TPS Ep. 062 – Listening for Problems in Your Podcast’s Audio and My Rack Gear Compressor

Have you ever speaker tested your podcast? Have you done it lately?

Speaker testing your podcast means listening to your show the way your audience does, on many different devices.Your audience listens to your show in their car, on their mp3 player, on their computer and on many other devices and in countless environments.

To hear your podcast the way your listeners do, put your podcast on these devices and listen in these spots to get a better idea of what your podcast audio sounds like to everyone else. It might sound great through your finely tuned headphones in the edit but does that translate to these devices and places?

  • MP3 player with the cheap earbuds it comes with.
  • In the car. Try rolling down a window while you’re at.
  • On a smartphone – with and without headphones.
  • Computer speakers (desktop and laptop).
  • On a TV – Find someone with an Apple TV.
  • Stitcher Radio – They recompress your already compressed file.
  • Anywhere else you can think of (place your ideas in the comments below).

So you’ve taken your podcast out of the place you normally listen but what are you listening for?

Here are a few things to pay attention to while listening to your show on different devices and in a variety of environments.

  • Does your audio (voice) stand out from the background noise (other cars, people at the gym, etc).
  • Can your voice be heard and understood above bed music (intros, outros, and sound FX)?
  • Is your audio peaking?
  • Are your levels too low? Do you need to crank the volume level higher than you normally would for music or other podcasts?
  • Do you have even levels with co-hosts and/or interviewees/guests?
  • Did you use too much noise removal or compression?
In the second half of this episode I spend some time discussing why and how I use my MDX4600 compressor.
I chose this piece of audio hardware for several reasons.
  • To increase my knowledge and experience with audio production.
  • Live broadcasts – allows me a little more control over the audio I send to a live stream.
  • More control over my audio in situations where I’m appearing on someone else’s podcast and have no control over the final audio mastering.
  • Use of an expander in real-time as well as to turn off the audio received from Skype when the Skype caller is not speaking.
  • Limiter – extra protection against peaked audio.
The use of outboard audio gear can increase the quality of your productions but must be used with caution. Once you’ve processed your audio in real-time via hardware, the effects are “baked in.” You can’t undo the changes you’ve made.
Some pros to using rack mounted gear:
  1. Can increase the quality of your audio.
  2. The ability to place a real-time gate function on Skype calls.
  3. The extra DB boost provided via gain or output knobs can supplement cheaper pre-amps on your mixer.
  4. Limiter capability.
  1. Difficult to learn and use. There’s a steep learning curve with gear like this and it’s easy to mess up your audio.
  2. Requires insert channels on your mixer. A lot of cheaper, widely used podcasting mixers don’t have these.
  3. Baked in audio effects. Can’t be undone.
Please check out my newest show for podcasters. Podcasters’ Roundtable! A live, interactive discussion with podcasters about the issues that we face as content producers.
Follow along on the Google Plus page to catch a live recording, see archives and have a chance to be on the Roundtable as a featured guest! And if you’re on iTunes, please rate and review the show so we can grow the audience and keep the Roundtables going.
Links mentioned on this episode:

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