If you’ve followed my advice in Podcasting Pro Basics and on this site from the Best Podcast File Format article, you will know that when the question of podcast file format comes up, I mention to always save as a Mono file. When an audio file is just a person or multiple people talking, you want the voices to be center. You never want one voice coming out of the left headphone and one voice coming out of the right. That would create a terrible experience for the listener. The only way that would ever happen is if you saved it that way specifically and in the stereo audio format. You can’t pan audio in a Mono format.
When You Should Save In Stereo
Even though i’ve always said to save in Mono, i’ve discovered a situation when it actually was better in practice to save in Stereo.
As producer and host of the Total Human Optimization podcast, we have the luxury of having an awesome intro theme song. I noticed that when I listened to the podcast in my car, the content of the show sounded great, but the theme song sounded flat. It had no punch.
This is because the theme song didn’t pan the stereo field since the whole podcast file was saved as a Mono file. All the instruments were center in the field of listening, making no use of the left to right spectrum unlike almost every song you listen to these days.
So going against my own recommendations, I tried it out. What a difference it made. Saving the podcast with the full theme song all in Stereo made the theme sound so much better and didn’t effect the content of the show.
Give it a shot the next time you mixdown and output your podcast to an mp3. Remember in your track mixing to keep the content (hosts/guests) a Mono file and only any music portions in stereo. Then when you do the final mixdown, save in Stereo. This will keep the content centered but allow music to use the full spectrum, resulting in a well-sounding podcast.
This is what your track mixing should look like with a theme song in Stereo (top) and the content in Mono (bottom)
Here are the stereo export settings I use:
- 4800 Hz Stereo, 32-bit
- MP3 192 Kbps CBR