June 27, 2016
The other day, I started to listen to a podcast to which I'd been looking forward. I like the show, like the host, like the guest.
I made it 30 seconds in and gave up.
Simple. The sound quality was so bad, it hurt. The moment the intro was over and the interview started, the show sounded like it was coming from inside a can. It was so unpleasant, I had to bail.
A lot of advice will come your way about sound quality, and I've doled that out, too. And I know it's hard to know how bad the audio is if you're recording on location and you really don't have time to record a few seconds of test audio and play it back before rolling on the main portion of the interview. But the real decision is when you've finished the recording, you're editing and preparing to upload the thing, and you realize that the sound quality is poor. Do you go ahead anyway and hope that the content is so good that the sound will be overlooked?
I wouldn't. I would do whatever I could to clean up the problem, but if the end result is unlistenable, sending it out only gives people more reason not to subscribe to what you're offering. Listeners don't expect perfection from podcasts -- they know that this is not slick, professional radio and that's okay -- but when the sound is harsh enough to make you want to rip your earbuds out and burn them, you can't be sending that out.
So, don't. Unless you have advertising commitments, you CAN throw out an episode and start over, or move on, and you should. You and your listeners are not served when even loyal fans can't justify sticking with an episode because the noise is too distracting. Be confident enough to throw a show away, however good the interview might be, when you know that the sound is bad. You don't have to be audiophile-quality, but you do have to be listenable.