Podfly’s Corey Coates takes you through the first of a series of tutorials on anything you might want to know about setting up a podcast. These specialization videos will focus primarily on Adobe’s Audition software, but this particular one is all about the basics and how to get started. Learn how to position your introduction, remove annoying ‘ums’, turn a few stumbling sentences into a natural conversation and much more.
With over 45 minutes of step-by-step teaching, complete with pre-recorded audio clips and examples, you should hopefully come away with a lot of questions answered. That said, the Podfly Academy Team hope it’ll also leave you itching to find out more and really get to grips with this sophisticated piece of programming which could just change your life.
Once you’ve worked through all the tutorials, you’ll be the one answering everybody else’s questions!
0.25 – Adobe Audition is one of many DAWs, or Digital Audio Workstations which is gaining popularity among those in the audio production industry.
0.35 – Adobe is introducing the Creative Cloud; get the latest editions of the programs you need for a flat-rate monthly fee. What’s more is you can pick the subscription model that suits you.
1.25 – Getting Started: using recorded audio to assemble a podcast in Adobe Audition (Mac and Windows compatible)
1.45 – Recommended equipment and hardware by Corey Coates and Podfly is the Focusrite Scarlett 2I2 USB interface, used with a condenser microphone.
2.05 – Be sure to check your sound preferences in Audition so that the program registers the correct devices. Check that the default settings match the devices you’re using. More advanced teaching about buffer rates etc. will come in later tutorials.
Mac users: Audition > Preferences > Audio Hardware
Windows users: File > Preferences > Audio Hardware
2.55 – The best way for practicing recording audio is in a New Multi-Track Session. Sample rates will be discussed in a later tutorial so leave settings as default. Once the session opens up, select the appropriate microphone settings.
4.50 – Project Files: Intros, outros, teasers and any bumper music are vital recordings to have. You also need to ascertain if there is a host and one (or more) guests, and how the interview has been conducted, ie. via Skype through a recording program such as Pamela or eCamm.
5.37 – Setting up a Workspace: The Adobe Audition presets are great so only adjust them if you want to. Spoken-word podcasts function well at 44100Hz, 32 Bits and the Master mode set to: Stereo. Dragging in some of the tracks you intend to work with gives you an idea of how the project will look. Useful tips: rename your tracks to avoid confusion if you’re working with a lot, and always double-check your audio.
7.40 – Corey describes different ways to zoom in or out to increase or decrease the visibility of your tracks (useful for Windows and Mac users).
8.40 – Ordering and laying out tracks when you have a Host and a Guest so that it flows like a conversation.
9.25 – Being familiar with the host’s recording systems and preferences is important because you might need to alter the structure of your tracks.
10.32 – Enhancing Audio: It’s rare to find good quality, raw audio, so you’ll need to clean it up through equalizations, compression and noise reduction.
11.20 – Audition presents the audio in two formats: a linear waveform and a spectral analysis.
11.50 – Recording a section of audio before speaking allows audio engineers to see the levels of background noise your microphone is picking up.
13.05 – Increasing the volume in Adobe Audition is easy – simply use the relevant Amplitude Adjustment. You can use visual as well as audio cues to get it just right.
14.00 – Adobe Audition has a number of great plug-ins and effects. The ‘Amplitude and Compression’ option allows you to level out the overall volume by raising the lowest volume and decreasing the highest volume.
16.10 – Once the signal and environment are ready, you can create specific presets whose effects can be easily applied to later templates for convenience.
16.50 – More Tools and Track Controls: Within the Adobe Audition controls, there are some representative symbols: R (Record), S (Solo – for playing just one specific track) and M (Mute).
18.45 – As a lot of the editing you’ll be doing is ‘destructive’ – it’s actually changing the file – you might want to make a copy of each file and keep them in a separate folder of originals, just in case.
20.30 – Skype is both a help and a hindrance: the sound isn’t great, but it does a lot of the compression work for you.
21.50 – Positioning Audio: A useful keyboard shortcut is just hitting the Home button, which will take your cursor back to the start of the project. It’s also important to use the visual cues, because they can indicate if there’s a fadeout etc.
23.10 – Bumpers are used in podcasting as a piece of music to aid a transition from one section to another. Be sure to adjust the volume of the bumper so that it’s no louder or quieter than the rest of the project.
24.05 – The precise positioning of the bumper can change the effect – putting it directly after the speaker’s last word gives a snappy effect. Towards the end of the bumper, you can also create a fade so that it transitions cleanly into the next segment.
25.00 – Find a balance between the audio and visual cues. It can be tempting to just use the visual cues, but this is an audio production so neglecting to listen to what you’ve created can cause issues.
25.57 – Another thing Adobe Audition does so well is its Quick Fade Box. Compared to other programs, it’s so intuitive and gives a lot of options for creativity.
27.23 – Don’t underestimate the importance of saving as you go along. Although auto-saves can sometimes help in an emergency, it’s just not worth the risk.
28.40 – Fine Edits and Tricks: Particularly when using something like Skype, it can take a while to get used to the speed of conversation, so hosts and guests stepping on each other’s words is not uncommon.
29.55 – It’s fairly straightforward to remove these stumbles with the Time Selection Tool – you can delete whole sections, or use the V symbol to move sections around and tighten them up.
32.28 – The Time-Stretching Tool allows you to compress the amount of time that the audio occurs in, making everything sound a lot snappier. It grabs the listener’s attention far more effectively, and can even make your guest appear smarter.
