Podcast & Streaming Loudness

In recent years, podcasts and streaming audio have become hugely popular. Creating them is easier now, but this has led to varying quality. What's most annoying is the inconsistent volume – switching from one podcast to another or within the same show can be jarring, especially when commercials or segments blare out much louder.

For example, take the beginning of this podcast with two commercials placed at the beginning. You don't need to be a genius to see where the second commercial starts.

Evidently, it's not clear how the items had to be delivered, leading to a notable discrepancy in loudness between them. That's a shame, especcially since content like this, where there is an actial file like a commercial, is easy to check and fix. This issue has been a cause of frustration for many, including the members of the Audio Engineering Society. They've proactively tackled this problem by creating a standard tailored for podcasts and streaming audio, known as AES77-2023.

The idea here is pretty much the same as the loudness standard for TV but tailored to podcasts and streaming loudness. So instead of looking at the peaks, it calculates the perceived loudness. And since this is an average value it can easily be checked and adjusted automaticly.

Another great thing about the algorithm is that it works on a whole podcast episode (to equalise various episodes) or on a specific item, like the commercials in our example above. And since the items are usually just files on a computer, checking and fixing them is as simple as troughing them at Magnetron and let the recipe do its magic.

After which the same podcast would look like this:


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