recording-studio-knobs-mixing-board-audio-editing Voice Acting

3 Common (Yet Avoidable) Audio Editing Mistakes

How much do you care about pristine audio? If you don’t care much, let me assure you that those on the receiving end of your recordings do. That said, paying attention to the little things and making corrections before submitting auditions can make a big difference!

Instantly improve the quality of your auditions, not to mention the final project that you deliver to the client, be it just the audio files, a video, voice-over mixed with music or a broadcast quality commercial ready for prime-time by applying these three solutions in article.

How Sharp Are Your Listening Skills?

Voice actors working from home recording studios are expected to have a certain level of proficiency with their tools, be they hardware or software. As you might have gathered, audio editing skills are very important!

Even so, without sharp listening skills that can be developed with ear training, being able to spot areas of improvement becomes difficult.

If you’re new to the field of audio, and editing in particular, you’d benefit from taking some ear training with our in-house audio producer.

Randy provides Ear Training for Recording and Editing Audio

To make a great audio recording you need to be a great listener.

3 Common Audio Editing Mistakes

Here are just three areas to be aware of when recording, whether you’re doing an audition or submitting final audio for a project you’ve been contracted to do.

Mistake #1 – Page Turns and Pencil Rolls

You would think that in today’s day and age, page turns were a thing of the past. Let me say that they’re still here! If you’re one of those people that prefers reading from a tangible script (no judgment here, I prefer to read printed books), you might find that you’re turning pages during a recording but forgetting to go back and editing those telltale sounds out. It could also be that your pencil has a habit of rolling away and distracting you from giving a flawless performance. What should you do?

Solution – Display Your Script Digitally

Consider using an iPad to read off of or investing in dual monitors. If you’re a fan of multiple tabs or windows, try using one of those to read your script off of. Keeping your script on a tablet or screen will prevent page turns and other sounds that go along with having a paper script. Rest assured that even if you’re used to marking up a script with a pen or pencil, there are ways to do this digitally that are just as effective. Another perk for going digital on this front is that you won’t need a music stand necessarily or have pencils fall to the ground during your recording.

Mistake #2 – Sentence Fragments and False Starts

When reading through a script, it can be easy to read something twice by accident or make a mistake and start again. Sometimes, there’s a bit of start/stop that goes on which is fine…unless you forget that these attempts are there and need to be edited out. If you’re not careful though, your multiple run throughs might become part of the final recording instead of earmarked as regions to be removed.

Solution – Listen ALL the Way Through Your Recording

Don’t leave start stops in there. If you make a mistake or read something twice, clap your hands to make spike in your recording that serves as a reminder to go back and edit afterwards. The rule of thumb is that it takes at least twice as long to edit as it does to record. You need to listen all the way through the audio file with both ears and your undivided attention. You might want to do this critical listening wearing a good set of headphones as they will help to block out external distractions that interfere with your ability to concentrate and listen well.

Mistake #3 – Mouth Noises and Extra Breaths

At time, your instrument can be your own worst enemy. From getting tongue tied to a persistent cough, an unpleasant buildup of phlegm or your voice becoming painfully scratchy or hoarse, many different things can happen physiologically that negatively impact your audio recordings. It’s not just how the voice is coming across but also how you’re able to control it, which includes how you’re breathing and where you’re breathing.

Solution – Prevention and Precision

A lot of this has to do with awareness of your instrument, good prep with the script and your ability to support the breath. If you are having trouble with plosives, use a pop filter or smile as you speak to break the air. If you’re noticing esses are a problem, there are de-essers that you can use to minimize sibilance. You might find that you need to clear your throat or cough. These should be edited out for sure! Sometimes there are more breaths included than necessary. Only keep those that make sense and sound natural where they are placed. Similarly, if you remove too many breaths, the way you read could sound robotic or unnatural.

If you get a chance to work with an editor, perhaps the one doing the video editing or sound mixing, ask them what they listen for. Editors have excellent ears and have a knack for ensuring all the tracks play well together and match the scene shot by the videographer.

Got Any Audio Editing Tips to Share?

As you can see, common editing mistakes happen all the time so it’s always best to listen through the complete audio track, do one last look at the video editing and make sure you’re pleased with the production. Cutting out dialogue or mixing in sound effect may not be possible, but at least you’ve done your part to avoid the most common mistakes including clips, papers rustling and extra breaths.

If you’ve got a tried and true method for making sure your audio is broadcast-ready, I’d love to hear it! Be sure to share your thoughts now in a comment.

Take care,

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  • Avatar for Veleka Gray
    Veleka Gray
    June 23, 2016, 10:21 am

    Hi, Stephanie,
    Thanks for all your words of wisdom and thanks for any advice you can give me about software.
    I’m getting back into audio recording after many years, and I understand I need to self-edit my work instead of going to a studio. Can you recommend a punch-and-roll editor for an iMac or recommend someone to tell me where to find one?

  • Avatar for Aaron Kelton
    Aaron Kelton
    August 2, 2016, 12:54 am

    Has nobody answered Veleka’s question? Veleka: I use ocenaudio, and I’ve heard Twisted Wave is also good for the punch-and-roll method.

  • Avatar for Dr Mike Pilon
    Dr Mike Pilon
    March 4, 2017, 9:44 pm

    I have used Audacity with some success. And it is free.:)

  • Avatar for Dr Michael Pilon
    Dr Michael Pilon
    August 8, 2017, 9:12 pm

    When I transfer a script to digital I use an I Pad as my “script” instead ofpaper. And I will add pauses and isolate each sentence.. placing many on separate that t is not a long read..Then I can edit out pauses in the audio

  • Avatar for DJ Walker
    DJ Walker
    August 10, 2017, 12:54 pm

    Warming up your instrument is a must.
    Mouth exercises, tongue exercises.
    Pre-reading and marking the script helps with the flow of the VO.

    Some software (Twisted Wave for example) has a way to put “Markers” in while recording, so you have a reference to go back to for final editing.

  • Avatar for John Augustine Moran
    John Augustine Moran
    September 25, 2018, 3:06 pm

    If you can utilise a second screen somehow, could be a tablet could be a used television or another less powerful iMac for instance, then a very useful tool is Teleprompt+ 3. If you are also doing character work it’s possible to color code each character to visually and mentally tell your brain where your voice should be.
    nb I have no commercial connection to the makers of Teleprompt+, I just think it’s a good and useful app to be used where applicable.

  • Avatar for BRENDA
    January 23, 2019, 11:46 am

    I use Audacity. It’s a free download & easy to learn.

  • Avatar for Mark Neustadt
    Mark Neustadt
    January 25, 2019, 2:52 pm

    I’m also a fan of Audacity. It does everything that I have needed to do…and as mentioned above…the price is right!

    The other step I take after recording is to at least once listen through an audition while I read along with the script. I’m amazed at how I sometimes I feel like I have a recorded a great audition only to find that I have either missed or worse substituted a word. Catching those early before your MP3 step may save time in having to go back and re-record a section or entire audition.

  • Avatar for AUDREY W WALDEN
    March 15, 2019, 12:29 pm

    Hi there…….I’m using Audacity as well. How did you learn how to edit your recordings before sending them? books? youtube?