33.40 – Editing Tools: For very specific splicing of audio segments, use the ‘Razor’ tool. After that, you can use the V or ‘Move’ tool to eliminate dead space and pull your audio together.
35.05 – When taking on the role of the interviewer in radio and podcasting, it’s important not to make the typical sounds we produce in natural conversation (“yeah, mm, uh-huh”). It needs to be a question-response-question-response situation. More interview skills will be provided in future specializations.
35.51 – Placing the Outro: The intro and outro segments are extremely important so make sure any audio preceding the outro is clean by using the Razor tool. Removing segments of speech is always a judgement call – you have to decide if the quality and content is good enough.
37.35 – All of the very specific cinching and manipulating can be done throughout the entire podcast. It’s definitely worth the work because of the amount of time your podcast is going to be public and available. Think about what it will sound like to listeners in a few years’ time.
39.50 – Multi-Track Mixdown: In order to distribute your podcast over the Internet, it has to be in a single file format. Go to ‘File and Export’ and then select ‘Multi-Track Mixdown’ to select the whole session. The best format for doing this is still, arguably, mp3.
41.03 – Some services (Buzzsprout and Libsyn, to name a few) base their pricing structure on the number of megabytes uploaded per month, so if using these, that’s something to consider when formatting your podcast.
42.23 – Even if the file size settings won’t show an audible quality difference to most listeners, a different bit-rate can have a more noticeable impact. It’s much better to keep it set as a constant bit-rate than a variable bit-rate. The amount of time your podcast takes to fully render down will depend on the file size and the speed of your processor.
43.08 – Saving a Template: You can save yourself a lot of time when it comes to future podcasts by saving preferences. For example, by creating markers, you can see just how long most people’s intros, outros and teasers are. When doing this, it’s important to hit ‘Save As’ and entitle it something like ‘Show Template’. Hitting ‘Save’ will affect the work you’ve just done, rather than creating a template. On a sub-conscious level, most listeners notice consistency in podcasts and a template is the ultimate tool for consistency.
45.35 – Summary: Don’t feel like you have to forsake your current program; just use Audition on the side and compare how the same podcast works in both to familiarise yourself. Keep an eye out for future specializations, which will be focusing upon the more advanced techniques you can use in Adobe Audition.
Adobe Audition for Podcasters.
Hey guys, this is Corey from Podfly, and today we’re going to be taking a look at, really, the gold standard of audio editing software used both in professional podcasting and broadcasting alike. Adobe Audition; you might have heard a lot of people speak about this DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation – this is not free; this is definitely a program that you have to buy. What’s really cool though, is Audition has something called the Creative Cloud, where now they’re experimenting with a subscription model, so you can pay as low as $20/month and have the latest copy of Adobe Audition on your machine, and that’s up to two production machines, I believe. Jumping into this software is going to be a little bit daunting at first, especially if you’re coming from the world of Audacity or Garage Band, but once we get a couple of the basic functions down, you’re going to see that this is really the way to go.
So let’s dive in. The first thing I really want to do today is just assemble a podcast, and then later down the road we’re going to be looking at doing some really fine editing within that audio. But today, let’s just do the most basic functions and take some recorded audio and assemble it in a podcast in Adobe Audition to see how the workflow is.
So here we are, guys, I’ve opened up my copy of Adobe Audition, in this case on the Mac. This is both Mac and Windows compatible. The first thing I want to do is I want to set up the audio hardware so that I can record into this and play back my audio. In this case, I happen to be using a USB interface, with a condenser microphone plugged into it – my USB interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 2I2, which is a really great piece of gear, and when we get into the advanced equipment down the road, I’m going to be showing you that. It’s the one that we use here at Podfly pretty regularly. The first thing I need to do is go ahead and check my sound preferences to make sure that I have the right device going in and out of the program. On Mac I go to ‘Audition’, and on Windows I go to ‘File’ to find ‘Preferences’, and then I can open up my audio hardware. Then within this I can see what my default input and output is going to be, and in this case I have it already selected as Scarlett 2I2 USB. Switch it to the Soundflower if you want, and display audio as Built-in Microphone, but in this case I’m recording in with this USB interface, and then default output I’m listening back. We don’t want to get too in-depth here in changing the buffer size and sample rate, but we certainly will when we get into some of the more advanced functions with Adobe Audition.
So let’s go ahead with that. Now that I’ve got this ready to go, I want to open up a multi-track session to practice recording my voice a little bit into it, so the easiest way to do it here is to click on Multi-track, and I’ll just create an untitled session on my desktop, or of course I can name it whatever I like. Maybe I’ll just call it Test-1 and I’ll leave the sample rate the same; we’ll talk about this a little bit more when we’re putting together our next podcast, but for now leave everything as default and just click ‘OK’. You’ll see what it’s done here is opened up a multi-track session, and I’m going to try and record my voice here on track number 1. The first thing I need to do is select my default input, and in this case it’s one microphone so ‘Mono’ will do. I’m going to select ‘Mono’, and then my Scarlett 2I2, and then my USB input 1. Now if you have, for example, a USB mic, like a Yeti or something plugged in, you’ll see that Yeti is there, and that’s the one that you’ll go ahead and select. So I’ll pick this particular mic, and then up in the track I’ll want to actually arm this track to record, by clicking on the R button, you’ll see that it turns red, like a record light would, and I have my meter going because my voice is coming in. To start the recording, as I would in Audacity, I just hit record. [Start recording] Now I am recording my voice. Doesn’t that sound amazing? [End recording] And I’ve recorded my voice, now I can go ahead and just click the ‘Home’ button, which takes me all the way back to the beginning and I can play that back. [Recording] Now I am recording my voice. Doesn’t that sound amazing? [End of recording] So now I can manipulate my audio, move it around and do all kinds of great things as I normally would in a DAW, and we’re going to look at that in a moment, but I just wanted to show you guys how to get your audio hardware set up so that you can record your tracks into Audition.
