Software I love: Audacity, Levelator, and GoldWave

I’m catching up on a lot of podcast production at the moment. My tools of choice are

I love these tools, and I simply wanted to give them a shout-out, since I depend on them so much. If you have no interest in audio editing or podcast production techniques, you can safely leave it at that and skip the rest of this post …

Currently, I record using an external mixer and digital recorder (I’ll detail that in a later post). Then I process the audio using Audacity’s noise filter (removes hiss really well) and GoldWave’s noise gate (a compressor/expander setting that I tweaked to remove background typing and breathing). After that, I run the result through Levelator, which is like a smart compressor/maximizer. That whole process takes about 30 minutes for processing, but it’s mindless. You can get pretty good quality by avoiding the first two steps and just running it through Levelator, but I find that the extra effort of each step worth it.

Once I have the audio processed, I listen to it in audacity and delete any particularly egregious ums, ahs, and pauses. I used to spend a tiny but noticeable bit of extra effort to make myself sound less stupid (perk of doing the production), but I’m getting over that. I edit two separate tracks, but I mix down to mono – my assumption is that the resulting audio file is smaller, but I should double-check that, since it usually sounds slightly better with a tiny bit of stereo separation.

A podcast consists of several files stitched together. I have separate audio files for opening, closing, and transitions. I use a simple file naming scheme (01 opening, 02 intro, etc.) to make sure all the files for a given podcast are in the right order. Then I use GoldWave to merge the files. I could do that in Audacity, but it’s more automated in GoldWave. I save the result as a .WAV and then use GoldWave to convert it to an .mp3. I manually edit the .mp3 properties in Windows explorer. That’s probably somewhat error-prone – I should automate that with a PowerShell script or something.

There is probably a better way to do this whole process, but this way works – and I have great appreciation for the people who make all these pieces of software. Audacity is free. GoldWave is shareware. Levelator is donationware. Check ‘em out.

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