CGC 058 : The Secrets of Audio Editing

//CGC 058 : The Secrets of Audio Editing

CGC 058 : The Secrets of Audio Editing

In this episode of The Classical Guitar Corner Podcast, Simon gives you tips on audio editing. Here Simon picks apart the editing process of classical guitar recordings and will change the way you listen to recordings of classical guitar music. (So, if you’d like not to know in-depth about that process, you might want to skip this episode!) For everyone else, however, this is an excellent look behind the curtain, so to speak, about how to listen anew to some of your favorite recordings and about how you might go about editing your own recordings. There’s also a big announcement at the beginning of the episode, so even if you’d rather skip knowing about the audio editing process of classical guitar recordings, at least have a listen to the first five minutes or so!

Let’s dig in to the secrets of audio editing.

2018-02-04T17:33:43+00:0022 Comments


  1. Linda Tsardakas February 4, 2018 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    Thank you Simon for another interesting podcast. It’s good to know about editing being done but I have no problem with someone trying to give a listener the best representation of what they can do. It’s amazing what technology is capable of today!

    • Dave Belcher February 5, 2018 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      It really is amazing isn’t it, Linda?! Thanks for your comment.


      Dave B (CGC team)

  2. Roger Ramirez February 5, 2018 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Great podcast. I’ve known about this technology but haven’t fully used it. I’ve added some reverb and compression to my recordings before but never quite understood what they were other than that it sounded better. As far as editing I think it depends on the audience. I think on an educational site like this, where students are recording themselves to improve and to get feedback from their peers, it would be a disservice to themselves and their peers. If on the other hand you are recording yourself for a wider audience that might listen to your recording for pleasure many times over I think it would be welcome. But I still think there is something special about a live unedited recording.

    • Dave Belcher February 5, 2018 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Roger. I agree there is definitely something special about a live, unedited recording (from both a performance and listening standpoint).


      Dave B (CGC team)

  3. Kari Conroy February 6, 2018 at 2:19 am - Reply

    A very interesting podcast. Audio editing of recordings is like photoshop post-processing of photos. I feel like both are fun ways to create.
    Alas, I don’t know anything about audio editing. But I’m glad to get a window into it.

    As a student, I feel I should present unedited work. All blemishes are revealed so that I can grow as a player and work on my weeknesses and celebrate my strengths.

    As a listener, audio performances are like art. They can be edited to create sounds for a listener to enjoy. It really gets the mind going to what is possible.

    • Dave Belcher February 11, 2018 at 2:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kari!


      Dave B (CGC team)

  4. Rick Lord February 6, 2018 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this helpful and relevant podcast. As an adult amateur, I wondered for years how performers were able to produce such flawless performances on their recordings. Once I learned that it is fairly common practice to record classical guitar works in “takes,” usually broken down into small manageable sections, it all began to make sense. Over the last few years, I have experimented with this process (and posted a few here on CGC) and found it has given me a new way to improve my playing and help me prepare for actual “live” performances.

    When it comes to learning and teaching sessions,I think live performance and unedited video submissions are essential. Oh, the anxious jitters of playing for others, let alone one’s teacher! One needs to see and hear the genuine state of play in order to isolate challenges and improve. If one is recording a CD or making a performance video for distribution, the use of digital editing can be a valuable artistic tool.

    Still, at the end of the day, hearing a well prepared live performance, is an aural and visual experience that is hard to compare.

    • Dave Belcher February 11, 2018 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your thoughts, Rick! I especially think you’re right about how essential it is to be able to live through one’s jitters, if you will, in front on one’s teacher in order to continue to grow and face the challenges necessary to improve. Great thoughts.


      Dave B (CGC team)

  5. Rick February 7, 2018 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Great podcast. And great news about additions to the team.

    I find it extremely frustrating and time consuming trying to record a performance without mistakes. On the other hand, preparing for, and performing live, mistakes and all, is less frustrating and more rewarding. The main take away from this podcast is “lighten up on the recording pressure. “

    I could use some specific tips when switching from practice for learning a piece to practice for performance. The two are different I think. Going from the stop start mode to playing through mistakes.

    • Dave Belcher February 11, 2018 at 2:25 pm - Reply

      Hi Rick,

      Yes, that’s a great point: practice and performance are indeed different. It’s important to practice not only to work through trouble areas and to learn a piece in many different ways, but also to practice performance. And it’s very important to separate performance practice from your usual routine. Here’s something to try: find a different place where you can practice than you usually do and even dress up for the occasion as you would when you might perform, and imagine yourself in front of an audience. Practice bowing at the beginning and end of your performance and perhaps between pieces; practice speaking about the pieces if you plan on doing that (very important to try that out before you do it if you’re not used to public speaking!); and, most importantly, practice playing through your whole program just as you would in front of an audience. This is an excellent way to rehearse your performance before you actually do it. If you record this session then you can use your next practice routine to identify problems you’d like to fix, something that works in your normal practice routine but not something you’d want to do in front of an audience. Thanks again for your comments. Give that a try and let us know how it goes!