Next we’re going to take a look at a project file where we’ll have all of the tracks pre-recorded and we’re going to bring them into this workspace in order to create our podcast.
Okay guys, let’s put together a simple podcast. I’ve got on my right-hand side a couple of segments which we’re going to put into this project window. I’ve got an introduction, an outro and a little bumper music we’re going to use as a transition. In this particular case, the host has recorded a teaser – a section about 1-3 minutes long which goes ahead of an interview to let people know what’s going to be coming up. We’ve got this particular host recording an interview via. Skype and using a program such as Pamela or eCamm Recorder, and we have those two split into Host and Guest, so we’ve got quite a few tracks to work with here, so let’s go ahead and open up a project.
Setting up a Workspace
One of the quickest ways to get a project going in a multi-track session, if you don’t already have a template that is, is to just click on this quick link to multi-track. I can go ahead and create a session – I’ll call this a Test Session, and I’ll just put it on my desktop so it’s easy to find. All the default presets are excellent, but you can play around with them if you want.
Again, for doing a spoken-word podcast, working around 44100 Hz, 32 Bits and in Stereo is excellent. Of course there are presets like ‘Podcast’ that you can choose as well - that lays out a workspace for you that might be typical to a podcaster, but in this case, just to show you some of the functionality within Adobe Audition I’m going to stick with the blank template. So I’m clicking ‘OK’ and it opens up the multi-track session.
You can see here I have all of my tracks down the left; I’ve got my Media Browser; my Effects rack and a whole bunch more. So the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to drag in some of the tracks that I want to work with and start laying them out a little bit so I have a general idea of what this project is going to look like. You can change the name of the track by clicking on it if you want. We’re going to call this one ‘Beds’; that’s going to represent our intro, our outro and our bumper music. Here I’ll have maybe the teaser section, and then Track 3 I’ll call ‘Host’, and Track 4 can be the ‘Guest’. It just keeps it easy – if you work with a lot of tracks you can quickly get lost in your projects, so this is a nice way to know where everything is. You can open things up through the Media Browser and look for them, but at the same time it’s just as easy to grab that file right off the desktop and put it in. I’m going to go ahead and play this file to make sure that it is the intro, because you always want to double-check your audio.
[Intro] Welcome to Viva Tropical Radio, hosted by.. [end Intro]
Sounds good, that’s the intro that I need. I’m going to start laying out the rest of my podcast and drag that teaser into the teaser track that I’ve created. It’ll take a second just to upsample. I can go ahead and reduce this down a little bit; there are a couple of ways that you can do this action that I just completed in Adobe Audition. Here on a Mac, by holding the Command key, I can scroll up and down and that will zoom. If you’re lucky enough to be using one of these magic mice you can actually shuttle to the right and left by dragging your finger across the mouse – pretty cool. But there are other ways to do it as well: you can grab this project bar here and you can move the project around; by grabbing the edges of it as well you can zoom into certain sections; and if you’re old school you can go to the magnifying glasses here and you can magnify or shrink down. That said, you will find that having your left hand on that Command key, or for Windows guys, the Ctrl key is great because it makes it easy to just move your project cursor to get in there and find those sections that you want to work on.
I’m going to drag in my next couple of tracks here and continue to lay this out. What I want to do after my intro is I want to put a bumper in here. Now, we’re not doing any fine editing, we’re not moving anything to exactly where it needs to be, we’re just roughing it out right now so we have an idea of what the whole project’s going to look like when we’re done.
Here’s my host file that I’m going to put on the Host track. This is the one side of a Skype recording that’s been done, and at the same time, I’m going to have the guest side running, but I’m not going to put that set at the end of the host track, of course, because this is the other side of the conversation. So I’m going to have the two running simultaneously, so I’m going to start those right around the same time. Of course, I’m going to be moving these down as I go along.
The last thing I’m going to want in the project window as these things are rendering, at the end of it is going to be the outro. I’m also going to put the outro on my Beds track, so everything is on the same track. All the music is in the same place here, my teaser is on a separate track so I can work with that individually, and then on individual tracks I have my host and my guest. The reason why I did this is I know that this particular host likes to work with a different program to record his voice for the teaser and then uses the call recorder to record his side of the conversation. Now, if you go back to some of the earlier lessons that we have in place, I strongly recommend you guys don’t necessarily do it this way. It is okay and we can work with it, but it always sounds better to have your microphone being recorded into a separate DAW like Audacity or Audition, or anything really. And then the eCamm recorder, or the Pamela can record the other side. That means that you have the best, high quality audio for at least one of you, as the host. Later down the road, we’re going to look at some fancy ways so that you can both be recorded on your side to create a double-ended podcast, but in this case, this is the audio that we have to work with and we’re going to really use this to demonstrate some of the power of Adobe Audition to turn this into a great sounding podcast.
