Invisible subjects, exceptional sound

A podcast is like an old radio show for a new generation. It’s audio of a narrative or story one might see in his or her daily life. But since the visual aspect is removed, podcasts have to be striking in their audio quality and storytelling. One podcast that produces great quality is NPR’s Invisibilia. This podcast covers various experiences involving psychology and brain science by presenting real-life encounters and stories involving unique situations.

Take “The Secret History of Thoughts,” their look at the random thoughts that pop into people’s heads and how they affect a person. Hosts Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel have an entertaining chemistry, playing off each other as they talk about their subject. Spiegel and Miller are comfortable behind the microphone and their dialogue sounds natural, not scripted. It’s as if they are sitting next to you at a coffee shop talking about this over breakfast. The podcast itself also sounds very clean. The audio is crisp and clear to understand, both with their audio as a duo and their interview clips. The show uses audio clips from a segment with Dr. Miranda K. Morris, a therapist that specializes in third-wave therapy. As the hosts talk about third-wave therapy and how Dr. Morris believed that, “thoughts have no meaning at all.” As the hosts explain each part of Dr. Morris’ methods, they integrate a soundbite of Dr. Morris talking patients through a session, almost acting as a perfectly timed break between explanation to give audio representation. The more the listener hears the hosts talking, the more clear the visual in the listener’s head is. It’s a very proper way to create a podcast, in where you blend natural conversation with natural sound to create an authentic listening experience.

Another example of Invisibilia’s expert craftsmanship can be heard on “Fear,” their episode that tries to find ways to live without fear. Since the subject of this podcast is the presence of fear, the podcast has a different atmosphere. The podcast episodes use instrumental music to segue between narratives of the show. In “Fear,” the music used is creepy and more haunting to emphasize how serious the subject matter of the episode is. Miller and Spiegel also sound more serious and somber discussing the subject matter. Adding that to the same clean and understandable audio, both from the hosts and the natural sound. Even when the show mixes sounds, it sounds like a perfect combination. There is a segment of the podcast where an interview with Greg Downey, an Associate Professor at Macquarie University, comes onto the show. Here, the show mixes Downey’s interview clips, a background musical score of light string instruments and the hosts breaking up each of Downey’s talking points. The audio is never poorly mixed, the hosts interject at just the right point and the music is subtle enough to not distract the listener from Downey. This is an example of a podcast juggling three different kinds of audio delivery into one seamless flow of information, making for an engrossing look at the things that scare us around the world.

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