Which Recording Software Is Best for Audiobook and Podcast Production?
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For recording and editing an audiobook or podcast, you need a digital audio workstation—a DAW. With a plethora of DAWs on the market, which one is best for your needs?
Which DAW is best for your needs?

Which Recording Software Is Best for Audiobook and Podcast Production?

For an aspiring podcaster or an author looking to self-record an audiobook, having a microphone and a space to record is only part of the equation. You now need to figure out how to actually record into a computer. In your enthusiasm over the prospect of a new audio endeavor, you take to Google to find the best recording software to use.

After a preliminary search, your excitement evaporates before you as you are faced with a myriad of software names all proclaiming to be the best, easiest, most flexible audio recording environment.

In our digital age, there is no shortage of digital audio workstations, or “DAWs,” on the market. Many use flashy websites, sleek interfaces, and clever marketing in their attempts to convince you of their superiority over the competition. Professional DAWs also typically come with a hefty price tag, ranging from the ever-beloved Ableton Live at $749 to industry-standard titan Avid Pro Tools, ranging from $29.99 to $79.99 per month.

As someone looking to record spoken word, you have a clearly defined set of goals you want your DAW to be able to achieve. I’m here to help you wade through the murky water that is audio software to recommend four DAWs to use for your audiobook or podcast recording.

The first and most important point I want to stress regarding which DAW is best for your needs is this: there is no right or wrong answer.

DAWs today are extremely powerful, and while each DAW has certain features or tools that others may lack, all DAWs work the same basic way and will accomplish the same things.

What’s more, as someone merely looking to record voice, you will be needing much less in the way of a software program’s capabilities than, say, someone recording music or compositing a film sound design.

Four popular free or inexpensive digital audio workstations for recording audiobooks at home

Audacity

Audacity has long been a favorite of the budget recordist. A free, open-source software, Audacity is available for both Windows and Mac systems and features multitrack editing and tools comparable to that of any other major DAW.

What Audacity lacks in aesthetic appeal (think early-2000s software aesthetics) it makes up for in the fact that it’s free and can do most any- and everything other DAWs can do.

If you’re looking for the simplest and cheapest no-frills option, Audacity is the way to go.

GarageBand, by Apple

Apple has long established its brand around creatives, and their DAW GarageBand—included with every Mac—is testament to that. Boasting many of the same features as its comparable professional-level DAW, Logic, GarageBand features Apple’s signature sleek user interface and design.

The biggest drawback is that GarageBand is not available for other operating systems like Windows. However, if you own a Mac, the pre-installed GarageBand offers an easy entry point into the world of DAWs.

Pro Tools | First, by Avid

Avid Pro Tools has long been the industry standard within music, broadcast, and postproduction. While it’s true that Pro Tools receives its fair share of criticisms, there’s no denying the DAW’s capabilities and reputation for professionalism.

While the Pro Tools standard and advanced versions come with a not-so-insignificant price tag, they’ve introduced a free, limited version called Pro Tools First (technically, Pro Tools | First with that vertical line as part of the name) for those with less need for all the bells and whistles of the full version.

The capabilities of Pro Tools First are extremely limited, but for the relatively minimal requirements of recording audiobooks and podcasts, it will do the job just fine. Pro Tools First caps its track count to 16 mono tracks, which may be more than enough for your project.

Because it’s free, and because audiobook and podcast recording is much less demanding relative to music and postproduction work, Pro Tools First may work perfectly as your DAW of choice. It would be especially helpful for those who would eventually like to upgrade to a more professional setup, in which case you would be well-positioned to learn the more advanced features that the standard or advanced Pro Tools versions contains.

Reaper

Reaper deserves a special spot on this list. Available for both Mac and PC, Reaper boasts a ridiculously low price point of $60. As a DAW with all the major features you’ll find in other DAWs and a sleek, beautiful user interface, Reaper can easily justify a much higher price point.

Reaper features a comparable level of functionality and number of features that can be found in premium-priced DAWs such as Logic, Pro Tools (Standard and Advanced versions), and Ableton. Considering how powerful and relatively inexpensive it is, there is no question as to why Reaper consistently ranks as the DAW of choice for many home-recordists.

Conclusion

There are a number of similar free or inexpensive DAWs on the market, but these four from major brands are fit for recording voice, as I know from personal experience. It’s also worth noting that because these DAWs are so popular, there are endless resources available for those looking to learn how to use them. A simple YouTube search for any one of these programs yields hundreds of search results, which makes it easier to learn as a beginner.

If you plan on using Audacity for recording an audiobook, consider our Guided Audiobook Home-Recording Kit. This kit contains everything you need to know to record an audiobook in the comfort of your home. Included are video tutorials detailing how to record using Audacity.

Photo by Call Me Fred on Unsplash

 

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