Podcast Recording Software Roundup

  • Podcast Recording Software Roundup

Podcast recording software comes in two flavors:

  • Software that is only suited for recording audio
  • Full-featured software with the ability to record audio and edit audio.

Whether or not you need podcast recording software depends on your desired workflow. If you’re going to be conducting interviews on the go and want to lightest possible setup, using a physical device to record may be the way to go. But if you are going to always record in the same space, using full-featured software for recording and editing will save you a few post-production steps.

You will need podcast editing software, in either scenario. This software is what you’ll use to make adjustments to the sound, add music tracks and other stock audio files, and trim out boring parts of the recording. For more advanced users, you’ll also use this software to match the volume levels of each track and finalize an overall target volume for final export.

The software a podcast uses to record and edit is a highly personal choice. And three factors come into play:

  1. Price
  2. Features
  3. Learning Curve

What is a DAW?

Before we go further, there is an acronym you should familiarize yourself with: DAW. This acronym stands for Digital Audio Workstation. Things get geeky fast when we begin discussing DAWs, but to keep it simple think of a DAW as software that allows you to record, edit, and make adjustments to the sound. A DAW is different from a stand-alone recorder; software whose only functionality is recording. And the term will come up often as you investigate software options for podcast recording software.

Just because the software can edit and mix audio doesn’t mean you have to use it that way. It can be used solely as a recorder if you’re going to outsource your editing and mastering.

For the rest of this article, podcast recording software will be used to mean both stand-alone audio recording software and DAWs.

Should I use free Podcasting Recording Software or Paid Software?

There’s nothing wrong with using free software, in the beginning. Over time you will find free software becomes limiting, though.

Here’s why: Free is never free; someone pays in time or money to build it. And, unless there is a monetary strategy somewhere in the chain, free is going to limit how much effort goes into producing the software. (Sometimes, free to you means someone else somewhere is buying the user data of the free users.)

So while it’s ok to start using free software, you should do yourself the favor of upgrading to a professional tool as soon as you can.

The reason: You’ll gain more powerful tools and improved workflows.

The Most Popular Podcast Recording Software

Audacity

Audacity is a free, open source, DAW. While it is cross-platform, it tends to be used by PC users rather than Apple users since Mac owners already have Apple’s Garageband.

Audacity is loved by many PC based podcasters for four main reasons:

  • It’s free
  • It’s easy to use
  • There are a ton of how-to videos on YouTube
  • Tools for removing room tone and ambient noise

Ther are limitations; this is especially true of anything free or “low cost.” Audacity lacks some export and features of the more professional grade podcasting software solutions.

Limitations aside, Audacity is a good solution for most podcasters just starting out.

GarageBand

The interface is intuitive, uncluttered, and easy to use. This typical Apple interface makes it a good option for beginners just starting out. If you are the least bit tech savvy, GarageBand isn’t intimidating to get started with.

Mac users often start with Garageband. And the reasons are similar to those of Audacity users:

  • It’s free to most Mac owners
  • It’s easy to use
  • There are a ton of how-to videos on YouTube
  • Multi-track recording
  • Presets for EQs and compressors

In 2009 I began my podcast production and post-production using Garageband. And for the first 175 episodes, it served me well.

Apple packs this software with Loops and other sound effects. Most of the loops are for musical instruments, but some complete royalty free music is included which can be used for intro and outro music. (I used the included Greasy Wheels song for several years before upgrading to paid for theme music.)

GarageBand is also available for the iPad. The interface isn’t the same as the desktop version, but it’s close. This may be a great option if you’re production needs maximum mobility.

Where GarageBand leaves the pro podcasters wanting:

  • Tools specifically for podcasters were removed a few versions ago
  • The editing workflow is slow and cumbersome when compared to pro level DAWs
  • There’s no built-in template system
  • There are no built-in tools for removing room tone and ambient noise

Price: Free to most Apple users or $6 in the online Apple App store.

Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition is a powerful DAW that’s less intimidating than you might think. But, like many powerful software applications, it can become overwhelming for new users distracted by all the bells and whistles. For this reason and the cost, it isn’t a recommended beginner’s tool.

Audition is one of the few DAWs made for audio narration rather than music production. So out of the box, so to speak, it’s more geared towards the kind of tasks and workflows podcasters will engage in on a regular basis.

What people like and love about Adobe Audition:

  • Excellent workflow
  • Professional tools for mixing and repairing mild audio problems
  • Integrates with Adobe Premier for video work
  • Multi-track recording
  • Presets for EQs and compressors

After moving off of Garageband, I switched to Audition. The workflow and added tools are what sealed the switch for me. Once past the short transition period and learning curve, Audition cut my post-production time by 1/3. And when you’re spending 6-hours per episode editing a weekly show, this paid big dividends.

