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Live Editing: How to Edit Audio While Recording in Descript

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Spend just one hour in a recording booth and you will likely spend at least three times that editing your recording, fixing mistakes, and working through multiple takes. It’s worth the time to perfect it, of course, but it can be extremely time-consuming.

Now, with Descript, it doesn’t have to be that way. This software lets you edit as you record, saving you boatloads of time. Just press record, start talking, and let the automatic transcription generate as you speak. Edit your audio recording by editing the text in the transcript, and by the time you deliver your last line, you’ll have a polished audio recording that’s publish-ready. In this tutorial, you’ll learn the basics of how to “live edit” in Descript.

Why Descript?

Check out the tutorial below to see how live editing in Descript works and read the steps that follow. You’ll learn how to use Descript’s automatic transcription feature as you record and edit simultaneously.

Radio DJ broadcasting from a studioRadio DJ broadcasting from a studioRadio DJ broadcasting from a studio
Syllia, radio DJ on OC104, Salisbury, Maryland, USA, by booktykena/Twenty20

The Basics

Getting a good recording can be elusive enough. Rummaging through that audio file for the best parts can feel like a never-ending puzzle. But if you make those edits at the same time as you are recording, you save yourself all that playback time searching for takes and selecting the ones that rise above.

Here are some of the key features Descript offers:

  • Its AI-powered automatic transcription is smart and efficient, with 95% accuracy.
  • Editing audio is simple, precise, and fast using the text transcription or the timeline.
  • Collaborate with others by leaving comments within the transcript.
  • For easy sharing or feedback, get a URL in an instant and publish it with just one click.
  • Relatively affordable, Descript can be purchased for $15-$30 a month (20% less if you pay annually).

You can try out Descript by activating a free trial, which includes three hours of transcription, as well as access to other Descript features not discussed here (20 screen recordings and the ability to record, edit, and mix one project). Buy monthly access by subscribing to a Creator plan at $15/month or a Pro plan at $30/month, or purchase an annual plan to receive a 20% discount.

How to Use Descript 

1. Create a New Composition

Open Descript, click on + New in the upper right corner, and select Project from the dropdown.

select Project from the dropdownselect Project from the dropdownselect Project from the dropdown

Give your project a name and click Create Project. We titled ours “writer introduction.”

Give your project a name and click Create Project.Give your project a name and click Create Project.Give your project a name and click Create Project.

Click on the microphone icon at the top of the window and select your input device from the dropdown.

select your input deviceselect your input deviceselect your input device

Click on the gear icon, and you will see that Automatically transcribe recording is selected. This is what you want.

Automatically transcribe recording is selectedAutomatically transcribe recording is selectedAutomatically transcribe recording is selected

Add as many speaker labels as you need. Since I will be the only voice behind this recording, I added my name, Duncan.

add speaker labelsadd speaker labelsadd speaker labels

2. Start Recording

Click the record button (the red circle at the top) and your recording will begin immediately. Because automatic transcription is enabled, Descript will start transcribing your recording in real time.

start recordingstart recordingstart recording

3. Start Editing

Now edit away as you are recording, and the transcription is being created! For example, if you would like to delete a bad take, highlight the text in the transcription, right-click, and click Delete in the dropdown. No need to hit pause or stop the recording!

deleting textdeleting textdeleting text

Because edits are non-destructive, if you prefer a take that you deleted, you can revert to it easily. Just go to the timeline at the bottom, place your mouse at the edge of the clip, and drag it. There you will see everything you deleted should you want to restore it. In this example, I wanted to restore “all her life” to the recording.

restoring textrestoring textrestoring text

If you think you want to delete part of the recording but keep the text visible in the script in case you want to restore it later, you can use Descript’s Ignore feature. Highlight the text in the transcription and click the Ignore icon at the top. This will place a strikethrough over the text, yet it is still legible.

Descript’s Ignore feature.Descript’s Ignore feature.Descript’s Ignore feature.

4. Collaborate With Others

Need someone’s opinion on your recording? No problem. Place your cursor where you want the comment to go, click on the plus sign, and select Comment from the dropdown.

select Comment from the dropdown.select Comment from the dropdown.select Comment from the dropdown.

Then simply type in your comment and click Post.

type in your commenttype in your commenttype in your comment

5. Export Your Edited Recording

To export your edited audio, click Share in the upper right corner, select the Export tab, and choose the way you would like to export it from the given options.

 export your edited audio,  export your edited audio,  export your edited audio,

Click Export.

Click Export.Click Export.Click Export.

Finally, save the file to a location.

 save the file to a location. save the file to a location. save the file to a location.

You will receive a notification that the export has been successful in the bottom right corner. Click Open to open your edited file right away.

notification that the export has been successfulnotification that the export has been successfulnotification that the export has been successful

Editing While Recording: The Good Kind of Multi-Tasking

Editing while recording is not the kind of multi-tasking that splits your mind in two and invites errors. Editing while recording lets you decide on preferred takes then and there, while they are still fresh in your mind, and eliminate the time-consuming step of playback after an unedited recording is complete.

For a tutorial on editing video based on the transcript, we cover the details in How to Edit Video in a Text Editor With Descript (From Auto Transcripts). To learn how to swiftly correct transcript errors, check out the tutorial How to Correct Automatic Transcription Errors With Descript (Tips and Shortcuts).

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