How to Edit Podcast Audio in Audacity

Wheelhouse Factory Blog - Podcast Editing - Easy steps to edit your podcast audio in Audacity - wheelhousefactory.com

Welcome to a Behind the Scenes look at our operations at Wheelhouse Factory. In this article we are going to explore how to edit podcast audio in Audacity. Have you ever had something on your to-do list that just sort of . . . stays there? It’s a dust collector. A chore hanging over your head. You know it needs to get done, but it’s not hurting anybody or anything while you keep it on the back-burner. What’s the harm? It’s way easier to justify why you can’t get around to it. You convince yourself that you don’t have the time. Focus on other tasks to pretend like it’s not there. We rationalize procrastination.

Look, we both know you found time to binge watch some cooking show on Netflix. You also had a chance to catch up on your fun-fact about an obscure movie you don’t enjoy thanks to a recent three-hour Wikipedia deep dive. Sometimes knowing that a task needs to get done is enough to make you want to ignore it for a little bit longer. Almost nothing fits that criteria better than editing my podcast shows.

Preparation checkpoint

Editing your podcast can be a painstakingly frustrating process. First, you need to determine how you will record your audio. Then, you need to figure out how to record the audio of your guests. After that, you still need to incorporate music and sound clips! There is plenty to discuss on the recording front and we will tackle that on a future post. For the purposes of this article, we assume you have already gone through the daunting process of recording your audio. You’re ready to dive into the critical step of editing your audio.

The ideal solution would be to outsource the work. This way you avoid the heartache and headache of editing altogether. There are tons of great resources to help with this; however, the service comes at a cost and it can be quite steep. If this is something you’re interested in, check out Buzzsprout. They have made it a mission to help podcasters regardless of where they are at in their journey. One of my favorite things about them is that they offer ideas and resources that are practical. This blog post from Buzzsprout includes helpful information about many editing service providers. 

Create your own efficiencies

If outsourcing is not an option for you, then you have found yourself reading the right article. You could spend hours listening and editing your audio. It’s a perfectionist’s worst nightmare. Between the clicks and the pops, there is almost an infinite number of ways to improve your audio. It’s enough to drive you crazy if you’re not careful. Luckily, we are problem solvers at Wheelhouse Factory. Not only did we build an entire workbook dedicated productivity, but also in this article we are going to show you how to edit your podcast in a way that saves time and still gives you great sound

For the aspiring podcaster who is also the sound engineer and producer, we recommend starting out with Audacity. It’s a free resource available to users with Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. Audacity offers a huge amount of flexibility and capability. Plus, you can learn the basics by investing a small amount of your time. The steps below will show you how to import your audio, remove background noise, cut out unwanted areas and amplify the sound. Think of these steps as the bare necessities for learning how to edit your podcast for editing your podcast audio in Audacity. One warning if you are new to Audacity, the platform offers thousands of editing options. Don’t feel overwhelmed. The goal here is to save time while still producing great sounding audio. 

Import your audio

First things first, we can’t edit anything until you open up the app.  If you have not yet downloaded Audacity, follow these instructions first.

  1. Open the Audacity App
Audacity desktop icon
  1. Click File > Import > Audio
Audacity menu
  1. Select the file you’ll be editing

Amplify your audio

It may take you a bit of experimentation to figure out how your audio files sound once the are imported.  For example, the audio may be quite a bit softer (or louder) than you’re hoping for.  The steps below outline the easiest way to address that issue.

  1. Look at where your audio is after importing.  You can see this audio is quite low and we will want to try and get the audio waves a bit close to the 1.0 and -1.0 levels.
Audio file displayed in Audacity
  1. Double click the entire audio file so that it highlights
Audio file displayed and highlighted in Audacity
  1. Click Effect > Amplify
Effect menu in Audacity
  1. One of the awesome things about Audacity is that the program will automatically recommend how much your audio needs to be adjusted.  In this example, Audacity recommends a 9.942 dB amplification.  Click OK.
Amplify message in Audacity
  1. Watch your audio waves grow!
Audio file displayed and showing enlarged sound waves in Audacity

Reduce background noise

Let’s say your audio sounds clean, but there is this consistent white noise sound in the background.  That static can be distracting for your audience.  The steps below will help you remove those sounds and give you a much cleaner and crisper sound.

  1. Find an area in your audio where there is a straight line.  Something like the image below.
Audio file displayed in Audacity with a straight line circled
  1. Highlight a chunk of the straight line
Audio file displayed in Audacity with a straight line highlighted
  1. Click Effects > Noise Reduction
Effects menu in Audacity
  1. Click Get Noise Profile (do not mess with the levels in Step 2 of the pop-up screen)
Noise reduction menu in Audacity
  1. Double click the entire audio file so the whole thing is now highlighted
  2. Click Effects > Repeat Noise Reduction
  3. Give your audio a listen and see if it sounds cleaner.  You can always repeat these steps for additional noise removal.

Remove unwanted noise (Option 1)

There are going to be parts of your audio file that you don’t want in the final product.  The steps below help you quickly trim the audio file and remove areas that you want removed before publishing.

  1. Highlight an area of the audio you want to completely remove and click Edit > Cut (or Ctrl+X) 
Audio file displayed in Audacity with a portion of the sound file highlighted
  1. You should see the highlight area removed
Audio file displayed in Audacity with a portion of the sound file removed

Remove unwanted noise (Option 2)

Let’s say that you want to silence a section of audio, but not cut it out.  Maybe there is a specific timing that you need to keep so you don’t want to cut it out completely and shorten your entire audio file.  This process will silence an area of audio without impacting the time.

  1. Highlight an area of the audio you want to silence
Audio file displayed in Audacity with a portion of the sound file highlighted
  1. Click Ctrl+L
  2. You should see the highlight area removed
Audio file displayed in Audacity with a portion of the sound file removed

Finally, the list below is by no means a complete list of the information that is available out there.  It is, however, a great starting point for anyone looking for a handful of resources to get them on the right track toward podcast editing glory.

We hope you are now well on your way to knowing how to edit podcast audio in Audacity. If you want to read more of our Behind the Scenes learnings, please check them out here!

– Trevor Lightfoot

Wheelhouse Factory Team - Trevor Lightfoot - Executive Officer - headshot photo

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