Editing your podcast may be an option for those that have the time to do it or love to have a more DIY approach to things. In this article, we will explain to you step by step how to edit your podcast properly so you don’t fall into the pitfalls many beginner podcasters do. Before we get started, I would like you to prepare yourself with a lot of patience. Editing a podcast can be a pleasurable process but it can also get frustrating at times. So, here is a guide on how to edit your podcast like a Pro.
IT ALL STARTS WITH THE RECORDING!
Let’s face it, if the recording is done right from the start there isn’t a lot to do than just a basic clean up and you’re ready to go. Unfortunately, this is not always the case! Especially in this day and age, many things can go wrong. Recording remotely took everyone unexpectedly in a way, however, many were already into this space for a long time.
My point is that if you learn to record correctly your job as an editor would become a lot easier. It all starts with the recording!
LABEL YOUR FILES CORRECTLY
Labelling your files is extremely important whether you edit your own podcast or others. There is nothing worse than losing a file or project you worked on for hours. Believe me, this happened to me once as well…and what a nightmare that was. You have to come up with a labelling standard/protocol. For getting this far in the article I will share my own with you!
Let’s say you edit a podcast that is called “Realstate And Good Life” (Such a lame name I know, it took me 1 min to think of it) but bear with me! Let’s also say that the podcast you edit is episode 145 and they have as a guest named Mr. “John Lewis” “real estate expert”. This podcast was submitted for edit on the 5th of September 2021.
My labelling would look like RAGL_145_JohnLewis_05IX21. You will notice that the name of the file already contains some important information about the podcast. We abbreviated the name, we included the episode number, a tag; in this case our guest’s name and the date of the recording. There is additional information you can add such as the sample rate/bit rate of the recording and channel number. Whatever you choose, make sure that it works great for you and it makes sense.
PREPARE YOUR FILES BEFORE EDITING
It is a good idea to do a skipped audition of the recording before getting on with the edit. Listen to the beginning and end of the file and make sure all the content is included. Although rare, recordings can stop unexpectedly or things can go missing from the main file. Make sure that nothing is missing and go to the next step.
Convert Stereo files to Mono! Many of my clients sometimes in a rush record the files in Stereo instead of Mono, this does not affect the quality of the recording in any way but it consumes unnecessary space on your drive without adding any extra value in exchange.
Create a main folder with all the relevant files of that podcast such as the intro, outro and ads, please don’t forget to label things correctly.
CHOOSE YOUR DAW AND STICK TO IT
A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is an application that typically runs on your computer that helps you in manipulating the audio in many ways. You can do basic things like slicing, trimming, merging, fade in, fade out, layering or complex things such as eq-ing, compressing, limiting, clip detection, gating, de-noising and many more…
There are many options out there FREE and PAID. We do not recommend one more than the other, we believe that whatever you learn to use will definitely work for podcasting if used correctly. Here at Saw & Sine we use Cubase 10 which is an amazing premium software.
Here is a quick list of software to choose from:
Audacity (FREE and podcaster’s choice the only downside “destructive edit”)
Garage Band (FREE available only on mac)
Adobe Audition (Subscription 19.97£/month)
Studio One (Rent To Own 16.99$/ for 24 months) (Really good deal here)
Cubase (One Time Fee 500£)
ProTools (One Time Fee 479£)
Sound Forge 15 (299$)
Reaper (60$ Non-Commercial Usage, 225 For Commercial Usage)
Descript (Subscription from 0-24$/month)
And there are a lot more out there so keep exploring!
LEARN YOUR DAW
Whatever software you choose to use, you will need to learn it. Start by reading the manual! (I know it is boring, but that’s free real information right there, you will be amazed what your software can do). Buy a course or watch Youtube tutorials. Read books about your DAW, there are a lot of there, I will recommend a few:
Most controls are generally similar in every DAW, if you know these controls you will be able to start navigating through your software and ultimately get something done!
