When starting out with your first podcast, you're probably focused on getting podcasting equipment like a great podcast microphone, a pop filter, headphones and the like. But podcast recording software is just as important as good hardware.
The software you use to record your podcast will make an enormous difference to your workflow and recording quality. There are dozens of options for podcast recording software available to fit any experience level and budget, but how can you choose the best podcast recording software for you?
While there may be some trial and error involved, we're here to help you narrow down your list. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before committing to podcast software.
There’s no one-size-fits-all podcast recording software solution. Depending on your needs, budget and more, the best option for you will vary. However, there are a few things every podcast recording software and platform should offer.
With multitrack recording, each person speaking on your podcast will get a separate audio track. Being able to edit and mix your audio files is essential for quality podcasting. If you use software like Zoom, which doesn’t allow for multitrack recording, you lose options to balance and edit your audio. For example, if one person coughs or sniffs into the microphone while another person is speaking, you can’t edit it out without also cutting what the primary speaker is saying.
Some podcast recording software options will offer automatic post-production—more on that later—but many will still offer the ability to download each speaker’s track separately.
Podcasts are all about audio. Great audio starts with the hardware (e.g., microphones) but software plays an equally important role. Good podcast recording software should be capable of producing studio-quality audio, by which we mean crystal clear vocals that sound natural and present.
If you’re using a traditional digital audio workstation like Waveform OEM, audio quality is a given. Where you might run into trouble is with online podcast recording software. Some platforms—like any conference calling software or software designed for streaming—may compress your audio, which reduces the quality. You might also find your podcast suffering from that digital distortion and garbling you’ve heard on Zoom calls.
Podcast recording software is an investment that you’ll want to be able to try before you buy. Some services have a free plan alongside paid plans while others will have a free trial. Give a few options a go before you put your money down so you can pick the best option for you.
The best podcast software for you will hinge on the answer to this question. Podcast recording software generally focuses on audio or video, though some will do both.
Video podcasting has gained popularity over the past few years, and podcast software has evolved to meet the needs of these new podcasters. The overwhelming majority of video podcasts follow a similar format—interview and conversation between people in the same physical space. Think more Joe Rogan Experience and less Serial.
You don’t need to be in the same room to record a compelling podcast. Some of today’s most popular podcasts, including You’re Wrong About are recorded remotely.
If you’re recording your podcast remotely, we recommend using podcast recording software that offers video, even if you don’t plan on releasing a video version. It’s a lot easier to have a smooth conversation with your co-hosts or guests if you can read their visual cues. This can prevent cross talk and other awkward podcasting moments with remote guests and hosts.
While you’d ideally have a good internet connection to record remotely, many online podcast recording options save your audio and video as local recordings and then upload automatically when the podcast is over. That way, you don’t lose any audio even if your internet drops out.
Post-production (often just called “post”) is the work you do on your podcast after you record it. It includes aligning the separate audio files, noise reduction, compression and more.
Most podcast recording software offers post-production features via what we call plugins. For example, a denoiser plugin can remove background noise from a whirring computer. If you’re not sure what kind of post-production tools you need, record a test episode that’s a few minutes long and listen to see what you’d like to fix in post.
Some podcast software options offer different types of automatic podcast production for those who don’t know a lot about audio editing or just want to speed up the editing process. Though minimal, automatic post-production for podcasts usually covers your most important bases: noise reduction, audio leveling (so no one is louder than anyone else) and compression (evening out the overall audio level).
When looking at podcast recording software, all you really need is a way to record and edit high-quality audio. However, more advanced features like the following can elevate your podcasting and even make post-production easier.
While most podcasters use a dedicated podcast distributor like Podbean and Buzzsprout, some online podcast recording software platforms offer built-in, easy distribution. For example, Spotify for Podcasters (audio only) and Zencastr (audio and video) offer the ability to record, edit and distribute your podcast with a single service.
Transcribing your podcast might seem like an unnecessary chore (who wants to read a podcast, anyway?), but it’s a feature you should consider for three reasons:
Accessibility for the hearing impaired
Easy translation into other languages
Driving website traffic
Having accurate transcriptions, and thus translations, makes your podcast more accessible to more people. If you upload your podcast to YouTube, it will automatically generate captions, but they’re not always very accurate.
If your podcast recording software creates transcriptions, you can correct errors and upload them to YouTube instead of relying on YouTube’s auto-generated ones. You can also put your episode transcripts on your podcast’s website to make it more likely your podcast episodes will show up in Google search results.
Podcast recording software Descript takes transcriptions to another level. Descript will not only transcribe your podcast, it will automatically detect your regular hosts, remove long pauses and filler words (e.g., “um” and “ah”) and make it easy to edit your video directly from the transcription itself. This isn’t just great for cutting out parts of the conversation you don’t want in the full episode—this feature is perfect for quickly finding and compiling clips for social media like TikTok or Instagram Reels.
Sound effects aren’t necessarily going to make your podcast sound like drive-time talk radio—but they can if that’s what you’re going for. Many podcasts use various effects to set the mood, signal transitions and more. If you plan on adding audio clips to your podcast, try to find podcast recording software that offers sound effects or makes it easy to upload your own clips to a virtual soundboard.
Ads are the major way most podcasts make money, and some podcast recording software options offer the automatic incorporation of ads into your episodes. There are two catches, though. Firstly, you’re going to split the money advertisers pay out with your platform. Secondly, your podcast will have to be fairly big in your niche before you start to attract advertisers.
While most podcast distributors offer this service, there are two big podcast recording software platforms that can automatically insert ads into your podcast: Spotify for Podcasters (formerly known as Anchor) and Zencastr.
Now that you know what to look for in podcast recording software, here are a few examples of computer audio editing software and browser- or app-based options for recording a podcast.
When we talk about computer software, we mean programs that you have to actually download onto your computer. While some of these are specifically designed for podcasting, some are the exact same tools used in music production.
Let’s start with podcast recording software that was made with podcasters in mind. There’s one clear winner in this category—Descript.
Descript was made for content creators like podcasters, but it got its start as an affordable transcription service that even had a free (albeit limited) tier. Over a few short years, they’ve added features that make editing audio and video podcasts a breeze. You can both record and edit your podcast with Descript, which has features like automatic pause and filler word (e.g., “um” and “uh”) removal to tighten up your podcast.
If you’re looking for podcast recording software that has more robust audio features and aren’t interested in a text editor like Descript, try a traditional digital audio workstation. If you have a Mac, Garage Band is a free option while Logic Pro offers a significant upgrade in features for a one-time fee (and you get free product updates for life).
Windows users also have some free options, including Audacity. Meanwhile, those who have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription already have access to Adobe Audition. Another great option is Waveform OEM, which you can get for free when you purchase select Mackie products like the Mackie ProFX10v3 analog mixer, Mackie Onyx 8 analog USB mixer and the Mackie Big Knob Studio monitor controller and interface.