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In many ways, sound design can be even more influential and impactful than visual design.
Podcasts are an excellent way to learn about sound. They’re free, delivered straight to your ears, and produced with the listening experience in mind. Whether you’re an aspiring producer, future composer, or audiophile, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the world of sound than to listen and learn.
We’ve compiled a list of podcasts that will help you learn about audio and sound design.
Twenty Thousand Hertz is developed by Defacto Sound, an award-winning sound design studio. In each episode, the show takes a recognizable or fascinating sound and explores the context surrounding it. These sounds can range from audio notifications on your computer to the audio logos and jingles tied to famous brands. Often, they are sounds that you will have heard before but have never given much thought.
Since it’s produced by a professional sound design company, it’s no surprise that the show’s production is among the very best that podcasts have to offer. There’s sure to be something in every episode that audiophiles and audio novices alike can learn.
Episodes to Start With: #40 – ASMR; #37 – Seizure Sonification; #16 – The Wilhelm Scream
If you’ve ever wondered about how a song is made from start to finish, then you should listen to Song Exploder. Every week, a featured musician picks one of their tracks and dives into the writing, recording, and production process behind it. Also, it’s a show that can help you discover new music.
It doesn’t matter what kind of music you listen to, as the show runs the gamut of genres. There are famous pop stars, film composers, heavy metal bands, independent artists, and more. If you simply scroll through the show’s archives, there’s a good chance you will find a track that you already know and love. At the end of an episode, you will likely appreciate the song even more.
Episodes to Start With: Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way; Phoenix – Ti Amo; Johann Johannsson – Arrival
Sound Matters is produced by one of the giants of the audio electronics world, Bang and Olufsen. However, the show is less about audio technology and more about appreciating the sound all around us.
Every episode is a highly immersive experience and tackles a subject that’s interesting and out of the box, like ambient animal noises or the relationship between memory and sound. In the podcast’s latest season, each episode focuses on the sounds of a particular city, such as New Delhi, Los Angeles, or Tokyo.
The show is hosted by Tim Hinman, a sound designer with a voice that is soothing yet consistently engaging.
Episodes to Start With: #23 – Tick Tock Tokyo; #16 – The Bass, The Colour, The Mystery of Synesthesia; #10 – Sounds from Outer Space
Tonebenders, produced and hosted by sound designers Rene Coronado and Timothy Muirhead, frequently features guests with award-winning bodies of work. The show has in-depth discussions between sound designers in film and television as they discuss their work, their collaborations, and their careers within the industry.
The hosts and guests often get into the nitty-gritty of the production process. Most episodes run between 40 minutes and an hour. If you want to be a sound designer one day, then Tonebenders is essential listening.
Episodes to Start With: #90 – Ai-Ling Lee & Mildred Iatrou Morgan on First Man; #74 – A Quiet Place Erik Aadahl & Ethan Van der Ryn; #48 – ADR Roundtable
The UBK Happy Funtime Hour is highly recommended for people with a strong interest in sound mixing and audio engineering. Every episode is a look into the lives and careers of audio engineers, as seen through the lenses of hosts Gregory Scott and Nathan Daniel.
Even when the show gets into some deeply technical stuff (which is most of the time) the hosts manage to keep it light and conversational thanks to their great rhetoric and passion for the work.
If you want to learn about compression, mastering, or plugins, there’s no better podcast out there.
Episodes to Start With: The Latest Episode
The Soundworks Collection Podcast is a spin-off of a popular video series of the same name. Both profile the work of a variety of music and audio professionals in cinema and video games. Each episode features interviews with the sound crews, composers, and songwriters that create the soundscapes and score for a particular piece of work.
The guests discuss their creative process and how their work ties into the other aspects of the film or game. Many of the interviewees will be familiar names to those that watch the Oscars, as many of them go on to win awards.
Episodes to Start With: The Sound of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse; The Sound of Baby Driver; The Sound of La La Land
Sound design for video games has come a long way since the days of 8-bit audio on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Games now feature immersive and detailed soundscapes.
The Soundbytes Podcast, produced by sound designers Derek Brown and Barney Oram, explores the world of gaming and audio in an informative and conversational manner. Together with some guests from the industry, they explore the recording and design process, discuss equipment and resources, and talk about video games that have great audio.
Episodes to Start With: #22 – Some Sound Favourites; #20 – Sanken and Gators; #10 – Summer Shindig
Jamie Lidell is best known as a soul and electronica musician. It’s something that he’s been doing for several decades and across six feature-length albums. However, a couple of years ago, he launched a side-project entitled Hanging Out With Audiophiles, a podcast about the world of music production.
Lidell interviews some of the most prolific producers in all of music as they talk about their beginnings, artists that they’ve worked with, and their experiences in the industry. If you have any interest in becoming a music producer, you’re going to love the stories featured here.
Episodes to Start With: #32 – Ann Mincieli; #21 – Mark Ronson; #10 – Paul Epworth
The Wonderful World of Audio
The world of podcasts is vast, and the ones listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many great audio-centric podcasts waiting to be discovered. If you still don’t have a podcast app installed on your device, here are some great podcast apps for Android and some great podcast apps for iOS.
And if you’ve heard enough podcasts to get you started, here is the best free music production software for beginners.