Import / Export Files:
Learn how to add or export/bounce files in and from your DAW. This is usually done via a menu option of some sort.
This is quite straight forward and most DAWs use the “delete” or “backspace” button for this function.
Usually is done via a shortcut, most of the time CMD+X/CTR+X
This very often is in a form of a shortcut such as “CMD+Z /CTR+Z” for Undo and “CMD+R/CTR+R” for Redo.
Play And Stop:
Very often the spacebar controls this option.
Splice a file:
Usually, this is done via a shortcut or via a tool that can be found somewhere on the panel of your DAW. A lot of times the tool is in a form of a scissors icon.
Move a certain part of the file by clicking on it and dragging it left and right.
Fade In / Fade Out / Crossfade
This one can be different on all DAWs so consult the manual for this.
Each DAW should have an option whereby by cutting a certain section of the audio file the remaining bits would merge automatically.
On the audio form, you should have a parameter control of some sort that allows you to change the volume of that particular section of the audio file.
This is usually done by clicking on the far end or start of the audio waveform and dragging left or right.
Usually is done via a shortcut, most of the time CMD+S or CTR+S or by navigating in the top menu.
AUDIO FILE FORMATS
You will work with audio so knowing exactly what format is best to use while editing will get you better results. We will write an entire article on this so stay tuned. Generally as a rule you will want to work with WAV files while editing since those files are raw uncompressed files at a sample rate no lower than 44.1khz and a bit rate of no lower than 16 bit. After finishing the podcast you will want to export that file to an MP3 format at a resolution of 320/kbs or 192/kbs. When recording make sure that you use a WAV file format, that will ensure the best quality possible.
BASICS OF EQ
EQ stands for equalisation and it is the process by which the engineer eliminates certain frequencies along the entire audio file. A human can hear frequencies between 20hz to 20000hz (20khz). Frequencies below and above are considered, subsonic or ultrasonic frequencies and they can’t be perceived by the human ear. Now a talking voice can range from about 150hz to 20k in frequency, but certain frequencies in between can be more prominent than others and they can sound out of place.
For example, if your voice sounds muffled, it is probably so from the lack of high frequencies probably at around 3k to 20k. If your voice sounds harsh on the other hand it is probably so from the surplus for high frequencies. EQ also allows us to remove specific problems such as ringing, low rumble, harsh consonants and more. Usually DAW especially the paid ones come with an EQ included.
Basic Parameters Of The EQ Are:
Bands: The ability to choose a certain band in a specific frequency range
Boost/Cut: The ability to boost or cut a certain range of frequencies
Low Cut: A form a band could take; it applies a cut from 20hz to a specific frequency higher than 20hz.
High Cut: A form a band could take; it applies a cut from 20khz to a specific frequency lower than 20khz.
Parametric/Bell: A form a band could take which allows you to choose a specific frequency range in order to boost or attenuate it.
Low shelf: A form a band could take which allows you to cut/ boost from 20hz to a specific frequency higher than 20hz.
High shelf: A form a band could take which allows you to cut/ boost from 20khz to a specific frequency lower than 20khz.
It is a very powerful tool and it really deserves its own article.
BASICS OF COMPRESSION
In this instance, the term compression is not used for converting a WAV file to an MP3 file in order to reduce its size, but it is a process by which an engineer will attenuate the dynamic of a file so it sounds more consistent throughout. We could talk quiet and loud, whispering and laughing; all these things can happen in a podcast. In order to ensure that the listener hears everything that is said or that he/she is not instantly blasted by a crazy loud laughing joke, the engineer will need to take a few steps. Here is where a compressor comes into place!
In short, a compressor turns high levels down and low levels up so everything sounds linear. All major DAWs come with a default compressor.
Basic Parameters Of The Compressor Are:
Threshold: A parameter that allows you to set at what particular amplitude the compression should be triggered.