      Dave B (CGC team)

  6. Bruce February 7, 2018 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    Just finished walking the dog and listening to this podcast (along with some other old ones). This topic of recording and audio editing is very timely for me. I am just at the point in my return to the guitar where I am looking at improving my videos and my recordings, and I really had no idea how this worked. I guess I am either a little stupid or maybe just naive — but although I rationally knew that there must be ways to enhance the audio experience, I really never looked into it, until now. Looks like a rabbit hole! However, like my friend Alice, I think I am ready to venture into this wonderland, and Simon’s intro came at just the right time. At this point in my development as a returning guitarist, I can see that attention to audio and recording techniques will probably make me more attentive to the musical issues I want to give attention to — tone, phrasing, the overall shape and mood of the performance. So…like the challenge of learning to make videos, time to sound the horn to the hounds and give chase.

  7. ARMANDO BALTRA February 8, 2018 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    Thank you Simon. This was indeed a fascinating presentation on a very controversial topic.

    Fist of all I totally agree when you said: “An edited version is the best representation of what a person can do. If you have the opportunity to create a more perfect result, you will probably take it.”

    Indeed. That’s what I’ve been trying to do for quite some time now. The results have not been very good, but with the help of some wonderful friends and CGC members (Vaughan Edwards and Rick Lord in particular), I’m now getting better results.

    I used to play in front of my camcorder and hope for the best. Once I realized I needed some more light in front of me, I got a very good video. But horrible sound! What’s the point of a guitar video that looks great but SOUNDS terrible?

    So I started using my computer to get better audio while my camcorder was doing the visual part. Then I (sort of) synchronized the two. The result was effective if I wanted to show it to my teacher for him to point out and correct mistakes, dynamics, musicality, etc., but not good enough to keep.

    On the occasions that I have played for an audience I’m bound to squeak, buzz, etc., and hope my friends don’t hear it. The good news is that they rarely do (smile). They just enjoy it and tell me that my music is wonderful. I know better.

    A good example of this is when my nephew and I played duets for the entire family a year or so ago. That performance (which I did with my iPhone and put in CGC) has lots of flaws, but because it is totally spontaneous, and unedited (it even has birds singing in the background!), it seems to shine on its now.

    However, when my goal is “to create the best representation of what I can do at this moment” (something I can keep and watch when I am in my wheel chair when I turn 90), then my audio/video recording is not good enough. The microphones are merciless and pick up every single buzz, and squeak (I have even heard my own breathing!). As you quite rightly said, I came to realize that it’s virtually impossible for me -an amateur musician- to get a satisfying performance in just one uninterrupted take.

    That’s when I started getting into editing.

    So I bought Final Cut Pro, and Logic Pro, and bought books and took lessons on Internet, etc. Well, …. I very quickly realized that trying to cut and paste a video is way beyond my capabilities. Editing audio is not that simple either, but the learning curve is not as steep. This brings me to another point: I found that I was putting more time in computer technology than on my guitar. Do I want to spend my time learning how to become a video/audio engineer, or do I want to improve my guitar playing? The answer was clear to me. I switched to iMovies and GarageBand instead of the other more powerful programs for the simple reason that they are much easier to use.

    To cut a long story short, this is what I’m doing now.
    1.- I record and edit the audio as best as I can
    2.- I make the video as I play along with my own recording
    3.- I put them together
    It is beyond the scope of this writing to get into the details of those three steps;
    but I was delighted to hear you say that all professional musicians do the same.

    What does the product of this approach look/sound like? My first attempt is the video of Weiss Fantasie which I uploaded on CGC.

    I finally want to say that the process of making such a video has helped me tremendously. That’s because I play passages again and again, always looking for the best possible way to play a given segment.

    Thank you, Simon for a great discussion on a most interesting topic.


    • Dave Belcher February 11, 2018 at 2:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Armando! You make a great point when you mentioned how much time you were putting into figuring out the editing process and when you ask: “Do I want to spend my time learning how to become a video/audio engineer, or do I want to improve my guitar playing?” That certainly helps put things in perspective. Thanks so much for your comments!


      Dave B (CGC team)

  8. Tony Morales February 11, 2018 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed the audio editing podcast. It opened my eyes on the importance of not being your own worst critic.

