Podcasting: File compression and audio compression
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People use a single term (compression) for two different things: file compression and audio compression.[tweet “When someone talks about audio for a podcast, they’ll talk about compression. Click here to learn about both kinds:”]
Audio compression uses either software or hardware to compress the differences between very loud signals and quiet ones. You do this to keep people from constantly raising and lowering the volume to make quiet parts louder only to make loud parts quiet moments later.
In contrast, file compression takes a large, uncompressed file (like a WAV or AIFF) and compress the size of the file and turning it into, for example, an MP3 or AAC. These are lossy file formats, though are are lossless file formats.
When you apply lossy compression, part of the file are thrown away, never to return. Ideally, you’d record, edit, master and THEN compress into MP3 or AAC. Every time you decompress the file, you lose information, so you could easily end up with a file that’s not very good afterward.
The algorithm tries to remove information that not as necessary. It just doesn’t always get it right.
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