Most podcasts involve two people talking – only the very talented can deliver a monologue that will capture people’s attention for any period of time. For most of us, podcasts tend to be a conversation or an interview involving you and someone else.
In live radio the interview happens, then it’s on to the next thing. In the pre-recorded world of podcasts you have the opportunity to fine tune things. If it makes the final result sound better, why not?
You’ll find editing a lot easier if you record your voice and your subject on separate tracks, particularly if you are connecting to someone on Skype or over the phone.
It can be tricky setting up your gear to record in two tracks, but it’s worth the effort. I use a PreSonus AudioBox as my digital source, plugged in to the USB on my computer. There’s a bit of jiggery pokery around setting up your channels (which I’ll explain in a later blog), but the upshot is, I can hear my interview subject and place them on a separate track to my own voice.
In Skype, choose Tools > Options, then select Audio Settings. Choose your microphone from the drop down menu, then for speakers select the source that you will use for your second audio track. Again, a deeper explanation of this set-up will follow. Note the configuration in this picture though – my mic is Line 1/2 on AudioBox, the Speakers are Line Out 3 /4.
I use Adobe Audition, in part because I used CoolEdit years ago and have followed the migration. These days I also edit video so the synergies between all the Adobe Creative Suite products is too compelling to use anything else.
In the shot below you can see how I have set up two channels to match the configuration in Skype. I don’t necessarily recommend Skype, by the way. Again, I will look at alternatives in a future blog post. Anyway, when I record each source – my voice and the interview subject – is recorded as a separate track.
There’s one big benefit of two track recordings for interviews – it makes it easier to close the gap when there’s a delay in your internet connection. The pause between you asking a question and the respondent giving an answer can become tiresome, so tighten it up. Simply cut the audio on each channel and shunt the second track closer to the end of your talking in the first track. I do this so often I could do it in my sleep.
It’s also useful when you want to cut down some of the talk – either yours or the interviewee. Sometimes the point at which you want to cut in is obliterated by your talking. A clean feed of the second voice makes it easier to edit at the right point. If it sounds a bit unnatural you could even revoice your question to try and make the continuity a little smoother.
Radio purists might see this all as cheating – an interview is an interview and it should be live, with minimal editing. Maybe, but on podcasts and pre-records I see no harm in tidying the content up to make it sound tight. It doesn’t interfere with the flow of the conversation. Quite the opposite, it removes the distractions, including those delays produced by the speed of the internet. Dome well, the result should be a more natural, free flowing conversation.