Podcast Transcript: Mosen At Large episode 137, work with superb-quality remote audio. Meet Cleanfeed
This transcript is made possible thanks to funding from InternetNZ. You can read the full transcript below, download the transcript in Microsoft word format, or download the transcript as an accessible PDF.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen, and this is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. On the show today, a versatile tool for recording top-quality remote audio. You might use it for internet radio, podcasting and other projects. Meet Cleanfeed from a blindness perspective.
Jonathan: Great to have you back with us for this episode. This demonstration of Cleanfeed first aired on The Blind Podmaker podcast feed. If you’re interested in podcasts, you can subscribe to that, but I thought I’d bring it over to Mosen at Large because Cleanfeed has use cases well beyond podcasting. Even in the short time that’s transpired since I recorded this demo, accessibility of Cleanfeed has continued to improve.
If you do go and check out The Blind Podmaker feed, you’ll also hear an interview that we did with Mark Hills and Marc Bakos from Cleanfeed where they took questions from the blind community on Clubhouse and they’ve made several changes as a result. Like many pieces of software, it changes quickly, but I hope you find this demonstration of Cleanfeed helpful.
Knowing about the right tool to use in your toolbox for any given task is really important no matter what field you’re in. If you’re a blind person like me, for example, I wouldn’t recommend taking your white cane and trying to hammer a nail into something with it, you’d be far better using a hammer. You may be able to get there with your cane eventually, if the cane is strong enough, but believe me, there are easier ways.
Similarly, if you care about the audio in your podcast, then I would not recommend using a tool that’s designed for consumer-grade video conferencing. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those tools like Zoom and Skype, and as many listeners to this will know, I did an audiobook on Zoom. I’m a big fan, but Zoom has many competing priorities. On the audio side, they want to get as wide a range of devices sounding okay when they’re being used in as wider range of conditions as possible, but they also have video to think about, not to mention text chat, telephone calls, and security.
That’s the same with Microsoft Teams and Google Meet and a lot of these other platforms, which are serving a very important purpose, particularly in the COVID era. Zoom does offer a high-quality audio option, but they set some pretty clear stipulations around it, and they actually say that it’s designed for music. They highly recommend that you use it with Ethernet rather than Wi-Fi and to me, it still doesn’t sound as good as the solution that I want to talk to you about today.
Because this is being geared towards a blind audience, I know that a lot of blind people do care about their audio. That’s because we grew up with radio, we care about this stuff. Sometimes we notice things that many people don’t notice. If you care about all of this, and you want to produce a good product, then you will be interested in Cleanfeed, which is what this segment is all about.
Let me first talk about the problem that Cleanfeed is trying to solve or the use cases to which it might be applied. First, podcast recording, which I think is what most people will be interested in it for. I’ve been podcasting since 2004, which is the year that podcasting began. Even before that, I was distributing audio on demand just by having people go to a website or an FTP site and download it.
I was the host of a show called Main Menu, which is a blindness technology show and I founded that back in 2000. One day, I set up an interview with Glenn Gordon from Freedom Scientific, I believe this was in 2002. Like me, Glenn’s an audio geek, a radio geek, and he said to me, “Why don’t we do something a bit special and record our audio locally, then I’ll send it to you via FTP because this is long before the days of Dropbox and OneDrive and these cloud services that we now take for granted and you can stitch it together.” That’s what we did.
I’ll never forget it because I was overwhelmed with emails by people saying, how did you get the audio to sound that good? What’s the trick? What’s the software? When we explained what we had done, something that is now widely in the podcast industry known as a double-ender, they were all disappointed and said, “Oh, okay, that’s what you did. We never thought of doing that before.”
Some people who take their podcast audio seriously, do the double-ender thing now. They ask somebody to record even if it’s just on their iPhone and the voice memos app, or with a halfway decent microphone on their Windows or Mac computer and then using a cloud-based service, they get them to send the recording afterwards and you stitch them all together and you talk to each other in real-time using a service like Skype or Zoom or teams or Google meet.
There are several problems with this. Depending on the degree of tech-savvy of the person that you’re talking to, they may or may not do this reliably, and they may even feel uncomfortable about attempting it. Also, the more people you get involved, the more difficult it is to do that stitching together. You have to have some sort of central point at the beginning of the interview, like a hand clap to make sure that you get all the tracks in sync, it takes some time.
Notoriously, double-enders can drift over time. Even though they start off perfectly in sync, you find that your guests and you eventually get out of sync, requiring you as the editor to take time-consuming remedial measures. As the podcast industry has exploded over the last few years, we’ve seen a plethora of services pop up that seek to solve this problem. That’s particularly true in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some are more reliable than others, some go through bad patches, and then come right again, but it is pretty disheartening when you rely on one of these services and you do the perfect interview, only to find that the service you are using has let you down. The technology is getting a lot better, although I do find some of the pricing a bit steep for many of these offerings and then as blind people, we have an additional thing to consider, and that is the accessibility of the user interface of these things.
There is a niche following in the blind community for a product called Team Talk, and that does a fantastic job of recording high quality, low latency audio, it streams it to a server and you can install the software on your own computer if you wish, and because it’s server-based, you can use it for real-time applications. You can go beyond podcasting and you can use Team Talk for live internet radio, using it as a link from one place to another, a whole range of things like that.
There’s client software as well that the user has to install who’s going to participate in this. That’s one of the biggest barriers. It’s quite a geeky setup, but that might not be an insurmountable barrier. If you’re recording a podcast where your guests are the same every week, you can tweak this for a while, get all the participants in the podcast set up, and then you’re good to go at least until the operating system updates itself and does something to the audio.
If you’re bringing different guests into your podcast regularly because you have an interview format, then this is a real high bar to ask your interviewees to reach. First, they have to download something they’re not familiar with, they probably haven’t heard of it before, then they have to install it and most concerningly of all, then they have to configure it. Busy people who may add value to your podcast are just not going to bother.
What if you could find a solution that is pure audio, no video that takes pride in getting the latency as low as you can possibly get it that doesn’t mess with your audio by processing it unless you ask it to, that has a free version that includes an unlimited number of people participating for an unlimited period of time, as well as premium features that are designed for people and by people actually, who care about their audio, and all of this is done in the browser, so there’s nothing to install.
That is what Cleanfeed is. I can personally say that it has never let me down on any occasion that I have used it. It’s used by many professional organizations, including the BBC and other radio stations who have been relying on it heavily during the pandemic. It’s used in movie production on the audio side. Many highly acclaimed audio engineers rely on Cleanfeed. I think this is a fantastic service.
When you understand how it works and the value that it adds, I would be really surprised if you would want to go back to a generic kind of conferencing solution and try and put that round peg in the square hole and use it for a podcast or internet radio situation. As I explore Cleanfeed as a totally blind person using JAWS for Windows, I will talk more about the features that it offers.
One of the reasons why I’m doing this now is that I’ve been in touch with the developers of Cleanfeed and they’ve agreed to come on our blind podcasters roundtable on Clubhouse. I thought for those not familiar with Cleanfeed, it would be useful to produce this demo ahead of that happening. This demo is also for the developers of Cleanfeed because when I was having a chat with them, they’re clearly very interested, they’ve made several changes over the five years or so that Cleanfeed has been running in response to screen reader user feedback.
