Suggested workflow for me please

I am putting together a meditation audio file. Although not a podcast, it seems to me the techniques in creating it would be similar so that is why I am posting it here.

I have recorded my voice at 96k in mono with an AT2035 in a room I treated to be very quiet and it is - except for the macbook fan every so often. My voice files seem to have good range and a low noise floor.
I have 4 individual voice files + a music background file which I will later mix in audacity.

I want to know in what order should I do things…

  1. Should I take a sample of the macbook fan noise and use noise reduction first on each file, before I do anything else? Or is it better to do noise reduction at a later point in the work flow?

  2. In what order should voice efx be applied? EQ/compression/reverb/ or compression/EQ/reverb ? to make my voice a bit better.

  3. Once I get all the audio files in place in the mix, should I use auto ducking to alter the relationship between the voice and the background music? Or just reduce the gain of the music globally across the entire mix (ie 40% reduction in music gain)

  4. When everything sounds OK, normalize the entire thing.

    Is this the correct workflow?

Or is it better to do noise reduction at a later point in the work flow?

It’s far better not to do noise reduction. Go > Utilities > Activity Monitor. Find out what’s taking up all the resources. It’s not normal for MacBooks to crank up their fans periodically. Restart the Mac and make sure none of the background services (Skype, iCloud) starts. Disconnect the network and turn off WiFi, Bluetooth, Location Services, etc. etc.

I haven’t heard anyone ducking the background music in a long time. I think they stopped doing that in favor of leaving the background music in the background for the whole thing. Sometimes, producers time it so the background music stops at the end of the show. They bring it up as a signature farewell. Of course that means you need to plan the show.

And listen to it. If you don’t have good speakers anywhere in the house, then good headphones are required. I mean actual sealed headphones, not earbuds.

There’s nothing like comments about having that funny noise in the background of your podcast… and you can’t hear anything.

In what order should voice efx be applied?

Um. Don’t do anything to it? There’s two problems with presenting an effects laundry list right at the top of the production. You have to do it at each and every show and that’s going to get tired about the fourth or fifth show. And, of course, you can’t make any mistakes.

Also, you’re building in work that may conflict with rescues. If you have to apply a notch filter and noise reduction for an interview, which order do you do it?

Export WAV (Microsoft) sound files of each live recording. Put them in a safe place like a stand-alone drive or maybe Thumb Drive. There’s just nothing like having Audacity go headfirst into the dirt and take the only copy of your show with it. Do Not use Audacity Projects for this.

There is one effect that’s pretty much normal for spoken word podcasts: leveling. We published Level Speech to do automatic voice compression and management.

Let us know how that works. I do leveling using older tools and the AudioBook Mastering Suite uses yet a different collection of tools.

Fair warning. Nothing signals a nine year old trying to do a podcast than room echoes. The current fashion of bare wood floors and plain white walls is a Hostile Recording Environment.

You might better record in the garage.

I know someone who regularly cranked out good quiet voice tracks and I couldn’t figure out how he did it.

He was recording in his car.

This is me writing that down.


Thanks for all those tips. My room is pretty good, even though I am in an urban setting (downtown Toronto - streetcars!). Also I did my recording after midnight when things are quieter.

The sound product I am creating is meant only for use in headphones and I have a very good pair (Sony MDR 7506) that I like a lot. I am also going to try to listen to the mix in a variety of other headphones and earbuds as that is the only way people will be listening to the finished product.

I have used audacity for many years but simply as a tool to do minor edits on a sound files (I am a hobbyist DJ), but this is the first time I am using audacity to record and do a final mix of tracks.

There is so much information in here and in the audacity manual. I guess I will keep everything as simple as I can and then ask in these forums if I run across issues I need to resolve.

Thanks everyone.

I did my recording after midnight when things are quieter.

I do that. I have a soundproofed bedroom, but I live on a busy street. I haven’t gotten around to building a panel for the window.

Sony MDR 7506

Did you recognize the ones on Mr. Greene in the pix? That’s NPR-West in Culver City, CA. If you walk onto any movie set and ask for headphones, somebody will hand you one of those.

this is the first time I am using audacity to record and do a final mix of tracks.

You are really going into the extended editing time.

I have recorded my voice at 96k in mono

You can do that, but is there any real reason you’re not using the more normal standards? 44100 at 16-bit? Much higher than that you can be generating enormous sound files for no good reason. And there are reasons not to. Your computer has to keep up with live recording and the higher the standards, the more likely you’ll be back here complaining about stuttering or skipping in the show.

That and while you’re doing editing, Audacity makes UNDO by saving a copy of The Whole Production. All of it. So make sure your internal drives have lot of room and you have external drives for storage and safety copies.

Home recording is not for the easily frightened. Take a peek at the audiobook mastering post. In general, if you can pass that, you can publish anywhere.


I do have a headphone note. The MDR-7506s are terrific for showing you sound damage and problems before anybody else hears them.

But I can’t use them for enjoying a movie in bed. I’m not interested in hearing all the sound errors in the movie. I just want to enjoy the show.

Different job.