Which software to chose to record a podcast?

After having chosen your podcast hardware, you will need to choose the right recording software for your podcast project. There are several types on the market. Some are free, others are not. And some offer you the possibility to record your episodes remotely while others are made to manage live and multi-track audio.

In this article, I will let you know about the different softwares to record a podcast, their specificities and their price. Enough to help you make the right choice! πŸ‘Š

What is the purpose of a podcast recording software?

Saving your audio files locally πŸ˜…

If you record your episodes on a device with an SD card, you will be relieved to have a backup of everything you just said, locally. By having your audio files in multiple locations, you won’t risk losing them accidentally.

Editing your audio files on the same software πŸ’»

Most of the recording softwares used by podcasters, which I’ll detail next, also come with an editing and mixing software. So you can record and edit your episode almost at the same time!

Local podcast recording softwares

These types of softwares are mostly used to record a podcast when all co-hosts and guests are in the same room. Each speaker can speak into different microphones and their voice is recorded on separate tracks which are then stored locally in the recording software.

This type of organization allows for better control of the sound and the audio file since you only have to make sure that your environment is quiet and isolated enough to record your podcast. Multitracking will then allow you to cut out distracting noises (like someone coughing into the microphone for example) when editing.

1️⃣ Audacity

Audacity is widely used by the podcasting community. πŸŽ™οΈ While it is sometimes just a first step towards another software, it does have many assets.

audacity
  • πŸ’²Price: Free
  • πŸ•΅ Where to download it: audacity.fr
  • πŸ’» Availability: Microsoft Windows; Mac OS; Linux

Audacity is part of the family of free softwares whose philosophy is to make all its features available, without financial compensation. When it comes to “basic” editing (cutting, merging, managing transitions), Audacity fully meets its mission. Indeed, the selection, cut and zoom tools are well thought out. They are accessible from a small shortcut bar just above your track.

auacity-interface

Moreover, to manage the fluidity of your transitions between two connections, the “fade in” and “fade out” effects work wonders.

On the sound processing side, things are not automated like they might be on Auphonic’s online service. Nevertheless, even for the most inexperienced, it is quite possible to get by with the elements made available by Audacity.

The advantages of Audacity : 

– Removing noise: The “remove noise” function will consist of taking the profile of the background noise of your podcast (to take from a part of your track where you are not speaking) and then processing the whole podcast by removing this background noise. Be careful not to overuse it or you’ll risk ending up with a slightly metallic sound.

– Equalizer: The equalizer will give more clarity to your voice. But if the settings can only be mastered by experts, some presets available on tutorials can give you convincing results (so test it).

– Compression & normalization: The software provides you with a compression tool and a normalization tool that will allow you to optimize respectively the amplification and the amplitude of your track.

– Multitrack management: Audacity allows you to manage multitracks, especially when you are podcasting tapes, or when you integrate your beds, credits and sound files in post-production. The software has some shortcomings in this area and we would have liked to have features to group certain tracks together. 

– Formats: Regarding formats, the software supports most popular formats (.wav, .mp3, etc.) but there is a little operation to do to manage the .mp3 export of your podcast.

Audacity being free, you’re not risking anything giving it a try. It can be scary at first, but after focusing on the basic editing functions, you’ll realize that it is actually very functional.

Although it is not optimized for multi-track management, the software will meet your expectations if your project does not include more than 2 or 3 tracks. As for sound processing, you’ll need to have the patience to train yourself with the help of tutorials to master the beast. πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ But nothing unusual, as sound processing is a real science.

Garageband

If you’re a Mac user, you may be tempted to use GarageBand for recording your podcast since it comes automatically with your Mac. If it is basically more calibrated for music composition 🎡 (hence its name!), it is nevertheless possible to manage the editing of your podcast from this tool.

Garage Band
  • πŸ’²Price: Free
  • πŸ•΅ Where to download it: itunes.apple.com/en/app/garageband
  • πŸ’» Availability: Mac OS
  • πŸ”” Slight warning: Before launching Garageband, select the “Podcast” mode

As mentioned above, Garageband was designed primarily for musicians. In order for the software to offer you the most suitable interface for editing a podcast, here’s what you need to do

  • Click on πŸ‘‰ File / New / Open an empty project.
  • In the next window click on “Choose a track type”.
  • Then select the microphone logo.
  • Once your project is started, you can deactivate the “metronome” button and the “count” button (they are in purple in the top bar) and switch the fake digital screen in the middle of the top bar from “time and project” mode to “duration” mode.
  • Start your recording! πŸ’ͺ
mini-hero-garageband

The advantages of Garageband: 

– Templates: In general, a podcast is made of several episodes. These episodes contain recurring parts (credits, beds, intro, outro…). With Garageband you can create a template so that these elements are already present in your project every time you start editing or recording a new episode.

