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Podcast Editing: How to Do It In 10 Steps (Complete Tutorial)


Podcast Editing: How to Do It In 10 Steps (Complete Tutorial)

The Tim Ferriss Show, How I Built This, The Daily—What do all of these podcasts have in common? Quality podcast editing. If you want to take your podcast to the next level, you’ll want to learn how to edit your podcast so it sounds professional. 

Podcast editing, sound design, mixing, and mastering are all separate art forms that take time and practice to master, but it isn’t rocket science. We’ll discuss what podcast editing involves and how to do it in 10 steps through this complete tutorial. You’ll produce a quality show that can stand up next to the pros.

Podcast Post-Production Process

Any podcast can be taken to the next level through editing in the post-production process. Part of that involves having the best podcast editing software to get the job done right. When you have the proper tools and make the right preparations, the post-production process becomes much easier, and you can transform your podcast from mediocre to truly great.

For the best way to edit a podcast, start with this video below and read on for 10 easy steps on podcast editing.

Stage 1: Podcast Editing

This part of the post-production process focuses on slicing and dicing the audio you've recorded and arranging it in a way that creates a compelling story for your listeners. 

#1. Define the Length of Your Podcast Episodes

Before you start making any edits to your audio files, you need to have a clear idea of how long your episode is going to be. This will guide you through the editing process and make trimming the fat out of your conversations much easier. 

Podcast episodes can last anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes in length. If you're just starting out, you may want to aim for about 20-30 minutes long. This will give you enough time to convey a full narrative to your audience, and you won't have to worry about losing listeners because of content dragging. You'll also save time in post-production if you're not producing long episodes. 

#2. Create a Compelling Story Through Podcast Editing

When you sit down to edit your podcast audio, keep in mind the story you want to tell. Focus on the most important content when editing and cut out what doesn’t really tell that story.

For example, let’s say you interview a professional in the movie industry. You want listeners to learn about what it’s like working in entertainment; celebrities they’ve met, the writing and filming process, how they got to where they are. When choosing the content that makes it to the final cut of your show, you should constantly be asking yourself: "Does this add to the story I'm trying to tell?". Some obvious things to edit out include any chatter before and after your show begins or random tangents, like the weather.

#3: Make Your Podcast Flow

When you edit audio for your podcast, make sure the conversation has a natural flow to it. When you commit to making these types of edits, just make sure you're always checking that your show still sounds natural and not over-edited. Here are a few tips to go by:

  • Edit out unnecessary words, moments, or pauses. 
  • Cut out discourse markers (you know', so) or filled pauses (um, er), so long as it doesn’t disrupt the natural flow of the conversation. 
  • Edit out extended pauses. 
  • Remove obvious mistakes or awkward moments, like if you speak over your guest or any loud coughs, sneezes, and background noises.

Stage 2: Sound Design

Sound design focuses on using audio elements to really play on the emotions of your listeners and enhance their overall experience while listening to your show. You can use tools like music tracks and sound effects to enhance your podcast. This area of post-production really takes some practice, as part of it involves taste, and another part involves understanding your audience and the content that they want.

#1. Create a Memorable Intro and Outro 

Stop and think about one of your favorite TV shows. One of the first things that you probably think about first is the show's theme song. Whether it's a certain jingle that you play at the beginning of your show or a couple of spoken words over music at the end to sign-off, having a unique intro or outro will have a lasting effect on your audience and can serve as great branding for your program. So make sure to add a unique intro and outro to make your podcast memorable. 

#2. Use Music to Enhance Your Podcast Story 

Themes from Jaws or Jurassic Park or a suspenseful track during a horror film—these are great examples of how music conveys powerful emotions. You can do the same in your podcast. Placing music strategically in your show will amplify storytelling. It can heighten the mood, add drama, and allow listeners to better connect with your guest and the story you want to tell.

