3 Reasons Why Sound Quality in Podcasting Really Matters

A new study shows poor audio quality effects enjoyment and credibility.

Videos spliced together with the images and audio ever-so-slightly out of sync. Echoey, hard to decipher podcasts. Grainy pictures. We all know bad quality content is a turn-off for audiences, but a recent study shows that in the case of poor audio quality, it doesn’t just affect the audiences enjoyment, it also lowers your personal credibility and that of your brand.

In a study conducted by scientists from the University of Southern California and Australian National University, two versions of an NPR podcast were shared with participants - one which sounded perfect and the other distorted to sound bad. They found that poor sound quality not only negatively impacted the ease with which the content was understood but also greatly diminished the perceived reliability of the source itself. 

The key takeaway for the researchers? “Next time you are recorded, make sure you have good sound quality,” they wrote “Your credibility depends on it.”

So, what does this mean for podcast production? What you’re saying might be really interesting and well-researched - but if the sound quality is bad, it will be detrimental to both your personal credibility and that of your brand.

We wanted to dig a bit deeper into why this can be such a critical factor, so here are three key reasons to prioritise sound quality from the very beginning of your podcasting journey:

  1. No distractions for your audience - your listeners need to focus on your message, rather than trying to work out what that annoying noise is in the background… Is that an air conditioner I can hear? Are those emails pinging in? Are these people being held against their will in a lead-lined cellar….?

  2. Effective sound design - music beds, sound effects and jingles need to be purposeful and impactful rather than adding sonic confusion. A recent episode of The New Yorker Radio Hour is a good example of this - it contrasted recordings taken in Madame Tussauds with the voice over from the studio to create a purposefully textured recording. 

  3. User reviews - the tricky thing about audio quality is you don’t always notice it when it’s there but you sure do notice when it’s missing. User reviews can often reveal this all too late - which is why you need to be thinking about sound quality before you even go into production and especially before you start to ship episodes. In the anonymity of the internet, your listeners will not be forgiving. 

If your interested in understanding a bit more about what good audio quality actually sounds like, check out this mini-podcast. And, if you want to talk about improving the credibility of your audio content, get in touch jake@message-heard.com