Any podcaster will tell you that what you’re really after, before you’ve built a strong podcast community around your show, and have gathered loyal listeners who eagerly await each new episode to drop, is a podcast that sounds amazing. High-quality audio is essential to a successful podcast, but great-sounding audio doesn’t just happen. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes in order to produce a stand-out show. We’re talking about the editing process. Expert editing can be the difference between a great show and an absolutely amazing show, but it can be a time-consuming endeavor, and you may not feel like you have the skill set you need to really do the job well. Enter, this post, which aims to equip you with some handy editing tips and tricks to help you improve the sound quality of your podcast. And because we only want to give you the absolute BEST editing advice, we’ve had our team of expert podcast sound engineers share their ultimate 10 editing tips to help amp up your podcast sound quality. Get your notebook, youriPad, your bullet journal, or whatever you use for serious note-taking ready – you’re going to want to write these tips down!
#1. Master Your Software
The first tip from our sound engineers, true to form, is to master your software. This is one of the best time-saving editing hacks out there! Whatever software you use (more on that later on!), if you can master all that your software can do, it will save you loads of time in the editing process. There is no need to over-extend yourself or overcomplicate things. Find a software that works for you, and put the time and work into mastering it. The time it takes for you to get to grips with all your software can do will pale in conparison to all your software can do for you in the long run! Your efforts will be rewarded in all the time you’ll save you whenever you sit down to edit, and, most importantly, the improved sound quality you will be able to achieve.
#2. Less Is More
Our next bit of sage advice is simply “less is more.” Or in other words, don’t overdo it! This tip is especially useful for those just starting out in the podcast industry. Start simple! This applies to all aspects of what it takes to put together a great podcast episode. It’s tempting to overcomplicate things and try do too many things, especially when it comes to editing. You may want to play around with effects and filters, embellish with sound effects, or clip the conversation with all your new-found software skills. And this is fine in moderation, but it can be very easy to cross-over from “well-produced” to “over-produced” and unnatural. Remember, natural conversation is the name of the game when it comes to podcasting and it’s what people will subscribe to. Overediting can lead to a final product that is frustrating to listening to, and will make it difficult for listeners to stick around for your amazing content.
#3. When Doing Interviews, Use Separate Mics
If you’re looking to get great sound quality for your interview episodes, the key is having a mic for each participant. Sharing a mic will give you an inferior-quality recording, as you and your guest will continually be leaning in and out to speak, meaning that the volume levels will be all over the place, and some parts of the conversation may even end up being inaudible. Also, we should all be social distancing right now, so sharing a mic is a definite no-no! Our sound engineers and editors also strongly suggest that you avoid using headphones that have built-in mics, as these tend to brush against clothing, causing unnecessary and unpleasant background noises on your recordings.
BONUS TIP: When it comes to interviews, we’ve got another great tip for you! An additional tip to help increase your sound quality when doing interviews is to simplify your recording space. If you don’t have access to a podcast recording studio, then a great alternative is to find a small room, preferably one that is carpeted and has curtains on the windows, that you can then set up to cater to recording your interview.
#4. Control Your Environment.
The next tip for always capturing stellar recordings for your podcast is for you to have as much control over your environment as possible. First prize would obviously be a professional studio, but our editing experts agree that you can definitely capture professional-sounding recordings if you pick an environment that you have a good degree of control over. Remember, you want to pick a room or space that is carpeted and has curtains on the windows, as these helps reduce the presence of any echos on your recordings, giving you a much “fuller” sound. Make sure the windows are closed to prevent any outside noise creeping onto your recordings. This control over your environment also extends to when you record. Pay attention to ambient noises at different times in the day and aim to record when your environment is the quietest. If there are times when there are lots of kids playing in their backyards, or there is a time when the neighborhood “canine choir” is particularly active, you should avoid recording during those times, as these additional noises will add extra hours to your editing time.
BONUS TIP: Don’t record outside or in public spaces…for all of the above reasons!
