May 9, 2024

Podcast editing basics: How to polish up your episodes

Learn the basics of podcast editing, from getting the right equipment to editing tips using software like Descript.
May 9, 2024

Podcast editing basics: How to polish up your episodes

Learn the basics of podcast editing, from getting the right equipment to editing tips using software like Descript.
May 9, 2024
Brandon Copple
In this article
Start editing audio & video
This makes the editing process so much faster. I wish I knew about Descript a year ago.
Matt D., Copywriter
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What type of content do you primarily create?

Videos
Podcasts
Social media clips
Transcriptions
Start editing audio & video
This makes the editing process so much faster. I wish I knew about Descript a year ago.
Matt D., Copywriter
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What type of content do you primarily create?

Videos
Podcasts
Social media clips
Transcriptions


You planned your podcast, brainstormed topics, did your research, conducted some interviews, and recorded your first episode

Now what? It’s time to edit. We can’t overstate the importance of editing. The post-production process transforms your recorded podcast into a finished product that dazzles listeners and makes your podcast seem credible out of the gate. It’s the difference between, say, an untouched hunk of rock and a beautiful, refined sculpture.

How does podcast editing work?

Putting a podcast on the digital airwaves takes more than just recording it, trimming it a bit, and shipping it of—it’s a lot of work to carefully craft a narrative and make sure that it all sounds amazing for your listeners. 

Luckily, there are many easy-to-use audio editing applications that take the struggle out of editing (like Descript, naturally)—but it’s still important to learn the basics of podcast post-production. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect to tackle when editing a podcast.

Audio editing

This is the process of refining what you’ve recorded by looking for mistakes and polishing the overall audio experience. 

As you edit, you’ll remove anything you don’t want, or that isn’t necessary (like that tangent you and your guest went on about marine mammal husbandry). By cutting, trimming, and moving bits around, you’ll also build your story into a more cohesive whole.

Sound design

Music and sound effects are both part of your sound design, and interweaving them into your podcast adds layers of emotional heft and brief moments of respite from heavy dialogue.

Think carefully about what kind of image you want your podcast to project and tailor your sound design appropriately. Listen to some popular podcasts and make note of when they use music as a background note or bring it into the foreground, and how they use effects. This will help you understand how to effectively use sound design to your advantage.  

Mixing and mastering

When dealing with multiple tracks of audio from different sources (like when you’ve done a podcast interview), you need to ensure each component comes in at the same level. Doing so prevents listeners from having to constantly fiddle with the volume and improves the overall audio quality of your podcast. 

There’s a lot that goes into this, from using compression to adjust volume levels and using an equalizer (EQ) to tweak certain frequencies, so we made a full guide to mixing sound to help. 

How to edit a podcast: 7 steps from an expert

We sat down with Descript's Managing Editor, Ashley Hamer, to talk about editing. She says, first and foremost, that you should never be afraid to edit. “The podcasts that are well-edited are the ones that you don’t notice are well-edited,” she said. “If you notice the editing, that’s a sign it’s not well done.” Take the following steps to clean up your podcast.

Step 1. Remove background noise

Not everyone has a professional podcast studio to record in, and there are probably a lot of noises in your environment that you’ve become accustomed to—computer fans, the gurgle of a fish tank, or that neighbor with a leaf blower. 

These might not bother you in your day-to-day, but if they pop up in your podcast recording, they’ll certainly distract your listeners. The good news is editing tools provide filters that can remove or lessen background noise. Even if you recorded your podcast from the back of your co-host’s van on your AirPods, you can use Descript’s Studio Sound feature to make it sound like you were recording in a pristinely soundproofed studio.

Step 2. Get rid of (some) filler words

While you want your podcast to sound natural, you don’t want your listeners to struggle to find the point amid false starts, pauses, and filler words like “um” and “uh.” 

When deciding how much filler to cut, Ashley says a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Are they distracting? If someone is repeating the same word over and over and over as kind of a vocal tic, or because they’re nervous, that’s something you can take out.” Removing these extraneous utterances will tighten up your audio, making the speaker sound more concise, confident, and intelligent.

But you don’t need to remove every filler word. If a pause or a “like” makes the conversation sound more natural, keep it. As Ashley notes, “We use a lot of these words to help ourselves communicate; they’re not just filler. You have to use your best judgment, but if you think the words are a natural part of the conversational flow, then keep them in.”

