How to Record a Podcast on GarageBand in 9 steps

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How to Record a Podcast on GarageBand in 9 steps

Garageband is free software for Macs that works great for creating a high-quality podcast

May 26, 2021 • About 15 min. read

How to Record a podcast on Garageband

Learning how to record a podcast on GarageBand can save you a lot of money and really boost your podcast quality! 🤩

Podcast budgeting decision can sometimes be difficult. You need quality podcast tools to make sure your show excels, but at the same time you probably do not have a ton of seed money to get started. 💸

GarageBand solves that problem for podcasters, at least as far as recording goes.

GarageBand is a free digital audio workstation by Apple. If you have a Mac, you should seriously consider using it to record your podcast. 🍏

In this blog post, we are going to walk you through what GarageBand is and the best way to use it to make a high-quality, awesome sounding podcast.

Our Focus on Podcast Specific Instructions

There is are lot of how-to articles out there about GarageBand and its general features. This is not one of them. ✋

We are solely focusing on how to record a podcast on GarageBand. By being super focused on this, and not the music-related features, we are going to save you a ton of time and shorten your learning curve. 😎

Here is a roadmap of how we are going to do it:

  • Explain what GarageBand is: How to get it and what devices it will work on
  • Teach the basic concept behind audio software (using a layered cake analogy)
  • Give super clear, step-by-step instructions on how to record a podcast on GarageBand in 9 easy steps
  • Go through how to edit, add music (songs for music bed, intro/outro, etc.), and export the final audio file

Ok, are you ready to use your Mac to create and record a podcast? Keep reading and soon you’ll master recording your podcasts with GarageBand.

What is GarageBand?

GarageBand is a software that anyone with a Mac can download for free, just like iMovie, Pages, Numbers, or Keynote. You can put it on your desktop, laptop, iPad, and even your iPhone. 📱

As you may guess from the sound of the name, the idea of the software is that you can create your own music and songs. It turns your computer or phone into ‘Touch Instruments’ that you can play and record. You can also go with a DJ approach and mix together bits of music called ‘loops’ to create a sweet groove. You can then put all your instrument recordings and mixes together and edit them into a single song or a whole music playlist. 🎷

👉 We only tell you all this so that when you first open Garageband to start podcasting, you aren’t completely overwhelmed by all the music features and think it is not for you. 

It is for you! It is a great tool to create your podcast! 🥳

You do not need to worry about all the production features for making songs. The tools you need specifically for podcasting are actually quite simple.

The Basics of GarageBand and Audio Software

We will get in the step-by-step process of recording your content in just a second. But first, let’s get you started with the basic concept of an audio software like GarageBand.

To teach you this, we are going to use an analogy of creating a layered cake. 🍰

Putting together an audio project is like putting together a layered cake. You want each layer to taste good and you want all the layers to taste good together. 🧑‍🍳

So for a song, let’s imagine a three layer cake: chocolate layer, strawberry layer, vanilla layer. Chocolate is the singer’s voice, strawberry is the guitar, vanilla is the drums. Each layer is made separately so you get that specific layer just right– you record the singer and adjust their audio specifically, then you do the same for the sound of the guitar and the sound of the drums. Then you put them on top of each other and boom, you have a cake… song.

In GarageBand and similar podcast recording software, each cake layer is called a ‘track.’ So if you are creating a song, you have your voice track, your guitar track, and your drums track. If you are creating a podcast, you might have a host voice track, a guest voice track, and an intro/outro music track.  

Podcast Cake’s Layers/Tracks:

Chocolate Layer: Host Voice Track

Strawberry Layer: Guest Voice Track

Vanilla Layer: Intro/Outro Music track

Again, you want to make each layer separately, not just combine all the ingredients for the entire cake in one giant bowl. You make each layer in its own special way to get its flavor right. Only then do you combine the layers. 🎂

Ok, now that you are all set on the overall concept (and maybe a craving for cake), let’s get into the step-by-step instructions of how to record your podcast on GarageBand.

How to Record Your Podcast on GarageBand

We will start with how to record yourself on GarageBand. Once you know how to do that, you will have the basics down and you can apply what you have learned to creating other tracks like a guest’s voice or music or any weird sound effects you feel like adding. Hey, it is your podcast after all! 👽

Of course you may not need to record other voice tracks besides your own. Maybe your podcast is just your voice; some of the best podcasts follow that method. 

The steps below are for recording your voice on Garageband on your computer, but the steps are generally the same for the phone app too. 📲

Step 1: Download GarageBand on your computer

If you don’t already have it, go to the App Store, search for it, and download it. It is best to give it a little bit of time because it will need to download instrument libraries, etc.

