Headphones, Feedback, and Bleed
Do I Need to Use Headphones when Podcasting?
If you're recording your podcast with other participants, we'd highly advise recording your podcast with headphones on, and ensuring that your other recording participants do the same (we believe in this strongly enough that we make a point of reminding everybody at the start of a recording session that it's Headphone Time). Headphones prevent issues with audio feedback and bleed (which we'll outline below), and will result in a better-sounding final product.
What is Feedback?
Feedback occurs when your microphone picks up a sound from your speakers, which then creates a louder sound out of the speakers, which the microphone then picks up, and onwards in a loop until you hear a loud squealing noise. Ensuring that all of your podcast participants are wearing headphones (so everybody's computer audio comes out of their headphones instead of their speakers) is a surefire way to prevent feedback.
If you're hearing feedback while recording your podcast, one or more participants in your podcast aren't wearing headphones.
What is Bleed?
Bleed occurs when the audio from one participant's track is also recorded in another participant's track. When one participant in a podcast doesn't wear headphones, their microphone will pick up their voice, as well as the voices of all other participants coming out of their speakers.
You want to avoid bleed for a few reasons:
- Bleed will be delayed by some value, as its audio that has travelled over the internet before being recorded, meaning you'll end up with two recordings of one participant, each slightly out of sync. When you listen back, this will sound like a person speaking with an echo – that echo is their bleed recording.
- Bleed is a recording that has been compressed for your voice call, then played out a speaker, then recorded again, and will be significantly lower quality than the speaker's original source recording.
Why Don't I Hear Feedback With a Service Like Skype When I Don't Use Headphones?
Software that is made solely for voice calls often includes feedback suppression logic to try to tamp down any feedback before it occurs, as many users use the software without headphones. We evaluated the use of this in Cast, but found that it had a detrimental effect on call latency and call quality.