Choosing a podcast file format is an important step in your podcast post-production. Beginner’s can be quick to want to choose the highest export bitrate and file format, which could lead to some unnecessary sacrifices not only to your podcast episode, but also to your wallet. So, with the multiple options available, what is the best podcast file format and why?
Choosing A Podcast File Format Extension
If you have done any work with audio in your life, you know that the MP3 format is a compressed format. If you were producing music for a CD, this would be the worst format you could possibly submit your work in. Because of this, you may be tempted to choose a WAV, FLAC, of AIFF format. But there’s no need to go with that high quality, and here is why.
The majority of people in the world that listen to podcasts stream them and the MP3 file format is the most widely used. While MP3’s give near the sound quality of a CD, they produce a small file about one-twelfth the size of the original file. For streaming this is a necessity, for downloading its almost the law. Since most people use their cell phone to listen to podcasts, asking them to download or stream such a large file would be not only a hit to the listener’s convenience, it would also be a hit to their cell phone data usage. The common person’s ear can’t tell the difference between CD quality and an MP3, so when choosing a podcast file format choose MP3.
Choosing A Podcast Bitrate (BPS)
When your setting your podcast export settings, your next question may be what bitrate to select for your MP3. Selecting a higher bitrate will give you higher quality, but will also raise your file size. We want to continue to avoid raising the file size. Like we mentioned before, it could add unnecessary cell phone data usage for the listener and a longer download time. The file size can also impact you financially. Many hosts will require more money for more file storage. Keep your file sizes small and avoid the extra costs!
The best bitrate for podcasts is 192 kbps. It helps keep file sizes small and maintains a great listening quality. To put this in perspective, for music Spotify offers streaming quality of 96kbps, 160kbps, and 320kbps. For an audio file that doesn’t feature a bunch of recorded instruments, the 192 bitrate is more than good enough.
If you’re just getting started and want more information on perfecting your podcast post-production, check out my book Podcasting Pro Basics.