Hey, Mr Podcaster! Audio Quality Matters, M’kay?

ibm-podcast-galaxy-nexus While I travel I like to listen to podcasts. While there are a variety of podcasts that are routinely found on my cell phone, I also try new things from The Conversations Network and similar sites.

This evening as I’m on a flight to Raleigh-Durham NC I happened to give a listen to a short podcast from IBM. It was The IBM Institute For Business Value podcast entitled, “The Changing Face Of Communication.” It’s an older podcast, from June 2009.

While this file had been on my phone a while I had thought that it still might be interesting. IBM certainly knows a thing or two about communications. I was at Astricon 2009 when IBM had a keynote address. They also announced a partnership of some sort with Digium.

However, I was startled to hear the audio quality of this podcast. It’s simply atrocious. Seriously. It’s really bad.

Remember Marshall McLuhan? The medium is the message. In this case the medium, poor quality podcast audio, completely destroys the message…and along with it the credibility of the participants.

I can’t know the exact circumstances in which that recording came to be made. It seems clear that both participants were on plain old narrowband phones.

One gentleman has what sounds like he has a strong Indian accent. Further, he speaks in a quickly a very clipped manner. His audio quality is the worst as it’s badly over-modulated. The other gentleman speaks in what sounds like an Australian accent, although his audio quality is not as bad.

It’s not like the participants didn’t have options that would ensure a better podcast. By mid-2009 Skype was already a force-to-be-reckoned-with and the obvious, convenient way to record a podcast with superior audio quality. There were also a variety of other tools available that would have made high-quality audio a possibility, if not as convenient.

To produce a great sounding podcast all that is required is a little care and concern. For example, Dan York and Jonathan Zar used Skype to create their awesome Blue Box Podcast on VoIP security starting in October 2005! Their shows usually had great audio quality.

Further, the VoIP Users Conference did their first HDVoice call using G.722 and ZipDX in November of 2008! I offered some detailed notes on things that we have used in support of VUC podcasts in a post back in 2010.

The very fact that IBM released such a poor recording out into the wild brings into question their judgment. It’s very much like a receiving a formal proposal written in pencil on a lined yellow pad of paper. Would you buy a high-$ UC solution from these guys?

  • Tim

    It is a matter of paying attention and it sounds like they simply didn’t. There are many software solutions today that can improve audio quality even during the call/interview like SoliCall Pro (http://www.solicall.com/products.html#AddOnPro).

    • mjgraves

      It’s the reckless/careless nature of the act that I find offensive. If something is worth doing then it’s worth doing well.