That question comes up on a regular basis.
The first answer that comes to mind is “because it’s cool!” but, on a more serious note, there are some very practical reasons for it.
If all of our listeners were in the studio, and each one used a professional grade headphone set, we could arguably get by with less processing. The reality is that many listeners will play the audio through cheap PC speakers. They may be listening in a noisy environment, maybe in the car on the way to work, or on the bus or subway during the morning commute. Audio with a high dynamic range is difficult to enjoy under these conditions, as the user needs to keep adjusting the volume so they can hear the softer passages and not get their ears blasted by the loud passages. For example, the multiband AGC of the Omnia F/XE audio processor takes care of this issue automatically, and ensures consistent levels. The listener no longer gets annoyed by large volume swings, the audio is more clear and easier to enjoy.
A similar situation occurs on the production side. Podcasts may be produced from multiple audio sources. Each audio source may have been recorded in different locations and perhaps at different levels. Dynamics processing ensures consistent levels across and a consistent sound signature, not only in the one file but across all material you produce. And because the processing happens automatically as you encode the file, you spend less time in the audio editor.
The multiband dynamics processing can also improve the perceived audio quality as it can apply different adjustments to each band. If you need to add more bass and loudness or are going for a more subtle effect, you can easily add some sparkle to the audio (as a matter of fact, “Sparkle” is one of the included factory presets on the Omnia F/XE).
Another reason for audio processing is that it can help the encoder with the conversion to MP3 or AAC. By processing the audio specifically for the target bitrate, you have the potential to reduce coding artifacts and get a better sounding file then when encoding the audio without preprocessing.
The best part is that, once you create your preset, you can automatically apply it to every file you encode. And you don’t need to start from scratch; we include a number of presets to get you started. You can use them as provided, or better yet, tweak them until you get the sound you like best for your application.
I mentioned above that you can automatically apply one of the processing presets to every file you encode. This is certainly the case, but our recommended choice -- the Omnia F/XE -- is more flexible than that. You can use it on a file by file basis or in batch mode with the File Processor application or you can automate the process with Folder Bot. In File Processor you create one or more “job” targets, where each “job” specifies the processing preset, encoder settings, and any post encode actions (e.g. to FTP the encoded file to a server). Then you drag and drop files on the targets to process and encode them. Folder Bot, on the other hand, sits in the background and watches one or more folders (that you specify) for new files. When a new file is detected, Folder Bot springs into action and automatically processes and encodes the file according to your configured instructions, in a completely hands-off manner.
In addition to keeping detailed logs, F/XE can also notify you by email, so you don’t have to sit by the computer and watch the progress meters tick away (although I do find this more exciting than, say, watching paint dry).