If you're new to audio editing software like Adobe Audition, it can feel a little overwhelming when you open the application and use it for the first time. In this post, I'll walk through some basic settings that will help you create your first podcast recording in Audition. The procedure here is for mac OS, but it should be very similar on Windows.

Warning: Please take the advice offered here with a pinch of salt. I'm far from an expert when it come to audio production or engineering. Your mileage may vary. Also, your recording environment will have a significant impact on what settings you should use, so be sure to play around to get it right for you.

Creating a new recording

Open Adobe Audition and create a new Multitrack Session (File > New > Multitrack Session or ⌘ N). Name the session whatever you like and make sure Podcast is selected under Template. Click OK to continue.

Create a new Multitrack Session

This will create a new session with several preconfigured tracks for Host, Interview, Sound FX and Music Bed.

Default podcast session tracks

Next, let's set up our input and fine tune how our recording will sound.

Monitoring the input

The first thing you'll want to do is monitor your input so you can hear what your environment sounds like through your microphone. Under the Host track, select your microphone from the Input dropdown (highlighted in pink below).

Selecting the input hardware

Once you've selected an input, the R icon will be enabled. Click this and its background will turn red and you should start to see the audio level bar animate as your microphone picks up sounds. Next to the R icon is an I icon - this will switch on input monitoring, and you should start to hear the microphone input coming through your headphones, albeit with a short latency or delay.

Set up for record and monitor input

At this point you might be horrified by what you're hearing. Unless your environment is completely silent (or you are using a rubbish microphone) you will hear absolutely every hum, conversation and activity within a relatively large range. In my case, I was also getting this awful electronic hiss that was almost unbearable. Fear not, we're going to fix all of that right now.

Killing the noise

On the left hand side of the Audition window, you'll see a tab named Effects Rack (see screenshot below). Click on this and you'll see a list of Track Effects. In my case, the Speech Volume Leveler was active. From the Presets dropdown, select Podcast Voice.

Selecting an effect rack preset

This will probably pop up a warning about the CPU-intensive and high-latency impact of real-time playback of some effects. This is due to the Adaptive Noise Reduction effect. Unless you're running on a lightweight computer, this shouldn't affect you too much so don't worry about it.

CPU-intensive and high-latency warning

In my case this improved things a bit, but I still had that annoying electronic hiss. The Podcast Voice preset enabled Speech Volume Leveler - removing this improved things dramatically. In some cases you may need to remove all of the other effects, with the exception of Adaptive Noise Reduction, to get it to sound right. You might also want to tweak some of the individual settings in each preset to get optimal results.

Within Adaptive Noise Reduction, there is a High Quality Mode setting that can improve the noise reduction further. It is pretty CPU intensive, but if your rig is up to it, that can make things better.

Some general tips

All the expensive hardware and software in the world can't help if your recording environment is too noisy and busy. Some common sources of problems:

  • Typical office lighting often gives off a constant hum that your ears adjust to almost instantly after switching them on. Turn these lights off when recording or you'll be battling a hiss from the start.
  • Keep your microphone away from your laptop or computer - its fans or disks will generate significant noise that will be picked up in your recordings.
  • Try and elevate your microphone off a desk if possible, it will help restrict the noise it picks up, and you'll also sound better as your body will be more relaxed as you won't be hunkered over the mic.
  • Record when you know you'll have peace and quiet. Switch your phone on silent (make sure vibration is off too), close the door and windows, tell any loved ones or neighbours to leave you alone for a while and mute all notifications on any computers or tablet devices.