Once you’ve begun recording episodes for your podcast, you’ll probably listen back in and find things you don’t like.
Do you pause too long when switching topics? Did your conversation fall into a bizarre rabbit hole about cat memes? Does your cohost’s mic fade in and out? Does the podcast music sound a little off?
No matter which shape the issue takes, chances are you’ll find something. Content creators tend to be perfectionists, and as a podcaster you’ve probably realized that sound quality and conversational flow are huge factors in how much attention a listener will give your show.
That’s where podcast editing software comes in to save the day.
We know not every podcaster is a videographer or a sound engineer. For some of you, the thought of going into your .mp3 file and changing sound levels or adding white noise might keep you up at night...but it doesn’t have to.
To help you find software that will meet your needs (and experience level) — and then help you grow your audience — let’s look into some of the best options available now.
And to simplify things, we’ll split ‘em up into three different levels: First-time Host, Regular ‘Caster, and Podding Veteran.
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Podcast Editing Software for First-Time Hosts
Brand new podcasters have different needs than long-time veterans. And probably the most-asked question about editing software is price. With that in mind, here are two of the best free options to get your feet wet in the world of podcast editing.
Audacity is a favorite pick for newcomers and longtime podcasters alike, and for good reason: It’s simple, clean, and easy to use.
You can record and edit your podcast in Audacity, which is why so many people love it. And its popularity means you’ll find tutorials, extra plugins, and communities of other users all across the internet.
Oh, and it’s also free, which makes it worth trying even if you think one of the options might be better for your skill or experience level.
Most people remember GarageBand from the ‘00s as a fun program for making music with friends. But Apple has kept the app relevant ever since, and it’s become an easy — and free — way to record, edit, and even mix audio files.
Nobody would say that GarageBand is a feature-rich pick for podcast editing software. It’s definitely a program built for musicians, but the sample instrument tracks do make for a convenient perk.
Again, GarageBand is a completely free download. There’s even an iOS app for tablets and phones, so you can capture audio wherever you decide to record an episode of your show. That — and the clean UI — make it a pretty easy entry point for first-time podcasters.
Podcast Editing Software for Regular ‘Casters
It makes sense that you might not want to invest a lot of money (or drop a monthly subscription) on a piece of software until you know you’ll like it. With that in mind, we’ve saved the “entry-level with extra features but also a price” for this second tier.
Once you know you’re committed to your podcast long-term, here are two of the most popular mid-level options for editing software.
While Hindenburg began as a radio software company, their products can function seamlessly as podcast editing software. You can even add music and sound effects to your files just like the other programs on this list.
Of course, Hindenburg’s platform won’t offer quite as many editing features as a lot of options (since most programs are developed for music production), but Hindenburg’s focus on human voice recordings makes it a great pick for podcasters.
The Hindenburg “Journalist” package for podcasters comes in at one-time $95 fee, although you can only record two channels of audio at once. (The “Journalist Pro” version is a $375 download and the program records unlimited channels.)
Reaper.fm offers a baby step into the world of Digital Audio Workstations (which we’ll cover more in the next section) while still hanging onto a pretty cheap cost. It’s an affordable way to transition from basic mixing and into the great big world of sound editing.
With Reaper, you’ll get a few more features than with Hindenburg, although they’re less podcasting-focused. However, it’s got the shortcuts and extensions to fully customize your editing workflow to suit your needs.
A Reaper license will cost you $60, and for that cost it’s hard to really go wrong with this option. Whether you use it as a transition into the more upscale programs or just want a little more flexibility in how you work, Reaper’s got you covered.
Podcast Editing Software for Veterans
Once you’re comfortable with the intricacies of sound mixing and editing, you’re ready to dive into the top tier of programs. These two options are Digital Audio Workstations, which basically means they’re programs used by professional audio engineers and musicians.
For podcasters, that means top-of-the-line options and flexibility. And, as you might expect, the cost for these programs rises along with the quality. But either option will give you everything you need to create top-shelf audio content for your podcast.
Audition is the audio-focused sibling of Premiere Pro. It’s got the same plugins, workstation, visual layout, and shortcuts, so it’s a no-brainer for people familiar with the Adobe Creative Suite.
As a podcaster, you might feel like Audition has a pretty steep learning curve. But once you learn the basics of recording and mixing, Audition will give you the tools make exactly the show you want...assuming you’ve learned those features, of course.
Like all Adobe programs, Audition is a software-as-service product, which means you’ll pay a subscription fee and get access to the program and all future updates. It’ll cost you $21 a month (or $53 a month for the whole suite of Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps).
Pro Tools is the other industry-standard editing option. It is far and away the most common option for audio at film and music production studios, and for good reason
One of the main differences is that Pro Tools is a dedicated audio program, while Audition is a piece in a larger creative suite. Most industry pros choose Pro Tools because it’s great for mixing files from different sources (mics, sound effects, background music, etc.).
Unlike Audition, Pro Tools does offer a few different subscription tiers (including a free version called “Pro Tools First”). But the main offering will cost you $30 a month or $300 if you pay for an entire year.
The good thing about software is you aren’t locked into lifetime agreements on anything. And most paid-for programs (even the ones not on this list) will let you use plugins and extensions to streamline your process.
Your goal should be to find a program you’re comfortable with and also produces the quality you want. Then, as you get more comfortable with your podcast and the editing process, you can come back to this post and check out a more advanced option to take your show to the next level.
If you're looking for more resources on podcasting, here are we think you'll find helpful:
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