Recently, a reader contacted me, since he had read my recent article How to extract audio from a video series for an audio podcast and needed to apply it to an unusual situation. Although he completely understands the virtues of what is explained in that article, his client sadly insists upon using a podcast hosting platform with two key disadvantages: One, it doesn’t allow the podcast to use its own domain in its RSS feed. Second, it stubbornly distributes final audio exclusively in an ancient format that became obsolete in 1997 (nearly a quarter of a century ago), when it was superseded by a much more modern and more efficient one. The new format I use and recommend allows higher quality with a much smaller file. Ahead are the details of his situation and what I advised.
Link to prior article
Link to prior article: How to extract audio from a video series for an audio podcast (illustrated above).
For reasons not made completely clear to him, Jeff Taylor of Beaker Films’s client insists upon using a podcast hosting platform called Simplecast. Sadly, both Jeff Taylor and I have observed two key disadvantages compared with other dedicated podcast hosting companies, or CombinedHosting.com, which combines podcast hosting and a full-featured, branded WordPress website in the same place. Here are the two disadvantages:
- Simplecast doesn’t allow the podcast’s RSS feed to include the podcast’s own domain name. Using someone else’s domain in your RSS feed is a very bad thing both for branding reasons and logistical reasons, which I have covered in detail in the past. Simplecast covers this on its website, although it attempts to imply that it’s a good thing. Just in case that becomes removed in the future, here is a link to a screenshot of that page.
- According to its own website (screenshot here), Simplecast will only distribute audio in the archaic MP3 format, which was superseded back in 1997, nearly a quarter century ago as of publication of this article. As stated in How to extract audio from a video series for an audio podcast and my other articles, the recommended distribution format for audio podcasts nowadays is AAC-HE (high efficiency) with a .M4A extension. With AAC-HE and .M4A, your final files can be much smaller yet sound better than the corresponding MP3. A smaller file means consuming less space on your computer, less space on the server and less space on your listeners’ devices (if they download it). It also means faster upload speeds for you and faster downloads for your listeners (if they download it). If your listeners don’t download it and instead do “fake streaming” (HTTP streaming), they will consume less bandwidth, which means that it will work better with a marginal connection and also avoid eating up as much data if their plan is metered (not truly unlimited). Better quality requires no explanation at all. Today, AAC is widely compatible with many devices (even very old ones like some Blackberry models) as explained within this article.
Given the two above disadvantages, I advised Jeff Taylor of Beaker Films:
Sadly, we cannot mitigate Simplecast’s inability or unwillingness to allow a show’s own domain within the podcast RSS feed there, even though other providers do, including CombinedHosting.com, where using the show’s own domain in the RSS feed is the only option.
After reading How to extract audio from a video series for an audio podcast, Jeff Taylor had already decided to use the Auphonic (online) tool option after editing both the video and audio of the video series together in Final Cut Pro. Regarding the second disadvantage covered above, Simplecast’s own website (screenshot here) sadly indicates that if you upload anything other than MP3, Simplecast will sadly re-encode it again. That means that if you want the advantages (explained in this article) of uploading a final audio file with an embedded graphic and metadata, you must create it at Simplecast’s strict archaic specifications to avoid having Simplecast re-encoding the file later. Re-encoding a lossy audio file (be it MP3 or AAC) should be avoided, just like making a second-generation copy of a VHS tape should be avoided, since they are all lossy final distribution formats, as opposed to WAV or AIFF (both uncompressed and lossless) and FLAC (compressed yet lossless, like a .zip file). If I were to make a very rough comparison (both in age and in efficiency), I would say that MP3 is like S-VHS and that AAC-HE is like Blu-ray encoded with H.264, since the audio códec used within H.264 has always been AAC. It always behooves us to make any lossy distribution format from the uncompressed (or nearly uncompressed, i.e ProRes 422 HQ) video master.
In addition to insisting upon MP3 (or they will re-encode it to MP3), the same Simplecast specs (screenshot here) state that it should sadly be 44.1 kHz, I created the following addendum for those producers forced to distribute their podcast via Simplecast.
Addendum of workflow for those using Simplecast
Since any professional video show shot with professional cameras will be edited with the video standard of 48 kHz audio sampling (see 48KhzAlliance.com), and that neither Final Cut Pro nor Auphonic downsamples when outputting an audio file (as of my tests with both in 2021), here is the addendum:
- Export an uncompressed WAV audio file from FCP (which will be 48 kHz).
- Use a tool like RX to downsample that WAV file to 44.1 kHz (ouch!) before uploading to Auphonic as described in this article.
- Modify step 5 of the original guide to be MP3 instead of AAC-HE.
- All other steps will be the same.
It is sad that Simplecast has those two important disadvantages compared with other services, including CombinedHosting.com. However, anyone who is forced to use Simplecast for whatever reason should follow the addendum in this article to avoid any further generation loss through re-encoding. Thanks to Jeff Taylor of Beaker Films for asking the question.
CombinedHosting.com exists to host your audio podcast files and your main website together in one place. CombinedHosting.com is a service mark of TecnoTur LLC. I created it since I was disappointed with most of the other podcast hosting offerings, most of which sadly don’t allow you to have your show’s own domain as part of the RSS feed, which is the virtual antenna which allows you to syndicate your shows to all of the major podcast platforms like Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Samson Free, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn and many more.
With CombinedHosting.com, your podcast RSS feed always contains your own show domain, not anyone else’s. If you host your audio files and your show’s official website together at CombinedHosting.com, you’ll be true owner of your own website and your own RSS feed. You’ll save money, simplify your workflow, strengthen your branding and have complete control. You even get help (included) for your GDPR compliance and DCMA notice. I don’t know any other hosting company that includes that.
(Re-)Subscribe for upcoming articles, reviews, radio shows, books and seminars/webinars
Stand by for upcoming articles, reviews, books and courses by subscribing to my bulletins.
- Email bulletins, bulletins.AllanTepper.com
- In Telegram, t.me/TecnoTurBulletins
- Twitter (bilingual), AllanLTepper
- Boletines por correo electrónico, boletines.AllanTepper.com
- En Telegram, t.me/boletinesdeAllan
- Twitter (bilingüe), AllanLTepper
There is currently no financial relationship between Simplecast and Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units or NFR software for review purposes, including Hindenburg but excluding Auphonic. Beaker Films is a consulting and hosting client of TecnoTur LLC. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur, BeyondPodcasting, CapicúaFM , SpeakCastilian or TuSaludSecreta programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.