Adobe Audition and Audacity are two Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs, for short). A DAW is a piece of software you can use to record, edit, and produce your podcast.
I wrote the original version of this Audacity Vs Adobe Audition comparison way back in 2017. Back in those days (hang on, I’ll just light my pipe), there really was no comparison at all. Audition steamrollered Audacity on almost all fronts. But Audacity had that one major superpower – it was free.
In 2024, Audacity remains free, whilst Audition’s subscription price has slowly crept up, just like the time on the Doomsday Clock. Audacity has done some work in the gym, too. It’s no longer dwarfed by Audition’s hulking physique. BUT – are they equals? It’s time to re-visit this Audacity Vs Adobe Audition comparison and find out!
Adobe Audition Vs Audacity: Price
I’ve let the cat out the bag on this one already. Audacity will cost you zip, nil, nada.
So, how much does Audition cost? After all, if it’s out of your budget right away then all the extra features in the world aren’t going to matter.
Adobe Audition is run on a subscription model. There’s no “buy outright” option, but you do have a load of options for how you pay, and how much extras you get.
You can pay monthly, for $34.49
You can commit annually but pay monthly for $22.99
You can pay annually for $263.88
There’s also an option to subscribe to all of Adobe’s apps, including Audition, Photoshop, Illustrator, and more.
You can pay monthly, for $89.99
You can commit annually but pay monthly for $59.99
You can pay annually for $659.88
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on affordability. If you’re still on the fence, though, you’re going to need some good reasons to part with your hard-earned cash, so let’s find out if there are any…
Look & Feel of Audacity & Adobe Audition
There’s no getting around the fact that ALL DAWs look confusing to anyone with little or no experience of them. They’re not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing pieces of software, either, favouring function over frills.
Adobe Audition in 2024
Audacity has always been the one that looks a little rougher around the edges to me. There may be a slight bias because I used Audition for a few years before I’d ever opened Audacity. But Audacity was notorious for its clunky design, often showing multiple buttons for the same features. It’s more slick now, but it’s not winning any beauty contests.
That said, for a beginner opening both DAWs for the very first time, it’s likely Audacity would look like the less intimidating of the two. Maybe because it looks like it was built in 1989 on a Commodore 64.
Audacity in 2024
Ease of Use
Audacity is extremely simple to open up and start recording with.
There’s an ‘Audio Setup’ dropdown menu on the main window where you can select the mic you want to record with, the headphones or speakers you want to listen through, and whether you’d like to record in mono or stereo.
There are also sliders which let you set your recording and playback volumes, along with level meters to monitor your signals.
With Audition, it isn’t as obvious when it comes to selecting a mic and setting your levels before hitting record. To do this, you need to go to your Audio Hardware settings inside the Edit > Preferences menu.
Editing & Multitracking
The minute you want to go beyond working with a single piece of audio, you’ve entered the realm of multitracking (the clue is in the name, right?). This could be anything from adding a piece of intro music to producing a complex audio drama soundscape.
I used to think Audacity’s multitrack editor was terrible for many reasons we don’t need to go into now because they’re fixed. I wouldn’t have considered using it this way at all until they added non-destructive editing, but fortunately, you can now chop, top and tail clips without actually affecting the source material.
However, Audition’s multitrack editing capabilities are still streets ahead, here. It is smoother, offers more flexibility, and is much less clunky.
Commonly Used Effects
Both DAWs have an Effects menu in their toolbar. This is where you’ll find all the features you need to repair, enhance, or manipulate audio.
We’d be here all day if I ran through every single one, so let’s take a look at some commonly used effects and processes.
EQ in Audacity
Also known as Equalization, this function allows you to boost or lower certain frequencies within your audio.
EQ within Audition and Audacity can be viewed as if it’s a mixing desk – the kind you’d expect to see in a radio studio.
To view the EQ function this way, check the Graphic EQ option in Audacity or select Graphic Equalizer inside Audition.
Each frequency ‘band’ has its own individual slider that you can raise or lower.
Most podcasters use EQ to reduce the impact of ‘pops’ or ‘plosives’ in their recording. This is generally done by lowering (or ‘rolling off’) everything under 100Hz.
EQ in Audition
For making audio sound better, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer – as it depends on your source material. However, if done correctly, boosting frequencies between the 1k and 6k range can enhance your audio.
