Advanced audio editing will be covered in future specializations, so stay tuned!
Recording and Editing
Hi, this is Corey from Podfly Academy. Hopefully, by now we feel comfortable enough with our physical equipment to start looking into the digital realm of audio recording. Today we're going to be focusing on a DAW, which stands for Digital Audio Workstation, called Audacity. There are a wide variety of these available on the market, but we're going to look at Audacity because it's simple, it's free, and it's compatible with all computer operating systems.
Recording Into Your Computer
We've taken a quick look at the physical setup required to get the audio from the microphone into your computer. The next step is now looking at how we're going to actually record that audio in the machine. Whether you have a Windows PC or a Mac, they both come with audio recording programs built-in.
However, for podcasting we usually want something a little bit more sophisticated, as we're going to need to edit that audio. Let’s take a look at one of the most popular programs for podcasters when they get started, because it's free. This is called Audacity.
The program Audacity has been around for many years. It's a free program because it's something called open-source. That means anyone can develop, improve, and work on this program. Downloading it is as simple as going to audacity.sourceforge.net and get the Mac or Windows version.
Now that I’ve installed Audacity on my computer, I want to select both the input and output that I'm going to be using. Notice at the top I can choose my input device. In my case, I'm using something called a Scarlett 212 USB interface. Your USB interface or microphone will appear in this menu after you've installed it. In this case, I'll click on Scarlett 2i2.
I'm also going to listen back to my audio through the headphone jack on my USB device. So in this case, I want to select the same device. To the right, I have the opportunity to select whether my input is going to be mono or stereo. If I have one microphone plugged in, I want to select mono. Above this there's a little microphone icon where I can select enable or start monitoring. Notice you see here now that I am able to see my input going into Audacity. We want to stay at the negative 12 db or just slightly above level, since we've adjusted our microphone gain before we opened Audacity, we have a great level going in.
The most important part is to make sure that level never clips. Another consideration is you don't want your level to be too low. My levels going in right now look great and you want yours to look similar. Recording your voice now is as simple as clicking record.
As I record my voice, you can see that a wave form is appearing. This is a visual representation of audio. To stop the recording, I simply press stop.
At any point I can playback any part of the audio I recorded. By clicking in the project where I'd like the playback to start and pressing the spacebar, you'll see that I can playback through the audio.
Now that we are successfully recording our voice into our DAW, it's time to look at manipulating that audio. Quite often we have ums, and ahs, and breaks, and mistakes that we want to edit. These are very simple functions within Audacity. The great news is a lot of these skills that we're learning today are transferable to other programs as well, whether you're using GarageBand or Adobe Audition or Logic Pro. Any of the DAW's have a very similar layout and a very similar set of commands. We'll be looking really in depth at these down the road in specializations, but today let's make a couple of quick edits in Audacity.
I'm going to do a simple read and I'm going to make an intentional mistake. This mistake I'm going to repeat and then edit out. I'm going to click record and start my take:
“I would like to welcome John Smith to the program today. Take Two. I would like to welcome John Smithe to the program today.”
I've mispronounced the name of my guest, I thought it was Smith, but it's actually Smithe. So now I need to get rid of or delete the audio where I've made a mistake. So let's go to the point where I made the mistake and have a listen. By pressing space bar, I can play the audio.
I obviously do not want to have my first take or where I said take two. This is now as simple as grabbing and highlighting the area and pressing the delete key. Now the audio is gone and I only have the take that I want.
“I would like to welcome John Smithe to the program today.”
In some cases we make a mistake during the recording process or the interview. We needed to look up a piece of information or simply stumbled over our words. When you're recording, all you need to do is take a quick pause and start again.
I'm going to make a really simple mistake during my recording and then I'm going to edit it out.
“I think it's great that you're here today, ummmm....John Smith, I appreciate you coming in.”
Notice that I made an intentional mistake in the middle of the recording, where I forgot the guest's name. Editing this is quite simple. Again, I can listen to where that point is, highlight the area that I want removed, and click delete. Notice that mistake is now gone.
“I think it's great that you're here today…..John Smith, I appreciate you coming in.”
If I want to fine tune this edit, I can magnify in closer and make what we call a tighter edit.
“I think it's great that you're here today John Smith, I appreciate you coming in.”
As you become more comfortable with the editing process, there are a couple keyboard shortcuts that we recommend you learn. We noted during this processes hitting the space bar stopped and started the playback. Highlighting the audio and pressing the delete key obviously gets rid of audio. But sometimes we make an edit, and we listen to it and we don't want it. Undo is as easy on a Mac as hitting Command + Z or Control + Z on a PC. Another important keyboard command to remember is Control + S, or on a Mac, Command + S. This saves your audio and saves your work.
In many cases we do a long audio recording and our computer suddenly crashes. In these cases we can lose minutes or sometimes hours of audio recording and editing. Getting in the habit of every other edit you do, hitting Command + S or Control + S means that if your computer goes down, you've not lost your audio or your work.
Today we went over some of the most basic functions of getting a microphone connected to your computer, recording that audio, and doing some basic editing. We strongly recommend you spend some time before you even think about recording your first show getting familiar with your gear. Understanding how you to use your microphone can save you hours and hours of time editing down the road.
We've seen a lot of podcasters setup, record, and then find at the end the audio quality is not good enough for release. Doing a couple dummy episodes to get comfortable with the way that it works is not only going to help you with your voice training and help you with your recording, but it's going to ensure that you don't waste time every time you setup your microphone.
Some of these DAWs can seem a little bit complicated at first, but once we get comfortable with them we see the basic functionality of them as relatively easy to master. Some rookie mistakes tend to happen though when using these DAWs. We want to make sure that we definitely have the right microphone plugged in and that we have the right sound sources. We at Podfly have seen many times people recording their podcast and end up realizing that they were using their laptop microphone or something else. This can be a complete waste of audio and a terrible waste of time.
We strongly recommend that you create a checklist for the beginning of each and every show. Checking to see if your microphone is plugged in correctly, that you have the right input, and more. This checklist can save you hours of time and tons of headache. Look in the specializations down the road in creating these checklists and how to make sure you have the right equipment setup each and every time you record.