They made the point that taking a screen-reader and trying to understand how a blind person uses it on a daily basis is quite a challenge and it absolutely is. When I was working full time as an accessibility consultant, I used to tell people that I worked with this all the time. Don’t expect necessarily that you should have to understand how a screen reader works, ask a real blind person using this stuff regularly because it can be so easy to provide too much-spoken feedback.
Yes, that is a possibility or sometimes not enough in certain places. The best people to give you that kind of feedback is the end-user. Mark and Marc from Cleanfeed, this one is also for you with thanks for all you’ve done and I hope it gives you both a picture of how we as blind people use the screen readers in the context of an application like Cleanfeed. If you’re going to use clean feed as the host, then you’ll need a chromium-based browser.
Google Chrome obviously fits right in there. I have had no trouble using Cleanfeed with both Microsoft Edge, that’s the new chromium version of course, and the Brave browser. Cleanfeed also works in Firefox although Cleanfeed makes no guarantees about what happens when you host with the Firefox browser. It will pop up with some warnings, but you can proceed at your own risk.
Firefox is supported for coming in as a guest into a Cleanfeed session. It also works with Safari on your iPhone for guests, but at this time you can’t host a Cleanfeed session with your iPhone. That has a beta designation at the moment, the iOS support. At the time of recording, Cleanfeed also does not work with Safari on the Mac and that does make some Mac users grumpy who don’t want to install Google Chrome on their system.
I understand a change there may be imminent. It works fully on Google Chrome for Android. You can host a Cleanfeed session on Google Chrome on your mobile device if it’s running Android and Google Chrome is of course on a Chromebook and Cleanfeed is fully supported on a Chromebook and works very well there. Since things change on any website, especially something as innovative as Cleanfeed, let me say that this is being recorded at the beginning of June 2021, and I’m using JAWS 2021 with the Oliver text to speech engine from Vocalizer, which we got some great feedback about after Bryan Hartgen’s interview. I’ll use it for this demonstration.
I may well talk a little bit more about some of the keys that I’m pressing since I know there are some people who are interested in this demonstration who are not screen reader users. Because I have Cleanfeed Pro and I wouldn’t be without it, I am demonstrating using a Pro account. I will do my best to let you know if there is a Pro-only feature that I’m demonstrating.
The free tier of Cleanfeed is incredibly generous. You can have as many speakers on Cleanfeed as you want with the free version for an unlimited period of time. The audio is not compromised in any way. You still get the high-quality speech optimized option, which is using the Opus codec, it’s speech optimized, and it’s at 48 KHZ. You really are getting some very good sound.
In an ideal environment if somebody’s coming in with a good microphone, you should not be able to tell the difference between if they were using that microphone next to you, plugged into an audio interface and what Cleanfeed is sending back to you. It really is that good. Just to set expectations, of course, the audio that you get from Cleanfeed is only going to be as good as the originating audio. Cleanfeed can’t magic away a poor quality microphone or crackle in your connection.
Many of the same caveats that we’ve talked about on past episodes apply here. If somebody can come in with a good quality USB microphone even, even if they don’t have a fancy audio interface or a mixer, but they do have a USB microphone, that would be great. If they can come in with a USB headset, that would be the next best thing. You do have to be careful to talk to people about their distance from these USB headsets.
Don’t be hesitant about asking someone to back off them a little bit if you’re getting plosives. In other words, the popping Ps, because that will create havoc for you in post-production. If there’s no USB headset available, sometimes actually a built-in mic on some of the better laptops or smartphones is better than Bluetooth earbuds. Ideally, somebody should be wearing earbuds or headphones for listening to you on, but some of the microphones in those things are terrible.
You might want to evaluate the microphone options available to your guest and it’s pretty easy to get them to switch from one to the other in Cleanfeed, which is one of its many benefits and we’ll show you that in a moment, but garbage in garbage out. Cleanfeed can’t help if the original source was substandard. I’m going to ALT+tab into Microsoft edge where I’m on the Cleanfeed homepage.
JAWS: Cleanfeed personal Microsoft Edge. Cleanfeed Microsoft Edge. Cleanfeed.
Jonathan: The homepage is informative. You will find that Cleanfeed is very well documented. There’s a knowledge base, there’s a blog which is updated with fascinating articles about what Cleanfeed are up to, and they do add new features regularly. There’s an FAQ as well. A frequently asked questions file, which answers most of the common questions that you may have as you’re getting started. I’m going to press the JAWS key with F7 to bring up my list of links.
JAWS: Links list dialogue.
Jonathan: And go to L for login.
JAWS: Login, 6 of 20,
Jonathan: I’ll press Enter
JAWS: Opening new tab. Navigation region. Login link.
Jonathan: As you heard, the Cleanfeed session has opened in a new tab. When you log in, and we’ll do that in just a moment, what you will find is that you’re in a web 2.0 environment. Some of the things that are clickable or press enterable on, are not necessarily going to present as hyperlinks. If you think something should be clickable, try it and see and you’ll often find that it is.
Despite the fact that I have turned off the gasly new default that Microsoft Edge introduced a while ago where each tab opens and the old tab order, I believe what is happening here is that actually, Cleanfeed is forcing a new browser window to pop up because I do need to alt-tab into the Cleanfeed session. I’ll do that now.
JAWS: Cleanfeed, personal Microsoft Edge.
Jonathan: Focus is placed in the login field where you’re invited to enter your username. Clearly, if this is the first time you’ve been on the Cleanfeed site, then you will need to create an account. It’s been some time since I’ve done this, but I believe it is quite an accessible process to go through and create that account. Assuming you’ve been through that, then we’re now at the login screen. What we enter here is the user ID that you entered when you created your Cleanfeed account. It’s not your email address, it is just the user ID. I will type that and place tab.
JAWS: Password, password edit.
Jonathan: I’m going to invoke one password which will enter my Cleanfeed password in here. I will pause the recording while I do that. I’ve done that now. If you are entering your password manually, then you can just press enter after you’ve entered the password. That will activate the submit button and you’ll be into Cleanfeed. We’re now in a Cleanfeed session and we’ll explore this, and as we do talk about some of the features available. I’ll make sure I’m at the top of the screen. I’ll press control, home.
Jonathan: There’s the title of the window, which is Cleanfeed. I will down arrow and we’ll go through this a line at a time using the JAWS virtual cursor.
JAWS: Visited link graphic Cleanfeed Pro record button.
Jonathan: Right there is the record button. If you have a Cleanfeed Pro account, then there are several options available to you for recording. I’m going to press the space bar to activate that record button.
JAWS: Record button.
Jonathan: Now, I’ll down arrow.
JAWS: Clips button. Audio button. Profile button.
Jonathan: Think about this like a menu bar. We’ve found the record button at the top and I’ve already pressed that, but now we’re going through the other menu items. If I go back up.
JAWS: Audio clips button. Record button.
Jonathan: You don’t get any screen reader feedback telling you which of these buttons is currently the selected one. It would be great if Cleanfeed could tell us that so that when you press the record button, it would say record button selected to let you know that that’s the one you have selected. Also, while I remember to mention it, to the best of my knowledge, there are no hotkeys in Cleanfeed, and that would be something that I think would be quite easy for the developers to add and it would make a huge productivity difference. If you could just press control R which is a pretty standard record shortcut key and get you into this record window, that would be super, but we’ll continue to go down.