Most of the time savings were because of the Ripple Delete feature in Adobe Audition. This feature allows you to make cuts to an audio track, or multiple tracks at once, and the bring the sections back together in one command. With Garageband, you make your cuts then must manually close the gaps. If you make a lot of cuts, as I do, this extra step adds a lot of time to your post-production times.

If you plan to do video in addition to or in the future, Audition might be a good fit for you too. Once you become adept at audio editing and mixing, you’ll want the same tools available to you when working on videos. With the integration between these two pieces of software, you’ll get that workflow.

Price, $20 a month for a single app Adobe Audition subscription. You can also choose higher-priced subscriptions for additional Adobe applications to include Photoshop.

Logic Pro

Logic Pro is Apple’s professional music production DAW. Mac Podcasters already involved in music production use Logic because of familiarity. It’s not recommended for beginners or the faint-hearted.

But if you’re already familiar with it, go with Logic and don’t look back. There’s no reason to learn a different DAW.

Reaper

Reaper is popular both with radio producers and voice-over actors. It’s an inexpensive DAW with many of the features of the high priced music production focused DAWs.

Pricing for Reaper is approachable for even new podcasters: $60 individual license.

The only major complaint you’ll find with Reaper is the interfaces: It’s less polished than most of the other paid DAWs. The next thing to consider is that the interface is built for professionals and may be intimidating for beginners.

Hindenburg

Hindenburg was created by people in the radio industry for audio journalists rather than music production. This focus show in the software file organization and features which work perfectly for a lot of podcasters.

One of the most unusual features is the native ability to record Skype calls directly and in this own track. Most podcasters end up using extra software or hardware solutions to accomplish recording their Skype interviews.

Along with recording Skype calls, Hindenburg does something few other DAWs can without a lot of fuss: It can record from multiple audio input devices. Multi-device recording includes using multiple USB microphones.

Features Hindenburg users love:

  • Integrated Skype cCall recording
  • File organization
  • Easy automated volume leveling
  • Direct export to services like SoundCloud
  • Automated Levels
  • Automated “Voice Profiler” EQ

It’s a surprise more podcasters don’t use Hindenburg. The lack of popularly is most likely due to a lack of marketing and the price for the Pro version: $375.

Stand-Alone Podcast Recording Software

A DAW may be more than you need. If you’re not going to do any of your post-production work, then save your money and time by using a stand-alone audio recorder.

There are several pieces of simple to use recording software with the ability to record in high quality. Some also have multi-track recording capabilities.

What follows is a list of the most popular audio recorders with both multi-track and high fidelity features.

ZenCastr

ZenCastr is a web based solution that works a lot like conference software:

  1. Log in
  2. Send participants a link
  3. When you’re ready, hit record
  4. When you’re done press stop

Send files to the editor and go on with your life. It really is that simple.

Besides the simplicity, podcasters love ZenCastr for these reasons:

  • Each participant is recorded in a separate track
  • Auto download to Dropbox and a number of other
  • You do not need anything more than a microphone, computer, and internet connection
  • The audio output is a very good quality

Currently, one of our consulting clients is using ZenCastr and the results are great. I chose it for them since they wanted a turnkey solution where they just showed up and recorded. The two hosts are also in separate locations.

When they’re done recording they send me an email. Our assistant producer reviews the recording, makes notes for sections needing edit, and pushes it off to the editor. When the editor’s done, she posts it for review, I do a quality check, and finally it’s posted and scheduled for the client.

eCamm Call Recorder for Skype

Call Recorder is a Mac only plugin for Skype with the ability to record Skype audio and video calls. Once installed, the settings are straightforward and include an option to record all calls over a specified amount of time.

The app’s interface is simple, uncluttered, and to the point. The small Call recorder window opens as soon as a Skype call is started. When the call is over, the user opens the call log and choose the call to export. Then you are free to send the files to your editor or import them into your DAW of choice.

Even if you’re using a hardware solution, the app can act as a backup system should your DAW crash during the call. And you may find it useful for recording meetings and other important calls.

At $29, Call Recorder is well worth it for podcasters using a Mac.

Pamela for Skype

Pamela is a Windows compatible plugin for Skype with the ability to record Skype audio and video calls. The interface is easy to understand and navigate. However, podcasters may find it has extraneous features than needed.

There is a free version, but if you plan to record for more than a few minutes you’ll need the $15 version at a minimum.

Which Podcast Recording Software is the Best?

Which podcast recording software is the best results in a subjective answer. But here’s a couple of questions to ask yourself that may help you make a decision:

1.) If you’re working with an editor, which software do they use?

Using the same software as your editor can help speed up post-production. Some don’t care what podcast recording software you use while others have strong opinions. Check with them first.

2.) What’s your budget?

There’s no reason to hold up production while you save up for the “perfect” software. Pick what’s in your budget and move forward. When the time is right, you can upgrade down the road as your experience level, and skills grow.

 

2017-11-06T18:04:50+00:00March 14th, 2017|

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