AIFF, AAC, WMA, OGG: there are as many formats as there are uses. The good news is that you won’t have to analyze all the solutions and their characteristics to find the right format, as there are mainly two options for podcasters: WAV and MP3.
They are different in terms of sound quality and, in fact, of size. With the WAV format, the quality is as good as that of a CD; it is probably the best option. That way, you can record your podcast in a WAV format and complete all the setting and mixing steps first. After that, you can convert your creation to an MP3 format if you want to.
Why should I convert my final file to an MP3 format? Well, this will significantly downsize your file without being detrimental to the quality perceived by the human ear, if you choose the appropriate compression ratio. Here are the pros of lighter files:
- It is faster for you to upload.
- It is faster for your audience to download, regardless of their internet flow. So think about the traveler or the loner who wants to listen to you from the Kenyan savanna or the Colorado mountains.
"Alright, but my uncle is a musician, and he told me that the loss of quality when converting from a WAV to an MP3 format is significant." While we have no doubt that Uncle Johnny is a talented djembe drum player, this statement only applies to a musical content. Given we are talking about a "spoken" content in this case, only few listeners will notice the minor drop in quality – that is, if you go for a bitrate of 128 kbps minimum.
128 kbps is definitely the best threshold for conscientious podcasters. Below that, some differences in good listening conditions may be perceived. However, it may not be worth sacrificing the audiophiles’ comfort by going for a 128 kbps bitrate instead of a 192 one. Besides, the number of audiophiles will keep growing in the coming years, with the ever-improving technology and its decreasing prices. So while your listeners may not mind the 128 kbps bitrate today, they are likely to be fussier in the future.
We advise you not to take any risk and choose the MP3 format in 192 kbps. Why not more? Because it would be useless, even for Uncle Johnny’s sharp ear.