On a daily basis I answer how-to podcasting questions on twitter (@PodcastHelper) and in most cases each question is answered in 140 characters of less. However on occasion I want to provide a much more lengthy answer and that’s when I turn to email to answer questions that might have several answers or just need further explanation.
In an effort to help as many people as possible, much like on twitter where everyone that follows me also gets the chance to benefit from the information I provide to individuals, I wanted to share the emails that I receive here at The Podcasters Studio so that everyone gets the chance to learn. These are those emails*. Please add to the conversation by commenting below and filling in anything I may have missed that would help everyone else reading these posts (including me).
Q: I recorded a podcast and the final version which was in MP3 and was 97 minutes long was 88.56MB. I saw that other shows of similar length were only about 17MB. I’ve tried compressing my file to get it less than 88, but any attempt to make the file take up less room only make it take up more! I could even get it to take up 354MB at one point.
I’ve tried converting it into every file type I could and anything I tried only made it bigger instead of smaller. Help me please…
Ray: What are you using to convert the file?
Sender: I used iTunes to convert the files, and I started with mp3.
Why is 128kbps the minimum? I can’t even tell the difference until you get down to 22kbps!
Thank-you for the recommendation! It works and I halved the space it takes up, it’s down to 44MB and I probably wouldn’t have ever found a solution if it weren’t for you.
Here’s another question: How do you as a podcaster upload mp3 files? I’ve uploaded my podcast several times but every file sharing in the world has some fundamental problem with it that makes it useless, it seems.
A 128kbps bit rate (generally considered CD quality) is the minimum I prefer because it has the best sound to file size ratio.
If you’re listening to audio that is encoded at a substantially lower bit rate 96kpbs and below and can’t hear a difference between that and 128kbps, it might just be because you have a “new” ear for audio quality and podcasting. To better train your ear I would highly encourage you to listen using a good pair of over the hear headphones or any other headphones (ear buds) if you do not have a quality pair. This will change what you are able to hear drastically. You will be able to hear so much more and because so many people listen to podcasts on ear buds from their ipods or zunes, you want to be able to hear it as your listeners hear it.
96kbps (FM radio quality) is as low as I would ever suggest someone go when it comes to voice. However I can still hear quite a difference between that and what I would prefer (128). If you have music in your show, you should definitely be at 128kbps for it to sound good. What you’ll start to notice as you try to make your file smaller by changing the bit rate (kbps) are artifacts that often sound like computer noises. Electronic noises that you didn’t have when you recorded the audio.
I’m glad the software (Switch) that I recommended worked for you, however once again I would encourage you to use some headphones and compare the audio of your mp3 file that you converted down to 48kbps or less to that of my show over at https://thepodcastersstudio.com. Give the two a listen with some headphones and see if you can tell the difference. Also try turning the volume up a little more than normal without hurting your ears.
In addition to the tips above, when you record your podcast, you should record in an uncompressed (RAW) format such as WAV, AIFF or ACC (depending on your recording software) and don’t convert to mp3 until you are ready to make the final file (the one that you will use as your podcast episode). Doing this will also help your audio quality. MP3 is a compressed format and if you compress mp3 again into another mp3 file, you are losing some of your audio quality and hurting your final product. The more times you compress the file (put it through software and spit out another file) the more your file degrades in quality.
As for uploading your podcast, your best option is to purchase a monthly plan at http://libsyn.com. You can host your files there and they give you stats about how many people are downloading your show as well as where (geographically) people are downloading from. Other great features include embeddable players and unlimited bandwidth which means no matter how many times your show is downloaded you’ll never be charged any more than the monthly plan you sign up with ($12 a month for the basic plan w/ stats, $5 w/out stats). They are also the most reliable in terms of download speeds and downtime (meaning their site rarely to never goes down leaving your listeners unable to get your content). FYI, I don’t receive any money from Libsyn if you use their service. They are just the best option in my professional opinion.
There are a few free options such as blip.tv which will host either audio or video and posterous.com but both of these have their limitations. Each will allow you to host your files for free but download times for the end user can be sluggish to unbearably slow which can result in a loss of subscribers for you and your show or at the very least, an annoying experience and that’s not something you want to do to your audience. That said, if you want to get started in podcasting, have no money and are not sure if you will keep doing it for any length of time in the future, these options are viable ways to start.
My strongest recommendation regardless of which file host you choose is to make sure you run your RSS feed through Feedburner so that if you continue forward with your podcast, you will always be able to move your files anywhere you want without affecting your listeners. Failing to do this step can result in a loss of all if not most of your subscribers once you decide you need to host your files somewhere else. This is a free option via Google so don’t submit your podcast (RSS feed) anywhere (itunes, Zune, Miro, etc) before putting it through Feedburner. You will then submit the feed address that Feedburner gives you to any place on the web that you want your show to be displayed.
*all emails sent to The Podcasters Studio regarding podcasting questions are subject to appearing on this site however the names of senders are always protected and never revealed unless permission is given by the sender.