If you have been using open source software or online sites for your podcasting needs, and you’re now looking to take your podcast game to the next level, then as an audio engineer who works with podcasters, my first recommendation to you will be Adobe Audition. In this article, I will address the prerecording setup, the actual recording process, and a few elements in the post-production process with a focus on editing. The process itself is beginner friendly and very easy to implement. So let’s get into it!
In the prerecording process, I will address podcasters recording at mini studio setups at home. Essentially all you need is a USB mic and a laptop. If your budget allows, I would also recommend getting an Audio Interface, but it is entirely optional and not a requirement.
When recording audio, an audio interface converts microphone and instrument signals into a format your computer and software recognize. If you have been to a studio or even an event I am certain that you have seen one, along with a mixer.
For events, it processes the sound from the microphone to the speaker. Also, the audio interface allows you to listen back to how you are sounding and this allows you to monitor your sound during a recording. Therefore looking at the person behind the sound system at a party you might at times see him listening to the audio via headsets monitoring the sound.
Since you are doing a basic set up you will only need a USB microphone. These microphones act as their own audio interface. Some USB mics have a headphone output allowing you to plug your headphones to listen to your audio while concurrently recording. Therefore in this case you don’t need a mixer.
You can get a USB mic at an affordable price like the audio-Technica at2005usb cardioid dynamic USB/XLR microphone which you can get for $80.00. Another recommendation I would make is the M-Audio Uber Mic.
Plug the USB cable from the microphone into the USB port on the computer to transfer the audio. Launch Adobe Audition. I am using the 2022 Adobe Audition and here is what my default interface/workspace looks like with three parts highlighted.
1 is the Menu tab. Parts 2 & 3 are panels.The interface has numerous panels which you will understand and use as you become more proficient with using the software. However, these are the important ones for now as you are starting out. Here are their functions:
- Menu – This allows you to access some functions like importing a file or applying effects to a file that you are editing.
- Editor Tab – This is where you will see the waveforms that you are recording or editing.
- Sound Level Tab – This allows you to check your audio level when recording. What to look for in this panel will be addressed in this article.
Interfaces can be customized to user liking and efficiency.
Since you have connected your mic and Audition is running you can now start the recording. But first, you have to check whether your audio hardware has been plugged in and set properly. Audio hardware refers to the mic for recording and how are you listening back to your audio.
In the menu tab click on edit. This will open a dropdown with a number of choices. Hover your mouse on preferences which will open another dropdown with extra options. In this new drop-down option click on the Audio Hardware option.
It will open a dialogue box. Only two options matter in this dialogue box. These are the Default Input and Default Output dropdown list box options.
- Default Input – This show what audio input is plugged into your laptop. The setting should be under the mic that is plugged in. The system default is usually the laptop’s mic. Let us say you are not recording using a mic but using a webcam connected to your laptop. Clicking on this dropdown list you will see an option for this – Microphone (Web Cam). For complex connections where you have multiple USBs plugged into your pc, you will have to narrow it down as sometimes the devices do not clearly spell out what you have plugged in. You might just.
- Default Output – This shows how you are playing back the audio. Likewise, the system default is the laptop’s speaker. Some USB mics have a headphone output. In this case, choose the mic option as the computer output option and monitor your ongoing recording via the headphone output.
Once done click on the Ok command buttons to apply these changes.
To start a new recording you can:
- Click on the File option in the menu bar. Under the dropdown hover your mouse over the New option to open another dropdown option. Under this click on the Audio File option.
- On the image attached above under the Audio File option, there has a keyboard shortcut for this process. This is Ctrl + Shift + N
- Or, you can use this – Shift + Spacebar.
Once you are done with either of these three procedures a dialogue box will pop up.
Type how you want to name the audio file under the file name. For the sample rate leave it as it is. Some have their default as 44100 but the difference between the two is negligible. For the channels switch to mono if you are recording a solo hosted podcast. If you have two mics and two individuals during this recording pick stereo. Press OK to apply these changes. Leave the Bit depth at 32 (float).
For options (I) & (II) the recording will not start automatically. The editor panel will look like this. Click on the highlighted button which is for starting the recording.
Alternatively, you can now press Shift + Spacebar. For option (III) the recording starts immediately therefore I would highly suggest that as it is faster.
Now you should start seeing an audio waveform in your editor tab. Here is a look at mine with two key highlighted points.
