How to Create Better and More Efficient Podcasts

(this page isunder construction as of Oct 30, 2009)

Note: This page is not necessarily the final say as to the best method but contains my opinions and suggestions. There are many different ways in achieving the same goal but this should get you up and running..

Podcast sound files should be small, standard format, monophonic, and of sufficient quality vs size. Sure, it's simple to ignore the file size and upload huge CD quality files to the podcast server but you must be aware that you may have a limited amount of premium server space. Not only that, but the end user must download the podcast file through his internet provider or PCS phone connection. The user will most likely not care whether it is mono or stereo. If stereo is uploaded, it is most likely music. If the music is licensed like almost all popular music, it is illegal to post it anyway.

This webpage is primarily focused on church sermon messages and how to make them available for listening.

As previously stated, sermons or lectures should be mono and not stereo. This will cut the file size in half without reducing quality. The sample rate and bit depth can be reduced considerably without significant loss of quality since messages are primarily speech. Most end users will most likely be using an iPod or other portable device so the quality can be greatly reduced without sacrifice by changing the sample rate and bit depth without loosing quality.

It is also desirable to use a good audio wave file editor. A free one that is easy to download use is Audacity. Older software such as Cool Edit Pro, is the radio industry standard. Cool Edit was purchased by Adobe and it has been repackaged as Adobe Audition. It is a very high quality wave editor that costs about $350. There are a few others but these two are the most popular.

The industry standard compression format is MPEG2 Layer 3 a.k.a. MP3. Within MP3, there are many options of compression you can choose from. The MP3 compression program known as an encoder can be downloaded free from a number of websites such as: or just Google "free mp3 encoder" and choose a good one. Audacity has the mp3 encoder within the program.

If uploading to a podcast server you may want to download a free FTP program. This  is a "file transfer protocol" program that transfers your sermon from your editing computer to the podcast server through the internet. A free high quality FTP program is Filezilla.

The first step is to import the sermon or message into the audio editor. You may have to save the recorded message on CD, a usb flash drive, etc. so you can move it to another suitable computer if you are not editing it on the same computer it is being recorded on.

Next, convert it to mono. This will also halve the processing time while you edit.

Step three, find the clean beginning and end of the message. Usually a pastor or speaker will transition from a greeting or offering time into the message. Find it and delete anything previous. Also look for a good ending point. This is where the message ends and transitions into an altar call, song, or simple closing prayer. A pastor/church may decide where you will mark your beginning and end and it will vary.

Step four. If time permits you may want to edit out all the pauses, coughs, clicks, etc. in the massage. This can be time consuming but sometimes necessary to get a good message. Also edit out any licensed or proprietary music/audio track of videos within the message.

Step five. Depending on the dynamics of the pastors' voice, it may be necessary to apply hard limiting of almost 20 db. This will try and make the levels as close to maximum loudness as possible without clipping. This is a very important step because the end user may have considerable background or ambient noise they must overcome.

At this point you should save the message to a mono .wav file first. This is because hard copies such as CD's may also be needed. If so, you will have to convert it back to stereo 16bit, 44.1k, .wav file. After saving to a wave file, burn the CD of the message.

Using your MP3 encoder, convert your first edited and saved mono .wav file to an MP3 file and save to a 32kbps 22,050 mono format. This should be sufficient for most podcasts. At this time you may want to archive this file for future access.

Next, use your FTP program to transfer it to the podcast server. You may need to create and publish the message with a definition of the speaker, title, and message date. You should follow the podcasts instruction for doing so.