Audible Inconsistencies

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Audible Inconsistencies

Last night I subscribed to a handfull of BBC podcasts to help fill up the longer walk that I now have to and from the station. My PSP dutifully downloaded them while I was fast asleep at 6am, and then I deleted most of them a couple of hours later.

Why?

Because the production quality was gash, that’s why.

Each of them had been produced at a different volume level. Every single one of them contained promotional stings that had volume spikes well above the level of the actual content. The worst offender was The Rock Show podcast, with a loud intro, followed by in-studio pieces at one level, interviews at another, and unnecessary stings louder still. Deleted & unsubscribed.

I also get two video podcasts from CNN – one is a daily news update and the other is called In case you missed it. The pair are at slightly different volume levels, but nothing too drastic. The latter contains an annoyingly tinny audio sting between segments that is especially sharp when you’re listening through earphones.

Which is the point that both the BBC and CNN seem to have missed with podcasts; the vast majority of their audience will be listening to these with earphones on. In terms of audio, they have a captive audience. So there’s no bloody need to pull the same kind of volume stunts they do on TV, like compressing the audio during advert breaks to grab the attention.

The CNN ones I can live with, because the individual podcasts maintain a sensible volume level – plus they’re free. The BBC ones I pay for through my TV License. Or at least I hope I do – aside from the journalistically sloppy website and annual Wimbledon coverage, I get very little else for my money. I’m certainly not happy about my contribution to the bloated salaries of Eastenders‘ actors and whatever ridiculous figure they’ve given to Bernie Ecclestone for the rights to F1.

So, until the BBC can produce something that doesn’t have me frequently wincing for the volume control, they can stick their podcasts and I’ll just keep resenting the tax I have to pay them for owning a TV.

2 thoughts on Audible Inconsistencies

  1. That’s the problem with podcasting though mate.
    It’s deemed to be this quick and easy way for people to get audio content onto the web but because of that there’s never any quality control.

    Back in 2005, when I started mine, I made sure I had a decent microphone and did some post-production to make sure that a put an audio compressor in the mix to keep the overall volume high. I used to subscribe to other podcasts and they had levels that were all over the place, clipped audio etc.

    That said, you’d think that the major media companies would understand how to properly produce audio given that they’ve been doing it for years!

  2. Indeed – I think I’ve been spoiled by the attention to detail yourself and others have demonstrated.

    I could just run them through MP3Gain to flatten them out, but that sort of takes away from the point and convenience of the ones that update daily.

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