“You get a podcast. And YOU get a podcast!”
Thanks to the wonders of online streaming and audio editing software, creating and hosting a radio-esque talk show is all the rage. People of all walks of life have suddenly found themselves with podcasts like Oprah is hurling them out.
There were more than half a million active podcasts on iTunes as of April 2018, according to Fast Company. Whether you’re a sketch comic or a conspiracy theorist, the cultural norm is to air your ideas to the world in short, digestible chunks. And striking while the iron’s hot, developers are hard at work with tools that make it easy for just about anyone to get involved.
No matter your affiliations or what you deem “pod-worthy,” you’ll be using the same tools to make your show as everyone else. So we’re not so different, are we? From the timely and news-focused to random, embarrassing anecdotes, this ever-evolving medium is used for just about everything — all made possible by popular desktop apps and USB microphones.
Check out some examples of popular podcasts in our list of the 50 best podcasts by category in 2019.
Typically, the platforms you would use to create this content are the same you would use for personal music production or multipurpose audio clips. You simply record your voice (or voices) on a series of tracks, and then crop or tweak as necessary. If you want a paste in a musical interlude or even record some fresh jams on top of your conversations, this is a great way to take advantage of the software’s functionality.
Frankly, the technology is the easy part when it comes to podcasting. An original concept and a killer podcast script are up to you to figure out, and it may take several tries until you strike gold. A little personality doesn’t hurt either — and it’s up to you to decide if you want to share yours with the world!
If and when you do, any one of these podcasting tools can be your new best friend, and without a financial commitment getting in your way. We’ve assembled several platforms that are well-reviewed by our global community of professionals, and ordered them by user satisfaction rating. The products featured here have more than 450 verified user reviews on G2 as of June 7, 2019, and represent only a portion of the 40-plus products in the Audio Editing category.
For each product we provide:
The list we’ve outlined here includes any podcast recording and editing software with an available free offering. This list does not include products that are only free on a temporary basis, such as limited trial versions for new users.
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Keep in mind there are paid upgrades to certain products, and we’ll make a point to call those out. There are also dozens more solutions to consider depending on your budget if you desire certain features along your podcasting journey. It’s also important to consider the quality of your current microphone, and the method of hosting and distributing your podcast that you feel is best. We’ll offer examples of hosting software later in this post.
|TIP: Learn about these 11 podcast editing terms in order to know exactly what you're doing behind the scenes.|
Without further ado or promos from our sponsors, here are the top-rated free podcast tools to help make you or your team into internet stars.
Product name: GarageBand
G2 star rating: 4.2 out of 5.0
Number of reviews: 136
Overview: If you’re a Mac user, you may already have GarageBand installed on your computer. Apple released this fully equipped audio workstation in 2004, and it has been a staple for creatives and professionals ever since. It comes loaded with dozens of features for recording and editing along with a library of sounds and music to use in your projects.
Free option: The complete version of GarageBand is free to download on the Mac App Store, and is only compatible with macOS version 10.12 or later.
Paid option: GarageBand offers in-app purchases and add-ons that vary by price.
Image courtesy of Apple
What users say:
“I like how simple and self-explanatory the controls are! If you know the basic concept of music/audio editing, you can use GarageBand. And even if you don't, it's incredibly easy to learn. This software can produce professional-level tracks in the comfort of your own home or even the garage.”
— GarageBand review by Hannah M.
Product name: Audacity
G2 star rating: 4.4 out of 5.0
Number of reviews: 262
Overview: Released in 2000, Audacity has been leveraged by audiophiles for nearly two decades. This free and open-source audio editing program is available for Windows, macOS and Unix, and allows users to mix numerous tracks into a finished project. After mixing and editing, files can be exported into a number of file formats for convenient posting and sharing.
Free option: Audacity is a completely free, open-source product. Donations are accepted on the Audacity website for continued development and support.
Paid option: There is no mention of a paid upgrade on the Audacity website.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
What users say
“The editor is simple and conversion to MP3 or WAV files is quick and easy. Use Audacity to edit podcasts and make simple demonstration recordings with ease. This is a great solution for an aspiring DJ or anyone who does not want to invest a lot to edit their podcasts.”
— Audacity review by Nikitha N M.