Okay, my next step is I’m going to look at each of these individual tracks and see if there’s anything I need to do with the audio to clean it up. Very rarely, when we’re in this stage of an operation, do we have just good raw audio coming in that we want to use. We want to manipulate it and process it a little bit; we’ve got some compression, there might be a little noise, some equalisation, so we’re going to go through some of that here today. I’m only going to look at some of the most basic functions within Adobe Audition because, again, this is a very sophisticated piece of software and there’s a great number of things we can do with this audio, and we’ll be looking at it down the road in future specialisations where we’ll be mastering secrets of the pros and refined editing in Audition. For today, let’s show you some of the basic functions so you guys can get rolling.
Here I’m going to double click on this Teaser file that I’ve got open so that I can look at it a little more in-depth. This opens up two panes that are super-powerful. The top being the more traditional waveform that you see – that linear representation of an audio signal from left to right, but down at the bottom we see a spectral analysis of the audio. This particular spectrum display is where a lot of the power comes in in Audition. Using the same key commands, I can zoom in a little bit and take a closer look at the audio.
At the beginning, of course, I have this section of audio that’s been recorded. We recommend that you guys record a little bit of the room before you actually start your recording. The reason is that this gives us an opportunity to listen to any background noise happening in your studio environment, whether it be a computer fan, traffic going by – there are a lot of things and ambient noises that we may not be aware of because we condition ourselves in that situation and get accustomed to them. However, as an audio engineer listening to what your microphone is picking up suddenly we become hyperaware of those sounds around here, and those sounds are ones that we can eliminate, work with and manipulate in our audio. Recording that first section of around 5 seconds of audio before you start your recording is really valuable in this post-production stage. I’m just going to listen to this audio now and see if there’s anything immediately that’s jumping out at me. [Audio clip]
Everything sounds really good here. There’s not a lot of background noise going on, I’m very pleased with this signal. The only thing I can see is that just looking at this top waveform, maybe I could just have it a little bit louder. A quick way to do that is great: I can grab onto this particular amplitude adjustment. That basically just raises the volume in this little heads up display. It’s kind of cool because I can move this display all around and get it in and out of my way. I can change and manipulate the audio so I’m going to have the signal a little bit louder. I’m going to boost this by about 2.4 decibels, and I’m only doing it visually - I’m looking to see if I can get this form up to around the -3dB mark that you see represented on the right-hand side here. It goes on and it makes that change and now you can see that it’s boosted that signal. I can go back to my multi-track session now and you can see, if you recall, that this has now been boosted, so it does have a nice loud volume coming out.
There’s something else that I would love to do with this signal, and I’m going to go to the Effects rack in Audition here. This is one of the most powerful tools in Adobe Audition that they have built into the software – really great plug-ins and effects. These are things that we’re going to apply to that signal to make it sound different. We’re basically manipulating the audio. In this case, going to my Effects rack, one thing that I like to use a lot here is compression. Compression basically takes an audio signal, raises the lowest volume and decreasing the highest volume so everything tends to come out at relatively the same level. This is really good because especially when you’re listening to audio, whether it be on television, in a movie, on a podcast, on radio, having it all come out at relatively the same level means that it can really get out-front, grab the attention of the listener and get ahead of all of the ambient noise that you have in your house. Think about a podcast-listener who has their headphones on or is on the bus, walking down the street or in the gym or anywhere really. There’s a lot of other noise that’s going on around them. We want to get in front of that noise and compression is a great way to do it. Clicking on this little arrow here, I’m going to open up the Effects rack and we’ve got ‘Amplitude and Compression’, and then the ‘Multi-Band Compressor’. This is really one of the most powerful ones because it analyses various aspects of the signal and then does individual compressions on different parts of the bandwidth. Not to get too technical, let’s just say that it’s really great.
The default in many of these is excellent and I do recommend that you start there and go ahead and listen to it. By hitting the space bar or pressing play, I can listen to how this has changed the signal. [Audio Clip]
Notice that I can toggle this off [Audio Clip] and on [Audio Clip]. So you can really see how this boosts that signal and brings it up and more present to the listener so this is a great effect immediately. If you really want to boost that signal, there are some presets built in; Broadcast is used for broadcast media and radio, if you want that really big, fat radio voice, but in this case the default setting sounds really good to me so I’m just going to stick with that.
As we go into specialisations we’ll be looking deeper into the functions here so that you can really manipulate that compression, and then eventually you can save it as your favourite compressor for a particular host, guest or setting that you have. Once you get your own signal ready to go and you’re comfortable with your environment, you can create those special presets that are special to you, and then every time you open up your templates and your projects to do each of your episodes you can apply the exact same effects with just one click, so it’s really convenient. In this case, I’m going to leave the default on just for demonstration purposes.