    I have played guitar for just over 40 years. I was inspired by guitar music l heard on radio and records that were at my house. Acoustic guitar music became my passion at an early age. I was extremely fortunate that my parents enjoyed music and that a guitar was available.

    My early attempts to learn to play guitar involved many hours of picking guitar parts from recorded music. At that stage in my journey of mastering the guitar, I was not aware of editing. I was under the false impression that the musicians were infallible. I tried extensively to replicate what I heard on recording. There were many times that I succeeded but then again, there were many times I didn’t. The times that I didn’t lead to frustration and self doubt.

    I wish that I had listened to this early on as it applies to many life experiences. Surely, we should always strive to be the best version of ourselves but we need to remember and respect that everything and everyone is unique. Having said this, we easily fall into a trap of self doubt when we compare our abilities to any form of “edited” media.

  9. Jeff Peek February 11, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this podcast, Simon. The technology is ingenious and effective, and I think it’s good for amateur players, like me, to be aware that even professionals’ recordings contain fixes. You did us a real service here—it’s important to do our best, but not be discouraged by small flaws when playing!

    It’s sometimes said that having a choice is a privilege, and I believe that’s true, especially in regard to earlier times. And, in earlier times, all performances were live performances and the audience size was not global as it is today. So, technology has given us both sides.

    Audio editing is a way to make performances more perfect and, of course, we all want to play as well as we can, but I’m wary of Perfectionism, broadly applied. I’ve given it some thought, over the years, in regard to raising children, work projects, and performances, including public speaking. Of course, it depends the personality, whether the drive is internally motivated or externally enforced, etc. I think it depends… I’d play through a difficult passage 100 times to correct a “stumble,” but I wouldn’t make my kids retake the SAT (college entrance exam) 10 times to possibly get a 1% better score.

  10. Roger Hyam February 18, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    I get so much pleasure from playing simple pieces badly I don’t listen to professional recordings that much. Just a few minutes here and there for inspiration. I’d like to see more live performances though. I think there is a growing desire for things to be either raw and authentic or CGI’d the hell out of like Star Wars and nothing in between.

  11. joannes February 19, 2018 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    H Simon,

    an interesting podcast about technique of recording.
    my view is to embrace the technical developments and enjoy the experience of listening to the final product.of others, i have greater joy when listening when there are no mistakes but i am well aware of the editing technology.
    we need to hear life performances to keep the balance in what and how we experience music.
    for myself to find satisfaction in a musical idea and find a way to express it satisfactory even with mistakes is the joy i get out of my playing, better sometimes with an audience.but the world is not always as we want it to be.

  12. Cindy Perz May 1, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    I appreciate this podcast immensely. Not only did I learn a lot but it also taught me that I can give myself a break. As an adult learner I cringe every buzz and thudded note. Now I have some perspective. It doesn’t ruin me to think that these perfect sound recordings are edited, it just makes me realize that is reality. Thank you for your exclamations

  13. Ari R May 10, 2018 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this fantastic podcast, I’m really glad I stumbled upon it and find each episode as interesting as the next! I am a Visual Effects Compositor by trade and an ‘adult amateur’ student learning to play classical guitar for the sheer beauty of it. My profession has me take videos from different sources and combine them all together to make one cohesive video (think ‘photoshop’ for video). I am definitely guilty of being my own worst critic and having been way too hard on myself for not matching these impossible standards set forth by YouTube videos, even though I knew many of them were edited. The same goes for high-end visual effects laden movies and my expectation of pressing that ‘make movie magic’ button. The perfectionist in me sees these polished products as a challenge to continue to strive for excellence in the execution of my art and classical guitar playing. In that regard, perhaps edited products are a good source of inspiration! It’s certainly ideal to maintain perspective though, so that we don’t get frustrated when we don’t play perfectly every time. Nothing replaces experience, and intelligent practice is critical. Thanks again, just wanted to share some thoughts…

    • Dave Belcher May 10, 2018 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Ari. That’s a great point and a nice perspective, regarding drawing inspiration from these polished products as they keep pushing us to improve at our own craft. Very helpful thoughts!


      Dave B (CGC team)

  14. Justyn June 21, 2018 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    Simon, what software and mic are you using, or do you recommend? I have been making recordings on my smartphone. I’m not aspiring to be a sound engineer, but it would be nice to step up the quality of my recordings a bit. Thanks.

    • Dave Belcher June 30, 2018 at 11:27 am - Reply

      Hi Justyn,

      Simon uses several different mics (including some very nice Schoeps mics as well as the built-in capsules with his Zoom H6 at times) and uses Adobe Audition for editing.


      Dave B (CGC team)

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