Descript can remove your filler words automatically. In your dashboard, click the Action icon at the top of your transcription and select Remove filler words… Choose your removal option, and Descript will handle the rest. 

Image of user selecting Remove filler words tool in Descript


💡 PRO TIP: Need to restore a removed filler word? Go to Edit > Undo or press Command + Z (MacOS) or Control + Z (Windows). If you use the “Ignore” function, you can also restore the word at any point by highlighting it within the transcript and clicking the Strikethrough button in the top toolbar.

Step 3. Delete unwanted material

Podcast editing is ultimately about finding your story and removing what doesn’t serve the story. Still, Ashley recognizes that cutting out material is hard for some people. “That’s a big thing for beginners—especially if they have a guest that they hold in high esteem. They don’t want to take out their words. But it’s your show. You should be able to create the story you’re looking for and make it interesting to the audience, which you know best.” 

Listen first and, once you get a sense of the story, you’ll know what parts feel superfluous. Remove those. As Ashley notes, it’s definitely possible to go overboard in editing. But you also don’t want to deliver “the raw file where you’re awkwardly meeting the guest and talking about how you scheduled the interview. Nobody needs that.”

Step 4. Clean up volume levels

When combining tracks from multiple sources, such as multiple sides of a conversation or parts of an ongoing interview that were recorded separately, you’ll find the volume levels of each track tend to vary. 

This can be hard on your listeners, who will have to frequently reach for the volume, either so they don’t miss things that are too soft, or so they don’t blow their eardrums out from parts that suddenly get too loud. 

Adjust each track’s level to create a more even listening experience. This is also where you'll want to use compression, which will raise the quiet parts and lower the loud parts within the same track to produce a generally even volume level.

You can check the stereo audio level of your podcast episode using the volume unit (VU) meter in your DAW. Your sound should be in the middle. Low levels make your sound hard to hear; high levels might clip, distort, or simply overpower other voices.

Volume unit meter in Descript
📚 Learn: How to mix audio: A complete guide

Step 5. Add sound effects and music

You might already have a tone in mind for your podcast—be it smooth and intimate, funny and raucous, or informative and journalistic. Your use of sound effects and music will help enhance that tone, keep listeners engaged, and even create a mood that evokes a feeling in the listener. Imparting information is an important part of podcasting, but if you can make your audience feel something, their listening experience becomes more personal. 

A travel podcast could feature the sounds of a bustling market or the “whoosh” of a plane taking off. A cooking podcast could have some knife chopping or sizzling sounds to bring the experience to life. Be creative, but remember to stick to what’s appropriate.

In Descript, you can browse a royalty-free stock music and effects library. 


Image of user finding royalty free music in Descript dashboard

To find background music for your podcast intro, just click one of the options and listen to how it sounds. If you don't like it, go back to the library and find something you like better.

Step 6. Create intros and outros

Every good story has a beginning and an end, and your podcast script should, too. That's why you'll want a recognizable intro and outro to let your audience know what they're listening to and when it's over. Your intro doesn't need to be complicated—it can be as straightforward as Michael Barbaro’s: “I’m Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily.").

Step 7. Listen (and then re-listen) to your material

According to Ashley, listening is an often overlooked step in the editing process and it’s the only sure way to catch mistakes. It may seem like a lot of work—and you might think you know what’s in your material since you’re the one who recorded it—but there’s no substitute for experiencing it as your audience will. 

“Listen to your podcast once before you touch anything, and then again after you think you’re done editing,” recommends Ashley. In taking the time to listen for the pieces that grab you and seeing how they’ve come together after the edit, you’ll be rewarded with a quality podcast you can publish.

‎ 

5 podcasting editing tips to sound like a pro

Now that you have the steps to edit your podcast, here are some tips to give your podcast that professional polish.

Tip #1: Overplan

Much like in video editing, good audio editing begins even before you step into the studio. The more organized you are, the easier it will be when you record and ultimately when it comes time to edit your show. 

That means things like:

  • Over-researching the topics you want to discuss. 
  • Knowing the points you want to make or the direction you want a discussion to go. 
  • Planning out interview questions with follow-up and backup questions. 
  • Practicing your podcast script ad nauseam. 

Regardless of what sort of podcast you’re creating, overplanning can help save you headaches later down the road.