More Tools and Track Controls
Okay next up I want to deal with some of the audio that I’ve got in the Host and Guest track, and I’m going to deal with these individually. There are a couple of things that you can do in Audition, like many other DAWs, that can be handy for you. When I look at each of these individual tracks, I have an M which represents ‘mute’, which means I can silence that track. S stands for ‘solo’ and that means that only this track will play, and of course R means ‘record’. In some cases when I’m working with audio that’s stacked on top of each other like this, I want to solo that audio so I don’t hear the guest track and I’m only focusing on the host track. In this case, however, I’m going to open up this in our editor by double clicking on the host file and I’ve got it all opened up here. I can see what I’ve got in the bottom pane, when I’m looking at the spectral analyser; I’m looking at a lot of black. This is good: black means there’s no noise going on, and where you see these little peaks, this is where the guy is speaking, so I’m just going to zoom out a little bit so I can see the whole picture. I’m just going to do a preliminary play to see what it sounds like [audio clip]. Issue number one that I’m seeing is that this is quite low. You can see it in a visual representation that everything seems to be below this -15dB mark, which is too quiet. Also when I play it, when I follow the meters down here, it’s dancing around the -18 mark [Audio clip]. We want our audio to get up to about -6 to -3, somewhere in that area is the great range that we’re shooting for. The quick way we can do that, of course, is I can grab onto my amplitude tool here and just drag this up to get that audio up to that -3dB mark. This is going to make it a lot easier for me to start working with it, right out of the gate.
It takes a second to make that process; this is destructive editing and that means it’s actually changing the file. I’m going to go back to my multi-track. Sometimes you might want to do a copy of each of the files and put them in a separate folder so you have original files on standby at any given time, but in this case I don’t mind doing that destructive editing because I have a lot of undos available to me, and I know exactly what I’m doing. There are instances where, as you’re getting comfortable with the program, you might want to start a project folder on the side that’s got the original files, put it on a separate hard-drive, keep it all safe and then you can start working on these without worrying about whether or not you’re destroying all the original audio.
I’m going to solo this track now and listen to it in the multi-track player. [Audio clip]. I can see right away that I’ve got a pretty good signal coming in, but I want to apply the same effect that I did to the teaser. I’m going to use the multi-band compressor to see if it’ll help me boost that signal a little bit and even things out. So we’ll go to ‘Amplitude and Compression’, go to ‘Multi-Band Compressor’, and let’s have a listen. [Audio clip]. Sounds good to me, I’m very pleased with that.
Now let’s take a look at the next channel. I’m going to un-solo that and I’m going to double click on the guest side, and open it up in my project window. Let’s have a listen here to what the guest side is sounding like. This will be the recording done by Pamela, or maybe eCamm recorder, or maybe another program that shows the signal sent by Skype. [Audio clip]. It sounds pretty good. Skype does a couple of things that we love and hate in the audio industry. One of the things that we love is that it sort of does the compressions for you. If you look at this particular wave here, you can see that everything is nice and even because Skype has already compressed that. The reason being is that they want to make it easier to deliver back and forth on the Internet and sound good coming through your system. One of the things we don’t like about Skype is that it doesn’t necessarily sound great. However, it’s thousands of times better than a telephone and you kind of get what you pay for: Skype is free. So right now I’m looking at these two signals: I’m going to line them up, the guest and the host just as they came in because we do want them to start simultaneously, so just have a listen to how they balance out [Audio clip].
Everything seems to be balancing out nicely. We’re going to take a look at some of those stumbles that happened at the beginning; I’m going to show you how to clean those up and make them work. The next thing I want to do now is take this project and start laying it out and doing some finer editing – some repositioning of different elements so I have something that’s a more complete project.
Let’s go all the way back to the beginning. One of the keyboard commands that I use very frequently is just hitting the home button. That takes my cursor back to the start of the project and then I can zoom in home again. It takes me all the way to the beginning of the intro. Remember I can grab that toolbar if I want and move it over. What I want to do now is find a place where the teaser is going to come in after the intro has all finished up. You can see here, even just in the visual representation of the introduction that there’s a fadeout on the music, so just visually I’m going to start lining these up right away, and then pull back to listen and see how they work out. Maybe a little bit towards the end of the intro. [Audio clip].
I did not get lucky, I am super experienced so I happened to get that in a really nice place where it naturally falls. The levels seemed to match up quite well, so I’m super pleased about all of that. I’m going to go to the end of the teaser, I’m not going to listen all the way through. Of course, you will probably do that in case you want to get any ums and ahs out and make any finer edits, which agian we’ll be looking at in future specializations. For now, I’m just demonstrating how to lay out an entire podcast in Audition. At the end of this I’ve got a bumper – this bumper is a little piece of music that we use in podcasting in order to make a transition from one section to another. This bumper is comprised of the same background or bed music used in the introduction, so we’ll listen to that quickly [Audio clip]. Immediately, it’s a lot louder than most of the project. I want you to notice that I grabbed onto this yellow bar in the middle of it because what I can do is right within this file, I can reduce the volume very easily. I’m going to bring it down about 5-5.5dB. Have a listen to see how it compares to the audio of the teaser in level. I can always watch this metre down here if I don’t trust my ears, to see if they’re getting close to the same level. [Audio clip].
Not bad, that matches up pretty well. Now I want to position this so it comes in right at the end of his word, so it’s really snappy and really poppy. I’m actually going to bring that volume down just a little bit more. The next thing I want to do is this has a natural fade on it, but you’ll notice that this file is fairly long, about 30 seconds in length, and I don’t want it to be that long. I do want to fade it out and go into the next section of the interview so the first thing I’ll do is make sure I’ve got this line-up where I want it to be and I’ll show you how to do a cool fade [Audio clip].
