Updated: Jan 12, 2022
If you have a podcast that needs to sound nice and clean, you’re going to need to do some editing in post. Some people run into problems when choosing which software to edit with. To start this off, I’m going to tell you, it’s not as important which software to choose, as what content you are producing. You should be choosing the software that best suits your goal for the podcast.
When audio engineers talk about editing software, you hear the name DAW thrown around. That’s just a fancy name for editing software, it stands for Digital Audio Workstation. Each software has its own features, and each one performs a little differently, but essentially they’re all meant to do the same thing. I’ll go over a few options that would be best suited for podcasters, and we can discuss how much money it will cost, and the learning curve on each of them.
Audacity is generally the first software that most people start out with when learning to edit podcasts, for one pretty big reason, it’s completely free! Audacity is a really great DAW and a lot of people continue to use this for the duration of their podcast, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
Free to use, open source
Easy to start with no previous audio knowledge
It has a lot of really useful presets for EQ that are just a button press away, it has VST plug-in capability (although if you’re at that point, you might just want to upgrade). There are plenty of compression presets to use, to easily apply the right effects to your audio. With the adaptive noise reduction (although not perfect, and not to be relied on), you can get rid of most of the noise you don’t want in your audio.
The biggest drawback to this software, however, is the fact that it’s a destructive editor, which means that any changes you make to the audio are permanent and you would have to undo all your edits if you make a mistake.
Audition is a really powerful DAW that has a ton of really great features. It costs a monthly fee, which has negatives and positives. If you plan on using this for years to come, the cost will add up to a very hefty amount, but the fact that it updates consistently means you’ll always have the latest and greatest technology to use.
With the use of multi-track editing, podcasts are much easier to apply separate effects to each person in the podcast. Also, with the multi-track, it’s very easy to record multiple people in a round table style podcast, just arm each track to record and you’re done. You have the ability to add effects to the entire track, or only add effects to one specific clip, so if you had one spot that was trouble, you can only affect that spot.
What’s really cool with the multi-track editor, is that it’s completely non-destructive, which means any edits that you make in the multi-track can be removed without having to go back several steps by undoing everything you’ve just done. Meaning the effects that you apply won’t immediately change the waveform of the audio, but you will still be able to hear the effect it has.
Audition also has the ability to go into spectral display mode, which allows you to take a much closer look at the spectral frequencies within the audio.
Reaper is set at a really great price for what you get with it, that’s going to be the theme for this DAW. It’s doesn’t take up much space to download the software, and once you open it up, you’ll realize why. It’s pretty bare bones when you first take a look at it, but with a little digging, you’ll find that it has a lot of great features and customization to it.
Easy to use
Free Updates (for a limited time)
Reaper comes with a multi-track editor, so just like Audition, it’s going to be much easier to record several people at once. Also like Audition it is a non-destructive editor, so any changes you make will not be permanent right away. The layout of the software is not particularly pleasing to look at, it’s pretty basic and has a lot of empty space, with small icons reminiscent of older operating systems. Once you get into the meat of Reaper, it’s really a great and easy to use program. You can easily select which effect you want to use, and create a signal chain that’s easy to get to.
Reaper is relatively cheap compared to other DAWs that do similar things, it’s a one time payment that allows free updates up to one full point version. So if you buy it at version 5.7, you will be able to update it for free until version 6.7. That’s pretty cool, not many software companies offer that kind of feature.
Hindenburg is specifically made for dialogue, so it’s perfect for anyone with a podcast. I haven’t gotten a chance to use Hindenburg, so I can’t give my personal recommendation for this one, but I’ve heard a lot of good things, and done a lot of research on it.
Automated volume leveling
Another DAW with multi-track editing, as well as non-destructive editing. Hindenburg Journalist is the entry level DAW in the Hindenburg series. This offers a feature called “clipboard” which allows you to quickly save clips of audio that you might want to use for social media or need to continually come back to. It involves a lot of automation that makes it very easy to level the audio, or duck beneath music. Hindenburg is built to help you with everything dialogue, which is really great for broadcast radio, or podcasts.
This is certainly not all the DAWs out there, but these are a few that are used by a lot of people. If you are just starting your podcast and don’t have any budget and just want to start something and want it to sound as good as possible, I think Audacity is a fantastic choice! Audacity has a lot of really useful features in it, which is pretty incredible because it doesn’t cost anything to download. Whatever you choose, remember that the content is the most important part of any podcast!
If you made it this far, consider reaching out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about great and creative ways to improve your podcast, or if you would like some help with your entire podcasting process, including launching your show, consultations, editing, or just a more personal conversation!