I'm in the midst of some dialog editing for a panel discussion that I recorded for a ministry at church. I've edited a couple panel discussions so far, with varying degrees of success. There are going to be more to come over the next year, so I would like to get a solid workflow down so that I am able to have a faster turnaround.

I just thought I'd ask what process everyone goes through when beginning a dialog edit. My situation with this edit and future ones will be slightly different than editing for a tv show or film, but any wisdom I can glean from you all would be great!

  • Are you mixing straight to stereo or do you have a different track for each mic?
    – user80
    Commented Jan 26, 2011 at 22:45
  • Unfortunately the recording is straight to Stereo, so I don't have independent tracks for different panelists. It's for a church ministry, so the setup is very basic. I am going to look for a way to split up the panelists a little more. We usually have 3 panelists and a moderator, so I may be able to split up two per channel. I'll just have to see how the mixer is setup and if I can change it around.
    – Joel
    Commented Jan 30, 2011 at 15:06

3 Answers 3


I've mixed a few of these roundtable type deals for DVD extras. Some thoughts:

1) Pick up John Purcell's book on dialog editing if you've never cut dialog before:


2) The biggest issue with a panel of multiple speakers is mic bleed. If you leave mics open across the room, you're going to have early reflections in your tracks and lose intelligibility. I like to create a track for each panel member. I'll go through each track one by one, pick the mic each speaker sounds best on, and cut and mute all of the dead air when they aren't speaking; making sure to leave at least one mic open to maintain room tone.

3) It is much better to mix your dialog without a ton of compression if you can swing it and have the time. Especially since these sorts of things are usually in reverberant theaters etc.. Use fader automation to dig out lines instead of relying on a slamming radio style compressor. I often hear overcompressed dialog when listening to mixes of this sort. Multiband compressors are also your friend on mixes like these, and when set properly can tame roomy build up in the lower mid range on your dialog tracks.

Good luck.

  • I've done a little bit of dialog editing back in College, but not much since then. I'll definitely pick up John Purcell's book.
    – Joel
    Commented Jan 30, 2011 at 15:08

i like sticking a mild gate (-6 to -12db) on every track with a long pre-listen (20ms or more) and tuned to voice. that will get you around having to do fades if you must go on quickly. i'd probably also compress the material in high-threshold,high-ratio style, just to flatten the peaks. 200Hz and near that will be your enemy...


If you can, use downward expansion rather than noise gates as this will make it sound more natural. You will still need to use compression, but keep it gentle with a fairly fast attack and release. You will find that people talk over each other so everything has to sound natural.

A very simple trick that I like to use is to alternate the phase of mics that are next to each other, obviously this depends on the distances between the mics, but it can help with separation.

I will also use subtle panning for the mix so that the listeners can use a bit of the cocktail party effect to keep track of who is saying what.

The last thing is to work in shuffle mode when you are editing and make lots of notes during the recording so that you have a head start with what needs cut out rather than having to transcribe the lot before editing.

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