It was a gray foggy morning as Evan headed out to start his day. He had just recently begun thinking about subscribing to podcasts to add to his daily commute. The night before he’d added a few to his phone. He put in his ear buds and pressed “play.”

As he listened he found himself being distracted by the artifacts and extraneous noise he was hearing. Realizing he wasn’t even listening to the podcast any longer due to the poor audio quality he decided to open the audiobook he recently purchased instead.

Later that day Evan found himself wondering why the audiobook sounded so much better than the podcast….. What happened? Had someone stolen it!?”

With the wide range of technology solutions available, it is now possible to record and upload audio recordings from a home studio. However, too often the podcast audio quality doesn’t meet the quality standards of audiobooks and music which negatively impacts the overall listening experience.

Check out this excerpt from a research paper written by The Anstendig Institute that explains the importance of podcast audio quality:

“Hearing, being the highest of the senses, is the cornerstone upon which all higher social values are built.

It is through the expressive qualities in speech and music that we experience and, thereby, become familiar with the higher qualities of life to which human society aspires.

The most important aspects of sound are those qualities, which convey emotions. In fact, the emotional qualities we do experience and become familiar with are caused mostly by sound.

It is through the different expressive qualities of sound that we learn the various nuances and subtleties of emotion. This enormous range of gradations in our emotional experience is communicated most often through the sonic arts, thereby saving us the need to have corresponding real-life experiences.

It follows that it is essential for society to preserve the integrity of the sounds with which we surround ourselves and to preserve and foster the finest examples, i.e., the epitomes of sonic arts. Otherwise, the quality and richness of life quickly deteriorate.”

The Importance Of Sound In Our Lives — The Anstendig Institute

ACX (audible.com) has recording standards for audiobooks to which they require all submissions to adhere. They are as follows:

“Consistency in audio levels, tone, noise level, spacing, and pronunciation gives the listener an enjoyable experience. Drastic changes can be jarring to the listener and are not reflective of a professional production. This distracts from the listening experience and may lead to poor reviews and reduced sales.

Each uploaded file must be free of extraneous sounds such as plosives, mic pops, mouse clicks, excessive mouth noise, and outtakes.

Extraneous sounds can distract listeners from the story, and outtakes sound unprofessional. Each can elicit bad reviews and bad reviews can hurt sales.

Each file must measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS.

Put simply, all files must fall within a specific volume range. By keeping all files within this range – not too loud and not too soft – listeners won’t have to constantly adjust the volume of their playback device.

Each file must have peak values no higher than -3dB.

By leaving this headroom you’ll reduce the possibility of distortion, which can reduce the quality of the listening experience. This headroom is also needed to ensure files are successfully encoded.

Each file must have a noise floor no higher than -60dB RMS.

Noisy files that contain background sounds and other distractions make it difficult for listeners to focus on the material.

Each file must be 192kbps or higher 44.1kHz MP3, Constant Bit Rate (CBR).

Before going on sale in the Audible store, titles are encoded in a variety of formats that customers have the option of downloading. 192kbps (or higher), Constant Bit Rate MP3 files are required so this encoding process works without error. You may upload 256kbps or 320kbps files if you’d like, but the difference in quality heard by listeners will be negligible.

All files must be the same channel format (All mono or all stereo files).

Submitted audiobooks may not contain both mono and stereo files. Stereo files must not be joint-stereo. Mono files are strongly recommended. We recommend mono for all of your files as this may prove to be the smoothest path that also allows for audio consistency.

Each uploaded file must be no larger than 170MB.

Files larger than 170MB are not supported. If a file will be over 170MB, find a good break in the narration and split the section into two files.

Your submitted audiobook must be narrated by a human.

Text-to-speech recordings are not allowed. Audible listeners choose audiobooks for the performance of the material, as well as the story. To meet that expectation, your audiobook must be recorded by a human.”

These are the standards for audiobooks but, given the importance of podcast audio quality to the listening experience, they should also be the standards for podcasts. However, more often than not, podcast recordings don’t meet these basic standards.

If you are a podcaster and not using a professional recording studio to record your podcasts, how do you ensure your podcasts recorded in your home studio meet these standards?

The answer is to find an audio recording engineer that will work with you to ensure your podcast audio quality meets the ACX standards.

You will want to find an audio engineer who:

  • Understands how to help you get a high-quality recording from your own “home studio.”
  • Will edit your file for unwanted artifacts and unwanted noises that are inherent in any recording
  • Will ensure that your edited recording meets the ACX standards
  • Has the knowledge and experience to apply the effects that are used in any commercial grade recording and finally “master” the track to give it that polished commercial sound.

Of course, the very next question is……… how much does such a recording engineer cost!

Well, the reality is such an individual can be quite expensive when working on an hourly basis. However, the good news is that we, at Goodlook Marketing, offer a comprehensive podcast production, distribution and promotional service that includes audio file editing/mastering as an element of the process – with the goal of achieving outstanding podcast audio quality.

To learn more about this service please contact us.

Related Posts