Overhauling Licence Laws Dream Of Explosion

Audio Quality

February 26th, 2006 at 07:42am

Every now and then, when I take a look at the blogs that have linked to this site, I notice comments about this site and its content. A couple days ago Thomas Baxter was talking about Ricky Gervais’ decision to charge for his podcast (a topic I covered here) and started talking about the podcasts he listens to. Whilst he didn’t exactly mention a reason for listening to Samuel’s Persiflage, he did mention that he likes the audio quality. I’ll let him explain.

But, thanks to the medium of podcasting, many many people are able to grasp the technology and put things from utter tripe on the net, to well crafted and presented podcasts – Samuel’s podcast is a fine example of the latter purely from the perspective that even though he is doing it himself, he puts out a podcast that has very good (compared to many others) audio quality, another example of a similar podcaster (however he has fallen by the wayside in recient times) is Andy Grace.

Thanks for the feedback, it is good to see people talking about the audio quality of Samuel’s Persiflage, especially considering the amount of work I put into it. Naturally, if somebody has a gripe about my podcast, I’m more than happy to entertain it as long as it is constructive, there is no point emailing me to inform me that my podcast is “the worst waste of the internet” and not tell me why or what you think would make it better, as one anonymous correspondent did a couple weeks ago via the contact form.

For the record, my aim with all audio in Samuel’s Persiflage is to create something which sounds decent, is legible, and doesn’t having annoying sudden variances in volume, preferably remaining roughly the same for the entire duration. Where possible I try to do this without audio compression or excessive processing. In some cases, such as the phone interview with Danny O’Brien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the last episode, it was necessary to do a fair bit of processing to even out the volume, even if it wasn’t particularly successful, in the end, it came out a lot better than it originally sounded.


Entry Filed under: Samuel's Persiflage

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  • 1. John B1_B5  |  February 26th, 2006 at 8:17 am

    Well, as already mentioned in my comments on your third Persiflage, I found even the “low quality” version quite acceptable in terms of audio quality .
    I could have listened to the better quality podcast, but I opted for the lesser quality version, and was perfectly happy with that !

  • 2. Chuck Berry  |  February 26th, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    What audio program do you use Samuel?

  • 3. Samuel  |  February 26th, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    John, 16kbps mono MP3 is decent for speech, less than ordinary for music, but decent for speech. Very good for audio on a “bandwidth budget”. I personally enjoy having a broadcast quality MP3 available, but it isn’t suitable for those on dialup or keeping a close eye on their downloads, so I now produce a lower quality version that is still acceptable.

    I think that Thomas Baxter may have been, at least partially, referring to the volume being fairly consistent throughout, which is something many other podcasts don’t manage, and the recording being mostly free of background noise, which is not something the webcam microphone users can claim. He may also have been referring to the format of the show being fairly polished, and not just a bunch of people talking with no logical transition between segments.

    Chuck, for just about everything I use the free, open source and cross platform (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux) Audacity software. I use Cool Edit Pro (the name before Adobe bought it and turned it into Adobe Audition) for some things, but for the most part I use Audacity.

    Going on a semi-related tangent, for the podcast RSS feed, I could have it automatically generated, but I prefer writing it by hand, which I usually do in notepad. If I’m using Linux at the time then I’ll use Gedit (GNOME’s notepad application). If you would like to see what is contained in an RSS feed for a podcast, take a look at the Samuel’s Persiflage feed.

  • 4. Chuck Berry  |  February 26th, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    Well I must say that you in combination with the Audaciity software do a sound job!

  • 5. John B1_B5  |  February 27th, 2006 at 8:44 am

    Yes, the audio LEVEL is important ….. back in the 1960’s, the vacuum tubed rack-mounted AGC ( Automatic Gain Control ) amplifiers at the transmitters didn’t do a very good job of maintaining a REASONABLE audio level , especially on Classical music , and I was regularly adjusting the Master Gain Control on the Console in the Control Room in an attempt to keep the audio level up. —- That was ANOTHER reason they needed staff at the transmitters back then !

  • 6. Samuel  |  February 28th, 2006 at 2:36 am

    Black Mountain must have been an interesting place to work before they built Telstra Tower.

  • 7. John B1_B5  |  February 28th, 2006 at 6:46 am

    It certainly was Samuel . Initially there was just a TV transmitter – a Marconi all-valve transmitter which needed a lot of attention !
    In addition to that, we looked after three AM transmitters at Gungahlin – 2CY, 2CN, and a stand-by transmitter, which were also all-valve transmitters, but more reliable than the Marconi TV transmitter…. 2CY was a 10 Kilowatt STC transmitter, and was extremely reliable ( STC always made reliable AM broadcast transmitters ).

    The “stand-by” transmitter at Gungahlin was a crummy 2 Kw AWA transmitter, and was nowhere near as reliable as the STC transmitter . (The 10Kw transmitter at 4QL Longreach was an AWA, and was not very reliable either ). Luckily, most ABC transmitters were STC, and didn’t require much attention .

    We used to go out to Gungahlin on a weekly basis for maintenance (or whenever a transmitter went off the air ).

    Anyway, by 1977 ( just before we moved into the Tower), besides the TV transmitter, we had an NEC FM transmitter (very reliable) , NEC microwave link equipment, and a “Monitor Room” where 4 ‘monitors’ worked a 24 hour rotating shift monitoring the audio signals on 2CY, 2CN, the TV sound, and the FM program. This was achieved by a sequential switch which gave the monitors about 30 seconds of each program. They were actually paid to just sit there and listen to the audio programs for 8 hours !

    In late 1977, the first TV transmission was broadcast from the Tower. I was on shift with Harry (of “shaking his fist” fame ) . The first transmission went well, but we kept the old building (and transmitter ) as a back-up, just in case anything went wrong with the transmitter in the tower.
    Harry had a problem with the private security guards in the tower, but I won’t go into that , lol ! ….. Suffice to say that NONE of us were used to having security guards creeping around the place .
    The old building was eventually demolished in 1980.

  • 8. John B1_B5  |  February 28th, 2006 at 11:49 pm

    Oh….. I should have mentioned that after we moved across to the Tower, the “monitoring room” was done away with, and the ‘monitors’ were relocated elsewhere.
    As for Harry ….. he’s now joined the ranks of the dearly departed, and is somewhere up there in that “big TV transmitter in the sky” .

    Here is a picture of the TV control room in the old building, taken before the building was demolished .

  • 9. Samuel  |  February 28th, 2006 at 11:53 pm

    It’s amazing how much work went into TV broadcasting back then.


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