Assuming GarageBand is downloaded and a microphone is connected to your Mac (or built-in… though we recommend using a separate, higher quality mic for recording), simply follow the steps below to begin recording audio. 🎙️

Step 2: Open GarageBand on the Mac, via the Dock, Applications folder, Launchpad or Spotlight.

This is definitely the easiest step in how to record a podcast on GarageBand: Just open the application. But we promised you we were going to take you through step-by-step and that is what we are going to do. 🤷‍♀️

make a podcast with garageband

Step 3: Once GarageBand is open, select “Project Templates” in the left pane and choose the “Voice” template as shown in the screenshot below.

This is where GarageBand does a lot of the work for you. 💪

When you use the Voice Template, it is going to automatically give you the best setup for voice recording.

record podcast in garageband

Step 4: If you have an external microphone, make sure to select it in Preferences.

The next step in how to record a podcast on GarageBand is to go up to the top of your screen to the GarageBand menu, click on GarageBand, then Preferences, then ‘Audio/MIDI,’ and toggle the ‘input’ choices to your external microphone. (For more info on external microphones you can check out our microphone guide). 🎤

Step 5: Deselect ‘1234’ and the metronome.

There are two little purple boxes near the top of the screen. One says ‘1234’ and the other has a triangle image that represents a metronome. Click on those so they are grayed out. If you do not, you will have annoying ‘tick tock’ sounds in your recording. 🙅‍♀️

Step 6: The software is now ready for your recording. Click on the record button at the top of the window to start recording your voice/podcast.

The record button is the red circle. Press it. Talk into your microphone. When you are done talking, press the red circle again to stop recording. 🔴

record podcast garageband

You can play this recorded track using the playback controls right next to it.

edit podcast in garageband

Step 7: Name your track.

Get in the habit of labeling your tracks well. It is really important to stay organized as you record tracks. For this one, double click where it says ‘Audio 1’ and name it something like ‘Practice Host Speaking.’

Step 8: Save your project.

Another habit to develop is saving your project early and often. 👈

Go up to the GarageBand menu, click the File menu, and select ‘Save As.’ 

Tip: Whenever you are about to open up your project to work on it again, first duplicate it, and archive a copy. That way, if you really mess up while you are working on your project, you have the option of going to that duplicate you saved and restarting back at that point. 😅

garageband for podcasting

Step 9: Add another track.

Let’s say you have a recording of someone you interviewed for the podcast, or maybe intro music. You can add them by opening your computer’s Finder, locating the audio file, and then dragging and dropping the audio file onto the GarageBand screen. It will automatically become its own track. 👍

For example, you can import audio recorded from the Voice Memos app on iPhone, iPad, or Mac if you want. Many podcasters also record remote podcast guests by recording a phone call, including calls on Zoom, Riverside, etc. You can easily import these files into GarageBand as well.

And of course, you can record as many new audio tracks as you want within GarageBand. Just follow the same steps! 👟

Recording Success ✅

There you have it, you have successfully recorded your podcast using GarageBand on your Mac! 🥳

That’s how to record a podcast on Garageband! Not so hard, right?

Now that you know how to record a podcast on Garageband, we will show you how to edit it to.

How to Edit Your Podcast Episode in GarageBand

Now that you have your cake layers made… I mean tracks… it’s time to put them together. In other words, it is time to start editing. 🎞️

A quick note here: Audacity is another free software that you can use for editing, if you want. However, it has a less intuitive interface and can be tough to learn how to use. Plus, if you have already recorded in GarageBand, you might as well edit inside the program too.

Ok, back to putting the cake layers together…

With a real cake, you want all the layers all the time, but if you did that with a podcast, you would have you, your guest, and your music all playing on top of each other. 😵‍💫

So you need to arrange the clips on the tracks where you want them. Sometimes you do want overlap– like if you want to start talking as your intro music fades— but many times you do not. That is the heart of editing.

Here are the basic editing features that will you need to use in order make a quality podcast on GarageBand:

Slice clips

Let’s say you have one long rambling recording of yourself and you want to get rid of some of the fluff. Or maybe you want to change the order of topics you covered. That’s when you’ll want to use the ‘Split Regions at Playhead’ editing tool. 

  • Double click on the clip you want to edit. It will then appear in its own window at the bottom of the screen. Move the playhead where you want to slice, then select “Split Regions at Playhead” or just use the shortcut Command+T.
  • Now you have two different clips. You can delete one of the clips, you can rearrange the order of the clips, or you can even drag a clip to another track.

