Every time I hear “Talkshoe” or “Blog Talk Radio” I know the following show is going to have awful quality in terms of audio production. The last show I listened to was “book your self solid” and I couldn't take the scratch static in the line, the constant buzzing, etc. So I decided to see what was the difference between a blog talk radio program and one of the shows I listen to.

Blog Talk Radio uses a bit rate of 11,025. Think of this is how long a person takes to look at a picture they have to do a report on. The longer the look, the more detail they will remember. The problem is, we aren't talking about picture, we are talking about making a representation of  your voice. So with a low sample rate, it is “garbage in.”

The sample rate of blog talk radio is 11.025 Hz and 32 kbps. I’ve described 64 kbps as “AM radio sounding” and their rate is HALF that.

A bit rate is how you describe the painting to others. This is how much time you take to describe the painting. Obvious the more time you take the more details you can reveal. Well the picture again, is your voice, and if you've done a good job of recording at a proper sampling rate (44.1) you can stay at a high bit rate (Like 128 kbps which is near CD quality – great for music podcasts), opt for a more “FM quality” which is 96 kbps (which is what this show is produced at ), or if you have a long show (like www.noagendashow.com) and are mainly talk you can produce your show at 64 kbps (AM Radio). Blog talk radio produces their show at a bitrate of 32kbps.

So they didn't take long to “look at the painting” and they are processing at a speed that leaves little time for details. This is an analogy to try and explain the technical side of audio. It's not exact, but I feel its close enough to get the picture. The bottom line is record at 44.1 sample rate, and produce your show at least at 64 kbps

How Do You Broadcast Live and Take Calls?

Some people are attempting to use ustream.tv to “broadcast” which has a chat window built into the chat (or you can use a service like chatango.com You can use Skype as your “phone” and either call people on their phone using a Skype Out number, or you can purchase a Skype In number and have people call you. Then to record the skype call you can use software such as www.powergramo.com or a portable recorder (which may be more reliable) like the Zoom H2 You might also try a service like www.dimdim.com which is what I use to do my webinars.

Podcast Cruise

I talk about a cool “unconference” for podcasters on a cruise ship. You can read the details here. If you decide to go, be sure to mention my name

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About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.
4 comments on “My Definition of Bad Audio Quality
  1. John Kringle says:

    I agree, I hate shows from talkshoe. They sound like two cans and some string.

  2. Ellen says:

    Thanks for putting this up. I don’t know much of anything about audio, but I am learning it. And I transcribe interviews for people from blog talk radio. And man, oh, man, the audio! I was trying to figure out where this horrible distortion was coming from, and then I read about sampling rates (I’ve been doing this research intermittently for months). And then I saw that low rate. A ha! And that explains the kind of distortion, which is like this horrible grating sound.

    And I think, thought not at all sure, that when you open something like this in Audacity and don’t know what you’re doing, like me, it automatically matches that low rate, and then when you export it, it is worse than when you opened it, and it just keeps degrading, like video. Is that happening?

    Anyway, I’m upping the project rate in Audacity, and the rate (whichever rate that is) for the export to MP3. Maybe that will help? Can’t stand listening to these voices that sound like they’ve been run across a box grater, like carrots….

    Thanks again.

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