Okay, a little soon for my taste so I’m going to grab that just by holding onto it and nudging it along to see how that works out. Timing is everything, and you get a look and feel and you kind of get a good eye for it as you continue to work in the program, but ultimately your ears will tell the tale. One thing that we recommend you do in audio editing, which is a great trick that a lot of people don’t tell you (especially the podcast editors), and this comes from the recording studios: be very careful when you’re watching the audio go by. It used to be in the old days we would watch the metres dance on a mixing desk and we’d be grabbing faders, and we’d forget to use our ears and focus too much on the visual. Then later down the road we’d listen to our mixes and realise “Oh man, this sounds terrible. This is too loud or too quiet” and it’s because we were using visual cues, as opposed to using the audio cues, which is ultimately what the product is going to be. So in these cases, when you’re looking for something to line up and be a good level and sound right, don’t be afraid to press play and close your eyes. [Audio Clip]
That, for me, is sweet perfection. That’s exactly where I want that little guy to be. Now, I’m going to grab one of my favourite things in Adobe Audition, which is the Quick Fade box here. This is super cool, you just grab onto it, drag it to the left, and I can do an arcing fade, I can do a straight line, I can do any kind of shape that I want on this linear value. It is amazing. In Audacity – I can say right now I really don’t enjoy working with that program because you go in and you have to put an effect on it, and the effect has to be a fade, and then you have to change it, whereas in this case it’s so intuitive and you can see what that fade’s going to look like. Let’s try it out. [Audio clip]
That’s exactly what gets guys like me excited. I’m now going to drag in the interview so I’ll just bring it over and find a good place for this little guy to start. So I’ve got, again, here where his teaser ends, the bumper music comes in and I don’t want to wait too long before I get into this interview so I’m going to drag it on over and pretty much jump in right away. Let’s have a listen to how this ends up [Audio clip].
Maybe a bit too soon – again, this is personal taste, I’m just moving it over a little bit. Let’s just give it a listen. [Audio clip].
Okay, I love it, I love it, I’m very happy with that. One thing you want to do very frequently – especially the Windows users – is, during these projects, get very comfortable with saving as you go. When you’ve done a lot of work and you’ve got some edits that give you that happy feeling inside, hit Ctrl+S or for Mac users: Command+S, which basically saves this project exactly as it is. In many cases, you want to just keep on doing this. The first save is going to be a little bit longer because it’s rendering files and saving special project files. The second one – notice that as I click Command+S, it’s going to be fast.. that’s it. This is saving your work as you go. A lot of these do have auto-saves going on in the background and ways to recover your files, but there’s nothing worse than spending 30-40 minutes getting something exactly the way you want it, and you get the blue screen of death, or you get the Mac beachball, and you’re kind of screwed, and you just have to go back and do it all over again. Believe me, keeping your thumb on that Ctrl or Command button and having S right there at the ready is going to help you guys out a lot.
Fine Edits and Tricks
Okay, we’ve got things lined up, we’ve got things starting where we want them to start, but there’s something that I noticed when I was doing the initial listens to the Host and Guest track. At the beginning there was some stumbling and stepping on each other. This is very natural in Skype when you start getting into a conversation with your guest as you’re getting used to the latency or the time or delay between yourself and the guest, and you start getting your rhythm going. If you have the opportunity and if you’re lucky enough, I strongly recommend that you try and do a little preamble with the guest. Just a little back and forth to warm up and understand how the Skype signal is working for you guys and kind of get that rhythm before you jump in. In some cases, of course, if we don’t have time or if the guest is on a schedule and we have to jump in right away, but in these cases, there are things that we can do to edit it to make it sound a lot snappier. Let’s take a listen through and try and identify a couple of those areas that I want to attack at the beginning of this interview. [Audio clip].
Okay, there are a couple of things I want to get rid of right away. I’m going to go up here and grab my Time Selection Tool – some people call it the iBar. I noticed that he said “Hi Josh”, and then the host started speaking again, and then he stepped on him, and then he stepped on him again. I’m going to select this portion of the audio and hit the ‘delete’ key and that’ll get rid of that. I’m going to do the same thing down here and get rid of that section that’s not really necessary. By clicking on V, or going back to the ‘Move’ tool, I can then grab these guys and move them around. You can see immediately that what I’m doing is tightening these areas up. Notice that when I hover over the end of each of these different files, I get that little beam or that bar. I can use that to grab and eliminate that audio, so it’s a really quick way to get rid of different portions of it. So I’m cinching this all up, nice and tight, so I have little separate tracks, little different parts that I can move around and start making the sound into something that’s a lot more natural. I’ll zoom in a bit and take a peek at what I’m up to. Notice that I didn’t move my host; this is where I decided I wanted this interview to start, and I’ll push that guest right close. Skype is never going to give you that immediate response back and forth that you can have almost like natural conversation. This is a little dirty secret of podcasting – for those that have it on separate tracks, if you really want to get in there you can do this with each of the different sections of your guest and your host and really make it snappier. Let’s take a peek. [Audio clip].
Sounds great. The one thing I don’t like is the ‘um’ here. [Audio clip]. So you see this part here is the ‘um’, and this is where ‘the’ starts, so let’s take a listen again so I can show you. [Audio clip]. Super easy: grab onto the end of this little guy here, drag it over, and then this is the power of that fade tool. Grab it, and fade into the ‘the’, okay? I’m going to zoom in a little bit more, and I’m going to drag that right over. Now have a listen to what we’ve done. [Audio clip].