JAWS: Clips button. Audio button. Profile button. JonathanMosen. Ready settings button.
Jonathan: We’ll come back to that.
JAWS: Headphones. Settings button. Separator. Connect graphic. Go back graphic. Heading level two. Record this Cleanfeed session.
Jonathan: That’s an important thing to note. Once you have pressed the record button, as we did at the top, you can navigate to the consequences if you like the button that you have pressed by pressing H to navigate to the next heading level, which is a heading level two. To recap, we’ll go back to the top.
JAWS: Cleanfeed this record button.
Jonathan: We press the record button. Now I press the letter H.
JAWS: Record this Cleanfeed session heading level two.
Jonathan: We’re right there to record this Cleanfeed session. Let’s down arrow and see what options exist under this record section.
JAWS: Name the recording. Edit.
Jonathan: I’m going to name my recording, and this is a standard edit field. I’ll press enter to turn off the JAWS virtual cursor.
JAWS: Name the recording edit.
Jonathan: I’m going to type clean feed test. I’ll just perform a say line to repeat that.
JAWS: Name the recording. Edit. Misspelled Cleanfeed test.
Jonathan: Edge is telling me that Cleanfeed is misspelled. I really should add it to the dictionary, shouldn’t I? If I press the tab key–
JAWS: List with one items. time to file name. Checkbox checked.
Jonathan: If you want Cleanfeed can add the date and time to the file name, which can be a handy reference.
JAWS: Combo box multitrack.
Jonathan: The options that you have here will depend on whether you’re using Cleanfeed Pro or not. Cleanfeed Pro supports multi-track. What that means is that for every speaker that you bring into Cleanfeed for the session, you will get a file in WAV format recorded at 48 KHZ for that speaker. Plus, you’ll also get a separate file for the audio clips, and we’ll talk about the audio clips later.
When you’re ready to save your recording, it’s been cached in your browser as it records, so nothing is actually stored on Cleanfeed’s servers and that’s’s, I guess, a potential downside. There are some services that offer a redundancy feature, they upload to the cloud as you go, so if you were to have a power outage in the middle of your session, to the best of my knowledge, you will have lost that session in Cleanfeed.
However, there is one thing you can do to make this a less disastrous possibility. You can press ‘save all’ as many times as you want, once the recording has started. Let’s say you’ve been recording for 10 minutes and you think, “Wow, this is such a good interview. I would hate to lose it.” Just press the ‘save all’ button, it will gather the first 10 minutes, put it in a ZIP file for you and put it in your default downloads folder.
Let’s say another 10 minutes go by, and you think, “Man, I really would hate to lose this now.” Press the ‘save all’ button again. What that will do is save the complete recording. It won’t just save the last 10 minutes since you last pressed save, because that would be unwieldy, wouldn’t it? You’d have to piece them all together for every time you pressed save. Cleanfeed’s much smarter than that. It will just save again, starting from the beginning of the recording.
If you get into the habit of saving regularly, you will make sure you have a recording of the end of the process, even if you lose the end due to some unforeseen circumstance, like a power outage. I’m going to navigate now through the other options. We’ll will go to the top of the list by pressing home.
JAWS: My audio only.
Jonathan: That will record just your audio. If we down arrow.
JAWS: Guests only.
Jonathan: You will record just the guest. Now, I can definitely see a use for that if you want to, for whatever reason, record your own audio locally and just record the guests, you can do that as well. While we are talking about backups, I should say that one thing that I do quite a lot is record from within Cleanfeed itself, and I’ve never had a recording lost so far. I’m knocking on the wood, rather hard on it, [laughs] but I also record in REAPER and I’m using a Focusrite 8I6 Audio Interface, and that has a feature called loopback.
I have Cleanfeed set to a particular channel on that Focusrite 8I6 that my loopback feature is monitoring. What it essentially means is that, I can make a backup recording of Cleanfeed in REAPER, just in case, and because what I’m hearing in my headphones is exactly what’s being recorded, the quality of what I get back from loopback and the Focusrite is every bit as good as what Cleanfeed will give me when I download the recording.
Of course, what the loopback won’t give me is multitrack. There are all sorts of advantages of the multitrack feature, which is a Pro feature. For example, if you’ve got three or four people, you’re talking to them and somebody’s guide dog barks in the background, or somebody chooses to have a good old cough when they’re not speaking, then if you bring it into a multitrack editor, you can just mute that track at the appropriate time, delete the dog bark or the cough without it affecting anybody else who’s speaking, but if you have only a single track recording where all of your speakers are only in one track, you can’t do that.
You either have to leave it in or edit the whole thing out and potentially miss something of significance that an interviewee is saying. Anyway, so we are on.
JAWS: Guests only
Jonathan: Guests only, and I will down arrow.
Jonathan: You can do this, of course, even in the free Cleanfeed. If you’ve got five, six, seven, speakers, and you want to talk for two hours, you can do that for free. You just get one file at the end of the process.
JAWS: Stereo split.
Jonathan: This will record you on one channel of a stereo file and your guests in another channel of a stereo file, so it’s not quite as good as multitrack, but it is better than a single-track file.
Jonathan: There’s the Gold Standard the multitrack, and that’s all. Multitrack is at the bottom of the list. I’ll press the tab key.
JAWS: Record button.
Jonathan: There is the record button. You do have to press this, and then you will start recording. I’m going to do that now. I’ll press the space bar on the record button.
Jonathan: What’s happened now is that I’m at the top of the screen again, so I’m going to navigate by hitting-
JAWS: No headings.
Jonathan: -and there is no heading anymore. How do I find out how the recording is going?
JAWS: No regions.
Jonathan: There’s no regions either, but there is something that you can do. I must say that this is a keystroke that I had forgotten about until a couple of other Cleanfeed users mentioned this to me as a handiwork around. JAWS does have a command where you can navigate between graphics. It’s an navigation quick key, and it is G for graphic, because we do now have a graphic on the screen, that is a record button. If I go to the top of the screen, and press the letter G–
JAWS: Cleanfeed Pro visited link graphic.
Jonathan: I think that is just a decorative graphic, but if I press G again–
JAWS: Recording graphic.
Jonathan: Now we have a recording graphic, and that confirms that we are indeed recording, but it also puts us in the right place to check on the recording.
JAWS: Cleanfeed test 115.
Jonathan: Now the counter is going up. I can actually see that going up on the browser display.
Jonathan: There we go. I’m performing a say line, and it’s confirming.
Jonathan: That the time is going up. If I down arrow.
JAWS: Save all button.
Jonathan: You can save all.
JAWS: Discard. This recording button unavailable.
Jonathan: You can discard the recording.
JAWS: Discard this recording button unavailable, Jonathan Mosen. Save button. Recording button. Clips. Save button. Recording button.
Jonathan: This part of the screen is rather like navigating through your DAW, such as REAPER. You’re seeing each track here and whether it’s recording or not, in other words, really whether it’s armed or not. You heard it say, ‘Recording graphic’. Usually in Cleanfeed, when something says, ‘Graphic’ like that, even though it doesn’t appear as a hyperlink or a button, it is actually clickable.
