Ernest Hemingway once wrote that “the only kind of writing is rewriting.” He meant, essentially, that good writing requires a ton of self-editing.
The same goes for any other type of creative work, including podcasts. There’s a great distance between the initial spark of an idea and finished, polished content with the power to captivate your audience.
But for podcasters, covering that distance requires a lot more technical prowess than it takes to edit and revise text. Most of us learned to type before we finished high school, but few of us knew anything about splicing audio clips or adjusting EQ until we tried making a podcast.
This is where Descript comes in. In Descript you edit your audio by editing the transcript. It’s an empowering tool, and if you’ve never tried editing audio before, you’ll probably find Descript to be vastly more intuitive and easier to use than most editing software choices, which come with lots of great features — but also a steep learning curve.
But even if you have podcast-editing experience, Descript is worth checking out. Because in addition to letting you edit your podcast the same way you’d edit a doc, Descript also comes with some cool features that can help you turn your rough cut into a studio-quality podcast.
Four Descript Editing Tools We Love
Quickly tune up your podcast with these unique features
1. Automatic Filler Word Removal
If you’ve edited audio for a podcast you’ve probably spent far more hours than you’d care to count editing out filler words like “um” and “uh.” We all use those verbal tics and we all hate hearing ourselves use them when we play back our audio.
Editing them out is tricky, though, because they’re so ingrained in the natural rhythm of our speech. In most editing software you have to carefully clip each filler word out, then add back some combination of fades and room noise to make it sound like you never said “um” in the first place. The process can be maddening.
Descript lets you remove all the filler words — ”ums” and “uhs” and other common verbal tics — in as few as two clicks.
It’s super simple. When you upload your audio or transcript into Descript it will underline all the filler words. Click on any one of them to see a dropdown with Remove Filler Words right on top. Click that and Descript will show you all the filler words in the search bar to your left; from there you can select which ones you want to remove or just remove them all with a single click.
If as you listen you find some of those cuts abrupt or awkward, you can easily add the filler word back — leaving a few can actually help your podcast sound more natural — or replace it with room noise to smooth out the transition.
2. Overdub Voice Cloning
Descript’s Overdub tool allows you to add or change words in your original voice recording just by typing them into your transcript.
Let that sink in. Normally, when you use the wrong word or name in your recording, or leave out an important word or phrase, you have to go back and re-record that portion of the podcast, then splice it into the original. It takes forever and it’s difficult to make it sound natural, especially in the middle of a sentence.
Overdub lets you skip pretty much all of that. You create your clone-voice by recording yourself reading a script into Descript; it takes between 10 and 30 minutes (the longer you record, the more natural your voice will sound). You’ll want to record in the same place, with the same microphone, tone and energy you use to record your podcast.
From then on, whenever you need to add a word or phrase into your recording, you can simply type them into the transcript. Descript will generate your voice speaking what you typed. If you meant to say “garlic” but you said “onion,” you can simply highlight “onion” in the transcript, tap the backspace key and type in “garlic.”
Overdub also matches the tone and cadence of the surrounding audio. It’s not perfect, but most listeners won’t be able to detect that you made the change, or that a clone version of your voice just popped into your podcast.
It’s worth noting that Descript also offers eight stock voices, created by professional voice actors, that you can use for any project. You could create a short podcast using one of those voices, add an interlude with a new narrator or do something else creative. Just choose a voice and start typing.
3. Multitrack Editing & Sequences
If you do interviews for your podcast, or have more than one person talking, you’ve probably done your share of multitrack editing. It’s a standard feature in just about any editing software.
But Descript’s multitrack editor comes with some unique features that, again, make it easier to edit and fine-tune a podcast.
If you’re recording over Zoom or some other remote-capture application, it’s probably giving you two audio files when you’re finished. To edit in Descript you just drag both of them into a new project; it will detect that you’ve got a multitrack recording and ask you to enter the names of the speakers associated with each track.
Then it will generate a single transcript that combines both audio tracks. From there you can edit just as you would a single track recording — in the transcript.
And while the main Descript editor shows you a combined timeline with both audio tracks, you can also work on the tracks separately, in what Descript calls Sequences. So if your dog starts barking while your guest is talking, you can edit it out without altering the guest’s track.
4. Audiograms for Social Media
Audiograms are a proven way to drive more listeners to your podcast via social media. If you created your podcast in Descript, you can create an audiogram to promote it without leaving the app.
Once you’ve finished editing in Descript, there are two easy ways to make audiograms. You can create a duplicate version of your podcast then edit that transcript down to an audiogram-length clip. Or, working in the edited version of the original, you can highlight the audio portions you want and clip them into a new file — one click.
Either way, when you export the clip as an audiogram, Descript lets you choose one of several free templates for presenting it on social channels. If you have the Descript Pro account, you can also import your podcast cover art or another image of your own.
Descript also makes publishing simple: when you’re happy with your edits and ready to unleash your content on the world, you click the Publish button right above your transcript, and then export it to Castos, or wherever you want, in just a few clicks.
There are plenty of other Descript features worth checking out. And the app is updated regularly so we expect that lots more useful tools are on the way.