Good podcast editing can really boost the quality of your episodes. 🚀
In this blog post, we will go over key tips and tricks so you can ace it. We are also going to review some well known podcast editing software so you can get an idea of what options you have.
Remember, the best editing process and the best editing software, is whatever works best for you and your content! It is easy to find yourself in the mindset that need to learn all podcasting production features at a professional level. While learning is great, and podcasters naturally learn as they go, the important thing is to be realistic and enjoy producing good (not perfect) episodes! 🥰
With that on the record, let’s begin! 🧑🏫
Tips and Tricks
Silence can be golden, especially in fiction podcasts, well-being/self-help podcasts, and some interviews, especially if your topic is very serious. 🤫
However, silence is not something you want a lot of if your podcast uses a talk-show format. Of course, there will always be some dead air if you record a roundtable debate.
Your goal during the editing phase is to get rid of as much dead air as possible. Just be careful not to trim too tightly; your rhythm will end up feeling unnatural if you don’t give your speakers time to breathe. 🌬️
Similar to silence, music interludes can give your audience time to process what they just heard. 🧘
A music interlude is a few seconds of music without any person on the podcast talking. It is used to indicate a transition. It may be a transition in topics, segments, or even to and from an ad break.
To set yourself up for success for editing these into the episode, plan ahead. When you are putting together your show script or outline in the pre-production stage, note where you plan to have a music interlude. Otherwise you or your editor may struggle to figure out where to cut the segment and insert the music. ✂️
You can bypass this editing process altogether if you include the music interlude in the episode recording itself. This works great if you use an audio mixer during production. Ahead of time, program one of the buttons on the mixer with the music track you want to use. Then, when it comes time during the recording of the episode, press the button and let the music play and be recorded.
Keep in mind that you can use the same music track for your music bed (covered in the next section) and simply increase the volume during an interlude. Or you can use a different track altogether. 🎶
Music beds (sound tracks) are things you can add to your podcast to make it more interesting and dynamic and to help give it some personality. 💃
For free music sites, check out our blog post on the topic.
Just be very careful not to drown out the speakers with music or sound effects. You might need to adjust the volume throughout the episode; manually balance out the sections where you have music and speaking at the same time. ⚖️
This section can be a little louder than the rest of the episode, but not by much! If your listeners play two of your podcasts back to back, you don’t want to give them an unpleasant surprise when the beginning of the second episode is much louder than the end of the first one. 🙀
Also, be sure to keep this section fairly short and sweet. We recommend sticking to 20 seconds max. ⏲️
Mono vs Stereo Sound
Unless you are producing a fiction podcast and want to create an immersive experience for your listener, you do not need to use stereo sound for podcasting. Think about your listeners who might turn on your podcast before bed, with just one earbud in. It would be a shame for these people to miss out on half of your content, or the answers to your interview questions, all because you chose to separate your tracks. That is just an example, but in general, remember that people rarely listen to podcasts in optimal environments (while running, driving, or cleaning, to name a few). So, if your podcast’s format doesn’t really need stereo sound, stick with mono. ☝️
Eliminate Vocal Tics
“Um’s” and “uh’s”—these vocal tics are every audio producer’s biggest enemy and can be quite the challenge to eliminate from your vocabulary. 😈
So, why not “cheat” and get rid of them when you edit your podcast? It would be hard to remove every single instance, but cutting a few will make your recording sound much more professional and easier to listen to.
Focus on the ones that appear when someone begins to speak or those that are particularly long and drawn out. To make the most natural removal possible, fade out your clip right before the sound you want to get rid of, cut the “um,” and fade back in right after. 🌊
Don’t Be Afraid to Cut
A podcast editor has the tough job of cutting off parts of the beloved recording. Producers and participants work hard to create the content, so it is a tough job to decide what needs to go. 😫
It can be especially hard if you are the producer, participant, and editor all in one– you can get quite attached to every second of the content you made. 💔
Just remember that usually the shorter you make something, the more powerful of a punch it will have. Sometimes talking a lot about something just waters down the point you want to make.