Tip #2: Find a good space to record

A good recording space with a decent podcast microphone will sound better than a noisy space with a high-quality microphone. Nothing beats a quiet room with good noise insulation.

Choose a room with carpets, curtains, and upholstered furniture as they naturally absorb sound. You can also put acoustic panels on the walls to reduce echo and reverb. 

Tip #3: Learn how to speak into a mic

Believe it or not, there is technique when it comes to speaking into a microphone. Being too close can lead to issues like plosives (hard sounds that create a burst of air, leading to a popping sound) and excessive bass. Being too far away can result in a thin, distant sound where ambient noise may become more prominent.

When preparing your microphone:

  • Position yourself around 6 inches from the microphone.
  • Make sure to turn away or move back when laughing or yelling.
  • Soften your plosive sounds—gently turn your head when saying words with “p” or “b.”
  • Smile while you speak to sound more friendly.
  • Eat an apple if your mouth is dry.
  • Keep water nearby (but make sure it’s not carbonated—you don’t want to burp!)

Different microphones have different sweet spots. Look up what sort of angle and distance works best for your microphone. The manufacturer should have recommendations. 

Tip #4: Take notes while you record

Every time you flub a word or your cat decides to bump your microphone, take a peek at the time code in your podcast editing software and write it down somewhere. 

That way you don’t have to scrub audio to find the mess-ups you want to edit out. And every time someone says something poignant or funny, write down the timestamp so you can highlight that section out as a social media clip

Taking simple notes will not only save you a lot of time during editing, but it can also help you write your show notes and episode description when you publish your show.

Tip #5: Don’t overedit

Remember, this medium is made for the ear only. There are no visuals to help your listeners make sense of things. In that respect, try to keep things simple. This will depend on the type of show you’re creating, but in general, if a transition or sound effect doesn’t add anything to the story or topic, take it out. 

The best podcast editing software tools

There are a lot of choices when it comes to podcast editing software tools. Here are three of the best that offer very different features.

Descript

 Descript is an all-in-one podcasting tool that allows you to record, edit, and even publish all from one place. Using AI technology, Descript auto-transcribes your audio files, auto-removes filler words, and even overdubs spots that need polishing. But Descript’s claim to fame is its doc-style editing feature that allows you to edit audio simply by adding or deleting words in your transcript.

The entire podcast production process has a streamlined workflow. After you record and edit your podcast, Descript will even allow you to publish directly to a number of podcast hosting platforms, like Podbean, Captivate, Buzzsprout, and Transistor.

And if you ever want to move into creating a video podcast, Descript has you covered there as well. More AI features like AI-generated green screen, Eye Contact adjustment, and text-to-speech make Descript ideal for content creators.

Descript offers a free account and several pricing plans starting at $12 per user per month. Getting started with Descript is easy. Open a free account and start editing. 

Audacity

A completely open-source and free program, Audacity is a solid editing software that is perfect for basic editing needs. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of more expensive programs like Adobe Audition, but if you’re looking for a barebones but capable program, Audacity is one of the best. Available for Mac or Windows, it also supports multiple audio file formats like mp3, m4a, AIFF, FLAC, and WAV.

Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition is a comprehensive audio editing software. You can create templates for adjustments you want to make to your audio files, and it has a lot of presets available for use. It has a user-friendly interface and still allows you to get into more advanced audio editing if you want. However, if you want access to all of its features, you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription to Adobe’s Creative Suite. 

How to choose the best podcast editing software

When evaluating the right podcast editing software for you, it’s important to consider your current comfort level with audio editing tools and how much power you really need. 

For example, if you’ve never even trimmed an MP3 file, you might want to start simple. But keep in mind that no matter how much you do or don’t invest in editing software, you’ll be able to give your podcast a thorough edit. Here’s what to look for in a podcast editor:

A robust editing interface

Look for a visual, timeline-based editor that lets you edit multiple tracks, cut and paste clips, adjust audio levels, and easily apply filters and EQ to individual tracks. 

At some point, you’ll also probably want to do things like cut silences, remove filler words, move sections around, and drop in re-recorded audio or pre-recorded clips. If your editor makes these things difficult, your editing process will take longer.

The ability to use transcripts

“When editing an interview, one thing I’ll always do as I listen is write down timestamps of when things happen. If that’s already laid out in front of you, that gets one big step out of the way,” says Ashley. 

