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Enough with Overweight Podcasts!

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 2/18/07 (2:32am)

I love podcasts. For me, podcasts are the New Radio. They're a welcomed and increasingly critical source of information.

But please -- please! -- I'd love them even more if the person putting them together respected bandwidth constraints.

I'm ready to admit that I grew up in the days of 14.4 modems. My first attempt at dealing with media was trying to make pictures look good using only 256 colors. "Crackly" doesn't begin to describe the quality of audio I had to churn out due to low bandwidth.

But even in this great age of DSL, there still are a couple of conventions that content providers need to observe. One of them is never, ever use more bandwidth than you actually need.

(more after the jump...)

Now I've just downloaded two podcasts from institutions that ought to know better, each of which was close to an hour long and each of which weighed in at close to 60 megs!

Let me tell you, Ladies and Gentlemen, 60megs for an hour's worth of audio is way overweight. If what you're dealing with is 'talk', you ought to be able to get it down to half that size without much difficulty.

Mono for Voice

The first thing you can do is output the file as mono. Stereo has two channels, mono one. 'Voice' doesn't need stereo so you'll be saving space by eliminating the extra track.

Lower the Bit Rate

Media files have a "bit rate". Basically it's how much information, measured in kilobits that goes through the pipe per second -- hence 'kbps'. Many of the encoding applications default, it seems, to 128kbps. This is way more than you need. All you have to do is take it down to 56kbps, 48kbps or even 32kbps and you'll still have perfectly good audio. It won't sound like a concert performance but then again it's not a concert performance that you're serving up.

Getting files down to the lowest size possible is the digital equivalent of dotting your 'i's and crossing your 't's. It's what a responsible content provider does to ensure the widest possible audience. For all we know, it's someone on a cellphone who's trying to access that material. The file size ought to work for all users.

More here...