#3. Use Sound Effects in Your Podcast Strategically 

Sound effects can spice up your podcast, like adding a “ba dum tss” drum after a joke. Just make sure you don’t want to overdo it. Having too many sound effects can end up distracting your listeners from your content and leave them with an overall negative experience. So you’ll want to find the right balance. If you need help figuring out how to use sound effects effectively, listen to how successful podcasts do it and experiment with how you use them. You’ll get a feel for what works with experience.

Stage 3: Mixing

Mixing focuses on audio quality and the more technical aspects of your podcast audio. During the mixing process, you go through all of your audio tracks and make adjustments to a number of elements like EQ, reverb, pitch, and track levels (more on all of this later) to get the best audio quality for your podcast. 

#1. Organize Tracks and Audio Clips

Before you start mixing, make sure your tracks and audio clips are properly organized. This will save you a lot of time throughout the mixing process. We recommend arranging your tracks in the following order to start:

1. Host Audio

2. Guest Audio

3. Room Tone

4. Music 

Once you have your tracks set up, make sure that each track has only similar audio clips. This means that all clips on the "Host Audio" track should be audio from you, all clips on the "Guest Audio" track should be audio from your guest, etc. 

#2. Improve Your Podcast’s Tone Using Equalization

While mixing, use equalization, or EQ, to adjust the balance of the frequencies in your recording. Adjusting EQ will make your audio sound more natural by removing high, unpleasant frequencies from your recording. We recommend cleaning up any tonal problems in your recording before you use a compressor, as compression can sometimes highlight tone issues in your recording. 

#3. Use a Compressor to Improve Podcast Sound

A compressor reduces (or compresses) the dynamic range of your recording. Using a base threshold, a compressor brings the loudest sounds and the quietest sounds closer together within a specific range so that your recording is easier to listen to overall. 

Without compression, the overall sound of your podcast could fluctuate in a way that's unpleasant for your audience. You probably noticed this sometimes in movies, when an action scene gets super loud and the dialogue sounds softer. You have to constantly adjust the volume. 

So how would this apply to your podcast? Let’s say you have a guest that speaks quietly compared to your loud co-host. Listeners would need to constantly adjust the volume. A compressor will equalize the levels between the two speakers so the listener doesn’t have to turn the volume up and down to hear everything comfortably.

#4. Use Noise Reduction to Give Your Podcast Clarity 

Unless your recording space is entirely soundproofed, you may pick up background noise in your podcast recording. You can take steps to reduce noise before you start recording, but it's almost impossible to eliminate unwanted sounds entirely. Some ways to reduce unwanted noise in your podcast include: 

  • Removing background noise: This noise can come from cars outside, equipment running in the background, or a noisy upstairs neighbor.
  • Employing de-verbing: Sound bounces off hard surfaces, which can cause reverb on your audio track. The best way to reduce verb is to have the right recording set up. If you still pick up some in your audio, you can reduce it during the mixing process. 
  • Removing Plosives and Essing: Having the right equipment, like a good mic with a pop filter, is probably your best defense against this type of thing. However, if your recording has plosives or a lot of essing, mixing is the point in the post-production process where you can remove it to create more professional audio.

Stage 4: Mastering

Mixing and mastering a podcast is pretty similar. The main difference? During the mastering step, you prepare your podcast for distribution. Mastering is all about putting the finishing touches on your podcast and polishing it up so that it’s ready for the world. 

During this step, you’ll listen to all of the editing that you've done and identify anything you may have missed. At this point, the “story” of your podcast should really flow. You'll want to adjust volume levels of all of your tracks, make sure they match up, and perform any additional EQ work. 

Do you need a DAW for podcast editing?

A DAW, or digital audio workstation, is a device or software that converts recorded audio into a readable format on your computer and gives you the tools to edit and process these audio recordings. Some popular DAW software you might be familiar with includes Audacity and Adobe Audition. 

Do you actually need one for podcast editing, though? Not, necessarily. 

