Serious podcasters looking for the best free podcast recording software, look no further than Audacity. This many-featured software gives the average podcast host a myriad of options, helping them sound their best, and appear as good as the pros.
While a first glance at Audacity may give impressions of a program best reserved for audio experts, it’s not as intimidating as it looks. In fact, once you get the hang of a few key features you’ll be recording high-quality podcasts that make you proud before you know it.
Our guide will outline how to record and edit podcasts with Audacity.
Steps to Create and Edit Podcasts with Audacity
Getting Audacity is your first step. Visit their site to get a free copy and install the program.
Setting Up Audacity
Once you’ve installed Audacity, adjusting the settings is critical. When you first use Audacity, go to “Edit” and “Preferences” to adjust the necessary settings. Once here, go to “Devices” to edit the sound card and audio channels, as Audacity doesn’t update these to the correct settings automatically.
Make sure the correct sound host is being used by going to “Interface” and clicking “Host.”
Also, make sure to adjust the “Playback” and “Recording Devices.” Choosing the correct devices can make a huge difference in the quality of the audio.
Next, since you’re recording a podcast and don’t need stereo, adjusting the audio from Stereo to Mono is a great way to make the podcast file as small as possible. Just click “Channels” and choose “1 (Mono).” Then click “Ok.”
Another setting to consider adjusting is the “Play other tracks while recording” option, which can be found under “Recording” in preferences, in “Playthrough” next to “Overdub.” This is a nice option since it allows Audacity to play previously recorded tracks alongside your latest track, which is helpful when comparing tracks.
Now that you’ve configured the settings, it’s time to edit Windows sound, which may be necessary is you’re using an external mic. Go to “Control Panel > Hardware & Sound > Sound > Adjust System Volume.”
Here you can adjust the volume of all audio devices under “Device.” If you’re using an external mic, go to “Sound recording volume,” then mute the default mic.
Recording in Audacity
To record a podcast in Audacity, start Audacity and go to “File > New.” A new window will open.
To start recording, the audio controls are in the top left corner of the screen. There are controls for “Pause, “Play,” “Stop,” “Back,” “Forward” and “Record.”
Click the red icon to “Record” and Audacity will begin recording incoming audio to a single track.
Editing in Audacity
There are several editing tools located right by the audio controls in Audacity. One of the most helpful is the “Zoom” tool, represented by the magnifying glass icon.
This tool lets you zoom in or zoom out of your audio to get a better look at what you’ve recorded. This is also quite helpful when deleting certain small bits from your podcast. After selecting this tool, a left-click zooms in, and a right-click zooms out.
The other editing tools in this cluster include some other great functions too. “Select,” represented by the cursor icon, is one of the most helpful tools, helping you highlight a certain chunk of audio for editing.
The “Envelope” tool, represented by the hourglass icon, lets you change the volume of a track gradually.
“Draw,” represented by the pencil icon, lets you remove unwanted noise from your recording. Note: This works best when you zoom in to a more detailed view.
Meanwhile, the “Time shift” tool, represented by the double-ended arrow icon, lets you move blocks of audio from one track to other.
And the last editing tool in this cluster is “Multi-tool mode,” represented by the asterisk icon, which lets you access any of the previous mentioned tools by using keyboard shortcuts, either hitting “*” or “F6.”
Further editing of course is possible in Audacity. To remove silence in your podcast, choose the “Select” tool than click and drag over the area you want to delete. After you highlight the area, hit the “Backspace” key. This is nice to do at the beginning or end of a podcast to remove unnecessary silence, or to tighten things up between sentences.
Adjusting Volume in Audacity
Another important thing to adjust is the volume of certain parts in your podcast, which may happen if someone is talking too softly or the audio just didn’t pick up right. You can do this in the “Effect” menu.
Just highlight the clip of audio you wish to increase the volume, then go to “Effect” and select “Amplify.” A window will load, and in this field you can increase the volume in the “Amplification (dB)” field. Adjust the volume a few numbers at a time. The amplification volume isn’t the same as “regular” volume, so it’s best to adjust in small increments.
As you increase the volume, the blue waves representing your audio will grow longer.
Another handy tool is the “Silence” tool, that lets you mute a certain block of audio. This is a great tool if a guest or yourself said something that you don’t want heard, or if your mic got hit. To do this, highlight the audio you want to silence then go to “Edit > Remove Audio” and select “Silence Audio.”
Adding Music to Podcasts in Audacity
Many podcast hosts like to add intro or outro music, and adding music to a podcast is quite straightforward. First, make sure the music you want is in MP3 format and on your hard drive, then go to the “File” menu in Audacity. Select “Import,” then go to “Audio..”
A dialog box will open. Go ahead and find the audio file you want to use on your hard drive, then click “Open.”
Audacity will import the audio into a separate track, with two separate stereo files – a left and a right – for the track. From here, select the clip you’d like for the intro to use. Adding a “Fade in” effect at this point is a good idea. After highlighting the audio you want, go to “Effect” and select “Fade in.” You will see the blue waves of your audio have been adjusted accordingly.
Also, don’t forget you can adjust the volume of music tracks, or any track for that matter, by clicking and dragging along the
“-…..+” tool in each track. Adjusting the volume of the music is key, so as to not overpower your voice.
Once the volume settings are where they need to be for both tracks, play around with selecting and deleting audio so everything is queued exactly where you want it using the “Time shift” tool.
Saving/Exporting Your Podcast as a MP3
Once you’re done editing your podcast, you will need to export it as an MP3 so it can be listened on the web, and doing this is easy. Audacity now comes with an MP3 LAME encoder so integrating this into Audacity is no longer necessary. Just go to “File” and choose to “Save as type” and select “MP3.”
If you’re looking for a good place to upload your podcast, which will also host it for free, one of the best sites is Archive.org. All you need to do is register, and Archive.org will let you upload an unlimited number of podcasts.
Everyone wants to channel their inner-radio host and Audacity is the tool to make that happen. The program is intuitive and loaded with dozens of editing tools that give you free range over every aspect of your podcast. For heavy Chrome users who’d love a way to create a podcast in their browser, check out SoundCloud, a basic sound recording app that can work for smaller podcasts.