Wow. Okay, now that is snappy. That immediately sounds like these guys are about to get into something good. I can do the exact same thing with all of this if I want to: I can snip all of these up and start cinching them together so that the interviewer and the guest are tight together and it sounds like they’re in the room. It makes it really easy to listen to. Here’s another little trick that I’m going to give you right out of the gate, that a lot of people don’t know happens in radio and podcasting. I’ve zoomed out all the way from my project so I can zoom into the end of each of these files. Now, notice that when I hover over the top right hand corner of each of these files I get a little stopwatch symbol. This is a time-stretching tool – this is amazing. I can grab it and drag it to the left, and what I’m doing is I’m compressing the amount of time that this occurs in. I’m going to go all the way down to 97% on each of these, and this basically means that the exact same audio is going to come out in only 97% of the time. The effect is that you sound like you’re a lot quicker and a lot snappier, and everything’s moving by really well. It really helps your guests sound a little bit smarter, believe it or not. It’s very well-known in the radio business that audio that’s going by just a little bit quicker tends to grab the attention of the listener more. This is not something that is noticeable – there’s no chipmunk record going on here. This is just a little nudge to the speed of it to make it snappier, poppier and to get up into the face of the listener more.
I mentioned that we can get into these tracks a little bit further and start moving and manipulating some of the audio. I’m going to give you a quick tip, but I’m not going to go through all of it. I’m going to save a lot of it for the advanced editing down the road. I’m going to zoom into a section here, but you notice that in this part, the host is not speaking for a large portion of time. This is where the guest is speaking. Have your finger on that R button, because you can open up a razor tool (you can, of course, grab it from up in the Toolbar), and then click on that. The reason why it’s a razor, is again, some of the old-school guys who did audio editing, we used to literally take tape and a razor blade on a table and splice the audio – that’s what the razor represents here. I’m going to go back to the V, which is again, my move tool, and I can grab this and look how quickly I can just eliminate all of this dead space in here. The reason why I’m doing that is so I can zoom into a section and I can pop the host right perfectly in between the guest’s words so it’s got that nice back-and-forth sound. [Audio clip]. Let’s go a little bit closer. [Audio clip].
So it’s really a great tool. You can go in there if you want and use the razor blade to slice and dice and move each of these sections around. It really helps when you’re in that interview mode as well, to keep your mouth shut. This is something we’re going to talk about in interview skills down the road. In a natural conversation, we do a lot of sounds such as “yeah, uh-huh, oh for sure”, and we agree with it. That’s great in polite society, but terrible for podcasting. We really want question-answer-question-answer. You notice with good audio or a good podcast that you’re listening to, that it’ll have exactly that. It’ll be a question or a retort, followed by a response, and it’ll be a clean back-and-forth. The little things that happen in between serve as audio that we need to deal with, and especially in Skype, we can step on the other guy very quickly, so we’ll look at that down the road in interview skills.
Placing the Outro
The last thing I want to do with this particular project is put my outro at the end. So I’ll go to the end of my interview here and have a listen to what’s happening before I decide where to place that outro music. [Audio clip].
Okay, I can see a couple of things I’m going to clean up right away. The intro and outro are extremely important, and at least the first and last portion of an interview, especially as you see here there’s a call to action happening and we don’t want to screw that up. I’m going to use my razor blade to cut this up a little bit, and I’ll just move this part out of my way here, where the guest is about to say something, doesn’t really finish it and the host moves in. There is a way we can make this work. [Audio clip].
So that’s pretty much useless audio there. I’m going to go ahead and just eliminate it, though he did say something that might be interesting or valuable – that’s a judgement call when you do your editing. In this case, the audio quality was not good enough, and there’s a big space and it made it awkward. I’m going to drag the host over really close and you can listen to what we’ve put together here. [Audio clip].
So I think that’s a lot better. I’m going to just cinch this up a bit and move the guest over to the end of what the host just said. [Audio clip]. So fantastic, this is a nice little tight ending, and we can go through the entire file if we want to, and do all of this manipulation to make the entire interview that quick and snappy. Don’t kid yourself, this is very common. A lot of podcasters do this. Remember, you record it once, you edit it once and it sits there forever. The better it is now, the better it’s going to sound 3 years from now when someone’s listening to it again. Let’s take a look here at the last little part. [Audio clip].
Okay, so we’ll notice here that there’s this huge space, and again, this is that Skype delay that’s going on, so we’ll just eliminate that. I don’t really know, and again, this is just a judgement call because it’s your podcast. The host says “Hasta luego” at the end but it’s quiet and it’s not really necessary. I want something a little bit snappier, so I’ll just click on it and delete it. It’s gone and I’ll do a bit of a fade at the end of this one. Now I’ll slice into the guest a little bit, and I’m going to move his “Hasta luego” right here because I thought it was kind of cute. This way it almost steps on the other. [Audio clip].
Okay, a little too early, that’s okay, I can just move it right on over. [Audio clip].
Boom! That’s exactly where I want the outro to kick in. I’m going to move it over to line up and expanding out, or zooming in, if you will, I’m going to move this nice and close. Let’s have a listen. [Audio clip].
That’s how we do it and it sounds amazing to me! Again, there’s a lot more I can do with this audio – I can do a lot more noise reduction, I can do a little bit of equalisation to make things sound bassier in the guys’ voices. But we’re going to save all of those juicy nuggets for you down the road in advanced editing. The next step for us here in this is to double-check our edits, and then make this an mp3 that we can distribute on the internet.
