According to PodcastHosting.org, there are more than 1.5 million podcasts and more than 34 million episodes. Sixteen million people in the U.S. alone describe themselves as “avid podcast fans.” Podcasting has become a big business, which can create a new revenue stream for your business through ad sales, sponsorships, or even from generating leads and driving direct sales of your company's product or service.
To turn listeners into buyers, you'll need to make sure your podcast is polished and professional. And that starts with the right podcast software. It can shorten the editing time, allow you to customize the podcast, integrate your favorite plugins, and ultimately turn your recording into the podcast you’ve envisioned.
To help you find the software you need, we reviewed 16 podcast software platforms to find the best in seven use-case categories, considering functionality, price, ease of use, and more.
The 7 Best Podcast Software of 2021
Best Overall: Auphonic
Auphonic rates best overall because of its affordable pricing structure, its accessibility for newbies, as well as its automated audio enhancement features that experienced podcasters will appreciate.
Free upload hours each month
Has a free option/affordable
Advanced features need to be purchased additionally
Users don’t have full control over the files
The desktop version doesn’t have all features
Auphonic comes with a plethora of embedded features that save you a lot of editing time. When you combine those capabilities with an easy-to-use interface for new podcasters and lower rates than their competitors, you’ll appreciate why Auphonic takes the prize for best overall podcast software.
Both Mac and Windows users can get access to a ton of advanced editing features for a fraction of the price of some other programs—less than $100 per month for any of its pricing plans, including a free option with two hours of audio per month. Users can also buy a set number of processed audio hours for a specific price. These start at $12 for five hours of processed audio and go up to $150 for 100 hours.
Auphonic’s AI-based audio algorithms make you sound like a pro without needing years of sound engineering experience. Designed for podcasters, radio hosts, broadcasters, movies, and screencasts, the program is very user-friendly and mostly automated. All you need to do is upload your recorded files, and the software will do most of the work. It will identify voices and music separately and process each of the identified sounds differently to optimize the final quality. Auphonic will also level out the audio of the podcast participants, so all voices are the same audio level.
Since it’s automated software, anyone can use Auphonic, but this may be an issue for those who have particular needs and want to have more control over the files they are editing. If that sounds like you, you would be better off using another platform. However, considering Auphonic has a free option and a few affordable packages, it’s a great choice for people that want to record and edit their podcast while staying on a budget.
To help podcasters record their podcasts on the go, Auphonic has developed the Auphonic Edit app that integrates with the web service. Through the app, users can process, encode, tag, and publish podcasts, interviews, and music recordings with the click of a button. The app is compatible only with Android devices and has an average rating of 3.9 stars based on 407 reviews.
Best Free Option: Audacity
Audacity is, without doubt, the most popular free podcast software. It has been used by podcasters for years and still stands on top for us as the best free podcast software thanks to its features and basic editing options.
Free to use
Compatible with all operating systems
Supports most audio file formats
Has all basic effects to create podcasts
Can’t upload directly to a podcast hosting platform
No advanced editing features
No mobile app
While its interface may look a bit outdated, Audacity comes with all the basic features a podcaster would need to record and edit an audio file, making it the best free podcast software. It’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac, and it’s continuously updated to work with the latest versions of these operating systems to allow users to enjoy the full benefits of the software.
At first glance, Audacity may seem confusing for novice podcasters, but since it’s a free, open-source digital audio workstation, it’s the best choice for those who want to stay on a budget. While it wasn’t designed specifically for podcasters, and it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of some other programs on this list, it compensates by giving users all the features needed to create any type of podcast efficiently.
Users can create audio recordings using a microphone and mixer or digitalize audio files from any other media type and turn them into 16-bit, 24-bit, or 32-bit audio recordings with minimal audio editing experience. However, it doesn’t allow users to upload podcasts from the software directly to a podcast hosting platform.
Audacity doesn’t have an official app in the App Store or Google Play, however, it can be downloaded on any device with any type of operating system.
Best for Beginners: Alitu
Alitu was built for users to create a podcast with minimal or no technical experience at all, making it our choice as the best for beginners. As it does most of the job on its own, using Alitu also requires almost no effort, making it simple to use for any level of podcast expertise.
Almost fully automated
Can record audio anywhere
No desktop or mobile app required
Only for short recordings
Browser apps are not reliable
Audio quality issues
Alitu won us over as best for beginner podcasters because it's so simple to use. Users can effortlessly upload an audio file, and Alitu will take the raw audio and do everything for them, from volume leveling to cleaning up the recording.
It costs $28 per month or $280 annually, and since it’s a web-based application, it can be used by Mac, Windows, and Linux users alike.
While the automated features make it an excellent fit for tech novices, don’t expect the audio files to be of the highest quality. As web-based apps rely heavily on the user’s internet connection, Alitu is more effective for short recordings. Longer calls and recordings can be interrupted due to disconnections, quality drops, glitches, and other issues, which lower the audio quality.
