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5 Sound Editing Essentials for Beginners

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

In the past, sound was recorded over tapes. Mistakes or bad takes in recordings couldn't be undone unless the bad parts were cut from the tape. (a very tedious process)

Today things have changed. The film industry now rely heavily on technology for the most simplest and most complex processes in production.

It's been the most reliable and effective means to productivity. Today, any regular computer can be used for multimedia purposes, editing sound and creating simple videos.

Some big companies have dedicated their resources to creating computer programs and processes for production and post production.

These programs can record audio on your computer, edit( make changes, undo and redo changes, cut, copy, paste... etc.) - everything saved on your computer hard drive.

These programs allow you work on the most complex project whilst keeping your project organised. We live in better times, but a lot more is required from us if we must fully maximize the capacities of computer technology.

These post will point out just about all the basic tools required to get started. There are still a lot of many other things to know, and acquire. But these few will get you started in the right direction. This journey is a marathon, not a sprint. I'm still running mine.

1. A computer/Laptop

When setting up your own audio production studio for the first time a computer would probably be one of the most expensive gears you will buy. I usually recommend that beginners buy the fastest computer they can afford.

There has been a lot of debates on what to go for - Macs or PCs. I think your choice would depend on your preference, budget and what is easier for you to upgrade when the need arises. If you are not sure whether you want to commit fully to sound editing don't spend much on anything.

Your preference for a desktop or a laptop would depend on how you plan to work. Do you move around a lot and would need to work on the go? Would you prefer working in a studio space? Would you need to work with a large screen? These are just some fundamental question types you will need to discover and answer yourself.

RAMs are also very important for sound production because your computer will be dealing with a lot of real-time processes.


2. A Sound card

Computers usually come rigged with inbuilt soundcards. However there are not ideal for a certain level of quality in production. Consequently, external soundcards became a necessity.

Advantages of External Soundcards

- capable of capturing better audio quality

- capable of recording multiple Microphones

- can connect with studio speakers/monitors and headphones simultaneously for choice sound monitoring.

- designed to improve the lag/latency/delay between your sound recording and real time monitoring.

- expands the functionality of your computer's audio management.

- your computer sound card isn't used, hence conserving your system resources.


3. A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)/Audio Interface

A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is the program used to record, edit and mix audio or music on your computer.

There are several DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) to pick from. Pro Tools, Nuendo, Reaper, Adobe Audition etc. I usually recommend Adobe Audition for beginners because it is affordable and it gives just about any functionality needed from a world-class DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

An audio is the intermediary between your Computer DAW and your other instruments.

There are several Audio Interfaces ranging from cheap to expensive. For beginners I would recommend combo deals like the Scarlett solo OR 2i2 Studio by Focusrite: This package includes a soundcard, a condenser microphone and a closed- back headphones.

Here’s why:

  1. I believe they are cheaper than buying them separately

  2. You will not have compatibility issues with connectivity


4 Headphones & Studio Monitors


You only need one pair of headphones. it is also very important to note that your quality of headphones would determine what you can hear. (this does not mean you won’t need hear training too!) Most of your recordings and editings will be monitored by you and you will need an accurate headphone for this purpose.

For studio purposes Headphones are made in 2 very specific designs:

  1. Closed back Headphones: This type offers sound isolation (i.e. it blocks off other sounds from interfering with what you hear from the Headphones. I found out that cheap closed back Headphones have lower sound quality whilst providing good sound Isolation. However, expensive closed back headphones are excellent at both.

2. Open Back Headphones: This type offers you more sound quality at the expense of sound isolation. This type of Headphone is useful at gigs where a musician would need to hear himself from the headphone and also hear the music or sound coming from the other musicians in the room.

Usually, a Sound designer would need a closed back headphones for recording sounds particularly when recording outdoors. When working from a soundproof studio an open back headphone will be great for mixing.

Studio Monitors

Mixing has always been done on speakers : studio monitors or nearfield monitors. Studio Monitors are frequency - flattened speakers which provides a clear and neutral, or uncoloured sound to accurately judge your mix.


5 Sound Recorders

Sound recorders are very handy tools which help you capture sounds while on the move without carrying a laptop, and a Microphone. Sound recorders are designed to capture and store your desired sounds, allowing you monitor the levels of your recordings, playback and listen to your recordings. These recordings can then be transferred to your computer for further editing.

Look for affordable recorders you can buy. Zoom H4 or Zoom H6N

Bonus point: a good table and a comfortable office chair is important. (it may sound trivial until you start working for 8 to 12 hrs)

Are you still very excited about sound editing?

What other things would you like to know about becoming a sound editor?

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