Free Podcast Recording Software
The Best Free D.A.W.s for Recording Your Podcast
04.11.19 | Podcasting | By: Jacob Bozarth
Audacity and other free recording software platforms will always have a special place in my heart. Downloading Audacity on my parent’s Windows 2000 machine in high school is where my love for audio recording all started. In a matter of minutes, I transformed their bedroom into a recording studio for free…(well it cost them some grief and inconvenience and I suppose I used my allowance to pay for the MXL condenser microphones). I used Audacity to record a couple music demos and I remember thinking how easy it was to download, record and what I thought was mix a simple demo (complete with drums).
I would venture to say that countless others like myself have been able to record and learn to do post-production for podcasts simply due to the accessibility of free recording software platforms like Audacity. In this post we will look at 3 free podcast recording software platforms that are available and as well as look at a couple of affordable software options to help you decide which podcast recording software will best fit your needs to record your podcast.
A simple internet search reveals that there are countless ways to record podcasts and it can be overwhelming trying to decide which way is best for you. While there is no one “right” way to record a podcast, choosing the best option will come down to the type of recording, the budget you have, the tools you have at your fingertips and what type of computer you are using. At Resonate, this is something we navigate frequently. The advice we would give on recording a podcast and what software to use will vary depending on your specific situation. This resource is aimed at helping people who are considering looking at free podcast recording software as the solution for recording their podcast.
As I mentioned, Audacity was the first DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that I was exposed to and the gateway software into my love for audio production. The reason that I was able to access Audacity as a broke high school student is that it’s a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. According to the Audacityteam.org website, you can use Audacity to:
- Record audio.
- Record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine.
- Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
- Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files.
- AC3, M4A/M4R (AAC), WMA and other formats supported using optional libraries.
- Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
- Numerous effects including change the speed or pitch of a recording.
- Write your own plug-in effects with Nyquist.
- And more! (See the complete list of features)
But as rings true with all recording software, Audacity has it’s pros and cons.
The pros of this software are that it is compatible on Mac, PC, and Linux. Moreover, this open source software is free to download and has the ability to record high resolution audio that is often found in more expensive programs like ProTools, Adobe Audition, and Logic Pro. Additionally, the layout is pretty simple and easy to navigate, it allows you to start recording quickly, and you can export multiple individual tracks simultaneously.
While Audacity is highly appealing for all these reasons, there are also several negatives. First, the editing features are not intuitive and the learning curve is steep. Second, the program is lacking aesthetically and is pretty underwhelming overall. Personally, this is not a software program I would want to look at or work in for hours and hours. Finally, it is easy to accidentally shift tracks out of sync while editing. In spite of all these negatives, with a little practice, even a novice can learn how to get great results out of Audacity.
If you watch the Audacity tutorial for podcasting video below, you will be well on your way to recording and editing your podcast in Audacity like a pro.
Since its release 15 years ago, GarageBand has been one of the most popular free recording software platforms for the Mac platform. GarageBand being a free program native on all Apple computers is a very popular option for podcasters looking for a reliable way to record podcasts with minimal investment, simplicity and ease of use. Like most of Apple’s hardware and software brainchildren, GarageBand is a beautifully-designed application and is pretty user-friendly overall.
Like Audacity and every other podcast recording software, there are pros and cons of using GarageBand. The pros of this software are that it is free and comes installed on every single Apple computer. Moreover, it looks great and is one of the easiest to use and navigate recording software platforms. Additionally, it comes with a built in sound library with many great loops and sounds. Lastly, it is available on other Apple devices as well, including the popular iPad and iPhone, to be a solution for recording on-the-go.
While GarageBand is great for the reasons listed above, there are still a few downsides to this software. First, when recording using the built in voice presets, the program defaults to adding reverb and other low quality effects to your recording that will not sound good for your podcast VO. While these built in effects may be more fitting for recording music, you will want a dry vocal with no reverb or effects for your podcast dialog recording. Second, you are very limited with the editing features in GarageBand. Unlike ProTools and other professional recording software platforms there is not an actual fade or crossfade feature. Finally, there is no way to export your session as an OMF file. An OMF file is an audio session saved in a standard format based on the Open Media Framework Interchange (OMFI), a standardized interchange file format. It may be exported from digital video editing or audio workstation (DAW) software and is commonly used to share or transfer project data or digital media between different software applications. Chances are that you may not be mixing your audio using GarageBand so if you are sending off your session to someone else to mix and master, not having an OMF export feature will limit someone from being able to open your session in another DAW. While this may not be a dealbreaker for everyone, this is a feature we would love to see in a future version of GarageBand.