Descript is an audio and video editor built entirely around transcripts, something none of the other commonly used podcast editing tools have. However, Ashley notes, “one pitfall of editing from a transcript is that you may not know how it’s going to sound. If you edit something as if it should be a complete sentence, you need to give it a listen — maybe the speaker cut off a word, or maybe it makes more sense for that sentence to start with ‘So…’ or another filler word, because that’s how they spoke it.”

Advanced filtering and mixing

Your recordings aren’t always going to be perfect, but with the right software, they don’t need to be.

Make sure the editor has a noise reduction tool and even a room tone generator — a tool that can isolate and reproduce a standard tone for background noise in a speaker’s room across a track. That way, sections that have been clipped won’t stand out if the background noise varies. You also want compression and EQ, so you can make sure the volume is at a consistent level across each episode.

Something that fits your skill level and doesn’t break the bank

There are many advanced audio applications that have all the bells and whistles needed for editing, mixing, and mastering that you’d find in a digital audio workstation in a professional studio. 

Many of these higher-end features—such as the ability to accommodate hundreds of tracks or record sound retroactively—are nice to have, but not worth the cost for podcast editing. You don’t want to become bogged down in an interface festooned with options you’ll never use. Keep it simple and keep it right for you.

Podcast editing FAQs

Is podcast editing difficult?

Podcast editing is only difficult if your software is difficult to use. Choosing podcast editing software with a user-friendly interface and all the features you need will go a long way toward making the podcast editing process simpler. For example, Descript creates an automatic transcript of your recording that you use to edit the audio, making podcast editing as easy as editing a doc.

How long does it take to edit a 30-minute podcast?

There are a few factors that will determine this, including the recording’s sound quality, the number of tracks involved, the experience level of your audio editor, and the length of your unedited audio files. 

However, in general, a professional podcast editor takes about two to three times the length of the unedited audio to edit. So if you’ve recorded two hours of audio in order to make a 30-minute podcast. It will take your editor four to six hours to whittle the raw tracks down to 30 minutes of high-quality podcasting audio.

Which software is the best for podcast editing?

Descript is a free all-in-one platform for high-quality audio recording and editing in a ton of different formats. Automatic transcription, voiceover, noise reduction, and advanced AI tools make it ideal for podcast production on Windows and macOS. Other options include Apple’s GarageBand, Audacity, and Adobe Audition.

Brandon Copple
Head of Content at Descript. Former Editor at Groupon, Chicago Sun-Times, and a bunch of other places. Dad. Book reader. Friend to many Matts.
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Podcast editing basics: How to polish up your episodes

Deconstructed computer keyboard


You planned your podcast, brainstormed topics, did your research, conducted some interviews, and recorded your first episode

Now what? It’s time to edit. We can’t overstate the importance of editing. The post-production process transforms your recorded podcast into a finished product that dazzles listeners and makes your podcast seem credible out of the gate. It’s the difference between, say, an untouched hunk of rock and a beautiful, refined sculpture.

How does podcast editing work?

Putting a podcast on the digital airwaves takes more than just recording it, trimming it a bit, and shipping it of—it’s a lot of work to carefully craft a narrative and make sure that it all sounds amazing for your listeners. 

Luckily, there are many easy-to-use audio editing applications that take the struggle out of editing (like Descript, naturally)—but it’s still important to learn the basics of podcast post-production. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect to tackle when editing a podcast.

Audio editing

This is the process of refining what you’ve recorded by looking for mistakes and polishing the overall audio experience. 

As you edit, you’ll remove anything you don’t want, or that isn’t necessary (like that tangent you and your guest went on about marine mammal husbandry). By cutting, trimming, and moving bits around, you’ll also build your story into a more cohesive whole.

Sound design

Music and sound effects are both part of your sound design, and interweaving them into your podcast adds layers of emotional heft and brief moments of respite from heavy dialogue.

Think carefully about what kind of image you want your podcast to project and tailor your sound design appropriately. Listen to some popular podcasts and make note of when they use music as a background note or bring it into the foreground, and how they use effects. This will help you understand how to effectively use sound design to your advantage.  

Mixing and mastering

When dealing with multiple tracks of audio from different sources (like when you’ve done a podcast interview), you need to ensure each component comes in at the same level. Doing so prevents listeners from having to constantly fiddle with the volume and improves the overall audio quality of your podcast. 

