Audio editing vs live to drive podcasting

Should you edit your podcast after you’ve recorded it, or mix everything together while you record? I’ll give you some pros and cons to consider.

Editing—the time-spender

As you know, post-production editing (which I’ll call “editing” from now on) takes a lot of time. It’s quite likely that it may take you several hours to edit a 30-minute audio recording; this could be even longer if you produce a video podcast.

There are essentially three reasons for editing.

  1. Enhance quality—noise removal, equalization (EQ), compression, color-correction, etc.
  2. Fix mistakes—deleting, moving, etc.
  3. Mix in extras—intro and outro, background audio, sound clips, B-roll footage, lower-thirds, segues, etc.

Each of these improve the overall presentation of your podcast and are often necessary. But doing all of these things after recording adds a lot of time between presentation and publication.

Pros

  1. Cheap (or even free)
  2. Easy to find help
  3. Total control over every detail

Cons

  1. Takes a lot of time
  2. Takes a lot of knowledge/learning

Live-mixing—the money-spender

If you record “live to drive”—or “live mixing,” as I like to call it—then your workflow can be drastically simplified. But this simplification can come at a higher cost.

There are four main areas you would want to consider spending money in order to save time.

  1. Core quality—microphones and video cameras
  2. Abilities—mixers, extra devices, external recorders, and other accessories
  3. Enhancements—processors, lighting, studio setup, etc.
  4. Production—audio- and video-editors, plugins, etc.

Investing into each of these areas can save you from spending time fixing things.

Pros

  1. Fast production
  2. High quality from the start
  3. Smooth flow (with practice)
  4. Setup and forget

Cons

  1. Can be expensive
  2. Takes more time to setup in the first place
  3. Potentially lose some flexibility

Can you afford the time, or the money?

Consider a few common problems and how they could be solved with either time or money.

Audio or video quality

You could record with cheap equipment and then spend time enhancing everything to sound or look better. Or you could invest in high-quality equipment and get a great recording right from the source.

Also remember “garbage in, garbage out.” You can enhance garbage audio or video to be a little better, but it will never be anywhere close to high quality.

Abilities

What can you do in your podcast?

You could use a cheap USB headset and scramble when you want to add a regular cohost (patching cables together, using software tools, or recording a double-ender). Or you could invest in a mixer and simply plug in an extra microphone whenever you need it.

You could use a single video camera to fake a multi-camera shot by pausing and reposition or zooming and losing quality. Or you could invest in a second camera and a video-switcher and never have to break your flow.

You could record into a computer and risk losing a recording or relying on a noisy computer. Or you could invest in an external audio recorder for simple (and even mobile) recording.

Enhancements

You could try to record at just the right time of day and weather for good lighting, or spend time trying to enhance the lighting and color in software. Or you could invest in some lighting to get a much nicer picture from the start.

You could record in just any room and have to spend time removing background noise or reverb. Or you could invest in some simple sound dampening

You could point your camera anywhere and either deal with a disgusting backdrop or spend time in fancy software making a virtual backdrop. Or you could setup an attractive studio or invest in a green-screen.

You could use an audio-editor to enhance your audio with EQ and compression. Or you could invest in a compressor/limiter/gate to prevent microphone crossing, record at consistent volume levels, and eliminate audio clipping.

Production

You could struggle with free or cheap software to edit the way you want, and spend lots of time trying to make it do what you want it to do. Or you could invest in better software that does more for you or makes it simpler.

You could hack together different WordPress plugins (after spending time finding them) to get most of what you want, at a potential security or performance risk on your website. Or you could invest in a WordPress plugin that does it much better and easier.

Cheap, quick, and quality—pick two

We need to be reasonable. We can’t make a high-quality podcast quickly and for little money. I have chosen to make things as quick and high-quality as I can, but this comes as a higher investment.

When I first started podcasting, I chose to cheap and quality, but it would take me hours and hours to release a single episode.

Sometimes—I’ll admit it—I reach for cheap and quick/easy, but then the quality suffers.

Where are you with your podcast? What have you chosen to invest in or shortcut?

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Disclosure

This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

12 comments on “Post-production editing vs. live-mixing (podcasting workflow) – TAP145

  1. Great show Daniel! Spookily, I was just in the middle of writing you an email to suggest a show on the very subject when the episode appeared in my aggregator!

    I have tended to go for cheap and high quality, sacrificing speed. I’ve been told my shows sound fantastic, and am getting great listener figures, but in the year and a half since I’ve started I’ve produced 10 episodes. It just takes too long in post prod as my show is very heavily edited/enhanced. I use GarageBand and a USB blue Snowball microphone.

    So your show really hit a note, especially as I’ve decided to take my podcast a lot more seriously. Which means, for me, spending some money!

    So, on my shopping list I have a microphone arm, shock mount and pop guard. I want to add a second mic to the mix and that’s where I come to a halt.

    Ideally I’d like to keep the USB mic as my second mic, get a new one for my main and buy myself a mixer (also use iphone input for Skype and ipad input for carts). With mixers, do they allow for USB in? The $35 mic you recommend is £70 ($114) on the UK Amazon site!

    1. Too bad I didn’t have your email in time to mention you in this episode.
      The only USB mic I recommend is the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB because of its quality and versatility.

      No, there aren’t mixers that allow you to connect a USB mic, but you may be able to find a USB-to-XLR converter. This could be almost as expensive as a new mic.

      1. Thanks Daniel, I’ll start looking into XLR mics I think. Will search through your show archives to look for suggestions.

        1. What’s your budget for each microphone?

          1. I’d like to eventually get one Heil PR40 in a few months, but need something to get me started. I’m looking at getting 2 mics to start with.

            Unfortunately, the ATR2100 costs about US$170 in the UK! So was thinking of maybe the 3 pack of Behringer 1800s for $70. This should be quite an improvement from my current Snowball usb.

            So, my initial budget would probably be up to $170 for 2 mics, bearing in mind I’d be upgrading to a PR 40 at some point.

          2. You could look at the Nady SP-1 3-pack. They’re a lot cheaper than the Behringer.

            For a mixer, I recommend the Behringer X1204USB.


            Sent from Mailbox for iPad

          3. Thanks Daniel, again the Nady SP-1 is difficult to get in the UK, so will probably go for the Behringers, as they’re stocked in the UK. The X1204USB was the mixer I was looking at.
            Thank you so much for the help!

  2. Carlos Gabriel says:

    Great stuff. I think that the technical details can get more daunting when in post production. But the performance level required to do it all well in one shot is a crasftsmanship that resembles that of a professional actor on a set. Especially when one is dealing with mouse and keyboard movements, referring to screencasts.

    1. Great insight! Doing it well really invokes a decision of where you focus your energy.

      Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

  3. Anton Sam says:

    Best range of online sound mixing and mastering services are available at CLFsound

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