A big reason why people love podcasts and spend a great deal of time listening to them is because of the audio format. It’s much easy to listen to a podcast as compared to reading a blog or watching a video – you don’t have to stare into a screen, you can tune in while doing your chores. Since podcasts are all audio, how you sound, and what you say is vital in attracting and retaining listeners. And this highlights the importance of sound editing in podcasting.
Unfortunately, the rise of free and easy ways of podcast recording and publishing, means that on average audio quality is diminishing. With diminishing quality comes a lot of unhappy listeners/customers. If you want to keep your listeners happy and monetize your show effectively this post is crucial for you.
What sound editing is important?
- It improves the quality of your show
- Your show looks more professional
- Creates positive first impression
- It creates a better experience for your listeners in the long-term
- Your content is viewed more positively by partners, sponsors and advertisers
What does sound editing in podcast involves?
Sound editing in podcasting consists of diverse processes:
- cutting tape to adding soundtracks,
- removing repetitive sentences and second takes,
- adding EQ or vocal filters,
- compressing sound, etc.
Editing a podcast may be as simple as chopping the top and the tail of the recording, or involve complicated work like piecing multiple tracks together.
No matter what approach you want to adopt, you cannot deny the importance of sound editing in podcasts. Broadly speaking, there are two main areas of concern while editing a podcast. One has to focus on sound quality, and on creating riveting content.
Sound editing in podcasts needs to be the perfect blend of the two aspects.
6 reasons why do podcasters neglect sound editing?
If you are a newbie to the world of audio, sound editing might feel like an additional burden. Many new podcasters skimp on editing to save time. But it is sound editing that often helps in bridging the gap between a good podcast and an excellent podcast.
Here are some reasons that podcasters site for skipping sound editing. I don’t believe in them, but I want to discuss them as I don’t want you to neglect audio editing by holding such opinions.
1. People won’t notice
You may think those minor errors will go unnoticed when you broadcast your work. However, sophisticated microphones pick up sound disturbances and make them more evident in a recording. And your listener’s mind is completely focused on the audio; there are no supporting visual elements to cover up or enhance your work.
Also, while people don’t notice when we repeat a word or a sentence in our conversation, they instantly spot it in podcasts. Even seemingly minor errors are a big distraction for podcast listeners.
No one listens to a podcast for its perfect sound editing, but people do stop listening to it when the editing is bad! They are used to the perfection delivered by radio show hosts and successful podcasters, and they want nothing less.
People will notice.
You will keep noticing it with every episode recorded and regret your decision to neglect editing. Moreover, your potential sponsors and advertisers might notice and skip you on a good deal.
2. I want to be authentic
Podcasters feel that editing might compromise authenticity. I would say authenticity is compromised when you try to be someone else. To be authentic, your content and format should be original. You could also create your signature style of delivering content.
And all this gets improved with editing. Unedited and authentic content is not the same thing. In fact, it would be difficult to stick to a format or a style across your episodes if you don’t edit your work. Maintaining authenticity is more about skillful editing.
3. As long as sound quality is fine, why bother more
Buying sophisticated equipment is not enough, as good audio quality is more than a rich voice. Background noises creep in inadvertently, or someone might cough or sneeze mid-recording. These things need to be edited out.
And as I have mentioned in the beginning, editing a podcast is more than achieving the perfect sound quality. You have to edit the content as well. What looks good in written form on a script, may not sound as appealing in spoken form in a recording. Editing becomes necessary to improvise your work.
4. It’s not a high-end project
Whether your budget is small or big, you are a part-timer or full-time podcaster, editing makes a podcast concise and gripping. That’s because listeners don’t decide which podcast to listen based on the size of the investment, or the number of hours you put in.
They want to hear a great podcast and nothing else! There is no scope for loose ends in podcasting- holding the listener’s attention is the key to success. If you value your listeners’ time, you must understand the importance of sound editing.
5. It’s time consuming and I prefer recording more content
Yes, you need to devote extra time, but the number of hours you have to put in would decrease over time, as you would be able to execute the same process faster. Sound editors who have become well-versed in editing podcasts usually edit an hour-long show in two hours. If the show has few mistakes, it’s a mere one-and-a-half hour of work for them.
If you feel that you cannot edit perfectly, don’t skip the whole process. Start by cleaning up big mistakes; over time you would figure out how to edit better and faster.
When you have a professional DAW (digital audio workstation) editing software designed with podcasters in mind, the powerful tools will do a lot of work if you just let the.
The game of quality is even more important than game of quantity.
6. It’s expensive
A bit, not much. You would have to buy software and learn how to use it- if you don’t want to outsource the work. If you are a hobbyist podcaster, hone your sound editing skills on Audacity or Garageband and you are good to go.