There’s a lot that goes into this, from using compression to adjust volume levels and using an equalizer (EQ) to tweak certain frequencies, so we made a full guide to mixing sound to help. 

How to edit a podcast: 7 steps from an expert

We sat down with Descript's Managing Editor, Ashley Hamer, to talk about editing. She says, first and foremost, that you should never be afraid to edit. “The podcasts that are well-edited are the ones that you don’t notice are well-edited,” she said. “If you notice the editing, that’s a sign it’s not well done.” Take the following steps to clean up your podcast.

Step 1. Remove background noise

Not everyone has a professional podcast studio to record in, and there are probably a lot of noises in your environment that you’ve become accustomed to—computer fans, the gurgle of a fish tank, or that neighbor with a leaf blower. 

These might not bother you in your day-to-day, but if they pop up in your podcast recording, they’ll certainly distract your listeners. The good news is editing tools provide filters that can remove or lessen background noise. Even if you recorded your podcast from the back of your co-host’s van on your AirPods, you can use Descript’s Studio Sound feature to make it sound like you were recording in a pristinely soundproofed studio.

Step 2. Get rid of (some) filler words

While you want your podcast to sound natural, you don’t want your listeners to struggle to find the point amid false starts, pauses, and filler words like “um” and “uh.” 

When deciding how much filler to cut, Ashley says a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Are they distracting? If someone is repeating the same word over and over and over as kind of a vocal tic, or because they’re nervous, that’s something you can take out.” Removing these extraneous utterances will tighten up your audio, making the speaker sound more concise, confident, and intelligent.

But you don’t need to remove every filler word. If a pause or a “like” makes the conversation sound more natural, keep it. As Ashley notes, “We use a lot of these words to help ourselves communicate; they’re not just filler. You have to use your best judgment, but if you think the words are a natural part of the conversational flow, then keep them in.”

Descript can remove your filler words automatically. In your dashboard, click the Action icon at the top of your transcription and select Remove filler words… Choose your removal option, and Descript will handle the rest. 

Image of user selecting Remove filler words tool in Descript


💡 PRO TIP: Need to restore a removed filler word? Go to Edit > Undo or press Command + Z (MacOS) or Control + Z (Windows). If you use the “Ignore” function, you can also restore the word at any point by highlighting it within the transcript and clicking the Strikethrough button in the top toolbar.

Step 3. Delete unwanted material

Podcast editing is ultimately about finding your story and removing what doesn’t serve the story. Still, Ashley recognizes that cutting out material is hard for some people. “That’s a big thing for beginners—especially if they have a guest that they hold in high esteem. They don’t want to take out their words. But it’s your show. You should be able to create the story you’re looking for and make it interesting to the audience, which you know best.” 

Listen first and, once you get a sense of the story, you’ll know what parts feel superfluous. Remove those. As Ashley notes, it’s definitely possible to go overboard in editing. But you also don’t want to deliver “the raw file where you’re awkwardly meeting the guest and talking about how you scheduled the interview. Nobody needs that.”

Step 4. Clean up volume levels

When combining tracks from multiple sources, such as multiple sides of a conversation or parts of an ongoing interview that were recorded separately, you’ll find the volume levels of each track tend to vary. 

This can be hard on your listeners, who will have to frequently reach for the volume, either so they don’t miss things that are too soft, or so they don’t blow their eardrums out from parts that suddenly get too loud. 

Adjust each track’s level to create a more even listening experience. This is also where you'll want to use compression, which will raise the quiet parts and lower the loud parts within the same track to produce a generally even volume level.

You can check the stereo audio level of your podcast episode using the volume unit (VU) meter in your DAW. Your sound should be in the middle. Low levels make your sound hard to hear; high levels might clip, distort, or simply overpower other voices.

Volume unit meter in Descript
📚 Learn: How to mix audio: A complete guide

Step 5. Add sound effects and music

You might already have a tone in mind for your podcast—be it smooth and intimate, funny and raucous, or informative and journalistic. Your use of sound effects and music will help enhance that tone, keep listeners engaged, and even create a mood that evokes a feeling in the listener. Imparting information is an important part of podcasting, but if you can make your audience feel something, their listening experience becomes more personal. 

