Montreal Radio Blog

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Digital Sound Editing

I spent a couple of months at CKUT during the summer of 1997. I had hoped to gain some on air experience, but aside from recording a commercial, I got stuck in the music library. While I was there, the library was in a very cramped room. I haven’t been to the place since that summer, so they may have changed things around since then. Anyway, there was a way of labelling the CDs, records and tapes and this old Macintosh computer for entering each item into the records. Obviously, like all radio stations now, the station has since gone digital. I think/hope they have also since installed air conditioning. Back then, the place was unbelievably hot in the summer.

I’ve heard stories of how radio people used to have to splice tape back in the day. At CKUT, I was supposed to take a little training on the basics of radio. I only attended one meeting, but that is where I learned the splicing technique, complete with the use of a pretty sharp blade. I was fortunate enough to get through the lesson with all my fingers intact. I can’t say that I still remember how it was done. We would use a similar kind of technique when splicing film once upon a time. Obviously, it was a painstaking way of editing. One mistake could not only ruin your content, but cause physical harm.

There are some pretty cool looking tape reel machines at Radio Centre-Ville. I wonder when they were last put to use. Fortunately, we’ve gone past the tape days. Now we do our editing on computers using some pretty nifty pieces of software. Adobe Audition is the standard at most radio stations, although there are other audio software packages out there. I was first introduced to Audition at the Montreal Radio and Television School. Like everything else, practice is the only way to learn it. You can manipulate your audio almost completely to a point. Still, if it is really bad, there is only so much that can be done to make it “listenable”. In terms of digital “splicing”, your edits can literally sound flawless if done correctly. Of the utmost importance, you can also monitor your waves as you record.

Audition is a huge and expensive program. Many find it out of reach for home use. You can however download it for a free 30 day trial. Fortunately, there are quite a few smaller free programs you can download. They will by no means give you to same degree of control or quality the bigger programs have, but they can still do a pretty nice job. One such piece of software is called Audacity. It isn’t flashy, but it gets the job done. You will need to download an add-on in order to save in MP3 format.

Whether you use something basic or powerful, it beats using a blade… Progress is a great thing.

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