If you press the space bar on that recording graphic, it will pause the recording, and you’ll be able to verify that the recording is paused. It’ll tell you that, and the time counter will stop going up, press the recording graphic again, to resume recording. When you have multiple guests on a Cleanfeed session, you can actually stop recording any of those guests. Now, that may sound counterintuitive, and of course you have to be really careful about this, but the logic behind it is that since you’re going to get 48 KHZ WAV files at the end, you don’t want to be recording anybody who doesn’t need to be recorded.
Who mightn’t need to be recorded? Well, I can immediately think of a few examples. I’ve interviewed senior executives or politicians who have minders, PR people, on the call when I do the interview, in case their charge says something stupid and they want to intervene. Now, you don’t want to record that person. You don’t want to have a large track, especially in a lengthy interview that you’re not going to use in your production, so they can be on the call, but you can turn the recording feature off if you wish, just be really careful that you are pressing the button to stop recording on the guest that you don’t actually want recorded.
Once you choose to stop recording a guest or for that matter, the clips track, you don’t keep any of it. If it takes you a couple of minutes to go to the clips track or input, and de-select it for recording by pressing the start recording button, you won’t get any track from the clips at all. If I press space on the recording button–
JAWS: Not recording button.
Jonathan: As we moved around the screen, you will have heard reference to a save button and a save all button, so you can save individual tracks. It’s really important to understand that if you want to save this ZIP file with all of your participants in it, you’ll need to press the save all button.
JAWS: Save all button.
Jonathan: If I do that.
JAWS: Cleanfeed. Downloading Cleanfeed test set 1018 [unintelligible 00:28:44] 36.1 megabytes. Downloads completed.
Jonathan: People often say to me, “Wow. The downloads are so fast on Cleanfeed.” That’s because everything’s being cashed on your local device anyway, it’s being streamed to your local machine, so when you perform a save all, it’s copying that to your downloads folder and you’re good to go. Being able to save individual guests or tracts is another way around only getting the guests that you want.
If you’re a little bit nervous about deselecting the wrong guest, then you can just go back and save the tracks you want, and then go in and make sure that you do have the tracks that you need. There is a disc cost though, even if you don’t save all the files at the end of the process, all these tracks are being saved to disk they’re being cashed temporarily. If you’re low on disk space or you’re worried about the resources it consumes, then definitely deselecting the recording of people you don’t need to record is a good idea, including the clips track if you’re not using it. Let’s go to File Explorer.
JAWS: File Explorer.
Jonathan: I’ll go to the downloads folder.
JAWS: Downloads. Downloads.
Jonathan: Right at the top.
JAWS: Not selected. Cleanfeed test set 1018 [inaudible 00:30:00]
Jonathan: And there it is. There’s my file that we just recorded. Pretty slick. Now I’m going to alt, tab back into Cleanfeed.
JAWS: Cleanfeed Personal Microsoft Edge.
Jonathan: Another trick that may not be evident for screen reader users is that when you find the name of somebody in a Cleanfeed session, that is also actionable so I am going to search for the word Mosen and JAWS. I’ll press control F.
JAWS: JAWS find dialogue.
Jonathan: And find Mosen, M-O-S-E-N and press enter.
JAWS: Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan: It says my name.
JAWS: Ready, Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan: If I press the space bar on my name and will try it again.
JAWS: Press Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan: The next line now instead of saying ready, says–
Jonathan: I’ve muted myself. This is very handy if you find that there is a speaker where there’s a lot of noise coming in particularly in a live environment or where you haven’t paid for Cleanfeed Pro. It’s not so bad if you have a multi-track session because you know that you can clean this up in your post-production process, but if somebody is really messing with something live and you know where the audio is coming from, then you can just mute that person temporarily and then unmute them. As the host, you have that control.
JAWS: Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan: I just press the space bar.
JAWS: Jonathan Mosen, ready.
Jonathan: Now, if I press the space bar on the ready line does it work as well?
JAWS: Blank. Ready.
Jonathan: You do have to go up.
JAWS: Jonathan Mosen
Jonathan: And press Space. Again, if there was some sort of live region, it would be great if when you press the space bar it said, Jonathan Mosen muted or ready, just by pressing the space bar but at the moment, I’m getting no speech feedback, so I do have to go down-
Jonathan: -and just verify that I have once again unmuted myself. Let’s go back to the top of the screen by performing a control home.
Jonathan: Down arrow.
JAWS: Visited link Recording Button, clips button.
Jonathan: Now I’m going to press the space bar on the clips button.
JAWS: Cleanfeed. Clips button.
Jonathan: Now, if the normal paradigm follows, we should be able to press H to navigate to the heading level.
JAWS: No headings.
Jonathan: No, unfortunately in this instance when you bring up the clips screen, there is not that consistency there even though there was a heading level two to denote the beginning of the recording process there is not one for the clips user interface and-
JAWS: No regions.
Jonathan: -there are no regions. In fact, I don’t believe that Cleanfeed is using any ARIA regions at all at the moment however our handy dandy graphic hotkey can help. I’m just going to go to the top of the screen.
Jonathan: Now I’ll press G.
JAWS: Cleanfeed Pro visited link graphic.
Jonathan: I’ll press G again.
JAWS: Recording graphic.
Jonathan: That’s the recording graphic that we just explored before because we are still recording.
JAWS: Discard this recording, discard this recording button unavailable.
Jonathan: I’m navigating my graphics, so I’ll press G again.
JAWS: Load clip graphic.
Jonathan: Here we have the load clip. This does take us to where we need to be to start exploring the clips interface. The purpose of this is that you can load little jingles, intros, outros anything that you want in here and play them in your Cleanfeed session. Why? Well, everybody in your Cleanfeed session then hears them, so it’s kind of cool to insert some applause or maybe you just want some music like a theme. It’s a way of doing the whole thing from Cleanfeed.
Another use case that I can think of is if you’re a journalist and perhaps you are coming into an interview in a radio station that you work for or freelance for, you can line up some of those actuality recordings and then just play them from here. Again, keyboard support for these clips would be so cool if you could just be anywhere on the Cleanfeed user interface and press say, I don’t know. Control+Alt+1 for the first clip and know that it’s going to play then that’d just be absolutely sweet, but let’s see how far we can go with this clips interface.
JAWS: Load clip graphic.
Jonathan: Here’s a graphic that says load clip and even though we’re getting no indication that it’s a button or that it’s actionable, it actually is so if I press the space bar-
JAWS: Open dialogue, File name edit combo [unintelligible 00:34:15].
Jonathan: Now you’re in the standard Windows open file dialogue and from here, you can navigate anywhere you want to be, and load a clip. In my case I’m going to load the intro and the outro that we use for some of the blind Podmaker episodes particularly, the blind podcaster’s round table. Given that I’m an old Dos geek from way back, I’m going to type in as much of the path as I can. That will do. That sped us way up.
JAWS: Items view not selected.
Jonathan: Now we’ll go to–
JAWS: Not selected the blind pod maker.
Jonathan: There’s the blind pod maker.
JAWS: Not selected better move along 60 [unintelligible 00:34:52].
Jonathan: That’s the intro. I’ll press Enter to load that.
JAWS: Cleanfeed camera or microphone recording Microsoft Edge unavailable. Load clip graphic.
Jonathan: If I up arrow now.