Today, there are many podcast creation tools, some even allow you to edit podcasts online without having to download anything. DAWs are great for precise and detailed editing, but if a DAW seems too complex for you, the easiest way to edit a podcast is to use podcast platforms, like Riverside, with automated functions and features.

What Podcast Editing Software to Choose

Podcast editing software will function as your digital audio workstation or DAW. This is where you will complete all of the work on your podcast and produce the final product to share with the world. There are many options out there when it comes to podcast editing software. When shopping around, consider the following: 

Which operating system are you using?
This is pretty straightforward - you'll need to know and understand whether you're going to be doing your podcast editing on a PC or a Mac. Some software is only compatible with one system. Knowing which you plan to use will help narrow down your options.

How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
Podcast editing software comes at many different price points. We recommend spending a little extra in this area because editing can have such a huge impact on the overall quality of your podcast. That said, we know that paying for expensive podcast editing software. Start with a price point that works for your budget, so you get the best bang for your buck.

How experienced with editing are you?
Not all podcast editing software is created equal, and some are much easier to use and understand. If you have a lot of experience with editing, mixing, and mastering, you can probably use any editing software effectively. However, if you're new to it all, choose an easy-to-use software that doesn't have advanced features that can get confusing.

Best Podcast Editing Software and DAWs

As we stated, there are a lot of great options out there for podcast editing software and digital workstations. 

Here are some you can try out: 

Pro Tools (Free & Paid) 

Many podcast professionals use Pro Tools, and it's considered the industry standard for podcast editing because of the number of features that come with it. Although it can take some time to learn all of the features, you can go from beginner to pro gradually and keep improving your editing skills with experience. 

Pro Tools has a free version with more than 20 plugins that you can use to edit, mix, and master your podcast audio. If you’re looking for something more advanced and want to use the full platform, Pro Tools has two paid plans. The Standard version costs $29.99/month and the more advanced "Pro Tools Ultimate" is $79.99. 

Adobe Audition (Paid) 

Adobe Audition stands out when it comes to automation. You can set a template for the adjustments you want to make to your audio files. The podcast editing software adds the same edits to multiple files. This can make adjusting EQ and compression much faster across a large number of files. The software also has many easy-to-use presets, so you can add music, segues, and fades to your tracks. 

Adobe Audible costs $20.99/month for a subscription, or you can pay for a full year upfront and get a discount. Keep in mind that Adobe Audition is part of Adobe's Creative Suite, so you might already have access to it as a Creative Suite subscriber. 

Audacity (Free)

Audacity lets you perform any basic editing and mixing you need to do totally free of charge. It also has some sound design capabilities where you can add intros, outros, and music. Audacity is a great option if you’re new to podcast editing and want to learn a little before they make the commitment of paying for a subscription service. 

Anchor (Free) 

Although Anchor is more well-known as a podcast host, the platform has an online podcast editor and creator as well. Natively, Anchor has a rather simple podcast audio editor where you can arrange segments and add Spotify music. The platform is more for beginners and doesn’t provide much for more intense podcast sound editing. Recently though, Anchor released a Riverside integration to provide their users with a professional platform to create and edit video (and audio) podcasts. 

Hindenburg Journalist (Paid)

This software was created specifically for podcasters focused on great storytelling. Hindenburg Journalist has many automated features that make it possible for podcasters with all levels of editing experience to use it effectively. You can save time on editing by taking advantage of the auto-leveling and auto-noise reduction features. The software is intuitive with many automated features, making it a great choice for podcasters of all levels. 

The software is available at three different price points: $95 (Journalist), $375 (Journalist Pro), and $500 (HABC Narrator). The more you pay, the more features you get.

Related article: Podcast Editing Software: Which One To Choose In 2021

Best Podcast Software for Recording and Editing

Riverside video editor

Riverside gives you the freedom to record and edit content seamlessly on one platform. With up to 4K video resolution and separate recording tracks for all participants, you have full editing control. There's no need to use external editing software, though. Riverside's new video editor makes video editing just as easy as editing text, and we mean this quite literally.

