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Podcast Editing and Post Production: How to Edit Like a Pro

Introduction

While good podcasting begins with solid content and conversations, skillful post-production editing elevates episodes to shareable quality. Seamlessly stitching together segments, removing filler, leveling audio and adding effects polishes rough recordings into engaging listens. For new podcasters learning production, editing often proves the steepest learning curve. This guide provides a thorough overview of best practices for editing podcasts to achieve professional-tier results even working in entry-level software like Audacity or GarageBand.

Why Editing Matters

Unedited podcast audio risks:

  • Rambling tangents and focus drift
  • Distracting filler words like “um” and “uh”
  • Awkward pauses and dead air
  • Audio level inconsistencies
  • Background noise
  • Unclear transitions between topics
  • Clipping and distortion issues
  • Overly lengthy episodes harder for listeners to complete

Careful editing eliminates these amateur touches for tighter content.

Editing Equipment Essentials

Recommended gear:

  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Software
    Tools like GarageBand, Audacity, Adobe Audition, Pro Tools etc.
  • Recording Interfaces Allows connecting mics and instruments to your editing computer.
  • Monitoring Headphones
    Quality headphones to identify subtle audio flaws.
  • Media Storage External hard drives for asset storage and backup.
  • Microphone and Cables For recording narration tracks and voiceovers.

While editing requires minimal gear to start, equipment upgrades vastly expand creative possibilities over time.

Podcast Editing Checklist

Processing workflow:

[] Import Raw Files

[] Reduce Introduction Length

[] Tighten Transitions Between Segments

[] Standardize Audio Levels

[] Reduce or Remove Filler Words

[] Fix Any Distortion or Clipping

[] Add Backdrop Music Bed

[] Insert Sound Effects or Audio Clips

[] Add Custom Introduction and Outro

[] Apply Compression and Equalization

[] Export Final Audio

Follow these universal editing steps for consistent professional results on each episode.

1. Import Raw Audio Files

Bring in unedited recordings:

  • Create New Multitrack Project Leave headroom above peaks to adjust levels.
  • Add Interview Audio Drag in guest track(s) to discrete channels.
  • Add Narration/Music Tracks Import intros, outros, sound beds etc.
  • Verify Syncing Lines up properly, adjust offsets if needed.
  • Label Tracks Name channels logically like “Host” or “Guest 1”.

Organized multi-track sessions simplify editing workflows.

2. Reduce Interview Length

Trim exchanges to highlight best moments:

  • Completely Remove Irrelevant Tangents Don’t leave in filler that distracts.
  • Tighten Wordy Explanations
    Cut portions where guests ramble or repeat points.
  • Delete Interruptions Remove coughs, outside noises, interrupting speakers.
  • Shorten Silent Pauses Slice extended awkward empty gaps in dialogue.
  • Jump Cut Around Filler Words Delete filler phrases like “you know”, “um”, “like”.

Keep only interview content moving the core narrative forward with purpose.

3. Tighten Transitions Between Sections

Smoothly stitch segments:

  • Use Crossfade Filters
    Short fade ins/outs connect ending and starting points cleanly.
  • Layer Host Narration
    Introduce next scene change or topic verbally.
  • Include Sound Effects
    Subtle transitions like a drum sweep or whoosh sound.
  • Adjust Volume Gradually Automate levels down or up as segments change.
  • Apply Equalization
    Alter EQ moving out and into sections.
  • Utilize Room Tone
    Add a bed of consistent background noise.

Thoughtful transitions between interview clips immerse listeners in the flow.

4. Standardize Audio Levels

Correct inconsistent volumes:

  • Target Loudness Level
    Ideal is -16 LUFS integrated measurement.
  • Set Peak Volume
    Max should hover around -1dB. Limiters help control.
  • Compress Dynamic Range Make loud and soft sections closer in volume.
  • Normalize Clip Volumes Match multiple audio files at same relative levels.
  • Keyframe Automate
    Draw volume envelopes to smoothly ride levels.
  • Limiters/Compressors
    Use sparingly to rein in peaks without distortion.

Consistent levels sound professional and keep listeners comfortable.

5. Reduce or Remove Filler Words

Delete distracting verbal tics:

  • Generate Strip Silence List Auto-flag all silences for scanning.
  • Strip Small Gaps
    Delete spaces under 200ms-500ms.
  • Listen at 1.5x Speed
    Filler words stand out for easy cutting at faster playback rates.
  • Search Edits
    “Um”, “uh”, “like”, “you know” etc.
  • Natural-Sounding Joining
    Avoid choppy transitions when joining deletes.

