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
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!
- Edit the audio, or import the separate clips.
- Move the two clips to separate tracks
- Overlap the clips by the amount of crossfade you want to occur.
- Select the overlap's length of the end of the first clip.
- Go to Effects > Crossfade out.
- Select the overlap's length of the beginning of the second clip.
- Go to Effects > Crossfade in.
- 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.
- Edit the audio or import the separate clips.
- Move the two clips onto the same track and overlap them the length of the desired crossfade.
- 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.
- Export from Audacity to WAV.
- Import into iTunes.
- Setup iTunes to make mono 64 kbps CBR MP3s or 128 kbps stereo CBR (one-time step).
- Convert to MP3.
- Copy the MP3 from iTunes.
- Delete the leftover WAVs in iTunes and your source directory.
- 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.
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.
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
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