If you watch the GarageBand tutorial for podcasting video below, you will be well on your way to recording and editing your podcast in GarageBand like a pro.
Pro Tools First
Hands-down Pro Tools is the industry standard for audio recording, editing, and mixing software. Even having a 4 year degree in audio production where much of my time was spent learning how to use Pro Tools , there are still new features and things I learn about Pro Tools on a daily basis. The reason for this is that it offers the most features and is one of the most robust recording software platforms on the market. But did you know that you can now get the tools that pros use…for free? Yes, in 2015 Avid released its long awaited free version of Pro Tools known as Pro Tools First. Many people I talk to today are still unaware that Pro Tools has a free version. This is likely due to the fact that Pro Tools has historically had a sticker price outside of the budget for most hobbyists.
While I am a huge fan of Pro Tools and would argue that it is the best DAW for audio production of any kind, there are a few downsides to this free version. First, unlike its big brother Pro Tools, you are limited to only having 16 tracks at a time in your session. While this may not be an issue for recording your podcast it may be an issue if you plan to mix and master your audio in Pro Tools First. Additionally you are limited to 4 inputs (dependent on an interface or other hardware used) and there is no video track support. Also, unlike the paid version of Pro Tools there is no Clip Gain feature, no OMF file interchange, no option to import full session data and you are limited to only 3 cloud projects on your Avid account. Now, I know that sounds like quite a few negatives, but remember that I mention most of these in order to see the differences in the free and paid versions of Pro Tools.
Let’s now take a look at the upsides of using the free version of Pro Tools. First, this software is free and really does allow users to get familiar with the industry standard DAW that pros use. Moreover, it comes with 23 decent plugins that you can use to mix your podcast. Additionally, it comes with many of the core features that Pro Tools is known and loved for, by so many. These include, QuickPunch, Elastic Audio, MIDI Editor, Offline Bounce, Volume, Pan, Sends, Solo, Mute, and Plugin Parameter automation and more. Again the fact that there is a free version of Pro Tools, even though it is limited, is mind-blowing. Just starting out or looking for a great way of learning post-production, then I would recommend you consider giving Pro Tools First a try. The skills you learn will allow you to grow and eventually become a pro like so many other professionals that use Pro Tools on a daily basis.
So, these are our top three recommendations for free podcast recording software. As you can tell I am a big fan of Pro Tools and Audacity, but GarageBand is also a great free option for Mac users. With all this being said, if you are open to spending a few dollars on your podcast recording software here are a few affordable options to consider:
Avid Pro Tools: $24.92/month – Again this is our #1 recommended DAW and exclusively what we use at Resonate Recordings. If you are a student or teacher don’t forget about the education discounts Avid offers.
Reaper: $60 – Reaper is an affordable option when it comes to audio production. You can purchase the entire software for a one-time fee of $60. We know several well-respected audio engineers who choose Reaper as their podcast software of choice.
Adobe Audition: $20.99/month– If you come from a film or creative background you may be familiar with other Adobe software platforms on their creative cloud. Several of our clients that have a film background choose Adobe Audition as their software of choice. Additionally, Adobe does have the ability to export files as an OMF, so this makes it work well for collaboration.
Hindenburg Journalist: $95– Hindenburg Journalist is a software platform that’s specifically designed for radio journalists, audio producers and podcasters. It’s overall design and features cater to spoken-word productions.
There you have it our list of the best free podcast recording software platforms and a couple affordable options for you to choose from. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of audio experts if you have any questions about recording, mixing, or editing your podcast. And if you’re looking for a partner to help lighten your load and work with you in the post-production process reach out to our team to learn more about our podcast production services aimed at making podcasting easy.
By: Jacob Bozarth
As President & CEO of Resonate Recordings, Jacob leads the team & oversees the vision and growth. Jacob can be found recording, producing, & mixing podcasts when he is not spending time with his family. Jacob & his family live in Louisville, KY.