Why Podcasts Don’t Use VBR MP3s

Marco Arment, creator of the podcasting app I use on my iPhone, Overcast, explains why podcasts don’t use VBR MP3s, even though they’re more space-efficient and sound better:

AVFoundation, the low-level audio/video framework in iOS and macOS, does not accurately seek within VBR MP3s, making VBR impractical to use for long files such as podcasts. Jumping to a timestamp in an hour-long VBR podcast can result in an error of over a minute, without the listener even knowing because the displayed timecode shows the expected time.

I’ve been using time-jumping links on YouTube videos for years. It’s really handy.

Like this clip of George Carlin naming the seven words you can’t say on television (circa the mid ’70s). Here is a link starting from the beginning, and here is a link jumping right to him saying the words.

It’s too bad podcasts don’t support this. I splice in sound effects and little easter eggs throughout my podcasts all the time. It would be great to have direct links to them instead of having to remember the timestamps.


Podcast, Technology


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