JAWS: 600-0123-01. Better move along 60 [unintelligible 00:35:07] 01230.
Jonathan: There it is.
JAWS: Load clip graphic.
Jonathan: We’ll go and load a second clip, so we know what happens when we have two.
JAWS: Open dialogue, file name.
Jonathan: Now I’ll shift+tab.
JAWS: Item not selected. Better move along [unintelligible 00:35:18] 01250.WAV.
Jonathan: We’ll press enter.
JAWS: Cleanfeed camera or microphone recording Microsoft Edge unavailable combo box zero.
Jonathan: That combo box by the way which now has focus allows us to set the volume for this clip so if I up arrow-
JAWS: Plus one DB.
Jonathan: -it’s going up basically one DB at a time.
JAWS: Plus two DB, plus one DB. Zero.
Jonathan: It’s the default. Of course it’ss zero DB we can go down.
JAWS: Minus one DB, minus two DB.
Jonathan: All the way down to minus 18 DB.
JAWS: Minus 18 DB.
Jonathan: Wow. Okay.
JAWS: Minus zero, plus three DB, plus one DB, zero.
Jonathan: Now we’ve loaded a couple of clips.
JAWS: Load clip 0125 011.
Jonathan: If I press the space bar on this-
Jonathan: I press the spacebar again so that’s the outro which I really need to make sure fades in, don’t I? If we go up–
JAWS: Better move along 60 [unintelligible 00:36:13] 0123-01.
Jonathan: Now I’ll press the space by you will hear that this is the intro.
Jonathan: If you want to use this, I think the best way to do it at the moment, is to load the clips. That’s pretty easy to do actually, and then you will need to navigate to the clips button and press that and do a JAWS find for the clip that you’re looking for. Make sure you give it a unique name that’s easy to find and then press enter. From a productivity point of view, I’m sure that the workflow could be improved but it’s pretty cool that this is actually accessible not necessarily efficient yet, but accessible and that you can play these clips down the Cleanfeed session to people. Let’s go back to the top of the screen.
Jonathan: You can see we’re working our way through this little menu at the top so we’ve done–
Jonathan: Record, we then did–
JAWS: Clips button.
Jonathan: Clips, and the next one–
JAWS: Audio button.
Jonathan: Is audio. This is where we can start geeking out a little bit because Cleanfeed gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of your audio settings. I’ll press the space bar.
JAWS: Audio button.
Jonathan: Now the audio button is activated. Can we now navigate by heading?
JAWS: Remote audio quality heading level two.
Jonathan: Yes we can. This time the heading level two is back and we can go to remote audio quality first. Let’s down arrow and take a look.
JAWS: Change the settings used on the network for remote audio. Combo box speech optimized.
Jonathan: Speech optimized is usually what you want. This will be mono. You can change this. I’ll press enter.
JAWS: Combo box, speech optimized.
Jonathan: If you’re having some sort of issue with bandwidth maybe you’re on a really bad hotel connection or something like that, although I have to say OPUS is pretty resilient, but you can go back one.
JAWS: Low-quality talkback.
Jonathan: Go to low-quality talkback.
JAWS: Speech optimized.
Jonathan: Speech optimized is the default and it’s what most people will use and it sounds fantastic as we will hear later.
JAWS: Music optimized.
Jonathan: This is music optimized.
JAWS: 256 kbps mono. 320 kbps stereo.
Jonathan: Now, 320kbps stereo particularly in OPUS is just remarkable quality. If you’ve got the bandwidth to sustain it and we have, we’ve got a gigabit connection here, you can send really good quality music through Cleanfeed with minimal latency. I know that there are use cases where people are using this to send professionally produced concerts to a studio or somewhere to be recorded. We’re talking serious commercial professional-grade audio here. I’ll go back.
JAWS: 200 music optimized, speech optimized.
Jonathan: Leave it on speech optimized which is the default.
JAWS: Virtual PC.
Jonathan: When we chose the audio button, a little sub-menu popped up whose default is the remote audio quality. When we navigated to the only heading on the page right now which is a heading level two, we bypass that submenu that has appeared on the screen and we got straight to the remote audio quality which does lead some people to miss that submenu which is actually quite important. I will go back to the heading level two–
JAWS: Remote audio
Jonathan: And this time I’m going to work my way backwards.
JAWS: Source. Devices Playback right-pointing pointer source devices button. Playback black right-pointing pointer playback button.
Jonathan: When I press the playback button, you should find that the heading changes.
JAWS: Playback heading level two.
Jonathan: Indeed it has. I would emphasize that if this sounds a bit complicated, remember that what we’re looking at here is set up. Most people once they have the devices and the quality set up the way they like it, just go in here and did what we initially did, press record, make sure that the record options are set to your liking and go. There is an element of sort of one-off or very occasional setup with all of this.
JAWS: List of all items. Auxiliary outputs. Optionally mirror each guest to an audio. Device checkbox not checked.
Jonathan: This is one of those features where when I explain it, if it’ll add value for you, you’ll immediately understand what it does and you’ll think, “Wow, that is huge,” because it is huge. When you check this box, all of your Cleanfeed guests will come through the output you specify in the headphone settings option. However, you will find additional options associated with each of your guests rather like the options that exist for you as the host. The way this is laid out, whether you have this checkbox that I’m talking about checked or not is that if you’ve got the recording section visible on the screen, you can see each guest whether they’re being recorded or not, and all the save buttons that we looked at earlier.
Below that, you will find on the dashboard a series of options for each guest including yourself. You will find a settings button for each guest. When you press that button, you expose some controls. The first thing that you will notice. You can actually see, but of course not change the device that they’re using for their input. I had an example earlier in the week where this was really handy.
I had a guest who absolutely was certain that they were using a microphone headset. I know enough to know from the sound of what they were doing that they were not. They were using a laptop built-in microphone. They may be wearing their headset, but the wrong input was selected. With this box checked, I was able to see that they were in fact using the built-in microphone, and I was able to guide them about how to choose the correct microphone. You also have some control of the volume of each guest.
When you check this box, the one that we’re looking at now, you can mirror the audio of a specific guest to a specific audio device. Why is this important? In my case, I’ve got access to a lot of playback devices coming through my mixer. While I wouldn’t bother playing with this feature if I’m just recording something for a podcast where I can equalize and mix things post production, if I’m doing live work, which I sometimes do with Cleanfeed, it is super cool to have each guest on their own fader on my mixer because I’m rooting them to different audio devices because I can control their volume independently, and I can pan them independently to create a lovely stereo mix. This is an amazing feature, especially for live work.
JAWS: List end. It is not recommended to switch device device during live use or recording.
Jonathan: That’s the only option that is here. If I go back.
JAWS: Source devices, black right, pointing pointer, source devices button.
Jonathan: We can choose source devices. I’ll press the space bar on that. Again, what should happen now is that I can go to that heading level.
JAWS: Wrapping to top, local audio sources heading level two.
Jonathan: Here’s the heading level two for local audio sources. I get many inquiries from people who are reluctant for whatever reason to buy an audio interface, and get peripherals like microphones that have an XLR plug on them, and XLR connectors are common on higher end microphones. Although, you can get some very good quality mics like the Samsung Q2U which I often mention on this show, which does both USB and XLR at a reasonable price.
