I use bilateral cochlear implants (Advanced Bionic Marvel M-90’s). This puts me in the category of podcast listeners with differently-abled hearing. As such, I notice when the voices of hosts and guests aren’t as clear as they could possibly be.

It’s actually not hard to get there, even if you’re nowhere near being an audio engineer. Simply following these basic points will help – a lot.

  • Don’t overlap speech. Sometimes a podcast will introduce a clip of someone talking, and then reduce the volume while talking over it. This produces a sense of being on the scene, which is nice, but introduces unnecessary difficulty for listeners with different types of hearing loss – even a mild one. Instead of dropping the volume of the background clip, mute it altogether when the host resumes speaking.
  • Similarly, instead of dropping the volume of non-speech background clips, mute them completely. Continue to use them, yes, but mute it when the host resumes speaking.
  • No hard panning, for two reasons: 1. It’s annoying. Some of us with electronic ears use Bluetooth and it’s just plain annoying to hear speakers hard left or hard right. It’s not how our brains are wired to hear. 2. Individuals with single-sided deafness lose out. So instead of hard panning, if you feel you really need to pan, make it soft panning. Say, no more than 25%.
  • If there is bad audio, there may not be a lot you can do about cleaning it up. But what you can do is repeat what was said in that bad audio clip.
  • Volume match your podcast to others. I am a fan of avoiding the loudness wars, but also, it’s annoying when one podcast is much quieter or louder than others. Listen to other podcasts similar to yours. Download a few episodes and look at their average loudness levels. Make yours a similar average loudness.
  • Don’t be all over the place with the dynamic range. It’s good for music, but not for speech. You want some dynamic range, but your whispers shouldn’t be super-quiet, and your excited outbursts shouldn’t be super-loud. Simply going through the episode and bringing up the quiet parts a little and bringing down the loud parts a little will help. If you feel up to it, learn a little about compression and apply it appropriately to your podcast. If there’s too much dynamic range, listeners will turn it up during the quiet parts, and then turn it down during the louder parts, and then get annoyed and leave. You don’t want that.

I hope these points help make your podcast great for everyone you’d like to reach.