Your audio software, sometimes referred to as your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), is the software that you'll use to record, edit, and mix your podcast. There are a large number of options at various price points, offering varying functions and capabilities, so it can be difficult to digest all the information in order to make an informed decision. While I don't believe there's an objectively "superior" program, there are always one or two that will be better suited to your needs. In this post I'll run through the pros and cons of some of the most common options and try to help you with your choice.
- It's free and open source, and it's a small download, so you can have it up and running on your computer in a matter of minutes.
- While it doesn't offer as many features as other DAW software, it can handle single track audio recording and some basic audio processing, such as noise reduction and equalisation.
- It's not very user friendly, and will take a little effort to learn (although that can be said for most sound editing software).
- Without using any additional software, it can only record one source at a time, which means you're limited to a single mic setup.
- It's not well suited for audio editing and mixing.
A decent option for the lone podcaster with a limited budget, but its severe lack of features makes it a poor choice for all but the most modest projects.
- It contains all the features you need for podcasting, such as multitrack recording, noise reduction and other processing, and mixing.
- It's widely used, so tutorials and how-to's are easily found.
- It uses a subscription model and costs (at the time of writing) $20USD or 23.99€ per month, which is $240USD/288€ per year - quite expensive in the long run, especially considering the fact that you never really own the software, you're just renting it.
- Personally, i found the interface a little clumsy, and the method of changing between edit and mix modes awkward and unnecessary. It's not terrible, but at this price point I'd expect something more intuitively designed.
A good option for someone who wants to take care of the whole podcast workflow themselves, as long as you don't mind the price tag.
- If you have a mac, you either already have it, or can get it for free.
- It has a fairly simple and clear user interface.
- It allows for multitrack recording.
- Audio editing features aren't well suited to fine cutting.
- The process of exporting raw audio is basically non existent, which can cause complications if you want to edit/mix in another program.
Garage Band is actually not bad at all for recording. I can't recommend it for editing and mixing, although it's not impossible. This can be a good option if you edit/mix in another program, but be aware that you'll only have access to your recorded audio as a folder of raw .wav files, which can cause issues with resynching if your files are numerous.
- Industry standard software with good editing, mixing, and multitrack recording capabilities.
- It can be used for your entire workflow, from recording to creating deliverables.
- It's expensive. Approximately $600USD/560€ if you want to buy a permanent licence with one year's worth of updates, or $25USD/28€ (incl. vat) per month if you choose the subscription payment model.
- It has a depth of features, that can be difficult to learn if you're not experienced with DAW software, and which can even get in the way if you're not aware of them.
- It only comes with a collection of basic plug ins, which actually work very well, but it doesn't include some of the important ones such as noise reduction or average loudness metering.
I have to admit that, as Pro Tools is my software of choice, I'm pretty biased. I will say that it's worth getting if you intend to make a career out of sound editing and/or mixing - for podcasts or any other medium. However, for a simple podcast, there are tools out there that can do all you need for a lot less money.
I hope that helps illuminate some of the choices available. This is by no means all of them, and i plan to cover some more in future posts. Also, while i've made an effort to give objective information, this is all based on my opinion as a sound post professional and your mileage may vary. If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.