Why and How to Make the Post-Production of Your Podcasts ?
Want to launch your own podcast ?
Whether it’s for your personal pleasure, or to advertise your brand (or both), there are technical details to consider.
Listen to these two extracts (Sportcast – Sud Ouest) :
Before the post-production
After the post-production
Did you hear the difference ?
The one that strikes us the most is the fact that the second speaker’s speech suddenly increases in volume at one point. We suspect that the person came closer to his microphone at that moment, and spoke a little louder than his colleague. This unpleasant change was completely corrected in the second part, just like magic.
What makes the difference is post-production. Let’s analyze this process that gives a professional look to a recording.
I – Why Make Post-Production ?
II – What Does this Mean in Concrete Terms ?
🎚️ I – Why Make Post-Production ?
Technically, the podcast is accessible to everyone. All we need is something to say and a microphone. However, we saw in the introduction the difference that post-production makes, and it is essential to offer good quality audio content.
Let’s discover the added value of post-production on the quality of your podcasts.
Sound Smoothing, or Vocal Balancing
As soon as we hear more than one voice during a recording, sound smoothing is necessary. All it takes is for someone to speak a little further away from the microphone, and we suddenly feel like turning up the volume on our phone when they speak. Not very practical ! On the other way, a burst of laughter is enough to make us overly suspicious and want to turn down the volume for a few seconds…
In short, not touching the volume when listening to a podcast is a comfort that is too often taken for granted. A professional quality podcast is a podcast that guarantees this comfort. One of the first phases of work during post-production is to smooth the sound and balance the voices.
Static Sounds and Vocal Errors
In the category of little things that annoy us, the “uhh” and “huums” are ranked very high. These “mistakes” slow down the podcast, and can even distract if they are too recurrent.
Other static sounds, such as the noises of a table, a falling pen, or the squeaking of a chair can be reduced, but only to a certain extent (the sound engineer is not a magician).
Another aspect that is taken into account when tackling post-production is background noise. Depending on where the podcast is recorded, whether it’s on the street or in an empty space, different environmental issues will arise. Whether it is to reduce an echo or to clear the speech we are interested in from the hubbub of a crowd, post-production will be an essential step for an interesting rendering.
Homogeneity of the Different Episodes’ Quality
During a podcast, it could be possible that the different speakers are not in the same room. For example, when an expert speaks, you may end up with a recording of a phone call, which will be of poorer quality than a recording from a microphone in an empty room. Thanks to post-production, it is possible to homogenize several recordings, so that there is no big difference. You will always notice a difference, but it is possible to reduce it !
In the same way, if you change the environment between two podcasts, or even in the middle of a podcast, it is possible to reduce the background noise and thus achieve a homogeneous quality throughout the episode.
Adding Sonic Elements
A podcast is very rarely composed only of a voice. Most of the time, we add sound elements such as credits, music or sound effects for narrative podcasts.
To insert this type of component, it is necessary to do some mixing work, so that everything is coherent, and that certain frequencies do not contradict.
For example : if you decide to let the listener listen to your credits for a few seconds, before speaking over them, you will have to lower the volume at a certain point so that they can understand you.
🎛️ II – What Does this Mean in Concrete Terms ?
Let’s now look at some of the main techniques that can be applied to a sound recording. We will not go into detail, as this would require writing several books. It is a job that combines creativity and technicality.
Stereo & Mono
It is possible that after recording your podcast, the sound varies between the left and right ears. It is essential to master its spatialization during post-production. We will therefore talk about mono and stereo signals.
The mono signal is broadcasted on a single channel, as coming from a single source, whereas the stereo signal is the result of the blending of two mono signals.
If we take into account the listening conditions of the podcast, we realize that they will rarely be optimal. While running, in the transport, while doing the housework, it’s possible that your listeners decide to listen to you with only one ear.
In this case, we must be very careful with the use of stereo. Used especially in the fiction podcast to immerse us in a particular universe, it has very little value when it is for example an interview and can be prejudicial if the listening is done with an earpiece and that one misses the half of the interventions and speeches.
During post-production, we will therefore make sure that all the tracks are in mono at first. And if the format is suitable, it will then be possible to proceed with manual spatialization.
Removal of “Hums” and Silences
In order to ensure the post-production phase, the sound engineer uses a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). This digital audio station that was at first physical became virtual, with free software for some. (like Audacity).
Thanks to these, it is possible to simply cut the recording in order to remove the silences, the “euhs”, “hums”, that interfere with the speech. This step is also essential in order to dynamize the podcast, cause even if your speech is perfect, the speech of an expert or of a speaker who is not used to the format may not be.
A largely widespread practice in its visual form for the cinema, the fade can also be sonic. A technique of linking two tracks, it serves as a punctuation mark.
The most technical fade is the linked fade or the cross-fade. The volume lowers little by little, to make room for another sound that rises to its normal volume. It can be used as a transition in a podcast between two speakers, or to introduce a piece of music for example.
Equalizer, Removal of Occlusives
The equalizer (or “EQ”), is the device or software that allows to filter or amplify different frequency bands in an audio signal. It can be used in the recording process as well as in post-production, and it is an essential tool to ensure the quality of your podcast.
It will allow us to superimpose the sound design with the voice, by managing the frequencies, and thus avoid overloading a frequency.
Even if the equalizer is useful in many other cases, here it will be interesting to remove the plosives. These are the consonants that generate “pops“, like the “b”, “p” and “t” sounds. They are very unpleasant to the ear and should be reduced. Even if you don’t have an anti-pop filter directly on the microphone, you can “save” the recording by using an equalizer, and more precisely its high-pass filter function, which lets high frequencies pass and reduces low frequencies.
As shown in the introduction, the volume of a recording can vary depending on certain factors. Compression is the process by which we don’t need to touch our volume button !
Let’s imagine that one of the speakers in your podcast speaks at a lower volume than the others. Then imagine that he is laughing extremely loudly. Thanks to compression, the person doing the post-production will be able to reduce the gap between these two volumes with one click.
He will simply have to enter a decibel threshold. If the audio signal exceeds it, it is diminished, depending on the ratio chosen.
🎧 III – Post-Production, a Sound Engineer’s Job.
That can be a lot of information to take in at once, and mastering all these technical elements can take a significant amount of time and work. That’s why some people prefer to entrust the post-production of their podcast to editing services.
Focusing on your content instead of mixing hours can be a relief for any podcaster. All that time spent “outside” of your main business also takes away from writing a new podcast.
Plus, all the tutorials on YouTube and all the will in the world won’t be worth the experience and expertise of a sound professional. This solution ensures the consistent quality of your podcast series.
Need help with the post-production of your podcast ?
Gain time and quality with professional post-production !
More articles :
Comments are closed.