Cinch: on-the-scene sound bites made easy

March 8, 2010

You dial a special number, wait for the beep, then talk into your phone…or, if you’re a reporter doing an interview, you let your interview subject talk into your phone. Then you hang up.  And that’s it– your audio is now posted on  a website called Cinch —— all set  for you to add a text teaser and  send it off to  Twitter (or Facebook) where it will appear as a tweet (or post) under your name, with a link back to the audio file on Cinch.

I missed the October launch of  this new audio tool, from the same people who bring you BlogTalkRadio,a site that lets you host online “radio” call-in shows for free. I  just discovered Cinch last week, while setting up a BlogTalk program for a client.   My first thought was,  “Wow. If only I’d had something like this when I was a full-time  radio reporter.”

Admittedly, the sound quality isn’t great– partly that’s due to Cinch’s own limitations, mostly, though, it’s because the audio quality of most phone lines is limited and cell phones are the worst of all. Here’s a sample made on my cell:

The quality improves some if you aren’t using a cell phone (this is on a Vonage line):

Cinch would be most useful, though, for quick recordings “in the field” –while you are out and about– and that means a cell, so keep the poor sound quality in mind: Speak very clearly and keep your recordings short –definitely under a minute.

There are some other limitations: You can’t edit your recordings on the site(there’s a link that says “edit” next to each recording, but don’t be fooled- it’s just for editing your text, there’s no sound editing capability): Plan out what you want to say before you call Cinch and be ready to start talking as soon as you hear the beep. If you are interviewing someone else, explain to them ahead of time that everything they say will be recorded so they don’t start out by saying “test test” or the like. (And unfortunately, you can’t get rid of the little voice that says “Cincccccccchhhh” at the start of every recording.)

But distributing your “Cinches” (doesn’t sound quite as cute as “tweets,” does it?) via Facebook and Twitter is easy, and so is inserting them in a website or blog. You can also download your Cinch to your own computer as an MP3.

Give it a try and let me know what you think– I’m especially curious to know if you’ve discovered any smartphone apps that would make it possible to record on your phone, edit out a clip and then upload it to Cinch.

In any case –while the recording quality wouldn’t make a professional recording engineer smile, Cinch could be very useful if, say, you’re producing an event and you want to make quick audio promos or reports and send them out to your social networks while you’re still on the scene. Or if  you’re an indy backpack journalist  who has to do it all on your own, from recording to editing to getting it out on your blog and social networks :  grab  a newsmaker  for a quick word or a passerby for a couple seconds of vox pop, call Cinch and you’re done.  Backpack journalism?  You don’t need a whole backpack…just a pocket big enough for your cell phone.

Update/clarification: If you connect Twitter or Facebook to your Cinch account,  your “Cinches” will automatically be sent out to these networks with a generic ” I have shared an audio update” explanation. So if this isn’t what you want, “share” your Cinches “manually” after you post them…

Update 2, 3/12/2010:  In India,  they’ve already gone beyond Cinch, all the way to all-audio “tweets” with a service called Bubbly, as Business Insider reports

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