Are you struggling to figure out what podcast software you need to start your show? I don't blame you!
We need software for a range of tasks in podcasting, and the choice of applications is huge. That's good and bad, of course.
- Good: The competition encourages great tools and brilliant platforms that really help us out.
- Bad: The sheer variety makes it helluva confusing when you're starting out.
Don't worry, though, choosing your podcast software doesn't have to be hard. That's what we're here for.
In this article, I want to show you all of the different types of podcast software on the market.
If you want a quick answer – just to be told: “This one's good, use it!” then I've got a couple of top recommendations in each section.
But, if you want to go deep – and I know there are some of you who do! – then I'll guide you towards specific resources for each area. We've covered a lot of these tools in detail after all.
So, what software do you need to make a podcast? Let's take a look!
The first step – record your podcast! You can't have a podcast without recording your voice, after all.
The good news is that it's never been easier to record your own voice, or even a conversation with others. But, there are a few different ways to do it. So, let's look at the options.
Starting with the simple option, let's just record ourselves. Why might you do this?
- running a solo podcast – just you and your mic, talking to your audience every week
- recording a solo section for a podcast – an intro, an outro, an ad slot, a news update
The solo show is a good option in a lot of cases. It's a nice, simple, sustainable way to spread your message. And even if you run a larger show with more than 1 person, you'll often need solo segments to mix in amongst the main recordings.
In either case, you need to record yourself, and that means having a bit of software that can quickly and easily capture your voice.
Computer Based Solo Recording
The first option is a audio programme for your computer, often called an Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). You download it, you install it, and you hit record.
The most popular option here is Audacity, which is a free audio recording and editing app. It's a little clunky, and quite old fashioned, but it's amazing considering it's free. Can't argue with that value! Check out my Audacity tutorial videos here to get an idea of what it can do.
On the other end is Adobe Audition, which is a Pro level audio editing package, and the one we use here at The Podcast Host. Audition has a monthly fee, but for that you get a much better workflow, a lovely user interface and loads of presets and automation. It's overkill for most podcasters, though, and it takes quite a time investment to learn.
Recommended tools & further reading:
Web Based Solo Recording
If you want to be flexible in where and when you record, you can use a web application to record yourself, rather than software on one computer.
I'd recommend this for short clips – such as intros, outros, ad slots or quick updates. It's not a great idea to record a longer solo show online (eg. 5 mins +) since browser tech isn't the most reliable for this over a long period of time.
If you just want to quickly record those short slots, though, Alitu is a great solution. Alitu is a web application that automates all the complex processing tasks, like levelling, noise You can create a new episode in Alitu, upload your main recording, and then use the ‘Record' tool to add a personalised intro to that main recording, and a custom outro message for that episode.
Recording a Call
The humble interview show: one of the most popular podcast formats in the world. And for good reason! When done well, an interview show is interesting, valuable and helps the listener every single week. But, what podcast software do you need to record that interview? Here are the options.
It's possible to record a conversation fully online, just inside your web browser. The big advantage of this is that you can do it anywhere, on any computer. No need to install an application on your computer.
If you go this route, there are two good options for me. First, we've got Zoom.us. This is a web conferencing application that's about as easy as it gets. You sign up, get your link and once everyone clicks it, you're all in a conference room together. Zoom will record the call on it's own servers, and then send you the audio file at the end. Easy! The downside here is that the quality can be a bit spotty, depending on everyone's connection. If someone's on dodgy broadband, then it's record the glitches, the dropouts and all the rest. But, it's generally pretty reliable, so it's a decent option.
The next option up is to use web software that records on each individual computer. This is commonly called a double ender, because it records at both ends: your own end, and the interviewees end. This means it records the best quality for each person and doesn't depend on the connection quality.
For this, you'll usually pay a bit more, but you'll get much better quality as a result! The one I use most often for this is Ringr, which works on both web and mobile.
Recommended tools & further reading:
Skype was long the preferred way to run a podcast interview, but the competition in recent years has definitely cut that down. In the past, the trouble was always that you had to download a separate bit of software to record a Skype call, such as eCamm for the Mac or Talkhelper for the PC. But now, Skype has call recording build in, so that makes it super-easy to record a call.
The downside, of course, is that you need to download and install Skype, and the person on the other end has to have it too. In the past, that was a given, but nowadays it's a little less common. That's why I tend to use Zoom or Ringr, above, more, because it doesn't rely on the interviewee having anything at all installed. They just click a link and join the call.
But, if you do want to go with Skype, use either of the solutions below, or check out our Skype recording article for all the software options.
