20 great storytelling podcasts

If ever there was a time to immerse yourself in a different world, a commute on a dark grey winter’s morning is it. Storytelling podcasts can take you straight into fantasy, can grip you, make you laugh, help you relax before bed or even make you miss your stop on the bus. However they do it, a story can take you somewhere. We’ve picked our 20 favourite storytelling podcasts for you to download this winter…

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…The multi-award winning Tracks podcast begins as Dr Helen Ash (Romola Garai) witnesses a horrific plane crash. The dark conspiracy thriller series which launched in 2016 has now been followed by a second series – Tracks Strata is a prequel which traces the story back to Snowdonia in 1980. Written by Matthew Broughton, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a stormy evening. Prepare to be absorbed – at times, you may find yourself on the edge of your seat…

Some excellent choices here. Tracks in particular is compelling.

SoundCloud running out of time

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Exiting team members wanted to know why they weren’t warned, while those who survived the cuts wanted assurance that the cost reductions would keep the company afloat for the long-run.

But as security ominously filed into SoundCloud’s meeting rooms at its offices around the world during the all-hands video conference broadcast from its Berlin headquarters, the startup’s staff discovered they wouldn’t be getting the answers they wanted. Instead, sources at SoundCloud tell TechCrunch that founders Alex Ljung and Eric Wahlforss confessed the layoffs only saved the company enough money to have runway “until Q4” — which begins in just 50 days… More at TC.

I can see no way back from here. Such a shame, but the competition is just too fierce.

Fringe Game History Podcast: Episode 1

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Episode 1 – Kirk Israel

Kirk Israel talks about JoustPong, a game he has made and remade many times over the years. We dive into the homebrew community surrounding the Atari 2600 in the early 2000s, the strain of obsessive assembly coding on relationships, and the challenge of finding a supportive community.

Kirk is very active on LIM and also very supportive. His discussion on the above podcast is also a fascinating insight into the world of early homebrew gaming,

Podcast releases man from prison

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A Swedish man who spent 13 years in prison has been released after a podcast convinced the country’s Supreme Court to retry his case.

Kaj Linna was convicted of robbery and murder then sentenced to life in prison despite what experts called a lack of evidence or eye-witness testimony.

Linna maintained his innocence throughout the trial but testimony from one witness, whose name hasn’t been released, lead to the conviction. The same witness then appeared on Swedish podcast Spar, which was created in the vein of the popular American Serial podcast. Inconsistencies between statements the witness made to police and those made on the podcast are what, reportedly, prompted officials to request the appeal. Court of Appeal President Margareta Bergström told The Local. More at TNW.

A great story.

We’re All Gonna Die

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The world is a vampire, and politics is hell. On the We’re All Gonna Die podcast, premiering today, the Daily Dot staff complains about the world. Come with us as we dissect the viral political news of the week. Straight from the exhausted, cranky bums who have to write about this stuff… More at The Daily Dot.

I am struggling to keep up with my podcasts at the moment, but this will be added to the list.

Podcaster Pro by Adam Curry

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The Podcaster Pro™ is a USB Audio device that has been over a decade in the making by Adam Curry.

The Podcaster Pro™, your laptop, and an XLR mic are all you need to make podcasts that sound like they were recorded in a professional recording studio!

The Podcaster Pro™ brings Mic Preamps, EQ, Compressor, Noise-gate, Mix-minus, and Voice Processing in a single USB device about the size of a hardcover book… More at Indiegogo.

Seems expensive, but there is a lot to be said for ease of use and just getting down to creating something. Still amazes me how many low-grade podcasts there are out there- a decent microphone is far from expensive these days.

How Big is My Penis?

 

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On the Internet, people say all kinds of things they’d never say aloud — about sex and race, about their true wants and fears. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has spent years parsing the data. His conclusion: our online searches are the reflection of our true selves. In the real world, everybody lies… Listen to the episode here.

Thanks to Sami who also shared this podcast episode through the LIM WhatsApp group.

Are BeatsX better than AirPods?

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Here is a thing. A pair of Beats headphones that are not expensive purely because they have the ‘Beats’ logo on the box.

When you consider the price, they are in line with the competition and potentially better value. I should mention early that you get a card in the box that gives you 3 months of Apple Music for free which is effectively worth £29.97. I should also mention that the registration process is broken and I was immediately diverted to Apple Support who emailed me an iTunes code for the 3 months of Apple Music. However, this codes adds £29.97 to your Apple account which you can use for films or apps instead so arguably the BeatsX ending up costing £100.

I will, however, forget that for the moment and compare to the AirPods (£159) and others like the Motorola Verve Life Verve Ones Plus (£179), Powerbeats3 (£149) or i.am Plus Buttons (£169). The fact is that if you want decent quality wireless headphones with audio that does not sound wireless, you can expect to pay +£100 at the very least. And in that environment, the BeatsX do not feel overpriced.

