The Difference Between an Podcast and Audiobook RecordingOct 11, 2018
All I want for podcasters is the best. It's always frustrating for me when I jump into Facebook groups and see that podcasters complaining about the recording and editing process.
But it's just not the podcasters, it's a podcast editors that get too technical or too engrossed in the very fine details. Don't get me wrong, I do think that fine details are important, but nitpicking about every little sound can just keep you from publishing anything at all.
I want to talk with you about the difference between a podcast recording versus and audiobook recording. There are definite differences in the style of recording so I think it's important that you understand those differences when you go into your recording and editing process.
DIFFERENT MODES ORAL DELIVERY
As I always mention in my YouTube videos, podcasting can be just about anything that you want it to be. You can see one of my other blogs where I talked about the different styles of podcasting right here.
But as someone jumping into the space of recording their voice we have to understand that there are different modalities of oral delivery.
So let's start with podcasting first.
ORAL DELIVERY FOR PODCASTING
When you think of podcasting, you think of a radio show where the host is on the microphone, speaking his or her mind to the world. This delivery style really is more casual and requires a sense of mental agility that is more conversational so the listener can understand the message.
As far as the sound is concerned, there will be ambient noise in the background of your delivery.
You might hear a bus drive by, police sirens, crying babies, knocks at the door, playing children and so much more. Of course this is an extreme case but I can promise you this, even in professional radio I get interrupted by outside forces that can't be controlled in the final delivery. By the time the signal reaches someone's car or radio, it’s already too late and there’s a mistake.
It's almost impossible to control outside forces so you have to just run with them. It's better to work with things that are working against you than to fight against them.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard radio personalities fumble over their words because someone had busted through the studio door. And in some of those cases, the spontaneous action that happened on-air added value to the segment content. It opened the world up to the listener.
STORYTELLING ORAL DELIVERY
But if you were creating a podcast that was more like a storytelling podcast, it would have a different delivery style. Likely there's a script that is being followed and the person who is reading that script is more meticulous about the sound.
The storytelling podcast that I have listened to usually contain actors, actresses and a narrator. These podcast are recorded carefully and edited very carefully.
The most important thing here is that it's a different delivery style.
Oration styles go all the way back to ancient Greece when philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates wrote works on different oral styles for different types of audiences.
So you have to understand that how you deliver your podcast will different than a different style of recording for another platform.
Next, let’s talk about the audio standards for podcasts vs audiobooks.
APPLE PODCASTS AUDIO REQUIREMENTS
As of this blog post, Apple Podcasts has come out with a set of requirements that podcasters should use as a guideline to place content onto their platform. You can read those guidelines right here.
For the most part, apple is looking for a high-quality podcast in terms of sound, not oral delivery. This means your podcast might have lip smacks, pronounced breathing, background noise, ambient noise, and whatever else. The standards are high, but not higher than an audiobook recording.
I suppose this is a great segway into the standards for submitting an audiobook to Audible.
RECORDING STANDARDS FOR AUDIOBOOKS
Many years ago I tried my hand at participating in the voiceover industry. In that time I learned so much about the meticulous nature of voice acting.
I thought that because I was a radio disc jockey meant that I could do voice over really easy. Boy was I wrong!Voice acting is much different then delivering content over the radio.
In fact, voice acting is just that. Acting.
Voice actors have to jump into an emotional mental space to draw out a different style of emotion for the person who is listening. In fact, there are different delivery systems in voice acting just as there is with podcasting. However, the sound standards are wildly different than that of podcasting.
When you narrate a piece of audio for an audiobook, phone answering system, or TV commercial, the sound standards must be precise and clean.
If you have ever noticed, an audiobook contains no breaths between each word. You might be thinking to yourself, “So what?” It’s a bigger deal than you think, if you want to keep selling your audiobook.
From a technical perspective, it means someone went through and manually removed those breaths so the sound could be consistent throughout the entire recording.
Narrations for audio books are wildly professional and take a lot of time. This is why it cost so much to have an a voice actor read it followed by an editor to process the sound through equalization. Additionally, they’re removing those annoying lip smacks, plosives, and unwanted sounds.
But it goes even further than that. If you look on acx.com, the website where you can submit your audio to Kindle, you'll notice a specific set of rules for narrators and how to submit your audio.
You will see that the sound has to be consistent over all with the same formatting.
The recordings can be done either in mono or in stereo, but it's probably better done in mono because it takes up less drive space on your computer.
As far as equalization and post-processing is concerned, you might need to make sure most of those sounds are equal in decibel levels across the entire recording. This is done easily in programs like Adobe Audition.
Just keep in mind that your audio needs to be measured between -23dB and -18dB. And the audio can’t go beyond -3dB peaks.
-23 to -18dB is a quiet recording, but if you know how to use the microphone right, you can get a clean sound of the recording. You have to remember that audiobooks are a pleasant way of consuming content because you know what to expect. It varies from how you would listen to a podcast.
Compare this to a radio-style format podcasting, the output should be between -12 to -9dB without peaking over -3dB. Anything beyond that is too loud and sounds overmodulated and distorted.
WHY AM I CONCERNED WITH THE DIFFERENT STYLES OF RECORDINGS?
I am a big believer that most podcasters and podcast editors are overthinking the editing process when they listen to a piece of audio. To me, it's very frustrating to see that podcast editors are complaining how a host is delivering the content over the microphone.
First of all, a podcast editor is just that. They edit, that's all.
Unless they have worked out an agreement with their client that they would take on a role as a performance coach, then there is reason to discuss whether a host isn’t performing as expected. In radio, we call these Program Directors and they can be harsh. In podcasting, these are just oral delivery consultants. They tell you areas where you need to work on your delivery to save time for the editor.
My point is, if you focus on the little details within a podcast using audiobook standards, the editing process takes way too much time. I'm convinced the reason why these editors are complaining about the length of edit time is because they're trying to justify a reason to edit a podcast.
You don't have to do this.
If you are comfortable with creating a podcast that sounds more conversational and has flaws, then you're in the ballpark of competing with other Radio broadcasters who have been presenting for years.
But if you hold the standard of editing where you are removing breaths and unwanted sounds out of your podcast, then I believe that you are misinformed about how to edit a podcast.
I've said this multiple times in my YouTube videos, but editing a podcast is more about editing ideas than it is about removing unwanted sounds.
Recording a podcast should take someone through a journey through the entire piece of audio. By the time it reaches the editor, they should be removing the ideas that don't make sense for the overall flow of the podcast.
Let me know what you think about this topic. Are you editing your podcast as though you are editing an audiobook? If so, I'd like to know why.
Leave a comment down below. I'd love to see what you have to say. Thanks for reading.