Simply record as usual, and straight after you'll find an automated transcript of your recording in the video editor. With this transcript you can:

you can use these transcriptions in our editor to:

  • Cut audio and video: Any text you delete in the transcript automatically removes the corresponding video or audio content in your recording timeline
  • Navigate through your recording: When you select text in your transcript, the timeline playhead jumps to the exact point in your recording. 
  • Search for specific phrases in your video: Use the search bar to find a specific phrase in your transcript and timeline. With Ai speaker detection you can even skim search results by speaker to find any shareable quote much faster!

Our Ai transcriptions come in over 100 languages, so no matter what language you're recording in, you can edit effortlessly.

Once you've got a final cut, Riverside has automated tools for polishing your video. You can:

  • Create short social media clips at a simple touch of Ai with our Magic Clips tool. (This is a game changer, saving you time and effort!)
  • Adjust the dimensions of your recording to suit where you’ll be posting
  • Choose a layout such as a split-screen, Ai Speaker view, or grid view layout
  • Customize your background and add a logo
  • Normalize audio levels and remove background noise

You don’t have to worry about any files going out of alignment. Riverside’s multitrack sync, ensures all your tracks stay aligned no matter how much you edit.

Riverside offers both podcast audio editing as well as podcast video editing tools. It's the go-to solution for a seamless podcasting experience.

You can learn more about Riverside here, or you can sign up to start creating podcasts seamlessly.

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4 Edits to Make for Processing Audio for Podcasts

While some of these are covered above in our guide on post production for podcasts, these are 4 edits you should always make before your show goes live:

1. Trim

When you’re trimming down your podcast, make it focused so it fits your desired length. Be careful about clipping words or parts of a conversation you may actually need. Carefully edit to create a story, but keep in mind that the conversations should still sound natural. (They shouldn’t sound like they’ve been edited.)

2. Balancing

Make sure your podcast transitions well and that the audio tracks blend together. The audio clips have to transition seamlessly. Your show shouldn’t have big, sudden changes in volume from one audio clip to the next. 

3. EQ

Use a low pass filter to edit out high frequencies quickly. If you use proper recording techniques, it’s possible you won’t have to make any EQ adjustments at all. When you’re editing EQ, you can use a high pass filter to cut out any sound in the recording below 70Hz. (The lowest frequency that almost all human voices go down to is 80Hz.)

4. Volume Levels

Try to make everyone’s volume levels as consistent as possible to improve your audio quality. This way, your listeners won’t have to adjust their volume throughout your show in order to hear everyone. 

8 Podcast Editing Tips for the Best Way to Edit a Podcast

Post-production editing can take a lot of time, energy, and resources. By following these 8 tips, you can reduce the time you spend editing and improve your podcast’s sound quality.

Tips Before Recording

1. Have a Plan for Your Podcast

Go into your interview with a clear plan of how you want things to go. Having an outline of how you want your podcast to go and knowing what you want to ask your guest ahead of time will reduce awkward moments in your interview. 

2. Create the Right Recording Environment for Your Podcast

Record your podcast in a quiet room where you can close the door and reduce potential background noise. It’s important to understand acoustics - sound will bounce off hard surfaces in your recording space, which can cause reverb on your audio track. So try to find a place with carpet and upholstered furniture to record your podcast.

3. Get Quality Recording Equipment for Your Podcast

There’s a lot of equipment out on the market that can reduce the time that you spend in post-production editing and mixing. An example of this is a microphone with a pop filter that would drastically reduce the number of plosives in your recording. 

Tips During Recording

1. Use Good Mic Technique While Recording Your Podcast

Understand where your mic and your guest’s mic should be placed to get the best, most consistent audio while you’re recording. This will save you a lot of editing time when it comes to adjusting your audio’s volume levels and applying compression and EQ. 

2. Guide Your Podcast to Where You Want it to Go

Make sure you’re staying on topic as much as possible and make sure you’re keeping your guest on topic as much as possible while you’re recording. The more you stay on topic, the less you’ll have to edit out when you’re trying to edit for time and content. 

