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I have been fairly successful setting up my own DIY podcast from my home. I use XLR mics, a 8-channel mixer, and record with Audacity.

The next step is adding additional sound elements to the podcast without having to fiddle around with lots of things on the computer. I do have a computer feeding into the mix, but I mainly use this for searching the web, playing the intro/outro, playing songs, etc.

For sound effects, I'd much prefer to have a physical device that is pre-programmed with the sounds of my choice. What are some of the best options for this?

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4 Answers 4

A solution that might work for you would be to use a combination of hardware controller with software to generate the sound effects.

The controller would look something like this:

enter image description here

Many people use Ableton Live for just what you are trying to do. There are several hardware controllers that will work with it. A few can be found here.

I have never used this type of setup, so I don't have any specific product recommendations, but this should at least give you an idea of where to start looking.

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A "physical device that is pre-programmed with the sounds of my choice" is called a sampler and what kind you'll need is entirely up to your personal requirements. They can be quite simple things that basically just play back short recordings when you press a button, all the way up to very elaborate devices that you can compose entire albums with. I personally have used the Boss SP-202 in the first link, and can say that while loading sounds onto it can be a bit awkward, it works quite well and simply once they're loaded.

However, to save cost, you may find that software works just as well for you, since you already have a computer running into your mixer. If you need physical buttons you can probably get a simple MIDI controller to trigger sounds with (a la Friend of George's answer), although at that point you may as well go with a hardware sampler for simplicity.

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I am interested in what people will suggest as far hardware solutions, but you may save yourself some money and setup if you just insert the sound effects after the fact (post-production).

The basic process is to record your podcast as normal, and then in Audacity you can insert the sound effects or songs on a separate track and then mix down to a single file again. This is simply an alternative to your hardware solution - it may not fit in with the production process you had in mind.

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This adds time + complexity, as well as removing elements from the live stream and the vibe of the show. I definitely need the sounds in real time. Thanks for your response though! –  NewWorldOrderly Apr 5 '12 at 19:26
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Soundboards have typically been dedicated PC's routed to the main mixer for years now, I was using one in 1997. If you are using a mixer in your podcast, you should have a look at SoundBoard for the iPad from Ambrosia Software for $20 and the price of an iPad (which you may already have) you can replicate the exact functionality of a radio station soundboard. I am not sure if there are Android equivalents but since the tablets don't have fans, run silently and are touch screen they are ideal for this purpose.

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iPad is a good solution I guess, but do you think there is a solution that is a physical device? The same concept, but with physical buttons. A midi controller maybe? I'm new to all audio related tech questions... –  NewWorldOrderly Apr 5 '12 at 19:40
    
There are hardware versions but for a podcast, you are getting in some pretty pricey solutions. –  JohnnyCanuck Apr 16 '12 at 18:54
    
What other software solutions are there for Windows machines? Any suggestions? –  NewWorldOrderly Apr 18 '12 at 18:12
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