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In any industry, there is a unique lingo for referring to specialized tools and technology. The same goes for podcasting. Once you become familiar with the common podcasting technical terms, no one will be able to tell you apart from the pros.

Podcasting technical terms and Definitions

This glossary is a good place to start for learning podcasting jargon that will help you launch your own podcast. I choose these podcasting technical terms because they are key to the entire process, from recording and editing to distribution and promotion. Now, go forth and podcast!

RSS

It’s a link. That’s the super simple explanation for something super important to your podcast. You might’ve previously seen RSS used around the internet as a way to subscribe to a news site or a blog. It’s the same sort of system.

Depending on who you ask, RSS technically means Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. NASA describes it like this: “RSS is written in the Internet coding language known as XML (eXtensible Markup Language).” The concept is the key to distribution of content, whether is podcasts, blogs or news.

Podcatchers

These are platforms where listeners can access your podcast, commonly apps for a mobile device. Podcatchers use a podcast’s RSS feed to aggregate episodes. As a podcast creator, you’ll submit your RSS feed to these directories to make your show discoverable to new listeners. (Some hosting services have automated that step!) The most common podcatchers are Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Pocket Casts. But there are tons more!

Post-Production

This is where the magic happens. It’s the part of the podcasting process that is done after recording or interviewing. Of course, a good post-production experience begins with obtaining quality audio in the first place. In this phase of the project, an editor or sound designer will use a software to put together your show. It may be as simple as trimming and clipping, with some filter enhancements, or as complicated as syncing multiple tracks and isolating unwanted noise.

DAW

DAW is an acronym for digital audio workspace. It’s a fancy way of saying audio editing software, like Adobe Audition, Audacity, GarageBand and more. The best tip to know about editing (in general) is “save your work.”

XLR and USB Microphones

The first piece of equipment a podcaster needs is a microphone. However, don’t let your budget or access to high-end equipment hold you back! If your phone is all you currently have to get started, do it! That said, it’s helpful to know one of the main differences between microphones, which essentially boils down to the type of connection they use. An XLR microphone will use an XLR cable to connect to a mixer, which will connect to your computer. USB microphones will plug directly into your computer. Note, this is a simple explanation, and only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to microphones.

Levels

Levels are indicators, usually a line of green, yellow and red lights, on your recording device that measure loudness. Levels that are too high will result in crunchy sound that can’t be fixed (you can try…) in post. Levels that are too low means you probably have other problems, like a dead battery or connection problem. Keep in mind that these indicators can give you a false sense of security. You can have perfectly fine levels but still end up with a buzz in your audio. Avoid these pitfalls by always wearing headphones!

Local Audio

If you’re doing remote interviews, this will be a handy term to know. Local audio is essentially a recording file that you’ve generated. For example, you and your interview subject may both record yourselves during the interview. You’re recording your own voice and they’re recording theirs, and then they send you the file so you can sync them together in post-production.

Live to tape

This is a TV broadcasting term that works for podcasting too. When you record your show for direct playback and very little post production, including timed interviews and even sound effects, that is live-to-tape. A good bit of planning ahead can save you time in post-production.

Audiogram

Audiograms are just a fancy way of saying teasers. To promote your show, you’ll want to clip compelling segments of the show into shorter bits that you can share on social media. That means you’ll also use a video editor to add imagery. Headliner is a great resource for creating audiograms.

Downloads

Podcasts are downloaded, either to a device or by a streaming service. It is typically the first metric podcasters pay attention to in determining the size of their audience. Depending on the goals of your podcast, this could be just a vanity metric and not a true picture of your success. Look at other measurable points like social media engagement, website traffic and even reviews or comments!

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