Product name: Power Sound Editor
G2 star rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
Number of reviews: 10
Overview: Power Sound Editor provides all the necessary tools to create, record, edit and share audio projects. Users can lay down tracks with external microphones and pull in audio clips or fragments from CDs, DVDs, media players or web videos. The platform supports a number of common audio formats, including MPEG, WAV and Windows Media Audio.
Free option: Power Sound Editor Free includes familiar editing commands, 25-plus audio effects and support for all key formats.
Paid option: Power Sound Editor Deluxe includes features such as text-to-speech and batch converting and merging of audio files. It is available for $29.95.
Image courtesy of Softpedia
What users say:
“I recommend using Power Sound Editor if you need an easy-to-use program and you do not have much experience in editing sounds. You can also watch online tutorials to facilitate your experience. Give it a try! You won't regret it and it is free to try out.”
— Power Sound Editor review by Lorenzo J.
Product name: Music Maker
G2 star rating: 4.1 out of 5.0
Number of reviews: 14
Overview: Music Maker from MAGIX is used by more than 2 million people worldwide according to the MAGIX website, and was originally released in 1994. It is marketed as a music creation tool, but its capabilities can also allow for seamless recording and editing of podcasts. Once you download the software, tutorials are available to help you learn the program.
Free option: The free version of Music Maker includes all the tools for creating and mastering audio projects, with more than 400 sound and loop effects.
Image courtesy of Brothersoft.com
What users say:
“It’s very simple software to use to make or edit music when you’re short on time or don’t want to mess with all the ‘bells and whistles’ of other software. It’s very easy to learn and use for things such as vlogging and adding sound effects. Just let your imagination take you to create what you want.”
— Music Maker review by an anonymous user.
Product name: Studio One
G2 star rating: 4.3 out of 5.0
Number of reviews: 16
Overview: Studio One, now in its fourth iteration, is a creative companion for podcasters, musicians and others working with sound. Its intuitive single-window interface and drag-and-drop editing allow for a smooth recording and mastering experience. The base software is completely free, but PreSonus also offers several paid upgrades and packages for increased functionality.
Free option: Studio One 4 Prime offers a limited feature set and only runs on 64-bit operating systems.
Image courtesy of PreSonus
What users say:
“The UI/UX and workflow is fast and natural. It just makes sense. The editor provides amazing utility. Routing and access to effects and tools is logical and elegant.”
— Studio One review by Andrea S.
Product name: WavePad
G2 star rating: 3.7 out of 5.0
Number of reviews: 11
Overview: WavePad is a full-featured audio and music editor for Windows and Mac users. It allows for simplified recording and mixing of voice and music tracks. Users can export finished projects into a range of popular audio formats including MP3 and WAV.
Free option: WavePad’s free edition is available without expiration for non-commercial use, and includes a limited feature set compared to paid versions.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
What users say:
“One of my favorite features of WavePad is how easy it is to have multiple tracks open at one time. Users are able to customize the home view and arrange each individual track on the screen as you wish, and I find that to be helpful for me. I use it primarily for vocal recordings, and I really like the effects you can add to help clean up any background noise (I don't record in a studio setting, so eliminating background noises is especially useful for me).”
— WavePad review by Thomas J.
So you’ve just recorded your episodic masterpiece. What now?
Finding the right outlet to upload and distribute your podcast is a critical step, and can make or break your project’s success. Podcast hosting websites are specially built to house your content so you can share it with your network and be discovered by swarms of new listeners. Additionally, some of these platforms generate listener data and offer assistance with monetization.
The following are some podcast hosting sites that are trusted by podcast hosts and the listening community alike. We encourage you to visit their websites for information on features and pricing.
You can also check out our list of the best podcast hosting websites as a starting point on your search.
Every popular show starts with a first step! Read how to start a podcast and enjoy the process of bringing your ideas to life.
* Reviews edited for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and clarity.
Zangre is a Senior Research Specialist who helped with spearheading G2 Crowd’s expansion into B2B Services. He studied journalism at the University of North Florida — which is still undefeated in football — and joined G2 Crowd in 2016 when there was only one other “Andrew.” He has enjoyed contributing to newspapers and online publications while pursuing music and comedy projects in his free time.
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