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Quality standards for podcasts, please | Nicole Simon's Useful Sounds

Quality standards for podcasts, please

25.10.2004 - 01:19 / filled under default

(Note 2 self: Next time look more carefully - it's Gillmor and not Gilmore *blush*)

Today was the first time I was not at my computer while listening to podcast but driving with my car to Hamburg (about an hour from here). I had half of Adam's podcast left, some openpodcasts and heard the Gillmor Gang from IT-Conversations.

First of all - Adam was entertaining as always and the Gillmor Gang from this time was very good in content about what is podcasting, where is this heading to, what is the difference to pirate radio or why might it be the new "world radio on demand" (the don't call it that way but that's what I think of it). If you have not heard it - you should.

But I do have ringing ears and headache now, big time. Why? While Adam has a very good recording quality and a very clean podcast, the Gillmor Gang is recorded voip (as I asume) with no denoising, no normalising and very high noise ratio. I had to turn up volume to get the quiter parts but steadily turn it down because my ears where ringing because all of a sudden the voice was louder and then quiter again.

Plus the constant noisefloor was very distracting to listen to. I know that I have to denoise my recordings, and I do it. And I adjust the noiselevel and do a little compressing so you won't have that much dynamic.

Second: every podcast has its own level of loudness. After the first ones I knew I had to turn down volume immediatly and slowly turn it up for the next track - and then restart it so I could listen to the start.

I therefor suggest a quality meater or an scale of "adam" as the unit how a podcasts recording quality is. As the Gillmor Gang pointed out, audio is a much more natural language than writing - but avoiding noise is even older than that.

I wrote on Adam's blog I like the "1 adam" unit but have thought it over and would suggest the daily source code to be 10 adam - and the Gillmor Gang from today be 3. Todays Rock and Roll Geek show on the other hand - while not being so crisp and energetic in it's quality (sound, not content!) would be a good 8, perhaps more.

So please, do my ears (and other ones) a favor and tell the people if you have done anything to improve your audio quality. And if you don't care: please tell me also, as I would know then that I should avoid your podcast. :o)

Interessting point Adam Curry pointed out in his podcast (thanks to Johnnie Moore for typing this)

Adam Curry's Daily Source Code is a good podcast. Keeping it real, he points out today (around minute 4:30) that in preparing for the Gilmour Gang, participants expressed strong anti-Bush opinions... but "no one spoke with the same passion during the actual taping even though the elections did come up... it always amazes me how the minute the microphone turns on then all of a sudden... everyone takes a stupid pill and we're not real anymore." I'd like to have heard the pre-taping discussion!
I had heard this before and would like a copy of that too, if this was the 'silent' version ...

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    comments (9) :

  1. Sorry you had problems with The Gillmor Gang audio. In fact quite a bit of processing is used. The participants are all on standard analog phones dialed into a conference-call switch and as you can imagine, their audio levels initially vary greatly. From the studio, I dial into the same switch via an ISDN line and an all-digital hybrid. The resulting audio is first normalized to full peak. After editing and before encoding, the audio is again normalized to an RMS level of 16db below a square wave. In other words, it should be of similar loudness to other MP3s. Of course, this normalization increases the background telephone noise as well, and with nine conference-call ports open at once (eight hot microphones) there's always going to be noise. Unfortunately, this is not a type of noise that can be filtered since it is random and constantly changing. Telephone calls will never sound as good as shows using a good mic such as Adam uses. You might be interested to know that I conducted my interview with Adam over the phone then replaced his telephone audio with a separate track that he recorded using his own mic. Check it out. ...doug (producer, IT Conversations)
    Doug Kaye 25.10.2004 - 03:04
  2. Oh god, how must it sound without! ;o) Of course I already heard the other interview and thought 'if it works there, why not in the other case'. But recording it double is cheating! ;o)

    Thanks for the great info on that - but perhaps we can come up with something else to produce better quality. Might be recording each phonecalls on each side and then mixing them toghether could be a way.

    With other mp3 I did not meant yours but other podcasts, not yours. While Adam is there for entertainment, your podcasts are there for infotainment. :o)
    Nicole 25.10.2004 - 03:21
  3. Thanks for mentioning my podcast,
    Michael Butler 25.10.2004 - 04:44
  4. Michael, normally I don't like Rock'n Roll but I have a feeling as if you might have some songs in your show which could bring me closer to liking it. ;o)
    Nicole 25.10.2004 - 04:48
  5. Nicole,
    Unfortunately, my knowledge about audio improvements is very limited. During my first Podcast, I recorded my voice and tried some of the audio plugins in Audio Hijack Pro (a Mac application which Adam, for example, also uses), but all of them made the sound quite artificial - denoise, normalise, whatever. It just didn't sound right.
    I know you're not a Mac-girl, but maybe there is someone out there who could point me to the right tools and make a short introduction...?

    Christian Hessmann 25.10.2004 - 09:46
  6. It's great that this is being discussed. I actually am amazed at the Gillmore Gang recordings because I know what a nightmare it is to produce that kind of a show with phones, mics, audience mics, etc. I think the final result is quite good, but probably wouldn't listen in a car where you're also competing with road noise.

    Audio production, and especially mastering, is not intuitive, but there are some standards that podcasters should aim for. I hope we can gather them here (and there, and everywhere) so that best practices (oh god...I am a consultant) can prevail. I'll put mine together on my site.
    roy walter 25.10.2004 - 15:01
  7. After being in radio for 15 years, and being a stickler for levels and audio quality, that is one reason I started the Podcast Bunker site. We only list Podcast that first have content worth listening too, and not just another kid with a Mr. Microphone.

    I cringe when searching the net for Podcast and hearing some of these, I stop in about 10 seconds and move on. Lots of junk popping up in the Podcast world and also lots of great work also. We weed through the mess at the Podcast Bunker (http://www.podcastbunker.com)
    so you don't have to. If all I wanted to hear cell phone static and bad audio all I have to do is turn on my AM radio. The past few weeks I've heard some really bad stuff. If you going to produce a Podcast make your friends listen to one first, if they don't call you for a couple of weeks, reconsider producing Podcast. Stop by WholeWheat Radio and read the Podcast Tips..lots of very good info there. If your a Podcaster Go here http://www.wholewheatradio.org/jbb/WWR_p..

    Radar from the Bunker
    Radar 29.10.2004 - 16:42
  8. "If you going to produce a Podcast make your friends listen to one first, if they don't call you for a couple of weeks, reconsider producing Podcast." *lol* nice one. ;o

    I am a little bit confused, is radioquality this bad in America?

    And I will sure make a visit and keep an eye on your feedfile. ;o)
    Nicole 29.10.2004 - 20:31
  9. I couldn't agree with you more! Please check out my podcast (Podcasting from SoftwareLand) about which Adam has made positive comments regarding the production quality :) Program #4 focuses on production techniques (use of compressors in particular).
    Michael Lehman 04.11.2004 - 14:50

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