Makeup Gain: A parameter that allows you to compensate for the loudness lost during compression.
Attack / Release: Controls over the timing of the compressor. Attack: how long until the compression is triggered. Release: how long until the compression stops responding.
This tool again deserves its own blog, what I describe here is very basic language and theory but in practice is very much different.
STITCHING IN THE INTRO, OUTRO AND ADS
Keep a natural transition between your main body podcast and your intro, outro and ads. To do this, learn how to perform volume automation in your DAW. Volume automation allows you to control the volume of a track in time, this allows for a lot of possibilities. It is a good idea to mix the intro/outro/ads in another session and bounce them as WAV files. After that, you will import them into each podcast episode. The reason for doing this is that you don’t want your DAW to take double the time to render your project once finished with each and every episode.
Sometimes stock songs don’t match 100% the length of your voice over. To solve this problem learn how to loop a track! You can take a section of a track that sounds like it would be loopable. These sections are usually steady without an increase in volume or the number of instruments used. Most often, tracks are written in a 4/4 time signature, which means that the first accent of a track happens every 4 beats. You will want to choose a 4 beat section or a multiple of 4 like 8 beats or 16 beats.
It is known that in podcasting the -16 LUFS is the industry standard, but what does this mean and how do you achieve it?
The LUFS, stands for Loudness Units Full Scale and it is a measurement protocol, we won’t get into too much detail now, but in a sense, this protocol is closer to what a human ear hears. You see we don’t perceive loudness very linearly, this was demonstrated by a study conducted by Fletcher and Munson in 1933, so experts had to come up with a measuring method that reflects our hearing and not a digital interpretation of the wave file. When you look at your meter in your DAW you will notice that it responds to every single pick of the wave from a LUFS measurement doesn’t do that. A free tool that allows you to measure the LUFS of a file is Youlean Loudness Meter.
You can achieve these levels through limiting which is very similar to what a compressor does but in a more aggressive way.
CONSIDER A TOOL SUCH AS IZOTOPE RX
iZotope RX is a very powerful tool and it really solves a lot of podcasting problems. RX allows you to remove background noise, de-reverb recordings, remove hard consonants or plosives, it can really do it all. iZotope RX is like Photoshop but for audio, however, it comes at a very pricy cost 399$ for the standard version and 1199$ for the Advanced version. However, you can buy it rent to own from websites such as splice.com by paying a monthly fee of only 15.99$. Unfortunately, the Advanced version is not included in the rent to own program. Other tools similar to iZotope RX are Adobe Audition and Spectral Layers.
These tools are highly complex and you would need a lot of knowledge to get the hang of them. The path to learning how to edit your podcast is not easy!
Not necessarily a requirement anymore but a good practice to get into. ID3 tag is a piece of information that you embed into the mastered mp3 file. You can include information such as the year of production, copyrights, genre, artwork and more. A FREE tool that allows you to do just that is MP3Tag.
LISTEN TO THE EDITED PODCAST ON DIFFERENT SPEAKERS
Another important aspect of learning how to edit a podcast is listening. You will need to experience what your listeners experience, so after editing it is time to put your podcast to the test. Listen to your podcast on your phone, tablet laptop, Bluetooth speakers and in your car. It is important that you do this test in comparison to other well-sounding podcasts. This will give you a certain insight into what your listeners will experience. If you feel that your file sounds as good as your competition on your headphones or main speakers but it doesn’t sound as good on other consumer-type devices, you’ll probably need to look into this more and correct the issues. Most probably the EQ-ing aspect is not 100% done right.
I hope you found this article informative and I hope that now you know how to edit your podcast like a pro. If you found this information overwhelming don’t worry, it is completely normal, it takes a lot of practice and knowledge to edit a podcast. It is definitely not as easy peasy lemon squeezy as many think, not if you want it to sound at a PRO level.
Please get in touch with any questions enquires you may have in the comments and we will make sure to answer all of them!