Trimming

Imagine this editing feature like a sliding door where you can see more or less of the view outside depending if you slide it to be more open or closed. 

  • Hover over the left or right edge of the clip, click, and drag it to reveal more of the clip… or if you drag in the other direction, less of the clip. 

Adjust Volume within Clip

Sometimes a part of a clip will be a little too quiet for the listener to hear, or maybe too loud. Or maybe you want to fade out the intro music. In these instances, you want to adjust the volume within the clip.

  • Go to the GarageBand menu at the top of your screen and select ‘Mix’ then make sure ‘Show Automation’ is toggled on. When this editing feature is toggled on, you’ll be able to see a horizontal line going through your tracks. The default is for the line to be yellow and represent Volume.
  • Take your mouse to the area where you want to edit the volume. Hold down COMMAND and click to create a Point (your cursor will look like a pencil). You can make as many points as you need.
  • Now drag the point(s) up or down as you please. The higher the point, the higher the volume. The lower the point, the lower the volume.
  • Beyond volume, you can adjust other audio characteristics inside a clip with the Automation editing feature. You can adjust Pan, Echo, and Reverb, although you probably won’t want to in the context of a podcast production.

Important Rule of Thumb: Use multiple tracks

It can be tempting, especially when you are an editing beginner, to put everything on the same track so you have one nice, neat line of audio: intro music -> host voice -> guest voice -> host voice. 

But don’t give in to this timeless editing temptation! 😈

Why? Because as you continue editing you may realize that your guest’s audio needs to be tweaked in a way that your host audio doesn’t. For example, maybe your guest’s audio is a little too high pitched and you want to make it a bit lower. If you have the guest’s audio on its own track, to tweak the audio you simply apply the needed changes to that track. 

If your guest and host audio are all on the same track, when you adjust the audio of the track, you’ll be changing to both the guest audio and the host audio. So now your host audio will sound strange because it didn’t need the changes your guest one did.

To use the cake analogy: Stick to the multi layer cake approach! Not a sheet cake that is a weird blend of ingredients all baked together. 🍰

How to add music in your podcast using GarageBand

To add your podcast music for your intro and outro, you’ll need to perform the same steps as for the main audio track. 🎸

Once added, you’ll need to embed it at the time of recording where you want it and, as such, perform the automation as seen earlier.

For example, maybe you advance the main track by 15 seconds to embed your intro music. The automation at the end is used as a transition effect to introduce the host’s voice. The automation on the main track allows you to hide an interference sound that had been previously recorded.

Since the automation is present throughout the track, you must be sure to remember to return the sound to a normal volume when you lower it. 🎚️

Now all you need to do is continue editing your podcast and adjust the sound.

How to Export Your Podcast Episode from GarageBand

Now that you have your beautiful, quality podcast episode, it is time to share it with the world! 🌍

Go to the menu at the top of GarageBand and select ‘Share.’ Then choose ‘Export Song to Disk.’ Then save it the same way you typically save files- name, location, file type. For the section called “Quality,” we suggest setting it as an MP3 at a quality of 128kbit/s since that is the best setting for listening on mobile devices.

Once you have your export file, you can upload it wherever you want. If you are an Ausha user, now would be the time to upload it to the Ausha platform. 😁

Important Note on Video Podcasts and GarageBand

A quick note to add about making your podcast with GarageBand: If you want to make video episodes, GarageBand is not your best choice. 😕

It is possible to import a video file into GarageBand, but only one per project. That is not the problem, though.

The problem is that you cannot edit video in GarageBand. According to Apple, the only thing you can really do is “add to or replace the sound from the movie file with music, sound effects, and dialogue in your project.”

That is not enough for a good video podcast episode, at least a traditional video podcast episode where you are filming the host and interviewees as they record the episode. 👯

However, if you only want to use a video of still images, GarageBand will do the trick. It is not the most engaging visual method to use, but this option will at least make it possible to upload your podcast to YouTube.

Do whatever works best for your podcast, but just keep this warning in mind! 🚧

Final Tip: Keep Playing Around with GarageBand!

The best way to learn how to use GarageBand to create your podcast is to get in there and play around with it. 🤹

Experiment with creating recordings, playing with sounds, and trying out different editing features.

You will mess up. That’s part of the process. Be patient with yourself. Let yourself enjoy the process! 

The best time to start creating is now, so dive in! 💜

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by Emma
May 26, 2021

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