The Indie Podcaster with Kieran MacRae

3 Ways You Need To Test Your Audio Quality

Published 2 months ago • 5 min read

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Hey Reader! - DIY is happening in the MacRae household. My wife is opening an online second-hand bookshop so we are drowning in books, so it's time for bookshelves to go up. Wish me luck.

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3 Ways You Need To Test Your Audio Quality

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been giving high-impact feedback to people whose podcasts I've been auditing.

Today, I’m going to share one easy test that you can do yourself to check your podcast quality.

The real life listen test.

Most podcasters, myself included, edit their podcast through headphones. But it’s not how your fans are listening.

The real-life listen test is where you listen to your podcast in the same situation your listeners do: while you’re walking your dog, doing chores, at the gym, sitting in the office, through a smart speaker, through your phone.

But we’re all busy, so let's stick to the three areas where I noticed people fail the test.

  • Listening on your commute to work
  • Listening on your phone while you’re doing the dishes
  • Listening through headphones in a busy cafe

Listen in the Car

The problem I’ve noticed with the car test is that occasionally, I have to max out the volume to make out all the conversation. Then, an occasional laugh or piece of music will be painfully loud, and I’ll crank the volume down, only to have to crank it back up again when the conversation resumes.

Most listeners won’t make this effort. They’ll tune out and find a different podcast.

And according to Nielson, up to 40% of podcast listens happen in transit, which makes it the first test to do.

Try it today. Jump in your car and go for a drive with your podcast on. Make sure you get up to speed to fully test and make sure you’re comfortable to hear.

Listen From Your Phone

I’ve been listening to the Diary of a CEO podcast, but I have to have his podcast on full volume and sit it in my ear to hear it.

This was a message I got from the world podcasting expert, my mum. Okay, so she doesn’t know much about podcasting (no matter how much I explain it to her), but she does like listening to them.

Since sending that message, she’s given up on Diary of a CEO because it’s too much work to listen to. This is a shame from a show with such high production value, but it shows how easily overlooked these tests are.

From what I’ve heard in passing, people tend to listen to podcasts while doing something else, like chores. So what do you have to do? Hit play on your phone while sorting out dishes or cooking dinner.

Are you coming across loud and clear even while background noise is happening?

Listen Through Headphones in a Busy Cafe

Last week, I drove my wife to an appointment and was left with an hour to kill. So I did what I always do: I went for coffee. It was 1 p.m. so the cafe was crammed, but I found a table, sat down with my cappuccino, pulled on my headphones, and hit play on the podcast I was listening to.

I couldn’t hear a thing.

I thought my headphones were broken but saw the play time slowly moving along so I cranked up the volume to max. I could hear something, but the chatter around me was like white noise. I pressed my headphones into my ears like an angsty teen listening to My Chemical Romance, and finally, I could hear the podcast.

To make sure my headphones weren’t the problem, I checked against the Tim Ferris podcast, and suddenly, I could hear without having to jam my headphones into my ear.

If you’re not a cafe goer, the gym at peak time works just as well for this test. If you can hear it over the stomping of a treadmill, you’re on the right track.

You want to test in a busy public space because this is where people will try to listen to your podcast.

If You Don’t Pass Those Tests, Here’s What To Do

We have a couple of options to fix the problem. First, you need to set up your microphone so it picks you up properly. You can also adjust the volume levels in most podcast editors. But this is 2024, so it's AI to the rescue!

There are AI tools that will boost and balance your voice while removing background noise, taking your podcast up to the quality needed to make listening effortless.

Here are your three options:

Adobe voice enhancer - I haven’t tried it, but it’s free, and people have told me good things.

Auphonic - This was my go-to for years and is just over $10 a month. It balances audio while boosting the sound of your voice and reducing the sound of background noise.

Alitu - This is editing software that I’ve become obsessed with. But it also has an audio booster, leveler, and background noise reducer. It's my current tool for saving time, editing, and boosting volume.


You need to perform the real life listen test in three situations

  • A commute to work
  • While you’re doing chores
  • In a busy cafe

Then, if you’re struggling to hear, get yourself an AI leveler to boost your volume.

Community Wins

Dr. G at the Heart of Healthcare crossed 40 episodes!
Beyond Barbarossa crossed 100,000 downloads!
Maximum Edge crossed 23,000 downloads

Congrats everyone! If you have a win you want to share, hit reply!

How I Can Help You

1) I can add you to one of my best podcast lists. Just email your podcast, description, and category

2) I have a page of ​Recommended Tools​. These are the tools I use to grow my podcast. I focus on tools that improve quality and save time.

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