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:

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.

Why Don't I Hear My Own Voice?

When you hear your own voice on a phone call, that's called sidetone – it can be helpful on the phone to moderate the volume of your own voice. Some recording software calls this feature "monitoring". Cast does not use sidetone.

When recording your podcast, it's very important to avoid bleed – which we've talked about in-depth above. Recordings made with sidetone make it nearly impossible to hear if there's bleed in another participant's recording, as you'll hear your voice in your ears, regardless of whether their speakers are bleeding into their microphone input. Without sidetone, hearing your own voice in your ears is an immediate indication that someone in your session is having a bleed problem.

In Cast, we provide a VU meter for each participant in a Studio session, which lets you directly monitor your recording volume to make sure it isn't too quiet (if the meter is barely filling up), or too loud and clipping. Because it's possible to adjust your system volume to make your own voice appear louder or quieter (without affecting the volume of your actual recording) we've found that Cast's VU meter is the best way to accurately and directly assess your recording volume.

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