[bct] podcast quality

  • From: "Neal Ewers" <neal.ewers@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bct" <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 25 May 2006 11:05:27 -0500

I really want to applaud this discussion and the way it is being dealt
with by almost everyone.  As I have stated many times, I know people
have budgets, and I also know that some people like to hear good
quality.  To some, hearing a podcast with so much wind noise that you
can hardly hear the speaker is like someone writing a wonderful story
and using such poor grammar that it is really hard to understand.  So,
one could just as easily say, there is a good story here and deal with
the grammar, or they could simply not bother to read it because of the
poor grammar.  What I find refreshing is that we can talk about this
without hurting people's feelings.  You have what you have and that's
that.  Making the most of what you have is another thing.  So, what I am
about to say is not a must do list of things you need to do to make a
good podcast.  The points I am about to make are simply things that I
think might annoy some people and cause them, just like bad grammar, to
perhaps miss the wonderful podcast they delete because it is not up to
the quality they like even when they consider that people have to use
inexpensive recorders.  And one other thing.  I am only speaking for
myself here.  I'm not attempting to tell you that this is what the world
thinks of the quality of your podcasts.  Just consider it pointers you
might want to consider to help make good recordings with inexpensive
equipment.  And you can certainly feel free to ignore them all.  OK,
have I qualified this enough now?
1.  I don't like hearing people playing around with their microphones
while making a podcast.  I sometimes listen with headphones on and I
don't like to all of a sudden be bombarded with the loud sound of the
mike being dragged across the table to have it closer to you.  Perhaps
picking it up and putting it in front of you would be at least quieter
on the ears.  The same goes for people fiddling around with their
binaural mikes when recording.  Microphones pick up a lot of noise and
some of them make a lot more noise when you handle them, especially if
you handle them roughly, like sliding them along the table.
2.  I know that if you are outside with external mikes, you can't help
picking up wind.  But perhaps listening back to your cast before you
send it to make sure that all your words still come through would help.
You know what you have said, so you may be able to hear it above the
sounds of the wind in the microphones, but we don't know what you have
said, and I have been unable to listen to some podcasts because the loud
sound of the wind in the microphones makes more noise than the speaker.
3.  The same holds true for traffic noise.  It's nice to hear where
people are and to hear the sounds in the background, but when I can't
hear you over the sounds of the traffic, then I miss important things
you say.  Again, listening back to the podcast might help.  You might
decide that this is something you would like to do over when it may be
more quiet.  I know that, for example, walking through a large city with
a recorder that has a limiter and no way to record at different levels
is hard.  I also know I can delete that podcast if I can't hear you.
But there is one thing that I haven't heard brought up here.  Yes,
people have said, "So, you can just delete it."  Well there is another
side to that.  I don't like to delete people's work.  You have gone to
some trouble to let me know something and I would really like to hear
it.  So deleting it only makes me sad that I couldn't hear it over the
wind or other background noise.
So, I guess the bottom line is that we try to maximize what we have and
make as good a recording as we can.

And there is another thing that has not been mentioned, at least I don't
think it has.  People listen to these podcasts on a variety of speakers
and headphones.  They are likely all different. Some speakers bring out
the treble, some bring out the midrange and some bring out the bass.
This is way over generalized, but the point is that some noises you
might think are not there, are definitely there to others.  You may not
think the mike being dragged across the table is all that loud, but if I
listen to it on my speakers, it sometimes actually makes my ears hurt
and I am not listening at that high a volume level.  In other words, we
may not know how our podcasts sound to others.  A set of good speakers
will amplify the microphone noise.  A set of good speakers will
emphasize frequencies that make certain sounds really stand out over the
sound of your voice.  So, given that we all have different listening
equipment, I think we all could learn a lot from listening to the
comments of others regarding quality especially if they make them in the
spirit of friendliness and a real attempt to help make your message
stand out over the sounds of wind, other noise, and other things that
detract from your message.
OK, I'll get off my soap box now.  Keep on making podcasts no matter
what people say about quality, but perhaps a willingness to learn better
techniques can help all of us.

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