Silent Waves was the first original project for our platform Casefile Presents. It wasn’t developed for us; the show was already out in public. However, when the team stumbled upon Silent Waves, we knew it would be the perfect show for Casefile Presents.
Not only the story was compelling and real, but also it didn’t reach that many people – we knew we could help it to get more listeners.
When I first listened to the show from the QC (Quality Control) perspective, straight away, I noticed several problems with the sound.
The loudness wasn’t correctly set, and the show was louder than even the loudest recommendations from Apple and Spotify. The LUFS also varied from episode to episode.
The second problem was the editing on the music and dialogues as well as general issues such as noise, lip smacks and plosives.
General mix was something that I’ve also looked at – the music at some moments felt out of place and overshadowed the dialogues, same with sound effects.
Immediately I offered to re-mix the show as long as the creators were happy to send me the stems.
There was a problem though, after back and forth with the creators it became clear that stems and original audio files were nowhere to be found, and the only thing I had was the MP3 files released on the RSS feed.
There was my dilemma, I wanted to show to sound better, but without the access to the original files, my options were severely limited.
Nevertheless, it was a challenge.
I decided to pick up the gauntlet and iZotope would be my best friend throughout the journey. My process would be unconventional, and I guess borderline offensive to standard audio production work.
I knew I would work in phases.
The first phase was to do the general edit and make the episodes flow a little bit better.
It meant cutting out and clearing a few edits and in some places, cutting short the sound effects and music. I was clear that I would not change the overall structure of the show though, I wanted to improve the flow.
The second stage was about music, and it was the one that I worried about the most.
I felt that in places the background music was too loud and was overshading the dialogue, the question was – how to make it better with only a stereo mix file.
The tool that came in handy was Dialogue Isolate from my Rx6. The module helps to bring the dialogue up front, making everything else quieter. Of course, it is a destructive process that changes the structure of the audio. I had to go through the music spots individually and make sure it still sounds ok.
The third stage was about the dialogue. I could not run global processes because every recording was a different one, made in a different environment.
So I treated each one separately using tools such as De-click, Denoise, De-ess.
There was a lot of music underneath, so I had to be very careful about what processes to use.
The fourth stage that I did several times was the mix and eventually, the master.
Running Neutron 3 and Ozone plugins as I listened to the episodes several times – on my AKG K712 mixing headphones as well as cheap mobile earbuds.
With each listen, I spotted something new to fix. It was at the same time as I was making sure that the show was at a constant volume.
In the end, I was happy with my work – it was something that I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with doing, changing the already mixed stereo audio file. However, I had no choice.
At the end of the project, I stopped being objective to it, but after sending it out to the creators as well as several other people, the feedback was good, and it helped to ease my anxiety.
Overall, I’m glad I had a chance to work and help to re-release the podcast. Ideally, I would like to re-mix if from scratch, but unusual problems require unusual solutions, and this was one of these moments!