3. Record with reliable software

It's important that your recording software doesn't shut out midway or affect your recording resolution. If you're recording with online software, you'll want to make sure it offers local recording. Local recording captures everything directly on your device to keep your files safe from internet connection issues.

For a hassle-free podcasting experience, sign up on Riverside. With reliable local recording, high-quality resolution, and separate tracks, you can capture professional podcasts anywhere.

Tips After Recording

1. Listen to Your Podcast Once Before Editing

Listen to your recording once from beginning to end and note timestamps for where you want to perform specific edits, whether to remove background noise or add a sound design element. Listening to your recording once all of the way through will give you an idea of what you have to work with post-production so you can get a clear sense of the narrative you want to create. 

2. Don’t Over Edit Your Podcast 

When it comes to podcast editing, aim for a high-quality end product that doesn’t sound like you spent hours editing. Make sure you haven’t cut off words or created an awkward conversation flow while editing your podcast. Also, make sure sound effects enhance your podcast, instead of distracting from it. 

3. Listen to Your Podcast One Final Time

Before you send it out into the world, give your podcast one final listen. Make sure you’re listening for both technical and content elements to ensure it’s the final product you were trying to create. 

FAQs about Podcast Editing

Can podcasts be edited?

Yes, podcasts can and are often edited. Depending on your preference you can either go for basic edits or go full out when it comes to podcast editing. Some podcasters prefer to make small edits just to remove unwanted noise or to smooth out audio, whereas others add effects, background music and more.

Do podcasts need editing?

If you want to create a professional high-quality podcast, then you'll need to edit your podcast after recording. This involves fine-tuning your audio, cutting out content you don't want to include, and making sure your whole podcast sounds polished and smooth with some effects such as outros and intros. The same applies to video podcasts.

What makes a good podcast edit?

A good podcast edit involves making sure your audio and video look and sound clear. This could involve removing unwanted background noise or awkward pauses. It's also a good idea to make sure that wherever you cut out content there is a smooth and natural transition between cuts. If you record with good equipment and a reliable recording software, like Riverside, your podcast editing will be much easier.

Is editing a podcast hard?

With today's software and equipment it's much easier to edit a podcast! It's best to record with good equipment and a high-quality recording software in order to minimize the amount of editing you need in post-production. But don't worry! Even if you need bigger fixes, there is a lot of editing software, like Riverside's Magic Editor, that comes with automated tools to help you.

How can I edit my podcast for free?

You can edit your podcast for free with free podcast editing software. Based on what we’ve mentioned in this article, free podcast editors you can try include:

  • Audacity
  • GarageBand
  • Riverside

How much does it cost to edit a podcast?

It depends if you’re editing the podcast yourself or getting a professional podcast editing service to do it for you. If you’re editing your podcasts on your own your main expense is the podcast editing software you choose to use. This shouldn’t cost you at most around $30 per month. If you’re using a podcast service you may pay much more per episode.

‍How do you process audio for a podcast?

Audio processing is when you fine-tune and polish your sound so it’s crisp, clear and balanced out. This is an important step when it comes to audio editing for podcasts. We’ve covered audio processing for your podcast already above, but to recap you can do the following to process audio for a podcast:

Equalization: Also called EQ, this refers to balancing out the frequencies of your recording to make your audio sound more natural.

Compression: This helps to equalize the higher sounds and lower sounds of your audio closer together so the volume of your audio stays more consistent. 

Noise Reduction: This revolves around removing unwanted noises in your audio. You can use an automatic background noise remover and get rid of harsh sounds through removing plosives, de-essing and de-verbing.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to podcast editing, try not to overthink it. At the end of the day, your podcast should tell a story in a fun, interesting, and engaging way. Edit out distractions and include enhancements that make sense. You’ll release a show you can be proud of that keeps your audience coming back for more.

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