How to Use Audacity for Podcasts

Audacity software is great for sound editing

Audacity is a free audio recording and editing program that's available for Windows, Linux, and macOS. While it isn't designed specifically for podcasts, it's a popular choice for recording podcasts. It does have a steep learning curve, but you don't have to dig that deep into its capabilities to record, edit, and export a great sounding podcast.

Before you download and use Audacity, be sure to review its privacy policy to ensure you’re comfortable with its terms.

How to Set up Audacity for Recording Podcasts

Audacity is a fairly complicated piece of software, but you don't really need a deep knowledge of how it works under the hood to start using it. If you want to try recording a podcast with it, we walk you through all of the initial settings, the basic editing options you need to know, and also how to export into a format that you can upload to your podcast hosting.

To get started, here's how to set up Audacity to record your podcast:

  1. Select your audio host by clicking the box to the left of the microphone in the top toolbar. Windows users should select MME, and macOS users should use Core Audio.

    Choosing Audacity audio host
  2. Click the menu to the right of the microphone icon to select your audio interface or microphone. Audacity uses the device you select from this menu to record your podcast.

    Audacity mic inputs

    If you're recording two mics, and you don't have an input mixing device, you can set the box next to the mic input to 2 (Stereo) recording channels.

  3. Click the box to the right of the speaker icon, then select your headphones. Audacity uses the device you select from this menu to playback your audio files.

    Audacity audio output settings

How to Test Your Input in Audacity

Before you start recording your podcast, you should test your input. This allows you to make sure that everything is set up correctly and ensure that your podcast actually records.

  1. Click the monitor meter located in the top center of the menu bar. It says Click to Start Monitoring.

    Audacity monitor meter
  2. Speak normally into your microphone.

    A screenshot of monitoring levels in Audacity with too high levels.
  3. Adjust the Microphone Volume meter so that the meter doesn't go higher than about -12dB.

    Fixed audio levels in Audacity

How to Record Your Podcast in Audacity

Once you've set up your inputs, outputs, and levels, recording in Audacity is easy. Just note that if you're recording with a single mic, you should select 1 (Mono) Recording Channel.

If you have an interface or mixer with multiple microphones hooked up, it automatically creates one audio channel for each mic. If you have multiple people on your podcast, each person should have their own mic and channel, so that you can edit them individually and make sure everything sounds good together.

When you export your podcast later, each of these mono channels will be mixed into stereo for the final product.

In any case, the actual recording process is very simple:

  1. Press the red Record button to start recording your podcast.

    Record button in Audacity
  2. Press the black Stop button when you're done recording your podcast.

    Stop button in Audacity
  3. Press Ctrl+S to save your project as soon as you're done recording. That way you won't lose it if you accidentally close Audacity, or if Audacity crashes during the editing process.

Editing Your Podcast in Audacity

In addition to recording, you can also edit your podcast using Audacity. While you can just export and upload your raw podcast as soon as you finish recording, editing it can add a level of polish that makes it more enjoyable to listen to.

Some of the editing tasks Audacity is capable of include adjusting the levels of individual tracks in case one mic was in too close or someone was just talking too loud, clipping and move segments to rearrange the flow of your podcast, removing clipping if your initial settings were off, and even removing background noise.

Some of these editing tasks are more complicated than others, and your podcast may not need a whole lot of work if you have high-quality equipment and got your settings correct. Try listening to your podcast, or at least skipping around and listening to different segments, to get a feel for how much editing work it really needs.

Press Ctrl+S regularly to save your Audacity project while working on it. If Audacity crashes while you are editing your podcast and you haven't saved it, you'll lose your work.

Add Podcast Intro and Outro Music, Clips, and Sound Effects in Audacity

Audacity also allows you to easily insert other audio clips like intro music, outro music, sound effects, interview clips, and more.

Here's how to add and move sound clips like intro music in Audacity:

  1. With your podcast audio loaded into Audacity, click File > Import > Audio, or press Ctrl+Shift+I.

    Adding intro music to a podcast in Audacity
  2. Select your intro music, outro music, interview clip, or whatever you want to add.

    A screenshot of importing audio into Audacity.
  3. Click the time shift tool (arrows pointing left and right) in the upper toolbar.

    Audacity showing the time shift tool
  4. Click and drag your main podcast audio track so that it starts when your intro music ends.

    A screenshot of moving an audio track in Audacity.

    If you move it until you see a yellow vertical line, you have positioned it directly after the intro music. If you want the intro to play over the beginning of the podcast, try sliding a little to the left.

  5. Repeat these same steps to add an outro to the end of your podcast or sound effects and music that play during the podcast. Each sound file should have its own channel so that it's easy to move them around.

    If you insert an outro, use the time shift tool to move it to the very end of your podcast. If you insert sound effects or music, use the time shift tool to move them where you want them during the podcast.

  6. At any time, you can click the green Play button to see if you have positioned your audio tracks correctly. Click the cursor icon in the toolbar, then click anywhere in your podcast track to start listening at a different point.

How to Export Your Podcast in Audacity

Once you're done editing your podcast, listen to it one last time to make sure you're happy with the result, then save it just to make sure you don't lose your work if something happens during the export process. By exporting your podcast, you create an audio file that you can upload to your podcast host and that other people can listen to.

Here's how to export your Podcast in Audacity:

  1. Click File > Export > Export as...

    Exporting a podcast in Audacity

    Consult with your podcast host to see what kind of file to export as. Typically clicking Export as MP3 works fine.

  2. Type a name for your podcast, then click Save.

    Saving and exporting a podcast in Audacity

    Leave all the settings at default unless you have a specific reason to change them.

  3. Enter metadata if you want, or just press OK to start the exporting process.

    Adding metadata in Audacity
  4. If your podcast is long, or you have a slow computer, this process may take a very long time. Leave your computer on and prevent it from sleeping or hibernating during this process.

    A screenshot of exporting a podcast.
  5. When your podcast is done exporting, you're ready to upload it to your podcast host.

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