Better, ThankS to Podcast Editors

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Editing cannot be taught. Developing your own taste cannot be taught.

Ellen Datlow

How’s your summer? What have you been doing?

This PG article comes nearly a month late. Did you miss me?

Don’t answer that. 

As with podcasting, writing a blog post sometimes gets delayed. @#$% happens.

This summer, I’ve flown 4,948 miles. Make that 9,896 since I did eventually return from Honolulu, HI. My vacation included 4 nights of beach camping, completely unplugged, and it was delightful. Not checking email every 30 seconds is highly recommended. It’s good for the soul.

I’ve driven over 1,500 miles in recent weeks from West Virginia to Boston. ‘Tis the season for kids’ summer camps.

Those miles add up and the result was more than a vacation. It was a vacation from the blog. 

All this to say, “It’s better late than never.” I’m back.

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My daughter started editing podcasts this summer. In the picture, if you look closely, she is pointing out that after editing a 45-minute episode, her two interview tracks ended out of sync, the result of a ripple delete mistake. Oh, the joys of learning! We figured out where things went off, made the fix, and the episode sounds great.

Mentoring her on editing has reinforced my appreciation for all podcast editors. Editors make podcasts sound better!

What’s your editing philosophy?

Editing is about making editorial choices. Should the uh-huhs and yeses from the host be deleted? I think so. In my opinion, the host’s affirmations are not adding to the episode. Even worse, they could be distracting to the listener so I prefer to take most of them out.

Ums, ahs, and you knows? I used to surgically remove the majority of filler words. These days, I take out the really bad ones but leave many of them in. I’m balancing the risk-benefit of my time and rationalizing that I should honor the way we actually speak.

A host and guest speaking at the same time bugs me. Occasionally, it’s okay but if I can fix it in post by adding space — why not make it sound better? IMHO, as long as the edit sounds better and natural, I’ll make the edit.

No two editors edit the same. Also, there are podcasts that do not want to edit at all. There are others that are highly produced and edited. I’m middle of the road. Cut the junk and keep it conversational. 

Know your editing philosophy and stick to it.  

Audio Plugins

From compressors, equalizers, to noise reducers, pro-quality audio plugins are the miracle workers of podcast production. Well, of course, some tracks are so bad they can never be rescued, but good plugins are magical.  

Here are my recent favorites:

I usually add a little compression and use RX De-Plosive if needed. 

If you’re using plugins, which are your favorites?

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Rendering an .mp3

Let’s get controversial. 

  • Do you render in stereo or mono?
  • 256, 192, 128, or 96 kbps?
  • At what LUFs or perceived loudness level? 

Deciding how to render your .mp3 podcast episode is an attempt at striking the right balance between audio quality (bitrate) and file size. 

For most spoken work podcasts with a little intro music, 96kbps mono should be sufficient. For more highly produced shows or if you’re an audiophile, you might render in 128kbps stereo to keep the extra complexity of the background music and make sure it sounds good.

Many podcasters do not pay attention to LUFS or perceived loudness, but it can matter to the listener. Consistency of volume between shows or even episodes of the same show should not be taken for granted.

I’m told that setting your final episode LUFS level to -19 Mono or -16 Stereo is a good guideline. Some even say that it’s better to err on the side of louder (-14 LUFS) because it’s better to be the louder show than the quieter one.

Whatever your approach to editing, trust your ears. Don’t get bogged down in the technical settings or noise-reducing plugins. Simply strive to make your podcast sound better!

Do you edit your own podcast or outsource it? How much are you paying? Do you render at 96 kbps and at what LUFS level?

About the author

Andy

Andy is host of Inspired Money, named by Forbes as a Top 10 Personal Finance Podcast. He has conducted over 200 interviews as a host -- including booking, pre-interview research, and post-production. Andy has spoken at Inbound, Podfest, FinCon, Podcast Movement, and is co-founder of the Asian American Podcasters Association.

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By Andy

About

Andy

Andy is host of Inspired Money, named by Forbes as a Top 10 Personal Finance Podcast. He has conducted over 200 interviews as a host -- including booking, pre-interview research, and post-production. Andy has spoken at Inbound, Podfest, FinCon, Podcast Movement, and is co-founder of the Asian American Podcasters Association.

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