7 reasons I’m switching from Audacity to Audition (and why you shouldn’t) – TAP106

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Audacity is free and Adobe Audition is $349. Are there really benefits to Audition that are worth the big price tag? I share why Audition may be best for my podcasting workflow, but why you probably shouldn’t switch.

My reasons for switching to Audition

1. Included in Adobe Creative Cloud

Because of my professional web design services, I’m subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud, which gives me access to every Adobe creative app: Photoshop, Premiere Pro, InDesign, Illustrator, Lightroom, After Effects, and more.

Audition is also included with Creative Cloud, so it’s software that I already own and doesn’t cost any extra to use. So why not try this professional audio-editing software?

2. Better multitrack editing

I have been overall pleased with Audition’s multitrack editing. I can add effects to tracks or sections without changing my actual audio (called destructive editing), so I can also make changes much later.

Some of the multitrack workflow does get annoying, like exporting. There’s a particularly nasty bug that forces me to manually switch my export bit depth to 16-bit lest Audition ignore the rest of my encoding settings.

3. Recording markers from Zoom H4n

The Zoom H4n external recorder has a fantastic feature that will place a marker in my audio. I just press the REC while recording to place it.

This makes spot editing much easier! I don’t have to write down timestamps and edit backwards. It’s also a lot more subtle when I mark something to edit in a conversation with cohosts.

4. Quicker crossfades

In Audacity, crossfades are involved!

  1. Edit the audio, or import the separate clips.
  2. Move the two clips to separate tracks
  3. Overlap the clips by the amount of crossfade you want to occur.
  4. Select the overlap’s length of the end of the first clip.
  5. Go to Effects > Crossfade out.
  6. Select the overlap’s length of the beginning of the second clip.
  7. Go to Effects > Crossfade in.
  8. Hope you never have to change this.

(Crossfades in Audacity produce a better volume curve than a normal fade. So the transition will be smoother.)

In Audition’s multitrack mode, this is much easier.

  1. Edit the audio or import the separate clips.
  2. Move the two clips onto the same track and overlap them the length of the desired crossfade.
  3. Move these around anytime you want to change the crossfade.

5. Simplified workflow

You know that since episode 10, I have recommended making MP3s with iTunes instead of Audacity (Audacity uses LAME which is great for VBR music MP3s, but terrible for CBR podcast episodes). Here’s the process.

  1. Export from Audacity to WAV.
  2. Import into iTunes.
  3. Setup iTunes to make mono 64 kbps CBR MP3s or 128 kbps stereo CBR (one-time step).
  4. Convert to MP3.
  5. Copy the MP3 from iTunes.
  6. Delete the leftover WAVs in iTunes and your source directory.
  7. Delete the leftover MP3 still in the iTunes library.

Since I work in mono audio, I would always add a step before all of these to convert my WAVs into a mono WAV, since iTunes would do that faster than Audacity.

Since Adobe Audition uses the Fraunhofer MP3 encoder (same as iTunes), I can make my MP3s directly from Audition.

Audition also quickly converts my source WAV files to mono and saves them for me. So I’ve dropped several steps from my conversion workflow.

6. Smaller project sizes

Unless I run a destructive effect or process my audio inside of Audition, it simply links to my external WAV files. Audacity does this, too. But adding any kind of processing in Audacity would require embedding the raw audio at an even larger size than uncompressed WAV.

Since Audition applies most effects as a nondestructive feature to tracks or clips, it doesn’t have to process the audio until I play (live processing) or export.

Since Audition processes live instead of changing my raw audio, my project folders average 1/3 their size of when I use Audacity.

7. Integrates with Adobe Premiere Pro

Since I’m now getting into video production with my Canon T4i DSLR, I’m using Adobe Premiere Pro and even After Effects more often. Audition integrates quite well with these apps, including some of the exact effects and presets can be carried between them.

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Why you shouldn’t switch

1. Expensive ($349)

Adobe Audition is available at multiple price points (as of December 3, 2012):

  • $349 to buy outright;
  • subscribe for $19.99 per month with an annual contract ($239.88 per year);
  • subscribe for $29.99 per month with no contract;  or
  • included Creative Cloud membership at $29.99, $49.99, or $79.99 per month, depending on your contract and eligibility.

Whatever option you select, it costs a lot! But Audacity is free and many other great audio-editing programs are under $100.

Unless Audition provides some steller feature set that saves you hours (or brain cells), then the price is probably too high for most podcasters.

2. Won’t improve audio quality

Audition is high-quality software, but it won’t make your audio any better. There are numerous compressors built in (some I think are overused to produce over-processed, headache-inducing sound), but the quality of these depends on your knowledge of the tool, not the tool itself.

Hear the Audacity version of this episode for comparison

This edition may sound different, but it’s due to my settings with different tools, not due to the quality or price tag of the software.

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3. May not save any time

Your workflow is most likely different from mine. Most podcasters only need basic cut/copy and paste features, with some basic adjustments. In this case, Audition is like renting a bus to transport one person.

4. If you have extra money, invest it elsewhere

There are so many other things worth the money if you’re tempted to spend $350. You could be a better mic (or several!), a mixer or bigger mixer, premium WordPress plugins, better headphones, silent mic stands, shockmounts, cables, pop filters, webcams, or any number of other things.

