As we mentioned in the previous lesson, recording your podcast audio is just the beginning. Just like any creative endeavor, a little polish is necessary before you present it to the world. Take a little extra time to balance the levels between multiple speakers, doing a little EQ and dynamics processing, and add an intro and outro to your podcast, will make your podcast stand out as professional and worth the listen.
After you have recorded your audio, you will want to set the mix level for each track in your podcast. Your goal is to set each speaker's voice to a consistent volume level. In general, each speaker should set so that the level of each voice is the same. To do this, enable the Mix button in the lower right-hand corner of Studio One Prime so that you can view the Studio One console. The level of each track is controlled by its respective fader.
It's important to keep in mind that you can set the channel faders wherever they need to be to produce the best result while not clipping the master bus, but if you are increasing the level of a channel well above unity just for it to be heard in your mix, maybe your other channels are too loud. Try lowering the levels of the rest of your mix.
It's also possible that recording level for this channel wasn't hot enough. If that's the case, you can use Studio One Prime's Event Gain function. Conversely, if an audio file is much louder than the other tracks (but not clipping - once a file is clipped, this cannot be undone), you can adjust the level using this same control. To adjust the level of an audio event globally, select it with your mouse, then click on the middle square at the top of the file. Use your mouse to increase or decrease the level to taste.
Adding EQ and Dynamics
After you have set the initial levels of each source so that they are even, you can use the Channel Strip plug-in in Studio One to sculpt the sound. The Channel Strip plug-in consists of four processors in one easy-to-use plug-in:
- Low Cut Filter. Also known as a high pass filter, a low cut filter attenuates all frequencies below a set threshold, while letting every frequency above the set threshold passes through uneffected.
- Compressor. A compressor reduces the gain of a signal as it exceeds a set threshold. By limiting the dynamic range of a signal, a compressor helps to provide better clarity and presence of each signal in the mix. For more information on compression other forms of dynamics processing, please review this article.
- Downward Expander. In contrast to compression, which decreases the level of a signal after it rises above the compression threshold, downward expansion decreases the level of a signal after the signal goes below the expansion threshold. The amount of level reduction is determined by the expansion ratio. This type of expansion reduces the level of a signal when the signal falls below a set threshold level. This is most common used for noise reduction.
- Semi-Parametric EQ. On a semi-parametric EQ, the gain and frequency are adjustable but the Q and bandwidth are fixed at a preset value. In this way, you can boost or cut the low, mid, and high bands centered around a frequency of your choice.
Channel Strip also provides the option to apply automatic gain correction at the EQ phase so that the input-signal and output-signal levels match, making it simple to get a great sound.
Let's take a quick look at the available controls in Channel Strip:
- LC and Freq. Click on the LC button to engage/disengage the Low Cut filter. Adjust the frequency control (Freq) to change the filter's cutoff frequency.
- Compress. This control adjusts the compression amount from Off to 100% by simultaneously adjusting the compression threshold and ratio.
- Expand. This control adjusts the downward expansion amount from Off to 100% by simultaneously adjusting the expander threshold and ratio.
- Fast/Medium/Slow. This adjusts the averaging speed of the dynamics processing. A slower speed may help to reduce artifacts with some audio material. In general, the default Medium setting will work well for spoken word applications.
- Low. Use the top knob to adjust the gain of the low band and the knob below to adjust the center frequency of the band. You can also use the handle in the EQ display to make adjustments to each band.
- Mid. Use the top knob to adjust the gain of the mid band and the knob below to adjust the center frequency of the band.
- High. Use the top knob to adjust the gain of the high band and the knob below to adjust the center frequency of the band.
- Adaptive Q. This control will change the Q based on whether you are boosting or cutting a band. When this is active, the Q will narrow when cutting and widen when boosting. In general, you will want to leave this feature off for spoken word applications unless you need to notch out a specific frequency.
- Gain. Use this to ajust the output gain. Clicking on the Auto feature will automatically set the output gain to so that 0 dB in equals 0 dB out. It is highly recommended that you leave this feature On unless you are an experienced audio engineer.
You can add the Channel Strip plug-in to any track in your Song by dragging-and-dropping it from the browser. You can also drag an effect or group of effects from one channel to another to copy setting from one track to another and instantly load your favorite preset without ever scrolling through a menu by simply dragging it from the Browser to the track on which you'd like it.
Opening the Browser
In the lower right corner of the Arrange window are three buttons:
- Edit. The Edit button opens and closes the audio and MIDI editors.
- Mix. The Mix button opens and closes the Mixer window.
- Browse. The Browse button opens the browser, which displays all of the available virtual instruments, plug-in effects, audio files, and MIDI files, as well as the pool of audio files loaded into the current session.
To add a plug-in effect to a track, click the Effects button in the browser and select the plug-in or one of its presets in the effects browser. Drag-and-drop the selection over the track to which you would like to add the effect. In our example, you will be selecting the Channel Strip plug-in from the PreSonus Native effects and dragging-and-dropping it on your audio event to load it.
Setting Your Mix
Once you have gone through each channel on your mixer and added some dynamics and EQ to taste, you'll want to adjust the mix levels again to make sure everything sounds even and smooth. Make sure to mind the clip light on the master bus. This should never engage. If it is, you need to lower the levels in your mix.
Now that you've polished your podcast, let's take it to the next level with a professional intro, outro, and bumpers!