Anyway, so many people have said to me over the years, “Can I record with two USB microphones at the same time? I got a couple hanging around. Maybe I have a USB headset and a microphone, and I just want to get it done.” Usually, the answer is no. Certainly, in Windows at any rate. Cleanfeed makes this possible. What this means is, that there maybe some use cases where you want to record with Cleanfeed even when all your guests are local because you’re using only USB devices.
Depending on the setup that you have, it’s also potentially a way to record screen reader demos really well because you could record yourself in one track, and you could record your screen reader in another track. That will depend on your configuration. If you have an audio interface with a lot of inputs, then this also opens up so many cool possibilities. I have not seen anything else like this. Certainly not that’s accessible. It really is cool. Anyway, I’ll stop waxing lyrically about it and show it to you. I’m going to navigate to a combo box by pressing C.
JAWS: The number of capture devices such as microphones or line input. Combo box one.
Jonathan: That’s the default. Usually you’re only going to record from one USB source, and you can choose that source by going up. We’ll show you that in a little bit, but you can select more. Down arrow.
JAWS: Combo box.
Jonathan: How far can we go?
Jonathan: You can actually go up to four different USB sources. I’m not going to go that far. I’m going to set it to two.
JAWS: Three, two, virtual PC.
Jonathan: I’m back in the virtual PC cursor mode in JAWS now, and things have happened at the top of the Cleanfeed interface because I have changed from one USB source to two. I’ll go to the top of the screen by pressing control home.
Jonathan: Now, I’m going to search for my name.
JAWS: JAWS find dialog.
Jonathan: I’m going to just type Mosen, M-O-S-E-N which is of course my last name.
JAWS: Two, virtual profile by Jonathan Mosen, ready.
Jonathan: If I research for my name again.
JAWS: Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan: Whoa, I’m there a second time.
Jonathan: Imagine that, I’m cloned. This one is muted, so what happened here? For every USB source that you create, you will have another instance of yourself in this list because this list that we’re looking at now is where the speakers appear. If we had five or six remote guests coming in here, you would also see those people here. You’d be able to adjust their volume, do a range of other things pertaining to them. In this case, we now have two local sources. One of which is not muted, and the other one is. Why is the second one that we just created muted?
Because there’s a possibility that you could be using the same source, and that can create all sorts of havoc. The top one is set to use an option in my Focusrite where I have my Heil PR 40 going directly into it. It bypasses the mixer, and just gives pure microphone audio. I do that for a variety of reasons. In particular, when I’m doing mix minus type arrangements if I’m doing clubhouse things. Here’s the second instance, and what I’d like to do is set this to the Focusrite loopback input.
This is so that we can hear JAWS because I currently have JAWS coming through Focusrite’s loopback mode for the purposes of recording this demo. I’m going to find the settings button for the second instance of me.
JAWS: Muted. Settings button.
Jonathan: There’s the settings button. I will press the space bar.
JAWS: Settings button.
Jonathan: We’ll find the combo box.
JAWS: Combo box. Use browser setting.
Jonathan: It defaults to the browser setting which is fair enough, but I want to set it to the loopback.
JAWS: Combo box.
Jonathan: I press enter to turn forms mode on.
JAWS: Loopback outlets are Focusrite USB audio.
Jonathan: The combo box accepts first letter navigation, so I’ve got a lot of USB devices here that are audio. I just press the letter L to get loopback, and that’s done.
JAWS: Virtual piece.
Jonathan: If I go up.
JAWS: Settings button. Muted.
Jonathan: I’m still muted.
JAWS: Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan: I need to press the space bar on my name.
Jonathan: Now if I just go back and search.
JAWS: Jonathan Mosen, ready. Settings button, combo box loopback outlets are Focusrite to USB audio.
Jonathan: Perfect, and then if I go back up.
JAWS: Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan: That’s the first instance of me.
JAWS: Ready. Settings button. Combo box analog 3+ for Focusrite to USB audio.
Jonathan: There we go. Everything is setup the way I wanted to. What this means is that when I do a recording, I should end up with three tracks if it’s all working properly. One with my microphone audio from my Heil PR 40. The other one with JAWS in it. Of course the third one with the clips. Let’s try this. I’m going to find the record button-
JAWS: Record button.
Jonathan: – and press the space bar.
JAWS: Name the recording edit.
Jonathan: Local test Cleanfeed.
JAWS: Name the recording edit local test Cleanfeed.
Jonathan: Now, we’ll press tab.
JAWS: List with one items. Add day and time to file name. Checkbox checked.
JAWS: Combo box. Multitrack.
Jonathan: We’ll leave it on multitrack, which will create a file for each of this.
JAWS: Record a separate file for each record button.
Jonathan: We’ll press record button.
JAWS: Recording graphic.
Jonathan: We should see.
JAWS: Local test Cleanfeed 008. Save all button. Discard this recording button. Jonathan Mosen, save button, recording button. Jonathan Mosen two, save button, recording button. Clips, save button, recording button. Separator.
Jonathan: Welcome, this is me testing on Cleanfeed. Now, what I’m going to do is press insert with T, the JAWS title key.
JAWS: Cleanfeed camera or microphone recording Microsoft Edge.
Jonathan: All being well, it should be recording this.
JAWS: 11:11 AM.
Jonathan: Marvelous. Now, I’m going to save all.
JAWS: Record clips, audio profile, settings but, settings but, save all button.
Jonathan: There’s the save all button. We’ll press that.
JAWS: Cleanfeed. Downloading 28.8 megabytes. Local test, Cleanfeed set 1,110.zip. Left [unintelligible 00:49:28] focusable, select. Left [unintelligible 00:49:30] download complete. Local test.
Jonathan: Download is complete. What I’m going to do now is bring all of this into Reaper and just play that little bit back to you. What you’re hearing next is what came from Cleanfeed in that recording.
Reaper Audio: Welcome, this is me testing on Cleanfeed. Now, what I’m going to do is press insert with T, the JAWS title key. Cleanfeed camera or microphone recording Microsoft Edge.
Jonathan: All being well, it should be recording this.
JAWS: 11:11 AM.
Jonathan: Marvelous. Now I’m going to save all.
JAWS: Record clips, the audio button, profile, settings button, save all button.
Jonathan: There’s the Save All button, we’ll press that. That was what Cleanfeed recorded. Now it’s a great way to do a screen reader demo, isn’t it? A good way to get multiple USB sources onto your recording. It’s really cool. One thing I will just emphasize is that while you don’t need a fancy schmancy audio interface like the Focusrite 8i6, any device that you play with here with this feature does need to be a USB device. What I’m getting at here is that if you have a laptop or a desktop, and it has one of those realtek built in audio devices, that’s not going to come up as a USB peripheral.
I paused the recording and set my sources back to one just to save any further confusion for the rest of this recording. Now to make sure we’re all keeping up, we have been navigating through this menu at the top. So far, we’ve looked at.
JAWS: Record button.
JAWS: Clips button, audio button.
JAWS: Profile button.
Jonathan: Now we go into the profile. I won’t spend any time in there because this really relates to accounting. You can sign up for a Cleanfeed pro subscription. If you are doing this for non-commercial purposes, it comes in at $22 a month. That is money well spent in my view, as you can see. The two Marks who developed this are serious audio nerds, and giving you one heck of an experience. We continue down.
