Home » Podcasts on Discs: Which Ones to Pick For Your Show

The history of audio is like a wave. Pun most definitely intended. It had ups and downs sometimes cycling back to prominence years after “dying.” First it was the radio, then vinyl, followed by cassette and lagging not far behind them were CDs. Once digital music became a thing in the late-90s/early-2000s, vinyl and cassette were the first vehicles for the medium of sound to see a downturn in sales. Fast forward to closer to the present and vinyl has made a comeback with audiophiles and collectors, practically reaching into the mainstream once again. But does that collector mentality work for podcasts on discs?

Audio CDs, MP3 Discs and Other Discs for Podcasts

Audio CDs for podcasts aren’t exactly a cost-effective way to distribute your podcast. That’s not even considering the word of mouth and buzz required to build an audience inside your hometown let alone the world. What makes podcasts on Audio CDs unfeasible is that compact disks only allow so much space for time. Exactly 80 minutes of audio are allowed per CD. Most podcasts are about that length for one episode, usually more. Putting one episode on a single disc would get expensive quickly. That’s why most podcasts with a big following make mp3 CDs. This method allows for more episodes to fit on a disc. This method for podcasts, requires more compressed quality audio. This usually isn’t a problem for most podcasts, since only the people’s voices are heard and perhaps music for an opening or closing call to action. You can get away with compressing to 64 kbps and not lose the quality needed to understand the words.

How Much is Too Little? Time vs Storage Size

Even with mp3 CDs, the limitation of the physical medium’s storage size is a problem. 700 MB nowadays doesn’t count for much in terms of content. DVDs are a step above and Blu-Rays are now the most commonly used medium to store content like music and videos. This includes 4k UHD, which uses the same blank Blu-ray Disc to fit its movies as a Blu-Ray XL. An XL Blu-ray disc can hold 128 GB on its quadruple-layer disc. The next best option if money isn’t a factor for you would be a dual layer blu-ray which can hold 50 GB. Single layer as the name suggests offer half of the dual-layer Blu-ray Disc (25 GB). Honestly the best option is to go with a single layer blu-ray and use some metric to divide a bulk of episodes from each other. One season or year per disc for example.

You can fit 13 hours of standard video. Audio files like .WAVs for episodes longer than an hour might be cutting it close with the amount of space needed. For example the most recent episode of Audible Fiction; Visual Illusion was less than 600 MB for the whole thing after editing. The total time was roughly 51 minutes. Of course those with more than two episodes ready might need more time than space for most discs. Audio files are much smaller than video files as the video doesn’t have to be encoded with the audio, so putting your podcasts on discs won’t take as much storage space. The thing you’ll want to watch out for is the time limit duration of each disc. Also make sure the burn process doesn’t automatically split episodes onto two discs. You’ll probably want to make sure all the episodes you want to play on one disc can do so without some of the last episode on that disc going on another one. Keep only what episodes can fit on one disc. Use another disc if you have more episodes. There are few things in the audio more annoying than having the podcast audio stop midway through an episode and have the rest play on another disc. Switching discs for your podcast or podcasts is easy enough to do, but doesn’t create a great user experience.

Fellow podcast critic—Mentally, a Magpie—wrote a post about Vinyl and podcasts. Check that out here if you’re so inclined.