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Reaper: Speedy Podcast Editing

Cockos Reaper Tips & Techniques By Matt Houghton
Published January 2023

Speedy Podcast Editing

With a bit of fine‑tuning, Reaper can help you edit long podcasts at pace!

I’ve been doing a fair bit of podcast production recently and while editing tasks are usually pretty simple, most need to be performed many dozens of times for each speaker. With two presenters and a guest speaking for 45 minutes or so, this can add up to a dizzying number of key presses, mouse clicks and drags, and previewing time. So even the tiniest efficiency tweaks can save you a lot of time on each production.

In this article, I’ll take you through some of the approaches I’ve adopted and Custom Actions I’ve created which help me to edit dialogue‑based podcasts quickly. Combined with some judicious processing decisions, they’ve reduced the time I spend on post‑production dramatically. But before I dive in, let me offer credit where it’s due: Jon Tidey’s The Reaper Blog is a rich resource of video tutorials for Reaper, and I’ve drawn much inspiration for my approach from them; I strongly recommend checking out his https://reaperblog.net site.

Overall Approach

For one of my regular projects, a typical podcast must last no longer than 45 minutes. The raw recordings are often circa 50 minutes, so edits are needed to bring the overall time down, as well as to attend to problems and improve the flow of the conversation. Each episode has two or sometimes three speakers, each of whom records in a different location (a domestic room or office) to a separate file using Zencastr.

I’ll start by normalising each person’s recording to the same Integrated LUFS, both to put them in the same ballpark level‑wise and ensure they’re hitting the thresholds in my default processing chain roughly where they need to right from the off.

Some people prefer not to start processing until the editing work is complete but I prefer to work the other way around, since the processing often emphasises certain things I wished I’d attended to with edits but didn’t notice at the time! As for the processing itself, I’ll generally use iZotope RX10 to tackle some of the inevitable noise issues, and lean on Accentize DeRoom Pro to tame the room sound (reviews of both can be found elsewhere in this issue). The processing chain in Reaper also includes some basic stuff like EQ and compression, a de‑esser (two, actually!) and Oeksound Soothe, and I’ve created presets for each regular speaker in each frequently used location. There are de‑breather plug‑ins available, but I prefer to tackle breaths with edits, as described later.

When editing, I’ll look to remove or truncate silences, tame breath sounds, cut out or filter bumps, bangs, pen clicks and the like, delete unnecessary repetitions, reduce the number of filler words and so forth. A dual aim all the while is to respect each person’s natural pace and delivery style, and make the whole thing seem like a natural conversation to the listener.

Most work will be carried out in the ‘Ripple editing all tracks’ mode: when engaged, if you cut or move a section on one track, everything to the right on all tracks moves left accordingly. You can set this using the grid icon, top left of the project page, but I prefer to switch to/from this mode using steps in my Custom Actions, since this prevents me carelessly leaving it on or off (and so prevents me making mistakes off screen when I’m zoomed in).

Some detailed individual edits are done in Reaper, while others require RX10, which I’ve set up in Reaper as my primary External Audio Editor (you can have two), with a keyboard shortcut to open a copy of the selected clip in RX10. That way, I hit one button, do my RX work, then save over the original (duplicate) file and it’s job done; the original remains as an alternative (but...

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