Today, I am going to show you step-by-step how to record and edit your podcast … and it’s probably going to be a lot easier than you think.
For this tutorial, we are going to be using Audacity, because it is a free, multi-platform audio editing program that is also quite powerful. You can also use something like Adobe Audition, but if you know how to do that, you probably don’t need my help.
Before we can start using Audacity though, we need to get Audacity and get it installed.
Step 1: Install Audacity
You can get Audacity here: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
I’ll assume you can download and install software on your own, so I won’t explain it here.
Step 2: Record
The Audacity interface can be a little intimidating, but don’t worry, you don’t have to master it all in order to record and edit a podcast. In fact, recording is super easy–as you’ll see in a second.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to select the Microphone you are going to be using from the Microphone-selector dropdown.
Once, you’ve done that. You are ready for a test recording. Just click the big red circle above to start recording.
It’s normal to be nervous the first time you hit record. That’s ok. To help take the edge off, though, I suggest recording something in a sexy voice like, “Hey charles, it’s time for your dinner. Don’t forget to bring the chocolate syrup.” It works best if you do this in a slow and deep voice.
Hit the big, green play button to play back your sweet, sweet sound and check the audio quality. If you can’t hear anything you might need to check to make sure the correct speaker is selected as an output.
If everything sounds good, then you are good to go. Just click the big X on the left-hand side of the Audio Track to delete your sexy-track and record your actual podcast.
Step 3: Edit
You’ve recorded your podcast, or perhaps just a test recording of your reciting the pledge of allegiance in different cartoon character voices–either way, you’ve got something to edit.
Editing isn’t quite that straight-forward in Audacity, but it’s really not that bad either.
Before we get into the actual editing, let me give you two quick navigation tips that will save you a lot of time.
First, we have zooming in and zooming out.
You’ll want to be able to zoom into a part of an audio track and zoom back out if you want to be able to accurately edit your audio.
Doing this in Audacity is fairly simple. You can either click the magnifying glass button in the menu bar and use a left-click to zoom in and a right-click to zoom out, or you can do it the easy way and hold down the Control or Command key while scrolling the middle mouse button either up or down.
Next, you’ll probably want to scroll the timeline, so you can navigate forward or backwards through your audio.
This is pretty simple as well. You can either use the little scroll bars at the bottom of the screen to scroll forwards and backward (the hard way) or you can simply hold down the shift key on your keyboard and use the middle mouse button to move forward or backward in time, just like Dr. Who (the easy way.)
Now that navigation is out of the way, the first thing you’ll probably want to do is to cut stuff out.
This one is pretty simple. You are going click and drag your mouse on the audio section you’d like to remove, see the diagram below:
Now, a word of warning: you must drag on the bottom part of the track where the audio is, not at the top where the timeline is.
You will, of course, drag on the top part by accident – and Audacity will play back that part you highlighted and it will frustrate you to no end. But when that happens, take a deep breath, remember the picture above and get on with your life. It’s not worth stressing about these little oddities of Audacity… really.
Anyway, once you have done that. Simply hit CTRL + X on a PC, Command + X on a Mac, or click the little scissors icon above the microphone selection dropdown to cut the audio–easy peasy.
The next most likely thing you’ll want to do is to add in some other tracks into your recording. Suppose you have a intro for your podcast or this really cool fart sound effect that you want to add at just the right time.
This can be accomplished by doing two things.
First, you’ll need to add a new audio track to your project and second, you’ll need to move audio track around on the timeline. Let’s start with the easy part.
To add a new audio track to your project, simply drag and drop the file into Audacity. That’s it. If you want to go around into the menu and do a File->Import->Audio and browse to your audio file, you can do that as well, but why? For heavens sake just drag and drop.
How about moving things around?
Unfortunately, this part isn’t quite an intuitive, but it’s not that difficult either–you just need to know which tool to use.
In this case, the tool is that little double-arrow-thingy icon. Click it once to go into “move-things-around” mode.
Once you are in “move-things-around” mode, you can simply drag on the audio tracks to move them forward or backward in relation to the master timeline and each other.
Go ahead and try it now, it’s fun. I like to make “wheee” noises while I do it.
That’s it, now you are an Audacity master. Well, maybe not quite, but at least you can record audio, navigate around, edit that audio and bring in new tracks. That’s mainly what you’ll need to produce a podcast.
There are of course other things you can do in Audacity, like noise removal and making people sound like Kermit the frog on acid, but let’s focus on the basics for now.
Step 4: Export
Now that you have created your masterpiece mashup of sexy-voices, fart noises and JPop, it’s time to export all your hard work to an MP3 file you can share with the world–or at least the three people who subscribe to your blog.
I’m going to give you some basic advice here that will give you really good audio quality without a huge file size, but feel free to ignore the advice and create a huge MP3 file that will fill up everyone’s 16 GB iphones if you like.
To export your podcast to an MP3, simply go to the File menu, select Export, then click Options to open up the export options window.
From here, you are going to want to select Constant for the Bit Rate Mode and 96 kpbs for the Quality selection. (This will give you a good, quality sound, without too much bloat in the file size. For more info on why this is the best choice, check out this post.)
Click OK, choose where you want to save the file and name it and you are good to go.
See how easy it is to make a podcast?