JAWS: Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan: Now we are on the main screen. That’s that menu bar. Think of it as a Windows menu bar at the top or a Mac menu bar at the top. Now we have the list of guests. Currently there is only me. We have my name here, and as we know, I can mute every speaker by pressing space on their name.
Jonathan: I’m ready.
JAWS: Settings button.
Jonathan: It would be great if this could be called input settings. Because this is a local source, you can set the input that this particular individual is using. We now know of course, you can have multiple local USB sources, but it is just called settings and you get used to it. If you press the Settings button a second time it actually hides these combo boxes. It’s a way of tidying up the screen. Just be mindful of that, our down arrow.
JAWS: Combo box analog 3+ for Focusrite USB audio.
Jonathan: This tells me the device that I am using. Hold down arrow again.
JAWS: Combo box both.
Jonathan: This combo box determines what’s going to be sent out to other people in the Cleanfeed session, and for that matter what’s being recorded. We have both, we have–
JAWS: Left only, right only, mono mix.
Jonathan: Mono mix, which is what I’m actually going to leave it on for the purposes that I’m using Cleanfeed for right now.
JAWS: No headphones. Full repair.
Jonathan: No headphones and full repair take us into those areas where you are listening to someone and you think, “Oh my goodness, they have got some bad echo here. Perhaps they’re just using a laptop with built in speakers, there’s a bit of echo coming through, and you just need to get the interview done.” They’re the kind of guest where you’re just not going to get them to better audio.
Cleanfeed can kick in with some algorithms here. It does make it sound like a more traditional conferencing system, but it’s either that or get lots of echo, right? You can choose no headphones or then go on to full repair, which does even more noise reduction. Ideally, you want to get your guests into a position where those algorithms aren’t required.
JAWS: No headphones. Mono mix.
Jonathan: I’m staying with mono mix for now, and now I’ll down arrow.
JAWS: Combo box zero.
Jonathan: This is a volume control. If a particular guest is a little faint, you can increase their volume, or decrease it for that matter. It’s similar to the combo box that we saw, when we were taking a look at the clips.
Jonathan: Below headphones.
JAWS: Settings button.
Jonathan: We have a settings button. Now this determines what you will hear Cleanfeed through. This is really cool that you can do this right from the browser application, and not have to fool with the windows settings, and it does remember these settings. If you are using a complex setup, where you might have a mixer, and you require Cleanfeed to come through a particular channel, maybe you have it in pre fade or a mix minus configuration, you can do this. I’ll press the spacebar on this settings button, the one below the word headphones, that’s the key thing.
JAWS: Settings button.
Jonathan: Now if I down arrow.
JAWS: Combo box speakers Focusrite to USB audio.
Jonathan: That’s exactly where I need it to be, but I can also change that to any other audio option on my device. These can be non USB audio options. We’re getting into the windows subsystem here. Anything that appears as an audio playback option in Windows is fine here.
JAWS: Virtual separator. Connect graphic.
Jonathan: We’ve had a pretty good tour of Cleanfeed, but the big question is, how do you get remote guests in? Here’s a graphic. It’s not a button and it’s simply called connect, and remember because it is a graphic in JAWS, you can press G to navigate to it. If I press this–
JAWS: Name edit.
Jonathan: We’re popped right into an edit field, where you can type the name of the person that you are inviting to your Cleanfeed session. The number of options available to you on the screen will be significantly more limited if you’re using the free version. You certainly can cause Cleanfeed to send an email out to your guests inviting them to the Cleanfeed session. Now, the pro version has a few more options, and I haven’t been able to find which ones are available free, and which ones are in Pro.
I’ll show you what I have. If you don’t have some of the options that I do, then you can assume they are pro only. I’m going to type Neal Ewers into the Name field, somebody who’s very famous in blind audio circles. I’ll press the Tab key.
JAWS: Email address, edit [unintelligible 00:55:54].
Jonathan: I can enter his email address here. This is certainly available to everybody. If I do this, and then I just press invite, then it will send him a pass to the Cleanfeed session. It’s important to emphasize that somebody you Invite as a guest does not require an account. This makes Cleanfeed a very easy way for people to join. All they have to do is choose a link and press Connect. As long as they have a chromium based browser, or Safari on their iPhone, or Firefox on their computer, they will get a Connect button.
If they’re coming into Cleanfeed for the first time, the browser will ask for permission to use the microphone, and that is all there is to it. I’m going to press the Tab key.
JAWS: Cleanfeed. Advanced check box not checked.
Jonathan: I’m going to check the advanced button. I suspect that this could be what pro users can get in addition to what the free users can get. I’ve pressed the spacebar.
JAWS: At bar toolbar, Cleanfeed. Virtual–
Jonathan: Now, let’s have a look at the screen.
JAWS: Name edit. Limited to the next. Combo box 24 hours.
Jonathan: Now you can determine how long this URL lasts, and the options we have at the moment?
Jonathan: We’ll go to the top?
JAWS: 30 minutes. 1 hour. 2 hours. 8 hours. 24 hours. 3 days. 1 week. 1 month. unlimited.
Jonathan: That’s the end of the list. Essentially, if somebody tries to activate the link after this duration has expired, the link is invalid.
JAWS: 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 8 hours, 24 hours.
Jonathan: I will now press tab.
JAWS: Combo box. Connect on use. Ask to accept connection.
Jonathan: That pronunciation is a little bit weird from Oliver there, but what it is actually saying is connect on use, and then the second option was–
JAWS: Ask to accept connection.
Jonathan: If you choose connect on use, then somebody can just drop into the session, and they’re just there. There’s no sound or anything like that. I understand why, this is not an audio conferencing system. If you’re having a guest drop into be on a radio show or something like this, the last thing you want is some sort of obnoxious doorbell sound or something, interrupting. It doesn’t sound very professional. If you want to safeguard your recording, you can go to–
JAWS: Ask to accept connection.
Jonathan: Then you will have to accept the notification that tells you that somebody has joined. I have not used this so I don’t know how accessible that is. It would be great if it popped up some sort of dialog that you had to deal with, rather than just appearing somewhere.
JAWS: Connect on use.
Jonathan: I’ll set it back to connect on use.
JAWS: Combo box. Send by email.
Jonathan: Now with the pro plan, you can send it by email in the traditional way, or–
JAWS: I’ll share the link myself.
Jonathan: I’ll share the link myself. One thing I like about doing this is that you can send it in a calendar invitation, which I just find is a bit more professional to be able to put that URL there, send the date and time. I have a boilerplate message thing that I include in that calendar invitation that tells people what I’m hoping for. Please don’t use earbuds, come in in a quiet place, make sure you’re wearing headphones of some kind. All those things, I put in that calendar invitation, and it includes the Cleanfeed URL.
The reason why I demoed inviting Neal Ewers to this is that he now joins us via Cleanfeed. I thought it would be useful to conclude this demonstration of Cleanfeed with a way for you to hear exactly how good it sounds. Hello, Neal.
Neal: Should I start with jokes or should we just continue chatting?
Jonathan: Why don’t we just geek out and you can tell me what you’re coming in from because you’re sounding great on this Cleanfeed.
Neal: Interestingly enough, I’m coming in from the Rodecaster pro which you just did a show on.
