How do you Listen to Podcasts?

How do you listen to podcasts?

Audio podcasts, by their very nature, are designed to be listened to on portable media players such as the ubiquitous iPod. However, these podcasts are essentially computer audio files that can be played back on a variety of media devices, be they portable or not, which opens up a host of possible listening opportunities.

A podcast at its simplest level is nothing special. In essence an audio podcast is a simple computer audio file (usually in an MP3 format), that can be played back on a range of equipment from desktop PCs to mobile phones and MP3 players.

The vast array of modern devices that now support the playback of MP3 files, and consequently podcasts, is bewildering. This in part has been instrumental in the success of podcasts, because they can be listened to practically anywhere, making them an extremely accessible media format.

Wherever you Want

Due to the wide variety of portable media devices capable of playing MP3 files, you can listen to your favourite podcasts virtually wherever and whenever you want. Some of the most common places being:

  • Home
  • Work
  • Walking / Jogging
  • Gym / Exercising
  • Commuting / Travelling

Where and How

Where Defines How

Where you chose to listen to your podcasts may have an impact on how you listen to your podcasts. For example, if you want to listen to your podcasts in the car on the way to work, a desktop PC will clearly not be your best option.

How Defines Where

Conversely, if you want to listen to your podcasts in high quality on a Hi-Fi system, then listening to your podcasts anywhere on the move is likewise not a terribly practical proposition.

Quality Issues

Podcasts are usually recorded as MP3 files, and can be recorded at a variety of bit rates that directly affect the quality of the resultant podcasts. Higher bit rates give better quality audio.

Unfortunately, when you download a podcast the bit rate has been fixed by the podcast’s producer and there’s nothing further that you can do to improve its quality. However, the type of system that you choose to listen to your podcasts on may enable you to get the best out of the quality available.

For example, listening to a podcast on a tiny pair of speakers built in to your average laptop will never give the same quality as listening to the same podcast via an iPod linked in to your Hi-Fi system.

Does this matter? Probably not, unless it’s a music based podcast, as the primary choice in how you listen to a podcast is most likely not that you want it in absolute fidelity, but rather where and when you are able to, or want to listen to the podcast.

The choices of how you listen to your podcasts can include:

  • In-ear, mini headphones
  • Conventional headphones
  • On the car stereo system via an FM radio transmitter
  • On the car stereo system via a direct jack connection
  • On a laptop with the built in speakers
  • On a PC via desktop speakers
  • On your Hi-Fi system’s speakers

Have Your Say

How, where and when you listen to your podcasts may be dependent on many factors from what equipment you have available to listen to them, whether you’re fussy on the audio quality of the podcasts and on your lifestyle (where you can afford the time to listen to podcasts).

I listen to all of my podcasts at home via an MP3 player and a small pillow speaker when I go to bed at night. How do you listen to yours?

Select as many answers from the list below that are applicable to how you listen to your podcasts. Once you have submitted your answers, you will get to see the results of the poll so far. If the categories don’t fit perfectly,  pick the closest that you feel apply.

How do you listen to podcasts?

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Where do you listen to podcasts?

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If you’d like to leave any comments in the section below on your podcast listening habits such as how, where and when you listen to your podcasts, I’d be really interested to hear. Thanks!

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  1. Rayford Mcgaughey commented

    Extremely interesting post thanks for sharing I just added your blog to my bookmarks and will check back :) By the way this is a little off subject but I really like your sites layout.

  2. frank commented

    I need info in how to listen to podcasts on the move without wires getting tangled and no wifi or a good mobile signal , all info i have seem to need ether , is a bluetooth device on the market that transmits speech i have bought 4 different makes of bluetooth headsets but just wast of money none work for speech just phone even when they say they have good speech output only on phone not podcasts

    • commented

      Hi Frank,

      A jolly good question actually. To listen to podcasts without wires, you need an MP3 player, and a bluetooth headset which both support A2DP. It sounds like you have been buying a phone headset like you get in mobile phone shops. These tend to support HFP (Hands Free Profile) which is designed for mono voice calls. A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) is designed for transmitting music.

