I think I’m done with my testing and have landed on the “no thanks” side of the equation. I fiddled with the VBR settings and came up with a moderate savings in file size to get the same perceptible quality (19.2 MB @ VBR 9 vs 24.4 MB@ CBR 128 kbps). And while over time that could add up, bandwidth/storage/transfer fees will continue to trend downwards until they are effectively zero.
But here’s where we fundamentally disagree:
“…in many ways, podcast audio is the perfect use case. Lots of pauses, no background audio, mostly reasonable-amplitude speech. There are lots of opportunities for VBR to come in and shave off bonus bits where it can.”
That’s a myopic view of the current state of podcasting and is even worse looking at podcasting — defined as the delivery of media files via RSS feeds currently — in the future. While I will grant you that many podcasts do have lots of pauses and no background audio, the industry overall is trending away from low-quality, slam-out products in favor or highly produced, higher quality with rich soundscapes and as much care and attention spend on every second of audio as is spent on every word in a professional edited book or scene from a television show or shot in a movie. That’s not an indictment of negative space that a well-placed pause in audio. That’s a production value. But to assume that podcasting will continue to be too-dorks-with-microphones or too-damned-long interviews isn’t giving credit to what is truly possible with the medium.
At least that’s my $0.02. Here’s to a better tomorrow!