Back to basics! Learn what you need to edit your first podcast and some tips you may have missed if you’re already podcasting with Audacity.
- Download and install the latest version of Audacity.
- Download and install Chris’s Dynamic Compressor (optional, but recommended).
- Use an external mic.
- Ensure that Audacity has the right input selected from the device toolbar. Try a couple tests.
- Press the Record button or the R key to start recording.
- Press the Pause button or P key to temporarily suspend recording, but not completely stop it. You can’t edit while paused.
- Press the Stop button or Spacebar to stop recording.
- If you stopped your recording and want to start again from where you left off (called Append Record) without creating an extra track, hold down Shift as you press the Record button or press Shift-R.
- Press the Record button or R key again to record a new track.
- Go to Transport menu and enable Overdub if you want to hear previously recorded tracks while you’re recording new tracks.
Into an external device
- Follow your device’s instructions for connecting and recording. I recommend recording at 16 bits, 44.1 KHz, uncompressed WAV; or record in the highest-quality MP3 as possible.
- Download and install MP3 Skype Recorder (free for Windows) or Call Recorder for Skype ($20 for OS X).
- Follow the instructions for recording with your choice of software.
As a double-ender
A double-enderis when all cohosts record their own audio themselves and then the producer pieces them all together.
- Everyone download and install Audacity.
- Everyone follows the above “Into Audacity” steps.
- Everyone gives you their Audacity recording .aup and accompanying “-data” folder, or else they give you an exported file from instructions below.
If you didn’t record straight into Audacity, create a new Audacity Project from File menu > New (Cmd/Ctrl-N) and drag your recorded files into the project.
How to edit
- Activate the Selection Tool if it isn’t already.
- Select an area with one of the following.
- Click and drag.
- Click at the start point and shift-click on the end point, or vice versa.
- Expand any selection by moving your mouse toward its edge and drag left or right when you see the hand cursor.
- Perform an edit.
- Cut to clipboard with Cmd/Ctrl-X and paste somewhere else with Cmd/Ctrl-V.
- Copy to clipboard with Cmd/Ctrl-C and paste somewhere else with Cmd/Ctrl-V.
- Delete and shift the following audio with the Delete key or Cmd/Ctrl-K.
- Delete without shifting the following audio (Split Delete) with Cmd-Opt-K (OS X) or Ctrl-Alt-K (Windows). This is helpful in multitrack editing.
- Silence the audio without moving anything with Cmd/Ctrl-L.
- Trim everything but your current selection with Cmd/Ctrl-T.
- Move stuff around.
- Cut, copy, and paste as above.
- Split audio into clips by placing your cursor at a split point or selecting an area and pressing Cmd/Ctrl-I. You can also split this clip into a new track with Cmd-Opt-I (OS X) or Ctrl-Alt-I (Windows).
- Join split clips in a track by selecting through them and their space between and pressing Cmd/Ctrl-J.
- Move a split clip around by activating the Time Shift tool. This also works for moving a clip to a separate track.
What to edit
- Delete the silence at the beginning and end.
- Remove any “ums” or “uhs” if necessary. Remember that perfectionism kills podcasting.
- Shorten excessively long silences, but keep it natural and don’t make things sound mechanical. Effect > Truncate Silence can shorten these automatically, but don’t run this on multitrack projects.
- Remove mistakes that you self-corrected. For example, stumbling over words and then respeaking it clearly. Again, don’t be a perfectionist.
- Insert necessary clips such as corrections, sound effects, promos or commercials, or voicemail.
Perfectionism is an enemy to podcasting. So I recommend that you not get excessive with your edits and actually allow some “mistakes” or natural glitches. Some of them may be funny, all of them make you sound more human. Only remove distractions.
If editing multiple tracks
Editing a multitrack recording is a little harder because audio can get seriously misaligned with a single edit. There are a few ways to work around this.
- Use Audacity’s Sync Lock tracks so changes in one track affect the other sync-locked tracks. This only works if there isn’t something important in the other tracks in that selection.
- Whenever deleting audio, select across all tracks and press delete. This only works if there isn’t something important in the other tracks in that selection.
- Use Split Delete (Cmd-Opt-K or Ctrl-Alt-K) instead of delete, so audio isn’t moved when you edit. This is useful for editing something happening in one track while the audio in another track must remain.
- Activate and Envelope Tool to selectively increase or decrease the volume of tracks over time. This is perfect for adjusting intro and outro or background music and effects
- If editing a double-ender, bring your tracks together before you start editing each other’s audio.
Make it sound better
You can do many things to make your audio sound better. I recommend only using Chris’s Dynamic Compressor to even out your loud and quiet spots. You can also apply Normalization (I recommend a -1 value) on your sound clips to raise them to the same volume.
Audacity can make its own MP3s with LAME, but I don’t recommend it.
- LAME works best for music encoded at variable bitrate (VBR). This isn’t good for podcasting.
- Constant bitrate (CBR) is best for podcasting, but LAME’s CBR is terrible.
- LAME doesn’t accommodate mono files well when you set the bitrate. LAME will make mono and stereo both use 128 kbps when it should split the selected bitrate in half for mono (64 kbps).
iTunes is free software for Windows and OS X and it uses the Fraunhofer software for making MP3s. Fraunhofer is better at CBR, so we’ll use iTunes to make our podcast MP3.
- Download and install iTunes if you don’t already have it.
- Go to iTunes > Preferences (OS X) or Edit > Preferences (Windows).
- Under General, click Import Settings.
- Set Import Using to “MP3 Encoder.” Change the Setting to “Good Quality (128 kbps).”
- Press OK twice so you’re back to your library.
- Export your finished podcast episode from Audacity as a “WAV (Microsoft) signed 16 bit PCM.” There are no options.
- Don’t add ID3 tags, because you would tag your MP3 later.
- Import this WAV file into iTunes.
- Right-click on the file and click “Create MP3 Version.”
- Drag the resulting file out of iTunes so you can add the ID3 tags.
You’re done editing!
Now all you have to do put your new podcast episode on your website for people to download. I’ll address this more in a future episode.
New podcast about Once Upon a Time
We’re launching an exciting new podcast to talk about ABC’s TV show Once Upon a Time. We’re still in initial production, but watch for future announcements.
What do you do when you don’t feel like podcasting?
I’d like a future episode to share how we podcasters give ourselves a kick in the pants to podcast when we don’t feel like it, or how we refocus, or how we get new inspiration to keep going.
I can help you launch or improve your podcast
I'm available for one-on-one consulting to help you launch or improve your podcast.
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Find more podcasts about technology on the Tech Podcasts Network.
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- Beyond the To-Do List: Personal and professional productivity
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- ONCE: Once Upon a Time podcast
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