Plus, you want to keep things moving along so you are constantly engaging your listener. 🚂
The bottom line: You will be tempted to keep every single part of an interview or whatever other content you are producing. It is rarely a good idea to do this. Fight the urge. Don’t be afraid to cut. 😤
Use an Editing Script
Today’s technology tools make it easier than ever to make an editing script. Be sure to make one! ✍️
What is an editing script?
An editing script is essentially the parts of the transcript you want to keep as part of the episode, in the order that you want them. It should include all the details an editor needs, including where to place music interludes, ad breaks, etc. Ideally, the person editing your episode should be able to edit the episode to its final version with the editing script alone.
Of course it is always good to have open communication for questions and suggestions, but a clear editing transcript does save everyone a lot of time and miscommunication. ⏱️
Usually the producer creates it because they are the ones most familiar with the content and the goals of the episode.
But even if you are a one-person production crew and do not need to worry about communication between team members, it is still helpful to put together a thorough editing script for yourself. It will help you remember why you made the decisions that you did when reviewing the raw recording. 🧐
How to make an editing script
To make one, first get a transcription made of your recording. There are lots of different services online that will do this for you for cheap. Some editing software programs have this as a built-in feature. 🤖
It does not need to be a high quality transcription. You are only going to be using this transcript internally for editing.
Then go through the transcription and delete the parts you think are unnecessary. Or, highlight the parts you think are necessary. Whichever way you choose is fine. Either way, when you are finished, delete the parts you are not going to use in the final episode. 🗑️
Be sure to keep the original time codes of the sections you want to use. That way, your editor (or you) can find the sections easily on the original recording track.
As you make the editing script, you may want to change the order of some of the things. That is just fine. Cut and paste and rearrange all you want. Again, just be sure to save the original time code. 👈
Once you have the parts you want to include, in the order you want to include them, do a read-through to see how long the edited episode will be. You may find that you still need to cut more in order for it to fit the time limit you have set for your episodes. On the other hand, you may find that you actually have enough time to include something you thought you were going to have to cut! 🥰
How to Succeed in Editing
If you stick to these tip and tricks for podcast editing, you will go far.
Like any skill, perfect practice makes perfect. Learn as much as you can. Ask for feedback. Listen to how other podcasters edit their episodes. 🤓
If you consistently do well on the fundamentals, you will become a pro.
Also, editors need to be organized and always have a back-up, just in case they need to revert to an earlier version. 🗃️
And remember, editors are not magicians. The quality of the original recording does truly matter. There is only so much that can be done after the fact. 🎩🐰🪄
The quality of the editing software available to an editor also plays a big role in their success. A good program can save you time and energy, while making your audio sound awesome. That is why for the next half of this blog, we are going to go over a few examples of podcast editing software.
Podcast Editing Software
Podcast editing software is software that allows you to cut, rearrange, and optimize the quality of your audio recording. 💪
Note: Do not confuse podcast editing software with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). A DAW is software that records audio, turning audio waves into digital files. Sometimes you will find that a software is both a DAW and a editor, but it is just helpful to know these are two different things. ↔️
Below we are going to review some podcast editing software products, describing them and their pros and cons. This should help you start to get an idea of what’s out there and what might fit your process best. 🧩
If you are looking for a program that can do your basic sound processing for you, Auphonic is a great choice. 🤖
You can also do things like add metadata to your podcast and convert it to lots of different formats with whatever sample rate you want.
But Auphonic’s nicest features (for podcasters, at least) are its four different audio processing algorithms: Adaptive Leveler, Loudness Normalization, Filtering, and Noise and Hum Reduction.
- Adaptive Leveler: Balances the disparity in sound levels between different speakers, music and voice.
- Loudness Normalization: Creates consistency in the perceived loudness of your podcast by compressing the loudest sounds.
- Filtering: Locates sounds with the lowest signal to eliminate unwanted noise.
- Noise and Hum reduction: Isolates background noise to remove it.
Once you have chosen, all you have to do is click “Start Production” and let Auphonic do the rest. You’ll get an email when your file is ready for download. 💆
Auphonic works for video files too.
The downside is that you do not have any real control over the edit. If you do not like how Auphonic’s artificial intelligence has edited your audio, you cannot request any changes.
