Editing a podcast can be one of the more time consuming aspects of creating a show. You want to make sure you know the basics before diving in. You can be as in-depth and detailed as you want while editing. From simply cutting away the off-mic parts recorded before and after the episode, or you might want to create an intricate soundscape, with every filler word and stumble plucked out, complete with music and sound design. No matter how you want your podcast to sound, here are some basic tips on how to edit your podcast.
Choose your editing software
If you’ve never edited audio before, you’ll need to use some sort of editing software to complete those simple cuts, or build up several tracks of audio.
There are countless audio editors out there, but they cause a varying amount to use. Some of the more popular ones include:
- Adobe Audition
Once you have downloaded your chosen editing software you need to import your audio to the editor. This means bringing in your recorded files onto the main “timeline” of the editor view. You’ll do the majority of your editing work from here.
Match the audio levels
After you’ve recorded the first episode of your podcast, you may want to dive right in and start chopping and changing the run order of the conversation. Before you do any of that, you will need to do some sort of work to the audio and make sure it sounds the best quality possible.
To start with, it’s a good idea to normalize your audio tracks. This matches the audio levels of all your recorded tracks, ensuring each track hits the same volume. Most audio editors have a function which does this automatically for you. I normally choose -1.0 for the peak amplitude.
You can adjust the levels manually too. Do be careful, though – it is not as simple as keeping an ear out and making sure everything sounds the same (although that’s certainly a part of it!) Keep an eye on the audio meter. This is a visual representation of your audio’s volume and it allows you to be more accurate when matching levels.
Remove background noise
If you don’t have the luxury of recording in a sound-proof studio, then there might be some background noise bleeding into your audio. Whether it’s the fan of your laptop whirring too loudly, your fridge humming in the kitchen, or traffic sounds pouring in from an open window, you’ll want to remove the interference, or reduce it as much as possible.
Noise reduction tools or plug-ins will achieve this for you. Most noise reduction tools contain a series of dials or sliders which analyse the audio tracks and minimise or remove any background noise.
EQ and compression
You might want to go even further and add some compression and EQ to help improve your audio quality.
Compressors or limiters allow you to reduce the dynamic range of your audio. In other words, it reduces the difference between the highest and lowest sounds of your audio. It keeps the audio levels throughout the entire track at an average volume, making it far more comfortable for your audience to listen to.
Equalisation allows you to adjust the volume of different frequencies in the audio. Through this feature, you can make a voice sound deeper or remove the “tinny” sounds of some online recordings.
Once you’re happy with how your audio sounds, you can finally start editing. Start by deleting any unwanted material from the recording and re-arranging parts of the episode. You might decide the conversation flows better if a certain question was placed somewhere else, or maybe your guest went off topic and you would rather remove the tangent. You can make all these choices as you listen through the audio.
Although the names of editing tools can vary depending on which software you’re using, they all do the same thing. Your most important tools are the cut and select tools.
Select tools are important for obvious reasons. It allows you to click and select your audio tracks and move them around as you see fit. Some editing apps have a different kind of selection tool which allows you to highlight portions of the audio as easy as highlighting a bit of text in a document. You can use this to delete or copy larger portions of audio.
Cut or blade tools are very useful too. They allow you to remove any audio you don’t want to include in your final podcast. From off-mic chats, or bloopers, to the host stumbling over words, or tirades of “ums” and “ahs.” Along with the select tool, these allow you to refine your audio.
Add music and sound effects
Now it’s time for the final touches. Add music or sound effects to the track. This is called sound design and enhances the tone and atmosphere of a podcast. Import these and rearrange them as you would for your recorded audio tracks. Adjust the volume and change the duration of the track as necessary too. Always make sure that any additional pieces of audio added to the edit works harmoniously with the rest of the audio.
Finally, once your edit has been completed, it is time to export your podcast. The most common audio export formats are WAV and MP3. WAV files are the highest quality and are much bigger in file size.
Now it’s ready to upload to and share with your listeners!
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