Audio Editing: Basics to Know Before You Start

Since you just saved yourself a bundle getting that killer taping done properly, you can now send the raw master to a production company for editing and packaging. The steps that are needed for completion include the editing (removal of unwanted spoken material, stutters and noises in audio and extraneous visuals and adding graphics in video), professional voice introduction and conclusion, and music. Also, for a music product, you need mix down and overdubs. In this blog post I’ll dive into audio editing.

Audio Editing

The recording is loaded into a computer so that it can be edited and processed for optimum sound. Back in the old days we used to record onto and edit 1⁄4” reel-to-reel tape. To edit, you had to visualize words or song going by the playback head until you had the right spot. Then you would mark it with a grease pencil and cut it with a razor blade. Once both spots were cut, the two sections were then taped back together for the new sound. It was quite humorous to watch people’s amazement as they listened to the edit. I guess I took it for granted because I did it so much. Now that I can look back I guess it was pretty impressive.

Today this is all done in a computer, which is equally amazing. My favorite part about computer editing is being able to see the sound waves on the screen, just as I used to imagine the words flashing across the playback head when I was razor editing.

Editing StudioOn average, it can take three hours of editing to clean up one hour of spoken word recording. This does not count the time it takes to load the recorded material into the computer. Ask yourself is how perfect do you want the product. I have seen musicians spend way too much time editing different takes of songs together only to find that their studio bill had skyrocketed and that Take Three was pretty good.

I have edited with professional speakers who edit every flaw and flub to the point of no return, spending more like ten hours editing per every hour of recorded material. You have to ask yourself, is it worth it? Save yourself a lot of time and expense and stick to clean-up editing.

I have even worked with comedians who edited punch lines because the audience response was better in the 7 PM recording but the delivery of the joke was better in the 10 PM recording. Plan your recording and do not try to make it too perfect or you may never have a product.

The going rate for audio studio time is anywhere from $85 to $165 per hour, depending on the market. Video is $150 to $300 per hour. These rates may seem high, but they are necessary because there are a lot of expenses involved in running a studio and providing good customer service.

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