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Can I Control the Volume of Podcasts I Download?

Question: I regularly download podcasts but find that often the volume of talkback shows is too low to hear when I am in a busy, noisy area (ie. walking down the main street, sitting on the bus). I currently use ipodder from Juice for my downloads and it is a great app. But do others allow for higher quality volume in the download? Is there anything I can do?

I definitely understand the problem. I find myself adjusting the volume on many podcasts, and especially when I switch from one to another. The levels are rarely the same.

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There may be things you can do, but it’s probably not worth the effort compared to just turning up or turning down the volume.

The “problem”, if you want to call it that, is that podcasting (or “podcatching”) programs like iPodder, now called Juice, are nothing more that glorified file copy programs. On a regular schedule, check for new podcasts, and copy down the audio file. In fact, the program doesn’t even realize that it is an audio file – which allows podcasting technology to be used for video distribution, as well as just about any other file type.

“The real problem is in the audio recording, the MP3 file, itself.”

Podcatching programs don’t know about “audio”, all they do is copy files. Typically MP3 files.

The real problem is in the audio recording, the MP3 file, itself. In many podcasts the audio level in the recording is too low, too high, or too varied, for comfortable listening. In my opinion, this is somewhat a reflection on the immaturity of podcasting as a medium. Anyone can create a podcast, regardless of whether they know anything about audio production. That means that while their content may (or may not) be interesting, their audio quality – of which the volume, or level, is one component, could be all over the map.

Unfortunately there’s no simple solution. You could, I suppose, load up the MP3 file into an audio editing program such as Audacity, and therein adjust the levels, or anything else you like, and then save it back out before listening to it. But that’s rather painful. To be honest it’s much easier just to twiddle the volume control on your MP3 player as needed.

Audio level is something that I do try two tweak as appropriate in my own weekly podcast. It’s a bit of a challenge to get just the right mix of intro and background music that compliments, but doesn’t overwhelm, the podcast content.

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4 comments on “Can I Control the Volume of Podcasts I Download?”

  1. If you run all your MP3 files through MP3Gain, you can avoid most of the headaches (and earaches) associated with the widely varied volumes of podcasts. It’s reasonably automated, non-destructive to the audio files and vastly improves the listening experience for both podcasts and music.

  2. Correct Reggie but it only applies to already downloaded podcasts. Once you download a new one, you have to adjust it again. Painful.


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