The smaller rectangle shows how long your recording has run. This helps you with tracking time. During the recording it is usually greyed out and when you pause the recording or stop it turns to blue. You can also track time on the time markings on top of the audio waveform.
The second rectangle highlight is the audio level meter. This allows you to assess the audio level whenever you are editing. When recording you will notice the shifting bar has green color, a bit of yellow on the green at times, and red on top of these two colors at times. Here is audio with an audio level bar with a bit of color red.
Green means that your levels are okay. If the audio source gets a bit louder like you getting closer to the mic it extends to the yellow area and if you see bits of the red color the audio is peaking. Remember you will always see tiny flashes of the red color and that doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing it wrong. It should be a cause for concern if it is constantly for a number of seconds stays in red. That will be a distorted sound.
For mono recordings, it will be just a single bar but for stereo, it will be two bars for the two channels.
Checking the audio level meter is an essential process before you start your recording. It is also important that you constantly monitor it during your recording. Remember thus far we have just been testing our audio. Once you establish a comfortable sitting poster, and the right distance between your audio source and the mic using the audio level meter then you can commence your recording.
Another key note to point out is that your cursor should always be at the far right of the editor tab and constantly moving. If it stops no recording is going on. At times it might be a system issue like running numerous software causing a lag in adobe running hence the cursor might freeze at a point.
Another crucial thing that you should do before recording is to check for background and room noise. Once you start recording a new file and without speaking into the mic you will either notice just a straight line or a tiny audio waveform forming. Here are two examples of audio where A I happened to record in an acoustically treated studio. I recorded B in a home mini studio set up in a room having no acoustic treatment. Check the parts where I was taking a pause.
For A the line is a flat one meaning my audio is clean. No background noise like electricity buzzing, kids playing, people having a conversation outside, or even rain. This is because it is from a soundproofed studio.
B had what is called white noise. It’s usually a “shh” sound that you get. So when recording makes sure this noise is as low as possible before starting your recording otherwise it will mess up your end product. Some mics allow you to adjust the gain hence you can adjust what sounds from your environment it gets to pick. These mics have a microphone gain control knob. M-Audio Uber Mic has this.
Post Production Stage
Once you are done recording or airing out your views press the space bar to stop the recording. Just below your audio file, there is a panel known as the transport panel. This has pause, stop, play, fast forward, and a few more buttons. You can click on the stop button to stop the recording.
Save the file. Click on Ctrl + S and a dialogue box will pop up. Alternatively, you can:
- Click on the File option in the menu then scroll down then click on the save option.
- Click on the File option in the menu then hover your mouse pointer over the export option to open another dropdown with additional options. Under this click file. This procedure can be also done by the keyboard shortcut keys Ctrl + Shift + E.
Once you finalize either of these two processes a dialogue box will pop up. This one is to key in how you want your file to be rendered.
Under the file name, you can clear the name and type a new one. If you are okay with what you are having proceed to the next entry. The .wav after the name is the audio file format. This will change depending on the choice you make in the third entry.
Next, we have the location which is where you want your file to be saved on your computer. If you want to change this click on the browse button and navigate to where you want to save it.
After location, we have the format option. Click on that dropdown list box to open the other options of the audio format that you want to save your file as.
Depending on what is required of you, it might be a client’s preference like a case of mine where the client required the files rendered as FLAC pick the options based on that. Maybe you want to upload the file on digital streaming platforms like Spotify. Some of these sites only allow a particular format of audio. So if the site that you wish to upload the file requires a .Wav file do pick Wave PCM. Otherwise with no such specifications always pick MP3 Audio.
For the sample, type and click on change on the right side of this option. With this, you will have sample rate, channels, and bit depth slots. Leave the sample rate as it is, For the channels export as mono if it was a mono recording and stereo if it was a stereo recording. Leave the Bit depth as it is.
The rest of the information will be comprehensible with you gain more skills with this software.
Now you have a file with a desired name and format you can proceed to click on the OK command button to apply these changes and to save the file.
Your file is now saved.
Note that for adobe it is essential to save your work often to avoid losing your progress. So if you look at your audio and notice something not being right and you do effect a change click on Ctrl + S to save the file.
There goes your first interaction with the adobe software and navigating through the panels. This process is applicable every time you start a new recording. Never assume that since my last recording panned out great that you will ignore checking the white noise or the audio level in the audio level meter.
The recording process of a podcast is relative. Guests change, the location might change the audio engineer handling the recording might be different therefore ensure the recording is captured as best as possible.