Okay guys, last step here in the process is to now take this and mix it all down into a single file. This is as easy as going up to ‘File’, then ‘Export’, and then I’m going to do a ‘Multi-Track Mix-Down’. This is going to be the entire session. You notice how there’s an option where you can select clips. It’s kind of cool; we’ll look at this in advanced editing. You can highlight a couple of clips and just make that a little session you export and more. For now, we’re going to take the whole podcast, mix it down and get it ready to distribute. So I’m going to click on ‘Entire Session’ which opens up a window and gives me some options about how I want to create the file, what type of file, all sorts of things. I can entitle it whatever I want, of course I can entitle it relating to I’m going to store it.
Most importantly for you guys is the format. We want it to be mp3. Don’t let anybody tell you any different – mp3 is really still the King of audio for distribution on the Internet. It works with all the players, it works on everybody’s computer and still makes a nice file size. So I wouldn’t muddle around with that, because you might find that certain flash players end up not being able to play it, it might be too big for people to download it; I really wouldn’t mess around with this a great deal. The default 441 sample type is fine, same idea here. The format settings are something you might want to play around with a bit, depending if you’re sensitive about your file size. The reason I mention that is because some services like Buzzsprout or Libsyn or others really base their pricing on the amount of megabytes that you upload to their server every month, so when you’re doing your calculations for how big your show’s going to be and how frequently you’re going to upload that show, this is a consideration. In this particular case, I’m going to stick with 128kb. This is a really nice sounding audio and it’s a good rendering that people can listen to easily. It’s a pretty common format. However, if you’re doing spoken word and you have a really large file that you don’t want to be too big, you can change that to around 96kb, which is going to make a smaller file size and the difference is almost inaudible. But there’s no reason to go up to some of these higher resolutions that we really reserve for music distribution – you know, if you buy something that’s uncompressed, that’s a big file, and for spoken word, it really makes no difference. For the majority of people, they’re not going to hear a difference at all. Especially for those who are listening through little Apple earbuds or on a computer system, it’s really not relevant.
Do leave this as a constant bit-rate, not a variable bit-rate; that does actually make a difference in the audio quality. Audition, like many of the things, already has what you’re going to want it to be as default. I’m okay with that so I’m going to click ‘OK’. It’s going to take a minute, depending on the file size. In this case, we’ve got a pretty complicated multi-track session, nothing too crazy, but it looks like it’s going to take about 10 minutes. I have a super-fast processor and everything, but some of these could take even 20 minutes to render down or mix-down this enormous file. Others, not so much: a very simply podcast can be done in about 2 minutes. Go get some popcorn and a coffee, then come on back and we’ll listen to the mp3.
Saving a Template
So we’ve mixed this down into a single mp3 file and we can manipulate the ID3 tags, get some album art and get it all ready to put on the internet. Now that I’ve taken the time and I’ve put this first podcast together, I can save myself a heck of a lot of work down the road because I know that this is going to be the same mic set-up here, and I’ll probably use the same sound settings. A lot of these shows are going to be constructed in the same way, so why not use this as an opportunity to create a template and save us many steps down the road? Right now, I’m looking at this and I can see that the teaser or the intro tends to be about the same length for most people’s podcasts, so I’m going to put my cursor there and I’m going to press M. This is going to create a little marker. This is great because I can go ahead and have my marker in place, which is going to enable me to know roughly where that teaser’s going to end next time.
The same idea is that I can put different markers here at the outro because I don’t want my podcast to be too long. This can maybe work as a reminder to keep it under an hour, that sort of thing. The next thing I can do is highlight and delete this audio. Don’t panic because again, we don’t really need this anymore. We’re about to save this as a different project. I’ll go up here to ‘File’, but don’t click ‘Save’ because that’s just going to destroy the work that you did. You want to go ‘Save As’, and like any other file, I can call this my “Show Template” and save that. So now every time I open up Audition, to work on my podcast, I just open up Show Template, I drag in my new files, and then I ‘Save As’ whatever the name of the show is. So that saves me a lot of time, and means my intro is already pre-loaded at the beginning. I’ve got a marker indicating why this is here (that’s my little bumper) and then I can put my teaser on the same track, using the same compressor. A consistency in audio and a consistency in how you edit it is maybe something that your listeners aren’t looking for specifically, but they are sub-consciously aware when there are changes. So when things are consistent and uniform in your editing process, it helps a lot. Not to mention, in your workflow, it’s going to save you tonnes of time every time you open up your podcast and start working on the editing.
Well that’s Adobe Audition in a nutshell. Again, the complexity of this programme is frankly quite incredible. There’s a lot you can do with it. The more you get familiar with this programme, the better. If you’re using something like Audacity or GarageBand or a little simpler program right now for your podcast, you don’t need to make the leap over into Adobe Audition right away. You can simply use Audition on the side. Keep your normal workflow, finish your podcasts as you do, and in your spare time I would recommend trying to do the same podcast in Adobe Audition so you get a little more familiar with it. Don’t forget we have a lot more specializations coming up that are going to be using Audition and really just teaching the tools that you guys need to know, but there’s a lot more depth to this DAW than meets the eye, and there’s a reason why it’s the gold standard for podcasters and broadcasters alike.
Thanks a lot for joining me today, guys, and don’t forget show notes and more can be found over at www.podflyacademy.com