Audio-editing software is probably the last place you should ever spend money in your podcast. But even if you do want something fancier or easier to use than Audacity, there are plenty of great options under $100.

Upcoming: podcasting stuff worth the money

In a future episode, I’ll share what things I think are worth spending money on for your podcast. Please tell me your favorites!

Podcasting tip: get the best audio quality with what you have

The best gear doesn’t mean the best podcast. Focus on episode content and audio quality with what you have. Max Flight from Airplane Geeks Podcast and Podcasting Passion

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I'm available for one-on-one consulting to help you launch or improve your podcast.

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  • http://www.musicradiocreative.com/ Mike Russell

    Thank you for the mention at the top of the episode Daniel. I found this a very compelling listen. Thanks for name checking ID3 Editor. I’d been copying and pasting my ID3 tags using iTunes… how foolish! You’ve just saved me so much time on my podcasting workflow. Is the paid version of ID3 Editor your official recommendation or do you use something else yourself? Have you an affiliate link I may use for ID3 Editor?

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      I do recommend the $15 ID3 Editor. It’s fantastic for copying tags from one file to another and it generates compatible information.

      I don’t have an affiliate link, but I am actually a reseller. But my price is the same as direct from the company, and they accept credit cards online.

      • http://www.musicradiocreative.com/ Mike Russell

        Thanks Daniel. This is super helpful – off to buy it now!

        • Cuong Dang Manh

          Hi all
          The mp3 file created by Audition has the size smaller than audacity. I think this might good for downloading.
          Cuong Dang Manh

          • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

            Yes, that was odd. It’s barely smaller. Both MP3s were encoded at the same rates. Audition’s was 100 KB smaller for a ~27 MB file. This is strange, because both iTunes and Audition are using the same Fraunhofer encoder.

  • http://twitter.com/PodcastF1Brasil Carlos Del Valle

    I found the Audition sound more beautiful, more bassy, at the same with strong treble, sibilating esses. But the excess treble can be a bit tiring. The Audition sound was more “FM-like”. Your voice bass was very precise and beautiful this time, and at the same you managed to avoid being too “thundering” in my car stereo, a sin that sometimes Max and Cliff commit.
    Thanks for you work and dedication, I’m great fan of AtP, cheers

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Thanks for the feedback! I’ll listen closely to hear the same things you’re talking about, and then figure out what should change in my suggested Audacity workflow.

      • http://twitter.com/PodcastF1Brasil Carlos Del Valle

        Anyway it was nice that you said that the softwate won’t improve your audio quality, and Audacity can produce the same result as Audition. I plan to stick with Audacity, and I’m learning those chains and key shortcuts to improve workflow, thanks

  • http://danieljohnsonjr.com/ danieljohnsonjr

    Thanks for the tips, Daniel! I just downloaded Audacity 2.0.2 this morning and have been tinkering around with it. It’s been a long time since I’ve really used it the way it can be used. I also tested out the tip on using iTunes to create the mp3.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      I believe I speak for Audacity when I say, welcome back! We missed you. :)

  • http://gaplauche.com/ Geoffrey Allan Plauché

    Hi Daniel. You mentioned doing a poll for podcast editing software. I don’t see it yet, but in case you were going to leave this one out I wanted to mention that while I haven’t begun podcasting yet (recording first episode this month) I’ve been playing around with and plan to use Reaper. It can be found at reaper.fm. Reaper is developed by the creators of Winamp.

  • http://www.LipstickUnplugged.com/ Dee Copeland Patience

    Hey Daniel, my husband and I pay for Adobe Creative cloud as well. I didn’t realize that, since we already pay for it, why not use Audition? We’ll try it and see, using these instructions.

    FYI that there’s extensive training for those who use Lynda.com. http://www.lynda.com/category/Adobe-training-tutorials/105-0.html

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Great! Let me know what you think while you try it. Are you coming from Audacity, too?

  • http://www.valueofsimple.com/ Joel Zaslofsky

    Hey Daniel,

    I was at NMX and saw you at the podcast awards. I just gave this episode a listen and I can see why you won! I’m your newest iTunes subscriber and I’ll be looking forward to more great stuff in the future.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Thank you, Joel! What audio-editing software are you using?

      • http://www.valueofsimple.com/ Joel Zaslofsky

        Why, Audacity of course. :) But after hearing you talk about the superior iTunes algorithm for converting .wav files into .mp3 files for constant bit rates, it looks like I’ll be adding another program into my post-production workflow.

  • tokyotony

    I’m jumping late in the game, being that I am going through all your podcasts in one chunk (well, I do have to eat, sleep, and work so not completely in one chunk!). I am on a Mac and I use Amadeus Pro (it’s made specifically for the Mac), and It costs $60. I found that, while Audacity got the job done, the interface is a bit clunky and overwhelming in the beginning. I think there are things that can be improve with it as well, but the interface works a bit better for me. Audition looks like a smooth program and I’m trying out the trial verson now, but some of the functions are way over my head or they are over the top of whay I need. I wish that Amadeus had non-destructive editing and a way to assign more commonly used function in the toolbar–then I would be set.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      That’s an easy-looking program. Audition is certainly packed with professional features and functionality, but most podcasters wouldn’t need it. But I have found my workflow is mostly faster with Audition than it was with Audacity.

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