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Anyway, the first thing I noticed was the packaging. Beats headphones have always been nicely packaged, but in a way that suggests trying to make the products look premium. Historically, you get to unbox the headphones and marvel at the packaging and then put them in your eye and they sound like crap (personal opinion).

Now, however, small Apple touches are creeping in and there is a sense that the packaging is logical as well as nicely presented and made. It feels like an Apple product when you start to peruse the charger, accessories and documentation, and it all goes back together nicely as well. The name may be Beats, but it is most certainly an Apple product now and the Beats branding is quite subtle on the BeatsX which I believe to be a good thing.

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In the box you get 4 sets of plugs to ensure that they fit in your eyes just right and 2 sets of ear hooks to make sure they stay in when you are running or exercising. Curiously, they are not sweat or moisture resistant which feel like a trick missed for the likely audience. They also do not feel particularly hard wearing and I am curious to see how well they survive over extended periods of use.

The design is something that on paper looks much worse than the AirPods, but the reality is that they are more practical than the AirPods will ever be. Loop them around your neck and them fit them in your ear; they remain secure and look perfectly normal which may be a concern for you as the wider world gets used to mini hockey sticks poking out of stranger’s ears. When you want to stop listening, drop them down and they will attach to each other because they are magnetised to make a cool Beats necklace. The ‘cool’ was ironic by the way, but the reality is that I find myself wearing them under my shirt and completely forget they are there. The bits that show do not look silly at all and so we left with a very comfortable and OK looking set of headphones that quickly become invisible.

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That practicality continues for iPhone users with a small lightning cable in the box and the ability to charge from your current cables or desktop chargers. The 8 hours of battery life should be enough for most people, but of course the AirPods carrying case offers an advantage with a total of 24 hour battery available. That said, a 5-minute charge gives you 2 hours of playback when the battery is low on the BeatsX so I doubt you will have too many problems keeping them running.

Now, the most important aspect for the majority will be sound quality and I must say that the BeatsX beat the AirPods easily here. It could be the tighter fit because of the more traditional design, it could be the heavier bass which in this case seems to have been set just right or it could be that the AirPods just don’t fit well enough to offer such an immersive audio experience.

When I listen to music on the AirPods, I don’t feel so involved. They sound good, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t offer a rounded audio feel whereas the BeatsX do. To me, they sound very much like the Sennheiser CX 5.00i set which is far from a bad thing, but with the advantage of no wires.

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I have experimented with all types of music and a selection of podcasts, and have to rate the BeatsX as very good in terms of audio quality. Audiophiles will likely not be happy, but then again they usually need a £200 charging cable and the promise of gold lining in every component to ‘believe’ that the sound is better.

So, the sound is great and they are comfortable. They look good and the price is right so what remains?

Well, the implementation of the W1 is a huge advantage because pairing is instant and connections are reliable every single time. You do lose the ability to stop and start music by taking them out of your ears, as seen on the AirPods, but you gain real buttons to press which in my opinion is well worth the trade off. I am not going to be speaking to my earphones any time soon when I can quietly press a button and move on.

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The carry case is poor, really stupid, and makes no sense at all. It is like a scary plastic mouth the somehow eats the cable and earphones and places them into a small space. The problem is that it feels off shoving them in there and while I appreciate the clever way the neck band bends to any shape, I wonder if they will shorten the life of them. The case also tends to then spew out some of the cables because you can’t lock it shut so I will leave that as the one downside of this product. You can buy better cases on Amazon for very little so options remain.

BeatsX vs AirPods

Audio: BeatsX 8/10 AirPods 6/10

Practicality: BeatsX 9/10 AirPods 8/10

Value: BeatsX 8/10 AirPods 8/10

Looks: BeatsX 8/10 AirPods 6/10

Total: BeatsX 33/40 AirPods 28/40

For me, it is a surprisingly easy win for the BeatsX. They are superb.

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BeatsX

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AirPods

Lisa Jackson (Apple)

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I would advise to listen to the podcast episode itself rather than read the transcript. Lisa comes across incredibly well and even with the Apple limits to what she can say, she is impressive throughout, and I don’t say that because she is female. I learnt a lot from this episode.

GRUBER: But in other words, you guys aren’t sweeping any aspect of it under the rug by saying “Well, that’s not us.” Right? Like: “This is what Apple, actual Apple employees are doing in Apple-owned buildings, and anything that happens from the mine until it gets there, we’re not taking that into account” — you guys are really trying to account for everything.

JACKSON: Yeah, because you can’t change the world if you stop at your theoretical borders. You have to change yourself first. You have to lead by example and not demand of others what you’re not willing to do. But I think we’re one of the few companies — I won’t say the only companies in the world — who take this very comprehensive look at our carbon footprint. We’d love to get it to zero, which would mean that all those suppliers would be at zero carbon footprint.

And we’re trying to do it right now, not using offsets or credits. There might be some places in the world that it’s just not possible to do that right now, but that’s where we are — that’s why we’re at 96 percent, not saying 100 percent. Because we could get to 100 percent if we just bought some credits…