– Tracks: Each track has its own shortcut buttons: the mute button to make the track silent, the solo button to hear only the selected track and the left/right potentiometer to make its stereo balance. Classic, but still efficient!

– Junctions: While Reaper proposed a cross fading when two tracks crossed, Garage band trims the track on which you put your new audio element. FYI, this cropping does not remove the end of the track which is always recoverable by moving the junction point. Rather practical in an editing phase with many audio files.

– Tutorial: One of the strong points of Garageband is its ultra educational side: a small explanation is offered when the mouse passes over the button of each function. Pretty reassuring during the whole discovery phase of the software and very practical to lear about new functions. To simplify the handling, Garageband integrates many keyboard shortcuts: support.apple.com/garageband 

– Equalization: Another great feature of Garage Band is the small control panel that allows you to manage your equalization, compression and reverb. You’ll be able to do your sound processing tests and use the “Compare” button to fine-tune these settings.

– Metadata : A small drawback is that when you extract your file, the software does not offer you to fill in your metadata directly. You will have to do it later.

Garageband can be a good software to edit or record your podcasts, you will just have to think about the quick configuration to put the software in “podcast mode”. 

It will probably appeal to podcasters who want to work on edits with many sound clips. And it will appeal to editors who want to process sound manually but easily thanks to the simple and efficient control panel.

Reaper

Like all softwares, it will take some time to get used to it, especially since it is a customizable solution that can be adapted to your needs.

cockos-reaper
  • πŸ’²Price: Version without updates : free and renewable as many times as you want. Individual license : $69
  • πŸ•΅ Where to download it: www.reaper.fm
  • πŸ’» Availability: Microsoft Windows; Mac OS; Linux

While it is very oriented towards music recording/editing, this software proves to be a formidable work tool for podcasters. Master Yoda would say “come to the tool you must, and to you the tool will come”. Because to optimize your use of Reaper, it is initially necessary to configure the interface so that it corresponds perfectly to your use.

Once this obstacle is passed, you will realize that the tool has many qualities. πŸš€

The advantages of Reaper: 

– Subtracks: One of the strong points of Reaper is the management of multitracks, in particular with the concept of sub-track. For example, you can gather all the voices in a group of tracks that you can mute at the same time (a recurring action in a multitrack editing phase). The same applies to beds and credits.

– Grouped tracks: To be able to manage movements, fades and cuts of several tracks at the same time without risking to create a mismatch of sounds, Reaper has the “grouped tracks” function.

– Automatic fade: When you cross two pieces of tracks together, a crossfade is automatically created. While other programs require additional handling, the fact that Reaper has made this automatic is particularly appreciable.

– Languages: If Audacity does not include the export in .mp3, Reaper will require to install a Langpack so that the menus are in French. But nothing too complicated, you just have to download it here, drag it from the Explorer (Windows) or the Finder (Mac) to REAPER, turn the software off and on again, and everything will be translated.

With Reaper, we are looking at a workstation that has the taste of a professional DAW, with the added bonus of being lightweight.

However, its great modularity can confuse the beginners. It is thus necessary to take time to familiarise with it. Special shout out to the management of multitracks where the “sub-tracks” and “grouped tracks” functions really simplify your editing work.

Unlike Audacity, Reaper is not really a freeware, but the free version offered will be more than enough to work on your podcast.

Adobe Audition

This software is a little more premium option compared to the other software I just presented. However, like Audacity, Garageband or Reaper, Adobe Audition is a software for both recording and editing. The platform is well done, especially for beginners who can use the predefined settings of the software.

With Adobe Audition, you can record your episodes in one or more tracks depending on your setup. Ideal for those who don’t want to spend too much time on editing.

Adobe Audition
  • πŸ’²Price: $20
  • πŸ•΅ Where to download it: www.adobe.com/fr/products/audition/
  • πŸ’» Availability: Microsoft Windows; Mac OS; Linux

The advantages of Adobe Audition:

– UX/UI: the design of the platform is much more advanced on Audition (a bit scary for a beginner compared to the simplicity of Audacity’s design) but overall more pleasant experience on Audition especially in the long run when you are familiar with the tool.

– Multitrack recording: two modes: “wave editor” and “multitrack editor”. The latter is extremely powerful whether for recording several microphones simultaneously or for the post production editing of the podcast.