Jonathan: Yes, and your microphone?
Neal: It is the Electro-Voice RE27.
Jonathan: What is it that you like about Cleanfeed because I know that I introduced you to it, I think, and you’ve been a real adopter of it.
Neal: For the last several months, I have been up to my neck in recording audible books online, not me recording, but I record to the narrator, and the publisher and the author is there. Of course, we’ve done it online during COVID. This is a wonderful platform to do that because for one thing, it is a certain dollar amount a month, I can record for 1 hour, 10 hours, 15 hours, 20 hours, and there’s no extra charge. Plus, it’s accessible.
It was not always, but they have done a really good job of correcting that. I have talked with them occasionally via email, and every time I ask for something, they either have a good reason why it’s not there. Even when they have a good reason why it’s not there, they will look and say, “Well, let’s see if we can make this better.” It’s really a work in progress, and the progress has gotten them to a lot of nice places in terms of accessibility. I use it for other things, too.
I have done narrations for people. It’s just a very clean recording. It is not recorded locally, obviously, but I think I have had one time in the, oh gosh, how many years, a couple of years at least, I’ve been using this. I average probably 35 to 40 hours a month on this thing in the last six months. I’ve had one recording over that period of time that didn’t work, and I think that was operator error.
I can’t blame them for my operator error and the fact that you can record multitrack. I’m not sure what their limitation is how many people you can have in the multitrack recording, I’ve never had more than five. The fact that you can bring everybody in on different channels. You can open Reaper or whatever you’re using and futz with the volume and get them home sounding right. It’s just a great product to use.
Jonathan: Well, one of the things I also like about Cleanfeed is the documentation how friendly and well-written it is. In consulting this, I see that there is 32 track limit in terms of the multitrack recording feature. Those are mono tracks. If you go stereo, there’s a 16 track limit. In terms of the number of people, there’s no limit, but eventually, of course, if you’ve been crazy with it, you would exceed your bandwidth. Do you think anybody can, or could discern a difference between what we’re doing now?
I’m on Cleanfeed, and so are you I’m actually bringing this into the recording with both of us from Cleanfeed. The audio you’re hearing from me is not recorded locally either. Is there a difference that anybody can discern, do you think between the locally recorded audio and this?
Neal: I cannot. If it is on high quality, mono, or high-quality audio. I think there are three choices, there’s lower quality mono, there’s higher quality mono, and there’s stereo. I think I can tell a little bit of difference in high-quality audio mono, not in stereo. I don’t necessarily record in stereo, but I think the quality is better. I’m not even sure I can tell a difference in high-quality mono. I haven’t done a blind test so far. I haven’t had somebody give me the files without my knowing what they are. That’s not a good scientific method. If there is any difference, it is hardly discernible.
Jonathan: How would you describe the differences between using this and say Zoom? Sometimes I get some resistance when I talk up Cleanfeed, and people say, “Why don’t you just use Zoom everybody’s got it these days, it’s easier?”
Neal: Dropouts. We tried recording a couple of books on Zoom, and because of the popularity of Zoom in COVID, every 30 seconds, I would hear this half-second of no sound. I have gotten this maybe three times in like 20 hours or so. Of course, it depends on somebody’s computer and their wiring. We actually tried to record a woman who had some real problems with her ISP, and it was dropping out. That was in Zoom.
When she got a better ISP, it was better but it wasn’t perfect. This is. I don’t get any dropouts, and that’s one of the reasons I don’t use Zoom. Of course, on Zoom, you can have cameras and people seeing each other, and that is something that Zoom has, but I just didn’t like the quality. Also, I find and I haven’t done an exhaustive study of this, but I find that the incoming signal I get from people is better here. Also on Zoom, I’m not sure that I’m hearing what I’m going to hear when I save the file, and their recording quality is not as good as this.
Jonathan: It’s way low bit rate in AAC isn’t it? What they’re supplying for the call recordings if you choose to record in their solution is incredibly inferior.
Neal: Which is one of the reasons I use this is A, it is better, and B, even if I use Zoom, I could record on the RodeCaster Pro, which I’m doing now but now I have two recordings, the Cleanfeed recording, and the RodeCaster Pro recording, so I’m double backed up. I can’t do that with Zoom because I don’t like the recording quality, I like to record on my equipment, and that’ll work, but if I don’t press the right button, then I don’t have another plan to go to.
Jonathan: It’s not clean. I think Cleanfeed is such a good name for the solution. There’s audio processing going on in Zoom. Obviously people like you and me, we want to apply our own processing.
Neal: Yes. It’s hard to figure out how to turn some of that stuff off in Zoom. I don’t mean to bad mouth Zoom. Obviously, it’s a platform that a lot of people use, but I just really like the quality of this. I like the fact that it’s– Again, I’m not dissing Zoom, but I just like the fact that I am in touch with people who I think are really interested in accessibility. As I said, every time I talked to them, they have a plan, and it’s a clean site, and I can access it very easily. It’s just have a got a lot of things going for it.
Jonathan: This is a nice way to close actually because it’s the way I came in by saying it’s about choosing the right tool. I am very happy to use Zoom for meetings with my team or very large webinars, which we also have in my day job, but when it comes to producing good quality audio, for audio-specific tasks, this is a better tool.
Neal: Yes, that and you’ve hit on one of the differences because using a tool that has the need for using 10 or 15, or 20 or 200 people, yes, Zoom is a good platform. In terms of quality, I think this is much better.
Jonathan: I have tried many other services because I like the medium of podcasting for the sake of communication and what we can do together, but let’s face it, I’m also an audio geek, and I love playing with this stuff. I keep coming back to this Cleanfeed is dependable. It works. The developers are super responsive. They can’t grant all your wishes, but they do have a dialogue with you and take your points of view on board. As you can hear, there’s not actually anything here that’s inaccessible.
I would say there are a few things that could be made easier, perhaps with some control showing up as buttons where they currently don’t and you just have to guess that they are actionable. Perhaps certain areas of the screen being automatically spoken through the judicious use, I have to say, of live regions because many developers overdo it, and perhaps a few more headings, but it’s navigable, it’s doable. When you use this often enough, like most things, it becomes second nature. I cannot recommend Cleanfeed highly enough if you want to take podcasting to the next level.
Let’s not forget that this is great for internet radio solutions as well for various local recording options as we’ve just discussed. You can take a portable laptop and a couple of USB peripherals and bring in remote guests. You’ve really got your own Zoom pod track P4 right there as long as you have an internet connection and some laptops do have a pretty robust 4G and 5G connections.
You can find out more about Cleanfeed and give it a try for yourself by visiting cleanfeed.net. That’s C-L-E-A-N-F-E-E-D.net. If you want to discuss this, we do discuss Cleanfeed quite a bit in the blind podmaker email group. If you would like to subscribe, even if you’re not creating a podcast but you are into this audio recording spoken word stuff. Then you’re welcome. Send a blank email to creators-subscribe@the blindpodmaker.com. That’s email@example.com Thanks for listening.
Jonathan: To contribute to Mosen At Large, you can email Jonathan that’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N @mushroomfm.com by writing something down or attaching an audio file, or you can call our listener line, it’s a US number 864-60-MOSEN. That’s 864-606-6736.
Voice over: Mosen at Large Podcast.
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