      A lot of stereo headphones also support AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile) which is a technology which allows control of the player from the headphones.

      If you are interested in getting the best sound quality, then some headphones support the aptX codec. This is an audio codec which improves the sound quality over the standard Bluetooth codec. Both the headphones and mp3 player need to support aptX to get the improvement, but any two A2DP devices will work together whether they have aptX or not.

      Hope this helps.

      • commented

        I love my Rocketfish RF-MAB2 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones. I’ve had them for years, and listen to podcasts with them all the time. I can’t recommend them highly enough for it. :)

        • commented

          Hi Michael, That’s interesting to know as I’m sure others will also be interested in wireless headphones to listen to their music. Thanks for the comment. Richard

  3. M. Hat commented

    I mostly listen to podcasts on a Sansa mp3 player with earphones and sometimes I listen to it with my inexpensive external speaker system (it isn’t loud enough for me, however). I’d very much like to get a portable am/fm radio with good (external) speakers and with an internal memory and LCD screen so I can listen to and control podcasts like I do with my mp3 player. I had a nice RCA player that did this, but the volume was just a bit too low to enable me hear the podcast properly when I’m shaving or doing exercises. I’ve been searching the net for such a reasonably priced device, but it doesn’t seem to exist. Yet it would be easy to produce and I suspect there are many podcast lovers who’d love to get such a device. If anyone knows of one (under a hundred dollars), please let me know. (I know I could buy speakers for my Sansa but I want a single portable device that I can carry around from place to place in the house like a portable radio.

    • commented

      Hi, An interesting problem that you have there. I can see some benefits of combining podcast listening capability into a radio, as podcasts are essentially time-shifted radio shows.

      I think some of the modern crop of DAB radios are starting to offer something like this, although it may just be streaming at the moment.

      I tend to listen to my podcasts when I go to bed with a small pillow speaker attached to my MP3 player. Even on full the volume isn’t very loud, but it’s fine when you’ve got your ear jammed right next to the speaker.

      • Martin Hat commented

        The new Stormp3 audio speaker with internal memory would be a perfect portable speaker for listing to podcasts around the house, except that for some reason the designers provided only a shuffle mode. This is extremely inconvenient for podcast listens. I still bought one and the sound is great. Everything about it is great except it doesn’t play podcasts in sequence. Too bad.

          • M. Hat commented

            Hi Again Richard. There’s still no device out there that’s properly designed for listening to podcasts on portable speakers (with internal memory). The best one is the stormp3 mentioned above, but it has the insane flaw that the default mode and only mode is the shuffle mode. I recently bought a Rockdoc Pitbull player to try it out for podcast listening, but it also has some important flaws for this purpose. It does have a 4 gig internal memory, which is great. It also has great sound and volume, but the rechargeable battery is a bit weak and the software is not optimized for podcast listening. It tends to go funny and lose your place in the podcast and when this happens it starts over from the beginning. Not good for podcast listening! On the whole though, it’s not too bad.

            The Stormp3 would be perfect, if only the software were designed to play podcasts consecutively instead of in the shuffle mode. I made this comment to the company in an effort to help them find the huge podcast-listeners market, but they didn’t respond. They seem to be interested in a few thousand people who like to listen to music in showers (which the waterproof device is designed for) rather than the millions of podcast listeners who are waiting for a good portable speaker with internal memory and proper software. The optimum portable speaker podcast player doesn’t exist yet, but someone will eventually notice there’s a huge market for such a device.

            P.S. The StormP3 is battery operated, but it does play for very long time on a pair of batteries. If they put a good rechargeable battery in it and fixed the software so the default mode is consecutive rather than shuffle, they’d have the portable speaker podcast market to themselves. But how do you reach people that have a “if we didn’t invent it here, we’re not interested” attitude?

          • commented

            I can’t understand why they only have a shuffle mode. Even if you’re not into podcasts you might want to listen to an album all the way through for example, I know I would.

            Unfortunately podcasts, whilst growing in popularity steadily, still aren’t mainstream. So much so that even the word “podcast” the majority of people aren’t familiar with; we’ve still got a long way to go.


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