– Destructive mode and non-destructive modes available: “destructive” means that when you edit an audio clip (cut it, speed it up, delete a part of it…) you alter the source recorded file and “damage” it (making it impossible to recover the deleted piece 2 days later when you’ll open your project again). So it is much more interesting to edit an audio file with the “non-destructive” mode.

– Effects: Audition has extremely useful effects like Adaptive Noise

– Reduction: an effect that automatically finds the audio profile to remove from the recording to clean up the track (calculated in real time).

Adobe Audition

Quicktime

Quicktime is a little bit different from the other softwares because it does not allow you to record your episodes in multitrack. It will be more difficult to edit your episodes in post-production.

Quicktime

To give you a concrete example: if one of your guests coughs or sneezes into the microphone at the same time as you speak 🀧, you won’t be able to isolate his or her track and cut only the disturbing noise.

The main advantage of Quicktime is also its biggest disadvantage: its simplicity.

It’s so simple and so basic to use that you don’t really have any options or settings to activate or modify to improve the audio of your recording.

  • πŸ’²Price: free
  • πŸ•΅ Where to download: installed automatically on Apple devices
  • πŸ’» Availability: Mac OS

Remote podcast recording softwares

With the pandemic of the last few years, podcast recordings are increasingly done remotely. The softwares I’m going to introduce in this section have pushed the boundaries of interviewing and even changed the podcasting game. πŸ’₯

Today, you can easily co-host a show with someone who is on the other side of the United States or interview people who live on the other side of the planet without any problem.

Zoom

This software has seen its fame soar with successive confinements. πŸ”’ If this software is mostly used in the professional context to make remote meetings, its “record” feature allows podcasters to record their episodes with guests who are not in the same place. 

Logo Zoom
  • πŸ’²Price: freemium
  • πŸ•΅ Where to download it: zoom.us
  • πŸ’» Availability: Microsoft Windows; Mac OS; Linux

The undeniable advantage of Zoom is that today, in 2022, everyone knows this software. So you don’t need to explain to your guests how to download and use this tool before recording your podcast. Very practical!

Zoom Ausha Γ‰quipe

The advantages of Zoom: 

– Good network quality: It would be a real shame if your connection dropped in the middle of the recording of an episode and you ended up with a truncated audio file. With Zoom, you’ll have the best chance to get a good quality recording.

– Recording the screen at the same time: Granted, for a podcast, it’s pretty useless… But for the communication of your show on Youtube or on your social networks, it is always useful! Little bonus: you can share your screen. It can come in handy if you want to feed the discussion with your guests with new information.

– Multi-tracking: Zoom allows you to record the audio of each participant on a different track. To do this, you need to (well, know how to do it) and then configure it in the recording settings of the software.

Skype

Before the coming of Zoom, there was Skype! Skype is certainly the most famous video conferencing software on the market. It is so widely used that, suffering from its own success, it sometimes experiences a bad connection. 

Skype-Logo
  • πŸ’²Price: freemium
  • πŸ•΅ Where to download it: skype.com
  • πŸ’» Availability: Microsoft Windows; Mac OS; Linux

The biggest disadvantage of Skype for recording your podcast is that in the end, you will end up with only one audio file… Unlike Zoom or the other recording softwares we saw earlier in the article, Skype does not offer a multitrack feature. So it can complicate things during the editing process.

If you want to use Skype and have separate tracks, it is still possible, provided that you install external recording software.

The advantages of Skype: 

Easy to use: It doesn’t take a rocket science degree to use Skype. In a few minutes, you quickly understand how the software works and you can easily invite your guests on the platform.

– Local recording: If your connection fails, you always have the recording on your computer. Phew!

– Safe bet: everyone knows Skype and how to use it. It will save you time on the recording of your podcast.

Zencastr

Less known than Zoom and Skype, Zencastr is nevertheless a perfect recording software for podcast. It’s an online tool that doesn’t require any download (good point!) and has a free basic version with paid features. So you can test it at first to see if the software fits the podcast project you have.

(Be careful to write Zencastr without the “e”, otherwise you will run into another software that has nothing to do with the podcast!)

Zencastr Logo
  • πŸ’²Price: freemium
  • πŸ•΅ Where to download it: zencastr.com
  • πŸ’» Availability: Microsoft Windows; Mac OS; Linux

The advantages of Zencastr : 

– Comfort of use: The platform is very visual and ergonomic, so it offers a quick familiarization (handy for the interviewees you will invite on the software).

– Multi-tracking: In the free version, you can invite up to 2 people and in the paying one, there is no limit.

Now that you have the concept, the material to record and that you have chosen your podcast software, you can move on to the editing stage of your episode. If you feel ready for this adventure but would like some tips on how to edit your podcast, then we’ll meet again for the next lesson.