EQ can be carried out manually, but Audition has a plethora of presets you can try out.
Audacity has a handful of presets, too, but they’re much more limited. However, you can still get the results you’re after if you know what you’re doing.
On a final note, here, it’s possible to preview EQ tweaks and adjustments in real-time in Audition, whereas in Audacity, you have to hit ‘Preview’ to listen back and find out if it’s any good. Audition is definitely a more intuitive time-saver on this front.
Compression, Normalization, & Volume Levels
Compression and Normalization are functions you can use to alter and control your audio’s volume level.
Compression means pulling the quietest and loudest parts of your audio closer together, giving it much more consistency.
Normalization, meanwhile, lets you raise or reduce the overall level of your waveform without actually changing its shape.
Audition and Audacity’s Normalization functions are virtually identical, and very simple to use.
Again, if you know what you’re doing (and you will if you read my Audacity Compressor tutorial!), Audacity’s Compressor is decent enough. Audition does have a tonne more options and presets, though.
Audition also has a simple but life-saving ‘Match Loudness’ tool. This quickly and automatically sets files to the appropriate loudness for podcasting. It’s one of my favourite tools in Audition.
Removing the ‘hiss’ or ‘noise floor’ from underneath an audio track is a common practice in podcast production.
Noise reduction typically works by taking a sample (ideally, around 10 seconds or so) of ‘silence’ in the audio.
Here, it can recognise the type of background noise that it needs to remove without damaging the parts of the audio that you want to keep (the speech!).
The noise reduction processes are similar in Audition and Audacity. In Audition, you right-click on your highlighted area and select Capture Noise Print. In Audacity, you go through the Noise Reduction effect option and click Get Noise Profile.
It’s no surprise that Audition has much more powerful Noise Reduction capabilities and way more options. However, I do think that Audacity’s Noise Reduction is easier to get good results with, if you’re a total beginner.
Audition does have another trick up its sleeve, though. When you have files in your multitrack, you can apply an effect called Adaptive Noise Reduction, which will learn the noise and remove it as it plays, rather than working off of a pre-selected sample. I cover this in more detail in my dedicated Adobe Audition review.
Saving & Exporting
Working inside Audacity is referred to (and saved as) a “project”, whilst working inside Audition is referred to (and saved as) a “session”. These aren’t your finished files, but a way to return to your multitrack editor and pick up where you left off.
To mix your work down as an episode, both DAWs use File > Export. Typically, for a spoken-word podcast, I’d save an episode as a mono MP3 at 96kbps.
In the past, Audacity made you install a separate plugin to export MP3s, which was clunky as anything. I’m really glad they fixed that!
Summary: Audacity Vs Adobe Audition
Hopefully this run-through of Audacity Vs Audition has helped you decide which (if any!) is the best option for recording and editing your podcast.
Adobe Audition is undoubtedly more powerful, flexible, and intuitive. But it has a steeper learning curve, and the ongoing subscription cost is an obvious barrier, too.
The bottom line is that Audacity is more than good enough for the majority of podcasters to edit and produce their podcasts.
That said, neither are optimal options for recording remote interviews, so check out our guide on the best tools on that front if you plan to have guests in different locations. Or, read on for an option that ticks every podcasting box…
Looking for an Audacity or Adobe Audition Alternative?
DAWs like Audacity and Audition aren’t for everyone. As I mentioned earlier, they can look a bit complicated and intimidating if you’ve never worked with audio software before.
Based on years of feedback from our audience, we built a dedicated ‘Podcast Maker’ tool called Alitu, which takes all the complexity out of recording, editing, and publishing a podcast.
On the recording front, you can go solo or bring in remote guests, giving it a big advantage over Audacity and Audition.
It looks way simpler than any DAW, too. You can even edit your show by deleting text from the transcripts Alitu auto-generates for you, so if you can write an email, you can produce a podcast.
If you’re confused by Compression, Noise Reduction, Loudness, and EQ, then Alitu takes care of it all for you, automatically. You don’t need to know the slightest thing about how it all works.
Then there’s the publishing. Once you’re happy with your finished episode, you can push it out to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and everywhere else podcasts are found. These features are all contained in one single login under one single subscription. Check out How to Make a Podcast With Alitu for a deeper dive. There’s a free trial available, too!
Originally posted on January 24, 2024 @ 4:25 am