A travel podcast could feature the sounds of a bustling market or the “whoosh” of a plane taking off. A cooking podcast could have some knife chopping or sizzling sounds to bring the experience to life. Be creative, but remember to stick to what’s appropriate.

In Descript, you can browse a royalty-free stock music and effects library. 


Image of user finding royalty free music in Descript dashboard

To find background music for your podcast intro, just click one of the options and listen to how it sounds. If you don't like it, go back to the library and find something you like better.

Step 6. Create intros and outros

Every good story has a beginning and an end, and your podcast script should, too. That's why you'll want a recognizable intro and outro to let your audience know what they're listening to and when it's over. Your intro doesn't need to be complicated—it can be as straightforward as Michael Barbaro’s: “I’m Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily.").

Step 7. Listen (and then re-listen) to your material

According to Ashley, listening is an often overlooked step in the editing process and it’s the only sure way to catch mistakes. It may seem like a lot of work—and you might think you know what’s in your material since you’re the one who recorded it—but there’s no substitute for experiencing it as your audience will. 

“Listen to your podcast once before you touch anything, and then again after you think you’re done editing,” recommends Ashley. In taking the time to listen for the pieces that grab you and seeing how they’ve come together after the edit, you’ll be rewarded with a quality podcast you can publish.

‎ 

5 podcasting editing tips to sound like a pro

Now that you have the steps to edit your podcast, here are some tips to give your podcast that professional polish.

Tip #1: Overplan

Much like in video editing, good audio editing begins even before you step into the studio. The more organized you are, the easier it will be when you record and ultimately when it comes time to edit your show. 

That means things like:

  • Over-researching the topics you want to discuss. 
  • Knowing the points you want to make or the direction you want a discussion to go. 
  • Planning out interview questions with follow-up and backup questions. 
  • Practicing your podcast script ad nauseam. 

Regardless of what sort of podcast you’re creating, overplanning can help save you headaches later down the road.

Tip #2: Find a good space to record

A good recording space with a decent podcast microphone will sound better than a noisy space with a high-quality microphone. Nothing beats a quiet room with good noise insulation.

Choose a room with carpets, curtains, and upholstered furniture as they naturally absorb sound. You can also put acoustic panels on the walls to reduce echo and reverb. 

Tip #3: Learn how to speak into a mic

Believe it or not, there is technique when it comes to speaking into a microphone. Being too close can lead to issues like plosives (hard sounds that create a burst of air, leading to a popping sound) and excessive bass. Being too far away can result in a thin, distant sound where ambient noise may become more prominent.

When preparing your microphone:

  • Position yourself around 6 inches from the microphone.
  • Make sure to turn away or move back when laughing or yelling.
  • Soften your plosive sounds—gently turn your head when saying words with “p” or “b.”
  • Smile while you speak to sound more friendly.
  • Eat an apple if your mouth is dry.
  • Keep water nearby (but make sure it’s not carbonated—you don’t want to burp!)

Different microphones have different sweet spots. Look up what sort of angle and distance works best for your microphone. The manufacturer should have recommendations. 

Tip #4: Take notes while you record

Every time you flub a word or your cat decides to bump your microphone, take a peek at the time code in your podcast editing software and write it down somewhere. 

That way you don’t have to scrub audio to find the mess-ups you want to edit out. And every time someone says something poignant or funny, write down the timestamp so you can highlight that section out as a social media clip

Taking simple notes will not only save you a lot of time during editing, but it can also help you write your show notes and episode description when you publish your show.

Tip #5: Don’t overedit

Remember, this medium is made for the ear only. There are no visuals to help your listeners make sense of things. In that respect, try to keep things simple. This will depend on the type of show you’re creating, but in general, if a transition or sound effect doesn’t add anything to the story or topic, take it out. 

The best podcast editing software tools

There are a lot of choices when it comes to podcast editing software tools. Here are three of the best that offer very different features.

Descript

 Descript is an all-in-one podcasting tool that allows you to record, edit, and even publish all from one place. Using AI technology, Descript auto-transcribes your audio files, auto-removes filler words, and even overdubs spots that need polishing. But Descript’s claim to fame is its doc-style editing feature that allows you to edit audio simply by adding or deleting words in your transcript.

The entire podcast production process has a streamlined workflow. After you record and edit your podcast, Descript will even allow you to publish directly to a number of podcast hosting platforms, like Podbean, Captivate, Buzzsprout, and Transistor.