Judicious editing removes filler words without butchering natural phrasing.

6. Fix Any Distortion or Clipping

Repair overloaded audio:

  • Check for Peaks
    Look for waveform flattening indicating clipping.
  • Rerecord Clipped Portions
    Have guest re-read distorted lines cleanly.
  • Local De-essing
    Reduce sibilance only in affected portions.
  • EQ Notching
    Surgically cut resonant over-boosted frequencies.
  • Noise Reduction Eliminate artifacts and hum without altering dialogue.

Addressing distortions and clipping during editing makes the audio more listenable.

7. Add Backdrop Music Bed

Subtly enhance mood:

  • Search Royalty-Free Libraries Find licensed tracks fitting show genre and tone.
  • Compose Original Score Commission a custom theme and background tracks.
  • Mix Appropriate Volume Music should augment, not distract from narration.
  • Crossfade With Interview Audio
    Overlap and transition between clips smoothly.
  • Divide Into Layers
    Distinct melodic motifs, rhythmic loops, percussive accents for mixing and arranging.
  • Ducking Effects Automate music volume down while voices speak.

The right underscore enhances energy and engagement.

8. Insert Sound Effects or Audio Clips

Augment key moments:

  • Real World Sounds Cars, crowds, doors, weather appropriate to the scene.
  • Risers and Impacts
    Punctuate significant moments.
  • Re-enactments Perform and record dramatizations of events described.
  • Archival Audio News reports, old speeches, reference media etc.
  • Music Stings
    Orchestral accents and smart sound design.
  • Environmental Texture Coffee shop chatter, city ambience etc.

Effects embellish narratives for more vivid listener immersion.

9. Custom Intro and Outro

Unique branding bookends:

Intro Options

  • Host(s) introduce theme and episode number
  • Music theme song establishes vibe
  • Montage of episode clips
  • Sound design builds energy

Outro Options

  • Recap key takeaways
  • Cue up teaser for next episode
  • Offer call to action like rating show
  • Musical theme plays out

Craft introductions and conclusions with consistent structure, length and style.

10. Apply Compression and Equalization

Refine audio fidelity:

Compression

  • Tighten dynamic range
  • Add punch and presence

Equalization

  • Reduce harsh resonances
  • Boost warmth and clarity
  • Match frequency profiles across segments

Avoid overprocessing. Touch up only where needed to retain a natural sound.

11. Export Audio File

Deliver final audio:

  • Lossless Format Preserve quality like WAV or AIFF.
  • Target Bitrate
    192 kbps mp3 offers good results.
  • Meta Tags
    Fill in ID3 tags like title, artwork, podcast name.
  • Chapter Markers
    Allow skipping between sections.
  • Loudness Targets Normalize loudness, don’t just maximize volume.

Follow your podcast distributor’s specifications for uploaded file formats and maximum lengths.

Additional Polish

Optional advanced editing techniques:

  • Noise Reduction
    Remove constant background hums like HVAC noise.
  • Compression
    Add warmth and level out volumes. But avoid over-compressing.
  • De-essing
    Tame harsh “S” and “T” consonant sounds specifically.
  • Hard Limiting
    Curtail sudden transient peaks.
  • Noise Gating
    Silence audio when guests stop speaking to cut background noise.

Use effects judiciously and sparingly to retain a natural sounding end result.

Podcast Editing Resources

Guides and videos to learn:

  • Lynda.com Courses Expert video tutorials on editing workflows.
  • YouTube Tutorials Search software-specific editing instruction.
  • Books on Audio Editing Thorough reference manuals like “The Ultimate Podcasting Guide” by Paul Colligan.
  • Tutorials in DAWs Built-in lessons within editing programs.
  • Podcasting Communities Ask other creators and review examples.
  • Audio School Classes More advanced academic training opportunities.

With study and practice, podcast editing transitions from chore to creative opportunity.

Conclusion

While great content provides the foundation, meticulous editing elevates podcasts to professional caliber productions. Heed common amateur mistakes and learn established workflows leveraging the right software tools. Don’t settle for scattered raw recordings. With time and practice, you can consistently craft tight engaging episodes worth sharing. See editing not as a utilitarian step but artistic enhancement bringing your vision fully to life.

By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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