomparable yet, and I didn’t want to bring a laptop with me.

No problem—as I’ve written about before, I have used Ferrite Recording Studio to edit numerous podcasts over the past eight months or so. I can’t recommend it highly enough if you want to edit podcasts on iOS.

There’s just one thing: Ferrite won’t export projects in MP3 format1. Neither do many other iOS apps, and the reason is that MP3 encoding is still encumbered by patents. Any app that builds in MP3 encoding is risking a bill of thousands of dollars from some of the patent holders—and so most of them just don’t do it. I’ve searched for an iOS app that would encode my audio into properly tagged MP3s, ready for uploading to my server, but have come up empty2.

Instead, I turn to the web service Auphonic. Auphonic is free for two hours per month of processed audio, and charges for additional hours of encoding—I bought 10 hours of credits for $22, for example.

Getting my file from Ferrite to Auphonic is a little bit tricky. I export a file from Ferrite and instruct the app to save it to Dropbox. My iPad then uploads the file to Dropbox via the Dropbox app. Once that’s done, I use Dropbox’s Sharing feature to generate a link to the file, and tell Auphonic to use the contents of that URL as my audio source.

Within Auphonic, I can set show art (which I can upload directly from my Dropbox via Safari using iOS’s document-picker interface), tags, and even chapter markers with time codes, as well as the bit rate and file format of the final file. Auphonic also offers optional audio processing, creating a more level volume and reducing noise across the final track. Finally, you can add your own servers—SoundCloud, Libsyn, and any old server via SFTP—to your Auphonic account, and set Auphonic to automatically upload the result once it’s done processing the file.

I was able to export and upload The Incomparable while sitting at a comfortable table in an Ashland pub, drinking their beer and using their free Wi-Fi. Auphonic did the rest, re-encoding the file as an MP3, tagging it properly, and uploading the result to both my Libsyn account and to The Incomparable’s FTP server. When it was all done, I received an email alerting me that the entire process was completed. (It took a couple of minutes, start to finish.)

I wish there were a tool on my iPad that would do everything that the Auphonic web app does, but that may be impossible as long as the MP3 patent remains intact. Fortunately, as far as I can tell the final patents covering MP3 encoding will be expiring in 2017, at which point I’m sure Ferrite (and other tools) will add that feature. In the meantime, Auphonic is a solid and affordable alternative.

  1. Yes, I could just post certain episodes of my podcasts in AAC format (and Ferrite will tag them), but I’d rather stay consistent, and it’s possible there are still some podcast clients out there that don’t like the AAC format. ↩

  2. Auphonic has an iPhone app that will upload directly to its servers. I haven’t used it, but I suppose that would be an alternative to using Dropbox. ↩

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