The Finer Art of Audio Editing Tips

The Finer Art of Audio Editing Tips

Have you ever listened to something, and it just doesn’t sound right, but you’re not sure why OR you experience a head jerk reaction and you’re thinking, “what was that?” Well, nobody should ever hear an edit.

These days, the availability of editing software makes it easier for the Do It Yourselfers to record and edit their own podcasts, webinars, power point presentations and such. There is a difference, however in how to edit like a pro or an amateur and that all depends on what you can NOT hear.

You can learn editing basics from the program you use, so, here are some extra tips that I learned while working as an audio editor for an international radio broadcast. Making the extra effort will help you when you have to edit or fix a problem so the edits will not be detected.

Keep continuity in the subject matter. If you have to edit out a section of audio and re-connect it to something else, make sure it flows and makes sense. For instance, when the “voice” is talking about a certain topic and you are looking for clips to remove for time’s sake, and that person goes off on a rabbit trail, you can edit out that section. But, you have to listen for a good place to reconnect to continue the original story and flow. Or, at least it has to make a natural transition in topic.

Match the pace and tone of speech. When you have to remove a section, listen for a place to re-connect that matches the pace and intonation. If your subject matter is talking fast and upbeat, you will hear the edit if you connect to a spot that is slowed down with a more serious tone. It just doesn’t match.

Match emotion. Similar to matching the pace and tone, you have to match the emotion. Be especially careful with laughter and don’t cut that off too abruptly – that’s a dead giveaway to hear an edit. Obviously, match happy with happy and sad with sad. It can get tricky to find the right spots to edit, but look for phrases, sentences or words that you can match up with which keeps everything making sense.

A breathe matters – edit before, after or remove the breathe. Do not ever leave in two different breathes, one after the other. Choose one to use. It’s best to use the breathe that is at the point of re-connect because it will sound the most natural. You can also edit out the breathe altogether but make sure you leave just a bit space for the natural pause in-between words.

Matching breathes. It does make a difference. Think about how your mouth forms when you speak a word. There is a real difference, although ever so subtle, in the sound of your breathe when you say a word that begins with an “I” as opposed to a word that begins with a “W”. The edit will not be heard if you match the breathe with the same letter, or at least similar. This may seem extreme but depending on what you are editing, it matters.

Edit at the beginning, middle or end of an “S”. The saving grace of an “S”…it saves many edits and it’s fairly easy. You can start your edit point on one “S” and re-connect to another “S”, but edit in the same place in both. If you start your edit point at the beginning of an “S”, re-connect to the beginning of another “S”.

Match the EQ. Some situations may require adjusting the EQ to match editing points. This works well for combining audio recorded in different studios or locations. The room ambience will not match. But, you can play with the EQ and very slowly begin adjusting it to match the other. The average person will not detect the EQ change, as long as you do it slowly.

Matching levels. Wherever there is an edit, make sure the audio levels match. You may not see much of a difference on the screen, but listen carefully to make sure you don’t hear a level change. You can easily adjust that in your editing program and it also helps when choosing a place to edit. Remember, you can always fix the levels to

Background noise. Depending what was recorded, there can be different kinds of background noise which may vary. Pay attention to that when editing. If that keeps your edit from matching, you can always use your editing program to remove the background noise, hiss, etc. You can also copy a section of the noise from another area & mix it under your edit then slowly fade it out or in.
This may seem more detailed and much more trouble than what it’s worth, but these kinds of details will make the product more pleasing to the ear and sound truly professional, never hearing an edit. Be thankful that you are not editing back in the pre-digital dinosaur days of using reel to reel tape, a razor blade and splicing tape. There are no excuses now for bad editing thanks to technology.