Podcasting Terms and Definitions

Podcasting Terms: What is _____?

When you first step into the world of podcasting, you start to come across terms and jargon that you’ve never seen before and it can feel like trying to learn a new language.

So we gathered up some of the podcast terms you’ll encounter frequently and given them a no-nonsense, easy-to-understand definition.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is an on-demand radio show that is made available over the internet. Listeners can receive new episodes automatically be subscribing on a podcast app or directly to the RSS feed.

What is an RSS feed?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” An RSS feed is a web feed that allows users to receive updates to online content in a standard format. For podcasting, RSS feeds are used to syndicate and distribute your audio content from your host to podcast apps, directories, and websites.

What is a podcast host?

A podcast host is responsible for storing and distributing your audio content wherever your podcast is listed. Podcast hosts also consolidate listening statistics and provide additional resources like embed players and scheduling tools.

What is a podcast app?

Podcast apps are web applications (usually on mobile devices) that curate podcasts and connect listeners with podcast episodes. Common apps are Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Overcast.

What is a podcast directory?

A podcast directory is the data source behind the search feature of a podcast app. The most popular directories are Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Notice that these are also (and most notably known as) podcast listening apps. Overcast and many other podcasting apps use the Apple Podcasts directory to power their search.

What is a podcatcher?

A podcatcher is any piece of software that gathers podcasts automatically and allows users to search and download podcast episodes. This term is synonymous with podcast app.

What is a pop filter?

A pop filter is a noise protection filter that reduces the impact that certain sounds have on the microphone sensor. These sounds, also known as “plosives,” can have a harsh popping impact on the audio recording. Pop filters can be circular screens placed in front of the microphone or foam covers that fit over the microphone itself.

What are ID3 tags?

ID3 tags are a metadata container that allows you to store information like Artist Name, Episode Title, and Episode Number within the MP3 audio file. (If you use Buzzsprout, we do this for you).

What is a DAW?

DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. A DAW is the editing software you use to combine, edit, process, mix, and export your podcast episodes. Common examples are GarageBand, Audacity, Logic, and Adobe Audition.

What is a mixer?

A mixer is an electronic device that combines many different audio signals, merges them together, and then produce one or more output signals. Most mixers allow you to record multiple microphones simultaneously, adjust volume settings, and output your recording to an SD card or into your computer via USB.

What is a USB interface?

A USB interface is an electronic device that allows you to plug in one or more XLR Cables and outputs the audio recording to your computer via USB. A popular example is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.

What is a dynamic microphone?

Dynamic microphones are passive listening devices that convert sound waves to an electronic signal. Dynamic mics are more forgiving in terms of background noise, so they tend to be the preferred microphone type for podcasters that don’t have access to professional studios.

What is a condenser microphone?

Condenser microphones are designed to pick up sound with great detail and accuracy. This makes them ideal for professional studio environments as they truly give you excellent sound quality, but can be tricky and problematic when used in a home or office environment. Condenser microphones also require external power, also known as “phantom power,” to record audio signals.

What is a cardioid pattern?

A cardioid pattern is the preferred recording orientation for podcasting applications. It essentially means that the microphone will emphasize the sound coming directly into the top or front and minimize or ignore sound coming from the rear and sides.

What is multitrack?

Recording and editing in multitrack means that you are managing multiple audio files simultaneously. This is true if you are recording multiple people on different devices or mixing in theme music and other audio tracks.

What is compression?

Compression is an audio processing technique that reduces the dynamic range of your audio file (makes the loudest parts softer and the softest parts louder). When applied correctly, this gives your episode a smooth, even sound quality.

What is loudness normalization?

Loudness normalization adjusts the overall perceived volume to match the loudness target. This ensures that each podcast episode will be equally “loud” and that your listeners can easily hear and understand you. The best practice for podcasting is to set a loudness target of -19 LUFS for mono audio files and -16 LUFS for stereo audio files.

What is a mono audio file?

A mono audio file plays the same thing on both the left and right side. For most podcasts, mono is sufficient.

What is a stereo audio file?

A stereo audio file contains two separate mono audio files, one on the left and one on the right. Stereo sound can be used to create different listening experiences with music and sound effects or to make it sound like you are listening to two people at a table on either side of you.

What is clipping?

Clipping happens when the loudest parts (peaks) of your audio waveform extend beyond the floor or ceiling of its waveform window and makes the audio sound distorted. The easiest way to prevent clipping is to adjust your gain/volume level so that the peaks stay within the waveform window.

What is a serial podcast?

A serial podcast contains episodes that are designed to be listened to in a particular order, and each episode builds on the ones that came before it. Popular serial TV shows include "24" and "This is Us."

What is an episodic podcast?

An episodic podcast contains episodes that stand on their own and need no additional context. Popular episodic TV shows include "Seinfeld" and "Saturday Night Live."

What are dynamically inserted ads?

Dynamically inserted ads refer to the act of updating your podcast episode periodically to include and replace advertisements without re-uploading the original episode file. This is typically accomplished using special software and can consist of both host-read ads and ads produced by the company offering the product.

What are host-read ads?

Host-read ads refer to when the podcast host takes time out of the episode to discuss and promote a product to their listeners. The product's company then compensates the host based on how many downloads that episode received during a specified period of time or by how many unique sales that podcast produced.

Travis Albritton

Travis Albritton

Travis Albritton is the Head of Content for Buzzsprout and host of "How to Start a Podcast" and "Buzzcast."