Whether you're just starting your podcast or you've been podcasting for a while, you might find some things easier by using better tools. Here are the audio-editing apps I recommend most for podcasting in 2023.
Sidenote: I prefer the friendlier phrase “audio-editing app” instead of the commercial term “digital audio workstation” or “DAW.”
(As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases through some of these links. But I recommend things I truly believe in, regardless of earnings.)
4. Audacity (02:24)
I suspect that most podcasters have used Audacity at some point or even still do. Audacity has been a staple in audio-editing because it was capable and—maybe what keeps it most popular—it's free.
I recommend Audacity exactly because it's free and yet still very capable! Unlike GarageBand (which is free on macOS), Audacity sticks to conventional audio-editing tools and principles. These conventions make it easier to learn audio-editing on Audacity and later move up to more advanced software. Plus, the latest versions of Audacity are making huge leaps forward in improving the software.
Audacity runs on macOS, Windows, and Linux.
3. Adobe Audition (4:40)
Several years ago, I forced myself to step up from Audacity to Adobe Audition, and I found it significantly improved my workflow. There were several things that Audition made faster or easier for me, and yet there were some things Audition couldn't do that Audacity did. However, many of those items might be moot at this point.
Audition is premium software that comes at a price. And unfortunately, that is only a subscription price: currently $31.49 per month without a contract, or $239.88 per year (essentially $19.99 per month) at the “best” price. (There's tax on these prices, too.)
I won't pay that and I don't think you should, either.
However, if you are a slave to Adobe Creative Cloud, like I am, then you already have Adobe Audition along with all of Adobe's other software in the complete subscription suite for $599 per year (about $50 per month, plus tax). I already pay for Adobe Audition along with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe Fonts, Premiere Pro, Lightroom, and After Effects. And it's because I'm already paying for it, that I use Adobe Audition with my audio-producer John Bukenas. But if I didn't need the rest of Adobe's apps, I would switch to my #1 podcast-editing app in a heartbeat.
At $239.88 (plus tax) per year, I think Adobe Audition is too expensive for most podcasters unless they already subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud. So if you can afford it, then I think Audition is one of the best audio-editing apps you can use!
Audition runs on macOS and Windows and offers a free trial.
2. Descript (7:35)
Why? Because Descript takes an industry-leading intuitive, user-friendly approach to editing audio. Although you can edit with a conventional audio waveform (like in other apps), Descript transcribes your audio to let you edit audio like editing a text document. You can see the words, select them, and then move or delete them with ease!
There are also several options for significantly improving the audio of low-quality recordings by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI)!
On top of that, Descript now lets you edit video with this same text-based simplicity!
There is a very limited free plan. After that, pricing starts at $144 per year for longer recordings and extended features.
Descript is browser-based, so it will work on nearly anything!
Honorable mention: Reaper (9:39)
Although I have never personally used it, I see a lot of podcasters highly recommend Reaper as a great upgrade from Audacity.
Reaper is a conventional audio-editing app, but it seems to me like its user interface is stuck in a past decade or intended only for people who are extremely comfortable editing audio. A quick look at their not-mobile-friendly website might overload you with technical terminology and technical-looking images.
But the pricing is reasonable: currently $60 for personal use or commercial use if your yearly revenue is below $20,000. Beyond that, it's $225 for a commercial license. However, these are one-time licenses that include free upgrades for quite some time. (The current version 6.75 license promises free upgrades through version 7.99!)
Reaper is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux and it offers a fully functional 60-day trial.
Honorable mention: Adobe Podcast (11:16)
Formerly known as “Project Shasta,” Adobe Podcast is an even simpler text-based audio-editor similar to Descript, but significantly optimized for even easier use. For example, instead of having variable controls over audio-processing settings, Adobe Podcast offers a simple toggle switch for different AI-powered effects. Nonetheless, the simple results still sound great (and some people think they sound even better that Descript's “studio” sound.)
There's no audio waveform in Adobe Podcast; you're editing only with sections of transcript and audio clips. But there is actually a built-in guest/cohost audio-recording feature you could use instead of Squadcast, Riverside, Zencastr, or StreamYard.
Adobe Podcast is currently in beta that you can request to try for free. I expect it will be included in the Adobe Express subscription, which offers a limited free plan and an expanded premium plan for only $99.99 per year. And like the Adobe Express tools, Adobe Podcast will probably be included in the more expensive Creative Cloud subscription.
I'm looking forward to how Adobe Podcast improves, and how Adobe might bring some of those great features into Audition and Premiere Pro.
Adobe Podcast is also browser-based, so it should work on nearly anything!
1. Hindenburg (13:43)
And now we come to my #1 suggestion for editing your audio podcast: Hindenburg (formerly known as “Hindenburg Journalist”)!
While Hindenburg initially looks like many other conventional audio-editing apps, I've recommended it for years because it contains extra features designed specifically for editing spoken-word content, which is exactly what nearly all podcasts are! So you'll find intuitive features like automatic loudness normalization for every clip, a handy clipboard (great for your audio-branding clips and bumpers!), and even text-based editing features coming in Hindenburg Pro 2.
I also expect Hindenburg to be the first to support Podcasting 2.0 features, like better chapters, the transcript tag, and more.
Plus, Hindenburg offers a perpetual pay-once license! It's $99 for Hindenburg Lite or $399 for Hindenburg Pro. Or, you can subscribe to Hindenburg Pro for $120 per year and that will include upgrades for as long as you maintain your subscription. This pricing might change with 2. And they sometimes offer big sales around significant radio and podcasting events. Get price-drop alerts from PodcastingDeals.com!
It's the combination of conventional editing, podcasting-focused benefits, and flexible pricing options that lead me to recommend Hindenburg as the best podcast-editing app! And I don't even—currently—earn any commissions from recommending Hindenburg! (Though I keep asking for an affiliate program and will update my links if they ever offer an affiliate program.) If I wasn't already paying for Adobe Audition, I would immediately switch to Hindenburg—and I often consider it anyway!
Hindenburg runs on Windows and macOS.
When and why should you upgrade? (16:69)
Before you rush out to switch apps, I suggest you listen to my old episode “When to Upgrade Your Podcasting Tools.” In short: upgrade when the new solution provides something you actually need. In most cases, upgrading will not improve your audio quality, but the upgrade could make it easier to get better audio. For example, the AI-powered sound enhancement currently from Descript and Adobe Podcast can give you results that rival spending hours learning to use and then fine-tune compression, EQ, gating and expansion, noise and reverb reduction, and more.
So if you need something simpler, try Descript or Adobe Podcast. If you need something conventional but better, try Hindenburg.
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship. I may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.