On the upside, Alitu allows users to record audio files and will automatically improve their sound quality, while you can add music and fades to help your podcast sound like it was engineered in a professional studio. The software also enables users to add personalized intros and outros to the audio file by adding the recording before the beginning or after the end of the main recording.
Alitu doesn’t currently offer a downloadable mobile app for its users.
Most Comprehensive Option: Hindenburg Journalist
Although the cost is higher than many other podcast software programs, Hindenburg Journalist is explicitly designed for podcasters and allows them to do pretty much anything to their conversations, audio recordings, and interviews, making it the most comprehensive podcast software.
Supports all types of audio files
Extracts the best audio quality
Has a free 30-day trial
Upload directly to Soundcloud, Libsyn, and Loudness
Not fit for beginners
All features are available only in the pro version
As a multitrack audio editor, Hindenburg Journalist is designed for all podcasters and radio journalists who want to focus on storytelling and need the most comprehensive suite of features to control recording and sound quality, as well as organizing and editing capabilities to create a polished show that they can send out to the world with its built-in publishing tool.
With its comprehensive features and compatibility with both Windows and Mac operating systems, Hindenburg Journalist is an excellent fit for all users who want to have advanced editing features and are prepared to pay for them. Its price plans start at $95 a month and go up to $500, but you can sign up for the free 30-day trial first.
When you record audio, Hindenburg Journalist records uncompressed sound to extract the best audio quality and adjust the loudness level. The simple clipboard gives an overview of all tracks uploaded, allowing you to take the best sound bites and ambient sounds and place them in separate groups. Users can also upload their podcasts directly to Soundcloud, Libsyn, and Loudness. They can additionally record Skype calls with a built-in feature, which further makes the software simple and effortless to use.
For those who want to record anywhere, anytime, Hindenburg has a Hindenburg Field Recorder app. As its name suggests, you can record, edit, and share your audio files while being in the field. However, the app is only available for iPhone and iPad users. The current rating in the App Store is 4.0 stars based on seven reviews.
Best for Professionals: Adobe Audition
Adobe Audition is our favorite choice for professional podcasters because it gives users complete flexibility and control over their projects. It has every advanced feature an experienced podcaster may need to create a professional podcast and distribute it to their audience.
Multiple advanced features
A lot of online tutorials and classes
Custom templates and hotkeys
Requires time to learn
Not fit for beginners and intermediate users
Adobe Audition is a powerful, flexible, and intuitive digital audio workstation that is best suited for professional podcasters.
Compatible with Mac and Windows, Adobe Audition is a subscription-based software designed for podcasters. It costs $29.99 per month, although if you buy an annual subscription, it will cost $239.88, or $19.99 per month. Adobe also has an “All Apps” package, which gives users access to other apps besides Adobe Audition, including Photoshop and Illustrator. The Adobe All Apps package costs $74.99 per month, or $599.88 per year.
Although beginners and intermediate users can use it, they wouldn’t maximize many of its advanced features, so it wouldn’t be worth paying the high price tag. Adobe has many online tutorials and classes to help non-pros learn Adobe Audition, but it would still require time for beginners and intermediate users to master it.
Adobe Audition is fully capable of producing music and podcasts, combining files, and editing them in a batch with advanced features like background noise reduction, compression, EQ, and more. You can also create a custom-made recording template and hotkeys, allowing you to record and produce podcasts quicker than before.
Their Android app called Audition ToolKit allows users to record audio, edit existing audio files, trim audio files, add filters, convert files in different formats, filter noise, and edit the files by using only a mobile Android device. It currently has over 100,000 downloads and a score of 3.8 stars over 230 reviews.
Best for Mac: Logic Pro X
As Logic Pro X is made by Apple for Apple, it’s the best for all Mac users who want to create professional podcasts.
Made by Apple for Apple
Users can add post-production effects
Logic Remote app
Multiple automation features
Focused more on music production than podcast production
Compatible only with Mac devices
Requires macOS version 10.13.6 or later
As it’s mainly focused on music production, many consider Logic Pro X overkill for podcasters. Still, Mac users who know their way around a mixing board cannot find podcast software better than Logic Pro X’s powerful features to create professional podcasts.
Logic Pro X can be purchased for a one-time cost of $200, which is a fair price for the advanced editing features it comes with. While it does have all basic audio editing features, only advanced audio engineers can use the software to its full capacity, so it’s recommended for those who have previous experience with podcasts.
Logic Pro X works seamlessly with GarageBand, which means the files produced and edited through Logic Pro X can also be opened in GarageBand. Plus, the Logic Remote app allows users to record and edit audio files on the go with their iPhone or iPad. According to reviews on the App Store, Logic Remote is currently standing at 3.4 stars with over 500 reviews.
Best for Windows: Reaper
While most podcast software programs are compatible with Windows, Reaper is the best in this category because of the robust features that come at an affordable cost. It’s a lightweight, inexpensive, yet powerful software that has a great user interface.
