The Ultimate Independent Podcaster Glossary

We’ve all been there.

You’re in deep work mode, you’re crossing tasks off of your to-do list, and you’re feeling great about the future of your independent podcast. And then it happens. You come across a word, concept, or idea that’s unfamiliar — and you are sent down a rabbit hole of Google search results, YouTube videos, and research trying to make sense of it all.

So we decided to create the ultimate independent podcaster glossary, with clear definitions of all the terms, concepts, and ideas you need to know to succeed as a solo podcaster. There’s something here for everyone, so no matter what stage you are in your podcasting journey, bookmark this page and come back when you need a little clarity.

AAC: Advanced Audio Coding. A type of audio file that has been compressed to reduce the file size. AAC files are smaller than MP3 files, but the quality is similar.

Bitrate: The number of bits per second that are processed in an audio file. Higher bitrates mean better audio quality, but also larger file sizes.

Boom: A type of microphone stand that allows you to position the microphone closer to your mouth, giving your voice a fuller sound.

Clipping: When the audio waveform is cut off at the top or bottom, resulting in a distorted sound. Clipping can occur if the recording volume is too high or if the bitrate is too low.

Compression: A type of audio processing that reduces the dynamic range of an audio signal, making the loud parts quieter and the quiet parts louder. Compression can be used to even out levels or to create a pumping or breathing effect.

Condensor Microphone: A type of microphone that uses a thin metal diaphragm to capture sound waves. Condenser microphones are more sensitive than dynamic microphones, making them better for recording speech.

DAW: Digital Audio Workstation. A software program that allows you to record, edit, and mix audio files. Popular DAWs include Pro Tools, Logic Pro, and Ableton Live.

Decibel: A unit of measurement for sound intensity. The higher the decibel level, the louder the sound.

Directories: Online platforms that list podcasts and make them easy for listeners to find. Some popular directories include iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music.

Distortion: An unwanted effect that occurs when an audio signal is amplified beyond its capacity. Distortion can sound like a fuzzy or “clipped” sound.

EQ: Equalization. A type of audio processing that allows you to boost or cut certain frequencies in an audio signal. EQ can be used to adjust the overall tone of a sound or to fix problems like muffled speech or feedback.

Gain: The amount of amplification applied to an audio signal. Too much gain can cause distortion.

Headphones: A type of audio output device that covers your ears and provides isolation from outside sound. Headphones allow you to hear your own voice clearly when recording, and can also be used for listening back to edited episodes.

Hiss: A high-pitched noise that can occur in an audio recording. Hiss is often caused by electrical interference or poor microphone technique.

Limiter: A type of audio processing that prevents an audio signal from exceeding a certain threshold. Limiters are often used to avoid distortion or clipping.

Mid-roll ads: Ads that are placed in the middle of a podcast episode, as opposed to at the beginning or end. Mid-roll ads can be less disruptive than other types of ads, but they can also be harder to place effectively.

MP3: MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. A type of audio file that has been compressed to reduce the file size. MP3 files are smaller than WAV files, but the quality is similar.

Noise gate: A type of audio processing that mutes an audio signal when it falls below a certain threshold. Gates are often used to reduce background noise or to avoid feedback.

Normalization: The process of adjusting the volume of an audio signal so that it peaks at a certain level. Normalization can be used to make quiet audio recordings louder or to avoid clipping and distortion.

Podcast: A digital audio file that can be downloaded from the internet and played on a computer or mobile device. Podcasts are usually episodic, and often feature interviews, stories, or commentary.

Pop filter: A type of screen that is placed in front of a microphone to reduce the “pop” sound that occurs when air is expelled from the mouth.

Post-production: The process of editing and mixing an audio recording after it has been recorded. Post-production can be used to fix errors, remove unwanted sounds, or add effects.

Pre-production: The process of planning and preparing for an audio recording before it is made. Pre-production can involve things like writing a script, choosing music, or booking guests.

Pre-roll ads: A type of advertising that is played before a podcast episode. Pre-roll ads are usually shorter than post-roll ads and can be skipped by the listener.

Radio edit: An edited version of an audio recording that is suitable for broadcast on the radio. Radio edits often remove profanity, references to specific brands, or other content that might not be appropriate for a general audience.

Raw recording: An audio recording that has not been edited or processed in any way. Raw recordings can be captured directly to a computer, or recorded onto an external storage device like a hard drive or SSD.

RMS: Root mean square. A type of measurement for the average volume of an audio signal. RMS is often used to calculate the overall loudness of a sound.

Sample rate: The number of samples per second that are captured in an audio recording. Higher sample rates result in better sound quality, but also larger file sizes.

Sampler: A type of music software that allows you to playback and manipulates audio samples. Samplers can be used to create new sounds or to add effects to existing recordings.

Saturation: The process of adding distortion to an audio signal in order to make it sound fuller or more “natural.” Saturation can be used to add warmth to a sound or to make it sound more aggressive.

Scratch track: A temporary recording that is used in place of a final, polished recording. Scratch tracks are often used in video or film productions, where the audio will be replaced with a better recording later on.

Shotgun microphone: A type of microphone that has a long, narrow body and a directional pickup pattern. Shotgun microphones are often used in film and video production, where they can be mounted on a boom arm or other support.

Sidechain: A type of signal processing that allows an audio signal to trigger another signal. Sidechain compression is a common technique that is used to duck the volume of one track when another track is playing.

Signal chain: The order in which the audio signal is processed. The signal chain can include things like microphones, mixers, compressors, and EQs.

Signal-to-noise ratio: The ratio of the level of an audio signal to the level of background noise. A higher signal-to-noise ratio results in a cleaner, clearer recording.

Sine wave: A type of waveform that has a smooth, consistent shape. Sine waves are often used as a test signal, or to create simple tones.

Sound effect: A type of audio clip that is designed to create a specific sound or atmosphere. Sound effects can be recorded from real-world sources, or created digitally.

Sound level: The loudness of a sound, measured in decibels. Sound level is a subjective measure, and what is considered “loud” can vary from person to person.

Sound wave: A type of wave that propagates through a medium, such as air or water. Sound waves are created by vibrating objects and can be detected by the human ear.

Track: A recorded audio or MIDI performance. Tracks can be recorded individually or in groups. With Boomcaster, each of your show’s participants gets their own track for easy playback, mixing, and editing.

Treble: The upper frequencies of the audio spectrum. Treble can be affected by things like EQ, compression, and reverb.

Voice: A single sound that is produced by a musical instrument or synthesizer. Voices can be combined to create chords or other complex sounds.

Volume: The loudness of a sound. Volume is determined by the amplitude of an audio signal, and can be affected by things like EQ, compression, and limiting.

VST: A type of software that allows for the creation or manipulation of digital audio. VSTs can be used to mimic traditional audio hardware or to create entirely new sounds.

WAV: A type of digital audio file that is commonly used for storing music and other sound recordings. WAV files can be played back on a computer or other devices that support the format.

White noise: A type of noise that is evenly distributed across the entire audio spectrum. White noise can be used to mask other sounds or to create effects like hiss and rumble.

What’s Next for Your Independent Podcast?

We hope you found this guide helpful. If you’re just getting started, we recommend reading our 5 Tips for Starting Your Independent Podcast or learn the Mistakes You Should Avoid.

Our team will be adding more definitions in the future, so be sure to bookmark the page and keep it handy for reference. You never know when you’ll need to look up a term — to keep your workflow moving smoothly.

Don’t forget, you can also get started with Boomcaster today and take your podcast to the next level. With our easy-to-use platform, you’ll be able to grow your audience, build your brand, and make money from your show. Sign up now and get started for free!