If you are trying to start a corporate podcast but aren’t familiar with the terminology, then you came to the right place. There’s a learning curve to any new project you begin, so we have created a short list of essential podcasting terms to help you begin your journey. Sit back, relax, and learn.
You’ve probably heard Gain used as both a verb and a laundry detergent, but what does it mean in the corporate podcast world?
Simple Definition: A way of increasing or decreasing your sensitivity to the microphone.
Formal Definition: A unit of measurement for loudness of audio. It refers to the input volume from the recording source and controls the volume of the signal before it passes through mixing and recording devices.
Example: “It’s important to set your gain levels before recording your company’s corporate podcast.”
We know the word aggregate means “to gather”, so how is it used when referring to podcasting? It has a similar definition in the sense that we are gathering information, but the definition in the podcasting world is referring to a computer program that automates that process.
Simple Definition: An aggregator is a program that gathers and displays web content — such as news headlines, blogs, and podcasts — from multiple websites in a single location. It will automatically download content for you.
Formal Definition: An aggregator is used to collect and read RSS and Atom feeds. An aggregator may also be known as a newsreader, news aggregator or RSS aggregator.
Example: “iTunes is a podcast aggregator, allowing you to organize your music and podcasts in a single location.”
As Reid Mangan mentioned in a recent podcast episode, “mixers are the big boxes with a bunch of knobs that sit on the table.” You may be able to point out what a mixer when you see one, but do you know what it does? Note: “mix things” is not a sufficient answer.
Simple Definition: A device that allows you to mix together other sound elements into your show real-time, as you record, rather than editing them in the post-production phase. A mixer allows you to bring in the intro, outro, and transition music as if your show is live.
Formal Definition: It is an audio interface whose primary function is to accept, combine, process and monitor audio. It may also be referred to as “console,” “desk,” or “board.”
Example: “Use an audio mixer to blend audio channels, the sound inputs of the mixer, generated during recording session into overall sound.”
If you don’t know what a noise floor is, you may assume it refers to your neighbors in the apartment above you, stomping their feet at 3 AM. That’s a good guess. But there’s a more precise definition.
Simple Definition: Noise floor is known as the background sound from your recording equipment.
Formal Definition: A concept of signal theory that is the measure of the signal created from the sum of all the noise sources and unwanted signals within a system.
Example: “A lower noise floor will have less interference with the sound of your show.”
Most people might think that narrowcast is a newly-emerged term that was created as part of the digital age. In fact, it has been around for almost a century, though its meaning has subtly changed over the years.
Simple Definition: An audio or video program that targets a specific audience demographic rather than a broad or mainstream audience.
Formal Definition: To communicate or transmit a signal, a message, or content, such as audio or video programming to a specific group of recipients simultaneously over a communications network.
Example: “Narrowcast your content so that you can tailor your messages to specific audiences.”
Have you ever noticed when people want to include something illegal in a video or audio recording, they simply say “Fair Use?” Don’t be that person.
Simple Definition: The ability to use other people’s work through criticism, commentary, teaching, or parody.
Formal Definition: A legal doctrine that permits freedom of expression by allowing the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances.
Example: “Some companies restrict cell phone usage by means of a fair use policy.”
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear Mash? Depending on your age, you may think of crushing food or that famous TV show from the 70s. Regardless, both descriptions are far from what the word means in podcasting.
Simple Definition: To mix two audio segments together.
Formal Definition: A combination of two or more tools to create a new service or tool.
Example: “When creating a corporate podcast to help train your sales team, you will often mash sound effects with voice.”
Most content creators may be familiar with the acronym “RSS” or “RSS feed”, but do you know what the acronym stands for?
Simple Definition: A way for publishers to show content information to subscribers.
Formal Definition: Also known as “Really Simple Syndication” and is a method of describing news or other web content that’s available for “feeding” from an online publisher to web users.
Example: “RSS feeds can help users find information from different websites in a single location.”
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Stingers are often associated with bees, scorpions or even stingrays. So how in the world does this fit into audio terminology?
Simple Definition: A short sound or music clip that is used to transition between audio clips.
Formal Definition: A brief clip of music or sound that can be used to introduce, end or link various elements of an audio production. Stingers are often referred to as “audio punctuation” and last approximately 15 seconds or less.
Example: “Stingers are used to signal the end of a scene, or transition from one scene to another.”
You may get this confused with emotional intelligence, which also shares the acronym “EQ.” Nope. EQ in audio stands for equalization.
Simple Definition: The process of adjusting the volume of different sound pitches.
Formal Definition: Short for “equalization”, which is the process of strengthening or weakening the energy of specific frequencies and/or frequency ranges in a signal.
Example: “Most public address statements that are broadcast on TV use equalizers to lessen the noise of the audience and increase the sound of the speaker.”
You may know what an amplifier is, and would probably guess that the prefix, “pre-,” indicates that preamplifier is something that comes before an amplifier. Though that is technically correct, why does this matter?
Simple Definition: A device that allows you to adjust multiple microphone volumes.
Formal Definition: A device in the amplifier circuit of a radio or phonograph that increases the strength of a weak signal for detection and further amplification.
Example: “Some microphones must be used in combination with a preamplifier to function properly.”
Hint: It isn’t referring to the space between your head and the roof of your car.
Simple Definition: The highest volume levels that your equipment can take before ruining sound quality.
Formal Definition: It is the point where signal handling capacities have reached the maximum level to where going above that threshold can cause damage to the recording or audio level.
Example: “Engineers usually prefer a headroom of 6 dB (unit of volume) for quality sound.”
What does this term mean? Polar is associated with the coldest places on Earth, and pattern describes an arrangement or sequence. If we put these meanings together, polar pattern means cold arrangements. Is that what is means in podcasting? Not even close.
Simple Definition: It’s how well a microphone “hears” in different directions.
Formal Definition: The polar pattern of a microphone is the sensitivity to sound relative to the direction or angle from which the sound arrives. Some polar patterns can pick up signals from all angles or are designed in a way that reduce unwanted side noise.
Example: “Microphone manufacturers will often include a polar pattern on the box to illustrate what the sound pickup pattern is like.”
Hmm, phantom power must have something to do with ghosts, right?
Simple Definition: It allows you to send power to microphones without an external power supply. These microphones are more sensitive to sound and are called condenser mics.
Formal Definition: It is DC voltage sent down the microphone cable to power the preamplifier of a condenser mic capsule and/or to provide a polarization charge to the back plate of the element.
Example: “This condenser microphone has a phantom power of ‘+48V’.”
Most people think that clipping is part of an audio editing process. While this term is most popularly used to describe snippets of audio, it isn’t what you think it means.
Simple Definition: The chopping or scratching sound that occurs when your microphone volume is too loud.
Formal Definition: A form of distortion when one or more audio waveforms that represent instruments and voices are driven at levels to the speakers beyond maximum amplifier levels.
Example: “Clipping can damage your audio equipment, as it is a result of overheating.”