If you are willing to spend, there are many professionals with editing packages to meet different needs and budgets. You can find new talent to suit your budget if hiring an experienced professional seems expensive. In return give their services or company name, a credit in each episode, and promote their work along with yours. However, there are always a few rotten apples among the good crop of freelancers. So be careful while choosing someone.
Great DAW software is now really cheap. Sound editing actually has never been cheaper.
Why is sound editing necessary in podcasting?
I have told you why some podcasters avoid sound editing, and why I think that they are misguided. Now let me share some reasons for why I strongly vouch for all podcasters to do sound editing.
1. All high-ranking shows sound good
Ever heard a popular show on the top of podcast charts that sounds poor? Pick any top-rated show- it would always be edited to perfection. All professionals know the importance of sound editing; good editing is vital to good output. It ensures you stick to your storyline and don’t kill the audience with boredom (actually, they would simply hit the pause button and move on).
Good editing would fetch you more listeners. No one wants to listen to a podcast with poor sound or fluffy content. As you progress further in your podcasting quest, you will make fewer mistakes, and you would have to edit less. But some amount of fine-tuning would always be needed- even top-rated professional podcasters edit their work.
2. Ensures show duration is maintained
Podcasters have to roughly maintain the show duration. That is difficult if you don’t edit your recordings. You may bind yourself by the length of the script, but differences will creep in while recording. This is more common when you interview other folks for your podcast. Unless they are professional speakers, you can’t rely on them to fit their conversation to duration.
Sound editing helps you fit in your content in a specific duration without compromising on the quality of ideas. It gives you the flexibility to maintain a comfortable pace while speaking or to have multiple takes. You would not have to worry about the speaking skills of your guest too much if you know you can edit out the flaws.
You want to be consistent. Your listeners expect episodes of the same length (more or less, of course). Jumping constantly between 10, 20 and 30 minute episodes leads to bad user experience and drop in listenership.
3. Editing adds to authenticity
If you want to sound authentic and distinct, editing is important for you. It removes mistakes and awkward pauses. Without editing, unwanted sounds and repetitive sentences may draw away the listener’s attention from where it is desired.
You can edit your work to recreate the desired format in every single episode- something that’s more important if you want to be different and memorable. There are two key aspects to maintaining authenticity. The first one is to differentiate using your format and your content; don’t copy another podcaster. The second one is to edit wisely- neither too much nor too little. Edit to remove imperfections, not to distort reality.
4. Editing removes mistakes
A few mistakes are unavoidable. If you are an amateur, or you have guests over for recording, you can’t straight away record to perfection. There will be coughs, mic bumps, etc. If you are recording in your home, there might be days when your kids or pet barge in while you are recording.
Similarly, an interview with an expert over the phone may have background noises, or parts of the conversation may be less relevant to the episode. While you have to take care to avoid such situations by proper planning, editing makes things less stressful for you.
5. Editing lets you add segments
A podcast episode is more than your recorded voice. It consists of opening or closing soundtrack, background music, etc. that makes it more appealing. You also have to insert advertisements, credits for your tech team, or shout-out to your avid fans.
If you interview someone over the phone or virtually, you need to add segments to your voice-over to make a complete episode. All these things are not possible if you undermine the importance of sound editing.
6. Editing makes conversations understandable
Ambiguity and mistakes are more likely to creep in when more than one person is recording. If you have a guest who is not used to voice recording, expect long pauses or multiple takes. Or you two may speak at the same time, resulting in overlapping.
The importance of sound editing becomes evident when you have to remove any sources of confusion. You or your guest might go back and forth in a conversation, while a proper sequence is needed for the listeners to understand the finer details of the episode. Sound editing in podcasts also lets you maintain the desired sequence, which might not be there is a raw recording.
7. Remove problematic content
You must understand the importance of sound editing, as on rare occasions, you may have to edit out some content after its release. The audience is aware and quick to point out any problematic content. It might happen that some troublesome content makes its way into an episode and you might not realise it that it’s going to sound insensitive or offensive to someone.
Whatever your intentions may have been, if people find your content problematic (say misogynist or racist), you might want to edit it out before it becomes a big problem for you. You don’t want to gain negative attention. Inclusivity and sensitivity to societal issues have assumed importance in different media; it’s time for podcasters to become mindful as well.
Editing is a necessity as competition is intense. You are competing with other podcasts, audiobooks, and music albums! If you want to rise above the clutter of audio content that’s on the rise, you should give importance to sound editing.
By giving importance of sound editing, you can manage your time, and keep your content authentic. Good editing adds to the quality of your podcast, while no editing can make you sound unbearable and unprofessional.
As a newcomer, your concerns about sound editing in podcasts are valid and show that you have critically thought about your podcast. However, releasing unedited episodes is not the solution. It’s more about understanding how to much to edit, and how to edit- to justify your time and efforts and get great results.
Do you have a favorite trick you use when sound editing?