Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Editing for your podcast can be very taxing if you want the final product to be clean and mistake free. If you aren’t used to the editing process, it can take you a long time to finish one episode, which will get old very quickly. Hopefully these tips will help you get control over your editing faster and make you a more efficient editor!
Keep the Pacing
It’s important to keep a fluid conversation going, with no major detours or long pauses. Sometimes during a conversation, whether due to a bad internet connection, someone not knowing the answer, or any number of other reasons, there’s a lull. It’s your job to get rid of that lull and keep the conversation moving.
Your goal here is to use your ear and make sure it sounds like a natural conversation, or interview. Give the guest enough time to answer after the questions finishes, get rid of any long pauses while the host thinks of the next question, I think you get the idea. Use your ear and follow your gut.
Low/High Pass Filter
When it comes to audio, the lowest frequencies aren’t adding any real information to the voice. What I mean by that is, anything below about 60 or 70Hz is not actually your voice, it’s actually lower frequencies than your voice is capable of going (no matter how deep your voice can get). Therefore, it makes sense to just get rid of all the low frequencies (because they are all just distractions), and the way you do that is with a high pass filter. This lets all the ‘high’ frequencies ‘pass’ through the filter cutting all of the low end. So you would set your high pass filter to about 60 or 70Hz (depending on your voice, and the microphone).
The exact same thing is true for the highest frequencies. At about 17 or 18kHz it’s just sibilance (the harsh frequencies that hurt your ears). So you would set your low pass filter at about 17 or 18kHz to get rid of those high frequencies.
Room tone can be a killer for the quality of your audio, if you’re recording in a big room, or if you have a condenser mic with no sound treatment, there can be a lot of white noise happening behind your voice. There’s an easy way to get rid of that, it’s called capturing a noise print. Highlight a section in your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) during a period where no one is talking and it’s just the sound of the room, then find where the capture noise print function is inside your DAW. Now that your software knows what your room tone sounds like, it can remove it in the rest of your recording! This really helps a lot if you are having trouble with a loud room tone!
If you’ve done the noise reduction process by capturing a noise print, and you are still having problems, or you have two mics in the same room and you are getting mic bleed, maybe try using a noise gate. A noise gate completely closes and makes your audio totally silent, whenever your audio goes below a specific volume that you set for the threshold.
Be careful to not overdo it with this effect, because it can start to sound really unnatural really quickly, but it can also REALLY help with cross chatter between microphones. This one was huge for my editing, so I didn’t have to go through and manually remove all of the mic bleed from each person's microphone.
Making sure your audio is even, is more important than you might think. While we talk, our voices naturally have a lot of dynamic range meaning, there’s a big difference between the quietest parts of us talking, and the loudest parts. Cutting that down is done with a compressor. It’s basically a dynamic volume knob, that activates every time your audio reaches a threshold that you set.
The settings you use for the compressor depend heavily on the audio that is in front of you, but hopefully I can make it a little easier for you. Generally you want to find the average level of your audio when you are talking at a medium volume. Set your threshold to somewhere around that level, so whenever it goes over that it will kick in.
Set your ratio to about 3:1, anything over that will start to sound unnatural and forced.
Set your attack and release to whatever you want. The longer the attack, the longer the compressor takes to kick in, the longer the release, the longer it takes to go back to non-compressed audio.
When setting your make-up gain, you need to judge how many decibels you are compressing your audio, and make up those decibels.
Before you even get to the compressor, I usually check for a few things in the audio. Sometimes there’s a spot or two where the audio has huge spikes, usually it’s something like a bang on the desk, or a loud laugh. In those cases before I do anything I chop those down to a more reasonable level.
I find the average of the highest peaks and use the hard limiter to cut those giant peaks down to where the rest of the peaks are. That’s going to make your life a lot easier when you are trying to compress, raise the levels, and make sure nothing is digitally clipping before you export.
It’s going to be weird or hard to understand at first while you’re fast forwarding your audio, but you will get used to it. It is DEFINITELY worth building this skill, it will save you loads of time in the long run, even if you don’t notice it at first. Hearing those chipmunk voices will be hard to wrap your head around, but keep trying and you’ll get better.
Cut on Consonants
If you, your guest, or your client stutter during speech, congratulations, you’re like most of us. It can be a little tough sometimes cutting through those stutters without sounding like the voice is being cut off. That’s where cutting on consonants comes into play. Find the hard consonant of the first word in the stutter, then find the same spot in the last word and fade them together. This was a miracle the first time I found this out, it made my edits so much cleaner and less noticeable.
Saving time in your editing process is a huge factor in what I am trying to do here. I believe there is nothing that saves you more time than finding your keyboard shortcuts and utilizing them. I was resistant to this for whatever reason for the longest time. I thought, “I don’t NEED those shortcuts, besides now that I have my workflow down, it’ll just slow me down”. I know, dumb mistake. Don’t make the same mistake I did, not only is it important to find all the shortcuts, but also to maximize your efficiency further, bind those shortcuts to keys you can reach easily with the opposite hand from your mouse.
Hopefully these tips will help you not only make your editing faster, but make them better as well!