The first two hours of audio each month are free, but if that’s not enough you can sign up for a paid plan (starting from $11/month for 9 hours of audio, and up to 100 hours for $89). 💵
Adobe Audition is one software in Adobe’s package of tools for creatives (Adobe Premier for video, Adobe Illustrator for graphic design, etc.). 🧑🎨
Audition is not intuitive or easy for a first time podcast editor. It takes some time to learn what you are seeing on the screen and how to use the tools it provides.
However, once you learn the basics, Adobe Audition can take you very far whether you are doing an audio-only episode or one with video. 📹
It has incredible audio cleaning tools paired with helpful visualizations of the sound waves. 📣
The software can handle a ton of tracks layered on top of each other, keeping even the most complicated project clean and organized. Its non-destructive process is a life saver.
For individual track editing, Adobe Audition has several keyboard shortcuts and you can quickly adjust volume levels within a track with the point tool. 🛠️
Then you can mix and master all the tracks together to get the perfect final file.
In terms of price, Adobe Audition does a subscription model. It costs $20.99/month. If you want to get it along with all the other Adobe Creative Cloud Apps, it costs $54.99/month. 💰
The biggest upside, or ‘pro,’ of Audacity is that it is free. It is an open source software that has been around for decades.
However, just because it is free, does not mean it is for beginners. You have to learn quite a bit about the fundamental concepts of editing and audio in order to understand its tools and interface. 🤓
For a long time, the biggest downside, or ‘con,’ of Audacity was that it had a destructive editing process. That meant that if you wanted to undo an action that you did a while ago, you would have to click the Undo button several times unto you get back to that action, losing all the work you did since then.
However, with the most recent version, it now finally has a non-destructive process. This is a huge step forward for the product. 👟
If you are doing video podcasts, this is still not the podcast editing software for you as it is audio-only.
If you are an audio pro looking for free ways to create your podcast, this is definitely a great option. 👍
Alitu bills itself as “Finally, a podcast editing tool that doesn’t make you feel like you need an audio engineering degree.” 😅
In the ‘pros’ column, Alitu intutive to use. For example, you can highlight sections you want deleted to easily remove mistakes.
And it does some editing tasks automatically:
- Matches file types
- Makes volume consistent across the episode
- Eliminates background noise
- Reduces plosives and sibilances (voice pops and hisses)
- Exports industry standard files.
In the “cons” column, you cannot really do a detailed editing job on Alitu. If Alitu’s AI doesn’t clean up or mix the audio well, you are out of luck. 💁
Also, Alitu’s package comes as a bundle. You have to buy its editing product as part of its comprehensive platform including its recording, hosting (limited downloads), AI transcripts, and royalty-free music. This can be an upside if you are looking for all those services, but it can be a downside if you already have these services elsewhere.
Alitu costs $38/month or $380/year and has a seven-day free trial. 👈
How to Succeed in Picking the Right Editing Software
The software listed above is only a few examples of the options that are out there for editing podcasts. There are many more. 🌈
And even the ones we have listed here are always releasing new versions with different tools and features. 🧑💻
Researching your latest options is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you pick the right program for your podcast:
- Ask other podcasters what they use.
- Look at customer reviews.
- Take advantage of free trials periods.
- Check to see if you can get any discounts or licenses based on being part of a certain organization or demographic.
The other super important thing to do when picking the right podcast editing software is to be clear about what your priorities and resources are. A classic way of thinking about this is looking at three areas:
- Is it fast? Does the editing software have AI features or other tools that can make the editing process go super quick?
- Is it good? Is the finished product going to have high quality audio, smooth cuts, etc?
- Is it cheap? Does the software fit in your podcasting budget?
Rarely in life do you get the perfect product that fits all three of these, and editing software is no exception. The important thing is that you weigh each based on what your vision and mission for your podcast is. ⚖️
And the nice thing about editing software is often it is easy to cancel your subscription to one and switch to another. If one is not working for you like you had hoped it would, no worries! Just try another one. You will find the perfect one for you! 💜
Have you edited your episode to perfection? Now it’s time to share your project with the world! Click ahead to the next lesson, where we’ll explain how to host your podcast and generate an RSS feed.
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