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On editing podcast episodes at 1x

For the last few years, I’ve edited podcast episodes at around 1.6x the normal playback speed. Over the last few days, working on my own projects and those for clients, I’ve dropped down to 1x and have noticed two key things:

  1. The edit probably takes around the same amount of time.
  2. I’m enjoying the process.

So, why might an edit at 1.6x take the same amount of time as an edit at 1x? Because if, like me, you edit in Descript and you remove lots of filler words, what you can end up with is lots of edits you have to hand-check. Added to that is the issue that some edits sound much clumsier at 1.6x than they do at 1x, because the playback system in Descript isn’t as sophisticated as something you’d get in a real DAW. So by listening at 1x (“as God intended”), I’m encountering fewer false positives.

The second point surprised me, but it really shouldn’t have. I don’t know about you, but if I rush a task, I’m not holding it in particularly high value. I’m signalling to my brain – never mind the client – that it’s something to be “got through”, rather than a piece of important work.

To be clear, I’ve never phoned in an edit for a client. I’m not saying I’ve got it perfectly right every time, but I always try my best, even if that means kneeling on the floor of a hotel room and resting my laptop on the bed (an example from just a few months ago).

But the signals we send to our brains about our work informs the sort of work we’ll take on in the future. If we train our brains to say “let’s just get this edit out of the way”, we’re not valuing our own working time very well.

I like working in Descript, mainly because it allows me to do the kind of editing work that I think is important, which is less about layering effects and EQ to make everyone sound like they’re on a thousand dollar mic, and more about preserving and highlighting conversations that matter.

As an editor, I’m curious about the conversations I get to listen in on, so it’s rewarding to spend time with the insights my clients are teasing from their guests. By spending real time with the edit, rather than rushing through it, I get to indulge my own curiosity, learn new things, and – due to the nature of the people I get to work with – become a more-improved human.

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