Great value for the cost, starts at $60
Starts up and runs fast
Has a free 30-day trial
Can run from a USB
Lack of online tutorials
Complex plugin integration
No mobile app
The reason why Reaper is our top pick for Windows is that it enables users to go live with streaming platforms like Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), which is not always possible due to the way Windows handles audio devices. Other than that, Reaper is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems and is more inclined toward the creative podcasters rather than the tech enthusiasts.
Reaper has a free trial of 60 days, after which it costs $60 to register for a discounted license and $225 for a commercial license. Users can quickly learn to use it with a bit of research and experimenting, and considering all the features it comes with, it pays dividends to invest in the reasonable license fee.
Reaper allows users to import any audio file and MIDI, synthesize, compose, sample, edit, arrange, mix, and master any audio project, so it was not designed specifically for podcasts. Users can record multiple takes, layers, and loop audio, as well as record arm and disarm tracks without stopping playback. As it’s pretty lightweight, it launches and operates faster than most software programs with minimal issues and crashes. In addition to this, there are many customization features, so each user can personalize the look of their interface and make using Reaper more comfortable for them.
While it does integrate with many plug-ins, adding them to Reaper can sometimes be complicated and require some technical knowledge. In addition to this, Reaper is one of the few podcast software platforms without a mobile app.
What Does Podcast Software Do?
Podcast software can record your voice; adjust the sound, in some cases automatically; and enable you to carve up and splice your recording, fix background noise issues, create intros and outros with music, and publish your podcast to a platform where listeners can find it.
Your podcast software, a key part of your digital audio workstation, is the foundation for recording your conversations.
What Does Podcast Software Cost?
There are three software pricing models: free, subscription, and license purchase.
Many podcast software programs have a free trial period and then convert to a subscription that can range from $10 to $500 per month. You can purchase some software programs as a license to use and download. In this model, you pay no monthly fees after your upfront purchase. Downloaded purchase costs range from $60 to $200.
More expensive programs have more comprehensive features. They are built for experienced podcasters who want ultimate control over their production and sound. These expensive programs often do some automated editing for you, but advanced features let you go above and beyond their built-in limitations. The more expensive programs also have a steeper learning curve. More features means more time needed to understand and use them.
The less expensive programs are meant to get new podcasters up and running quickly. If you want simplicity and embedded sound quality editing, the less expensive programs are your best place to start.
How Do Podcasts Make Money?
Podcasters make money in a few different ways. Whenever you hear a podcaster take a break for "a word from our sponsor," they are presenting you with a commercial paid for through sponsorship fees. A podcaster may take one, two, or three breaks during their show to give the sponsor the spotlight.
In the direct support model, listeners pay a monthly fee to gain access to your show, and most commonly, some premium content you publish.
Another common way for podcasts to make money is through affiliate sales. You’ll recognize these when a podcaster takes a moment away from the show’s content to talk about what they love about a particular product. At the end of their message, they let you know that if you go to the sponsor’s website and use a special discount code or URL particular to the podcast show’s listeners, you’ll enjoy some type of savings. The podcaster gets paid a commission for the sales she drives to that sponsor’s website.
What Other Kinds of Products Will I Need?
We recommend that you don’t rely on your computer’s internal microphone. There are a few other things you’ll need to consider as well, beyond your podcast software.
For hardware, you’ll want a good set of over-the-ear headphones to hear yourself and your interviewee, who may be calling in on Skype. A pop filter over your mic will help your b’s and p’s sound more crisp and level. A boom stand for your microphone will help your sound quality by keeping your mic in one place, preventing it from drifting away from you.
There are also software programs that can complement your podcast software program. A Skype or Zoom account will allow you to conduct phone and video interviews, and to integrate these files into your podcast publishing platform as well as video tools like YouTube and Vimeo.
A podcast hosting account will save you from hosting your podcast files on your own website. Design software makes a lot of sense as well if you want to attract listeners. You’ll use design software to make your podcast’s cover art. Think of this as the cover of your book; this is what people see when they browse places like iTunes, so you’ll want an eye-catching design that represents your personal brand accurately.
Finally, don’t forget about the music you’ll use to set your tone. Most of the podcast software programs allow you to import your music audio file and place it in your intro or wrap-up. To source that music, you can download licensed music and royalty free theme music to get started.
How We Chose the Best Podcast Software
We analyzed 16 podcast software programs before we decided on the best for these seven categories. We wanted to know operating system compatibility and whether they sold on a subscription basis or one-time purchase. The top choices had to be appropriately priced for what they delivered to make it on our list.
We called out whether the program was best for beginners or pros, how easy it was to use, and if it was designed primarily for podcasters. Some of the software programs had mobile apps, and we included those ratings and key features. Lastly, we wanted to point out integrations and plugins to help you find your own “must-have” features.
PodcastHosting.org. "2020 Global Podcast Statistics, Demographics & Habits." Accessed November 3, 2020.