Audio volume in podcasts


I know that I’m at least five years late to the whole podcasting thing. But given how long the medium has been around, I’m surprised that basic technical issues are still cropping up. And ironically, I’ve noticed these problems in user experience-focused podcasts — precisely the sort of people you would expect to get the details right.

Specifically, I’ve been listening to several recordings in an interview format. You’ve got the interviewer, and then one or more guests. In many cases, they are in different physical locations, so the volume of their voices varies considerably. This ranges from mildly annoying all the way to infuriating — especially if the volume gap is so large that you have to choose between not hearing one person, and getting a headache from the other person’s over-amplified speech.

While I’m sure it’s easier said than done, podcast producers and editors should try to keep all the audio within a fairly tight volume range. Since this is probably a pain to do during the editing process, the easiest solution is to conduct a more thorough sound check before recording. Have each person speak a few sample phrases, and then ask them to move closer to or farther from the phone, speak more loudly or softly, etc. With such a simple adjustment, the resulting podcast sounds more professional, and listeners’ ears will definitely thank you for delivering a better experience.