Recommended tools and further reading:
A simply option is to pull out your smartphone and record right there on the device you already have. If you do that, what are our choices when it comes to mobile podcast software?
First, nearly every smartphone has a default audio recording app. iOS has one as standard, called Voice Memos. On Android it's often just called Voice recorder. And, if you do a search in the app store on either platform, you'll discover dozens of other specialist recording apps with a whole slew of features. Let's be honest, though, you really just need a big red record button, and a way to send the file somewhere else for editing!
One particular tool worth mentioning comes from a company called Spreaker. Spreaker are a podcast hosting platform, but they also provide a great podcast recording app which ties right into their hosting.
Load this app onto your phone and it'll let you record a podcast right there, as well as offering a whole bunch of useful features. They include a sound cart (a set of buttons that you can load music and SFX onto, so you can play that live into your recording), live broadcasting and the ability to bring in a Skype interviewee or co-host.
If you don't mind going with Spreaker as a podcast host (and they're one of our top podcast hosting platforms) then the app makes things very, very easy.
Recommended tools & further reading:
Editing & Production Software
Once we've recorded our show, the next task is editing & production.
Editing usually means the process of cutting up your recordings and putting them back together again as one episode. That can mean adding music, removing mistakes, combining two or more recordings and much more.
Production, on the other hand, is usually taken to mean the process of making your audio sound better (sometimes called mastering). That means playing with the volume levels, removing noise, adding compression, and a range of other tasks.
So, any podcast software we use at this point should be able to do both. If you're curious about level you need to reach here, then check out the article: How much editing should I do?
Web Based & Automated
There aren't many online tools that can do both editing & production well. It's pretty resource intensive (big audio files & browsers are a tricky combination…).
But one such tool is Alitu, the Podcast maker app. Alitu is designed to automate the production on your podcast, handling conversions, bitrates, levelling, compression and noise reduction for you. For editing, Alitu provides a tool designed specifically for podcasters, allowing you to trim recordings and remove mistakes. Finally, it offers an episode builder where you can create your episode from music, recordings & transitions through a drag and drop interface.
Computer Based Editing
I talked about DAWs – computer based podcast software – earlier as a recording tool. Well, as you'd imagine, they're also designed for editing and production.
The same arguments as before apply here. Audacity is free, but a little clunky, and Audition is more expensive, but powerful & slick.
If you want to see all of the options, check out our Top Podcast editing software article for the details.
Recommended tools & further reading:
One of the biggest time-sucks in running an interview show (and to some extent a co-hosted show…) is the infamous email ping-pong when trying to schedule a time to talk. You suggest Time A, but they can't make that and suggest Time B, but you can't make that and suggest Time C, but they can't that and suggest Time D, but they….. you get the idea.
Well, there's a solution, and it comes in the form of a scheduling app. These wonderful apps are simply bits of software that sync with your calendar (Google Calendar, iCal, etc) and then offer your interviewee a link to book in. The link generally shows the interviewee all of the free slots on your calendar, so that they can choose the one that suits them best.
There are a whole bunch of extra benefits, from automating parts of your research, to sending reminder emails. The tool I use for this is called Book like a Boss, and you can see my review of the system, and the way I use it, below.
Recommended tool & further reading:
Podcast Planning Software
One area I've seen starting to grow, but which hasn't quite achieved maturity yet, is the podcast planning space. I've come across a few tools which are currently being developed which aim to help you manage your podcast, from planning interviews and content, to scheduling releases and promotion afterwards.
Right now, we use two tools which aren't podcast-specific for our planning: Trello and Notion.
Trello helps us keep a track of the tasks to be done, from booking in an interview to publishing the show. Notion is for the information that goes along with that, such as scripts and guest research. It's Wiki-style approach let's you organise every bit of info and data you need for your podcast, and everything around it.
There are some interesting tools coming out just for podcasters in future, but nothing I can recommend quite yet. Keep your eyes peeled, though, because, for me, this is probably the next big growth area for podcast software.
Watch out for New Apps on the Horizon
At the time of writing, that covers all of the different types of Podcast software that you might need. The exciting thing is, though, there's a lot more on the way. I hear about a new podcast startup just about every week, and they're coming up with new software solutions to help make our podcasting easier and better. I'll keep this article updated as they come out.
Need Help Choosing or Learning your Podcast Software?
I hope this has helped you figure out what you need, but if you want a bit more help, we're always there to do just that inside our Podcast Host Academy. Among many other things, we've got courses on:
- setting up your recording software and equipment, from start to finish
- editing your show with Audacity & Audition
- Using Trello for podcast planning
We also do live coaching every 2 weeks and run a podcast discussion forum, both of which you can go to for personal help. Hope to see you there!