And if you ever want to move into creating a video podcast, Descript has you covered there as well. More AI features like AI-generated green screen, Eye Contact adjustment, and text-to-speech make Descript ideal for content creators.

Descript offers a free account and several pricing plans starting at $12 per user per month. Getting started with Descript is easy. Open a free account and start editing. 

Audacity

A completely open-source and free program, Audacity is a solid editing software that is perfect for basic editing needs. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of more expensive programs like Adobe Audition, but if you’re looking for a barebones but capable program, Audacity is one of the best. Available for Mac or Windows, it also supports multiple audio file formats like mp3, m4a, AIFF, FLAC, and WAV.

Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition is a comprehensive audio editing software. You can create templates for adjustments you want to make to your audio files, and it has a lot of presets available for use. It has a user-friendly interface and still allows you to get into more advanced audio editing if you want. However, if you want access to all of its features, you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription to Adobe’s Creative Suite. 

How to choose the best podcast editing software

When evaluating the right podcast editing software for you, it’s important to consider your current comfort level with audio editing tools and how much power you really need. 

For example, if you’ve never even trimmed an MP3 file, you might want to start simple. But keep in mind that no matter how much you do or don’t invest in editing software, you’ll be able to give your podcast a thorough edit. Here’s what to look for in a podcast editor:

A robust editing interface

Look for a visual, timeline-based editor that lets you edit multiple tracks, cut and paste clips, adjust audio levels, and easily apply filters and EQ to individual tracks. 

At some point, you’ll also probably want to do things like cut silences, remove filler words, move sections around, and drop in re-recorded audio or pre-recorded clips. If your editor makes these things difficult, your editing process will take longer.

The ability to use transcripts

“When editing an interview, one thing I’ll always do as I listen is write down timestamps of when things happen. If that’s already laid out in front of you, that gets one big step out of the way,” says Ashley. 

Descript is an audio and video editor built entirely around transcripts, something none of the other commonly used podcast editing tools have. However, Ashley notes, “one pitfall of editing from a transcript is that you may not know how it’s going to sound. If you edit something as if it should be a complete sentence, you need to give it a listen — maybe the speaker cut off a word, or maybe it makes more sense for that sentence to start with ‘So…’ or another filler word, because that’s how they spoke it.”

Advanced filtering and mixing

Your recordings aren’t always going to be perfect, but with the right software, they don’t need to be.

Make sure the editor has a noise reduction tool and even a room tone generator — a tool that can isolate and reproduce a standard tone for background noise in a speaker’s room across a track. That way, sections that have been clipped won’t stand out if the background noise varies. You also want compression and EQ, so you can make sure the volume is at a consistent level across each episode.

Something that fits your skill level and doesn’t break the bank

There are many advanced audio applications that have all the bells and whistles needed for editing, mixing, and mastering that you’d find in a digital audio workstation in a professional studio. 

Many of these higher-end features—such as the ability to accommodate hundreds of tracks or record sound retroactively—are nice to have, but not worth the cost for podcast editing. You don’t want to become bogged down in an interface festooned with options you’ll never use. Keep it simple and keep it right for you.

Podcast editing FAQs

Is podcast editing difficult?

Podcast editing is only difficult if your software is difficult to use. Choosing podcast editing software with a user-friendly interface and all the features you need will go a long way toward making the podcast editing process simpler. For example, Descript creates an automatic transcript of your recording that you use to edit the audio, making podcast editing as easy as editing a doc.

How long does it take to edit a 30-minute podcast?

There are a few factors that will determine this, including the recording’s sound quality, the number of tracks involved, the experience level of your audio editor, and the length of your unedited audio files. 

However, in general, a professional podcast editor takes about two to three times the length of the unedited audio to edit. So if you’ve recorded two hours of audio in order to make a 30-minute podcast. It will take your editor four to six hours to whittle the raw tracks down to 30 minutes of high-quality podcasting audio.

Which software is the best for podcast editing?

Descript is a free all-in-one platform for high-quality audio recording and editing in a ton of different formats. Automatic transcription, voiceover, noise reduction, and advanced AI tools make it ideal for podcast production on Windows and macOS. Other options include Apple’s GarageBand, Audacity, and Adobe Audition.

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