Related read: How To Create a Home Podcast Recording Studio
#5 Software is Important When It Comes to Remote Interviews
There are times, especially during the current situation, when you and your latest podcast guest cannot be in the same place to record your interview. When this happens, you will need to record your interview remotely, and you will need some specific software to help you do this successfully. And while there are many options available, when it comes to capturing high-quality audio remotely, not all software is created equal! Our engineers definitely have some favorites that they recommend for capturing that great sounding audio! Zencastr and Ringer get their coveted stamp of approval, as you can use these to record locally on each end. They are also user-friendly which is an added bonus! And what do they think you should avoid when it comes to remotely recording your interviews? Skype audio – as it just doesn’t give you the type of quality you are after for a great sounding final product.
BONUS TIP: If you and your podcast co-host are recording from separate locations, whether due to the pandemic or other logistical reasons, but you still want to capture high-quality audio, as a bonus tip, our podcast editors recommend that you and your co-host use the same type of microphone. This will help your audio sound the same, and make the task of editing that much simpler.
Related read: How To Successfully Record Your Podcast Remotely
#6 Beware of Background Noise
One of the biggest obstacles between you and a great sounding podcast is background noise. This could be anything from the hum of an AC to your neighbor listening to Billie Eilish (again) at high enough a volume that your podcast microphone picks it up. (Refer to Tip #4 for the solution!) But “background noise” could also be caused by the way you speak into your microphone. The solution? Our sound engineers highly recommend the use of a pop filter. A pop filter is a type of screen that acts as a noise protection filter for microphones. They can help greatly reduce the “popping” or “whooshing” sounds that can occur as you’re speaking into a microphone.
#7 Watch Your Words
Specifically, we’re talking about those pesky “filler” words that tend to creep into our conversations. Words like “yeah”, “like”, or the infamous “uhms” or “aah okays” are not a problem in moderation, but if you find you’re spending a whole chunk of your time editing these out, you may need an alternative solution. One suggestion is to take a little time to script your podcast episodes. This doesn’t have to be word-for-word, a simple outline is often all that is needed to help keep your thoughts on track and not reverting to these types of fillers as you try to think of what to say next.
Related read: Top Tops For Scripting Your Podcast
#8 Be Prepared
This useful tip for getting top-notch, professional-sounding audio for your podcast episodes has nothing to do with the actual editing process. This tip focuses on what you do before you even hit “record.” According to our pro editors, what you do (or don’t do!) before recording can have a massive impact on your sound quality. They highly advise doing adequate preparation beforehand and not leaving everything until the last minute, especially if you will be recording with a guest. Take time before you are set to start to test your setup. Check your audio levels, listen for any background noise that may be making an appearance on your audio track, and make sure that the mic is set up to find it’s “sweet spot.” Again, this is especially important when there’s more than one person that is set to record, as you want the audio levels and sound quality of each participant to be the same, as this will make your editing task so much easier!
#9 Keep It Simple
In order to get the best sound quality for your show, our sound engineers recommend “keeping it simple” when it comes to the software you use to edit your podcast, particularly if podcast editing is a new challenge for you. They recommend starting with something easy. Audacity (for all operating software) or Garageband (for iOS users) are great options, and, better still, are free. There is also a great new player in the editing game: Descript. There is a fee involved for this software, but it’s intuitive to use and offers some great features to podcast editors. With a little practice in whichever software you pick, and a tutorial or two, you’ll be editing your episodes like a pro in no time!
#10 Don’t Overdo It
It can be tempting, especially if you’re just starting out, to try and get ALL of the equipment you think you need, and all the bells and whistles that go along with it in order to get a better sound quality. But our last editing tip is that you definitely don’t need to overdo it! When it comes to the equipment you need, our sound engineers recommend you put your focus on three things. 1. A good-quality, dedicated mic, 2. A good-quality audio interface – particularly one that provides adjustability for audio levels, and 3. A quiet recording environment. Nail these three things, and not only will your podcast sound quality greatly improve, but you’ll save yourself loads of time during the editing process!
Related read: Top Tools For The New Podcaster
And there you have it! The ultimate list of pro editing tips to help you nail your podcast recordings, get the absolute best sound quality on your podcast episodes that you possibly can and minimize the time you spend editing your episodes. When it comes to podcast editing, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make high-quality, well-produced podcasts sound effortless, but armed with these tips and tricks from some top sound engineers (we may be a little biased, but their work certainly speaks for itself!), you should find it that much easier to capture great audio, and produce a high-quality final product. So put these tips in place the next time you get ready to hit “record” and you’ll be sure to hear the difference!
Related read: Busting 7 Podcast Editing Myths