Open Source Podcast Mastering with Audacity

Published July 2, 2023

I haven’t mentioned it much, but I’ve had a casual podcast with a friend since late 2018. We don’t upload often, but it’s been a fun low-stakes side project. If you like reading this sort of stuff, you’ll probably like Avocodo.

Anyways, from the beginning we were doing it as scrappily as possible:

  1. free platform hosting via Anchor (now Spotify for Podcasters)
  2. free1 file storage with a .edu Google Drive
  3. free recording & editing with Audacity

Figuring out how to leverage Audacity for our needs was certainly a learning curve where we pieced together the workflow and certainly failed a few times as we improved. Podcasts seem to still be the hip thing, so I’m hoping by doing a semi-polished copypasta knowledge dump that I’ll be paying it forward.

One final caveat before the dump: you’ll still want some decent recording hardware like a discrete microphone2. There’s a good chance you’ll also benefit from an inexpensive USB audio card.

Now, without further ado.

Recording

Mastering

  1. Align tracks based on audio cue (when the levels spike)
  2. Check late in recording for clock drift
    1. Find an audio source late in recording to reference & either do math or guess (typically << 1% drift)
    2. Fix with Effect > Change Speed (select single track w/ double click)
  3. Noise removal if necessary w/ Effect > Noise Reduction
  4. Using Chris’s Dynamic Compressor select both tracks w/ Ctrl/Cmd + a
  5. Final touches:
    • Can add silence (Generate > Silence)
    • Any bleeps & stuff (Generate > Tone [sine, 1000, .8])
    1. Trim beginning & end
    2. Add short Fade In/Out to beginning/end (Effect > Fade In/Out)

Publishing

This certainly less useful for the general population but I’m including it in the spirit of openness and keeping parity with the source document.

NB

My final note would be that this is not a time-friendly process. I typically find that I spend twice the length of the raw recording time in the editing and publishing stage of the pipeline. For example, if I spend 2 hours recording raw audio, then I typically spend another 4 before it’s fully published.

This is partially due to my editing style: I end up listening to the recording in full as I make edits end-to-end. There are certainly optimizations to be made. But I also personally find it a productive use of my time and enjoy it overall.


  1. Not really free because tuition and the added headache of needing to transfer files after unlimited” alum access was terminated EOY 2022.↩︎

  2. I call this out specifically because typically the default builtin microphones on headsets aren’t good. If you’re looking for recommendations I’ve personally used both the ModMic and Massdrop Minimic.↩︎


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Last modified July 9, 2024  #documentation   #words 


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