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Soundtrap is obviously great, but you’ve probably heard rumblings of other capable Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) and recording / editing environments.
One such solution that’s grown in popularity, especially among podcasters, is Audacity. It probably doesn’t hurt that it’s free to use.
But how does it compare to Soundtrap? That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this in-depth guide.
The Spotify-owned Soundtrap is a powerful online music and audio content collaboration environment built around an easy-to-use DAW. It empowers artists and creators with the ability to record together in real time over an internet connection, or asynchronously, as needed.
Traditionally, figuring out your DAW workflow was a time-consuming thing requiring hours of study, experimentation, and practical experience. But Soundtrap has successfully created a DAW that’s easy enough for even the beginner to figure out in a short amount of time.
So, whether as a music collaboration and recording tool, or as a podcast recording suite, Soundtrap empowers creators with the tools and features they need to get their projects done and shared out in the world.
Though we've reviewed Soundtrap in full, we compare to Audacity below.
Interface, Recording Environment & Workflow
Soundtrap’s “flat vector” graphical user interface is minimal and yet modern and attractive. It is a lot like any other DAW out there, except with a lot less clutter and visual stimulation.
Its workflow perfectly complements this minimal esthetic. For the most part, Soundtrap is very intuitive, and if you have previous experience inside a DAW, it should not take you long to find your way around it.
If you’re a complete newbie, sure, it’s going to take a bit of effort, but that’s true of any DAW. The learning curve is shallow compared to most DAWs though.
Soundtrap’s beat maker is fun and straightforward, and their piano roll is likewise easy to handle.
Better still, most instruments come pre-applied with effects and presets and are near mix-ready out of the box. You can still tweak and add, but this means mixing in general is made a far less tedious and troublesome task, especially for artists who don’t really know how to mix.
Mastering is also done automatically within Soundtrap upon saving your project. While you cannot configure how the mastering is applied, automatic mastering (to ready your track for mass consumption) sure is nice when you don’t know what you’re doing.
Whether it’s audio or MIDI, Soundtrap is a fast environment to work in, and it’s well-suited to anyone who wants to pump out their jams at a rapid pace.
The workflow is much the same for podcasters, with the added benefit that creators can share their shows directly to Spotify.
Loops, Samples & Sounds
Included in Soundtrap’s premium subscription are 19,540+ loops, 300 Splice loops, and 150,000+ sound effects from freesound.org. You have less to work with if you choose their free or standard subscriptions, but you can get a taste for a lot of it even if you’re using Soundtrap free.
Newbies will especially love the loops. Some are like self-contained projects unto themselves, and you could build entire projects around many of them.
Virtual Instruments & Effects
Over 880 virtual instruments and effects are included with Soundtrap, and they are quite good. For the most part, you should not want for anything. It’s basically all here.
Soundtrap works on practically any device, on any platform, assuming you have an internet connection. There are also apps for Android and iOS in case you want to take it with you where you go.
There are ideal pairings, to be sure, and Soundtrap is less compatible with certain browsers, like Firefox. That said, most of the functionality still works in Firefox (we’ve tested it), which is surprising and impressive.
Soundtrap is one of few online music collaboration apps with a strong workflow and an extensive feature set. There are others out there, and it is a bit of a growth market, but there aren’t many alternatives that compare to Soundtrap.
Whether it’s collaborating simultaneously or asynchronously, you can share your projects with other artists, vocalists, instrumentalists, producers, and so on, to bring them to life (without the need to go back and forth inside Dropbox, or worse, traveling from city to city).
There is also an internal message management system, which allows you to keep in touch with your team throughout the entire process.
Soundtrap is obviously forward-looking and is quite friendly towards podcasters, as they let you publish your show directly to Spotify.
Serious podcasters will still want to distribute their show further for additional reach, but it’s nice to be able to create a presence on Spotify out of the gate.
Soundtrap can be used for free. But if you want to take advantage of all its features, you’ll need to upgrade to a plan ranging from $7.99 to $16.99 monthly. This is a small cost if you find yourself using it for long hours often.
Their 30-day trial also lets you test out the full functionality.
Audacity is a favorite audio recorder / editor among podcasters and those who only require basic recording and editing functionality in a CPU-friendly package.
The Audacity community continues to improve this open-source software, but it’s kind of its own thing, so far as DAWs are concerned.
You can record and create music within Audacity, but the feature set is limited.
Interface, Recording Environment & Workflow
Audacity brings together several great features under the umbrella of a processor-friendly working environment. You can record, import and export files, edit, and add effects. It also features support for 16-, 24- and 32-bit audio, as well as various plugin types – LADSPA, LV2, Nyquist, VST and AU.
Audacity’s graphical user interface is rudimentary, and it hasn’t changed a whole lot since its inception. It’s relatively easy to use, though personally I don’t find it as intuitive as something like Waveform. That said, preferences are individual, and let’s face it, every recording environment takes some getting used to.
This recorder / editor is great for recording, editing, adding effects, and exporting files. That’s its strength.
It’s weakness is that it’s not ideally suited to complex multi-track recording and mixing. Working within these limitations can be challenging and fun, even inspiring at times, but it also means Audacity is impractical for anything other than sketches, demos, or experiments.
Audacity can work with MIDI in a very limited way. That said, you will need to import MIDI to be able to do anything with it, and unless you’re exporting from a far more limited program, you’re unlikely to find anything new to do with it.
There is no piano roll, you can’t connect a MIDI keyboard, and about the only thing you can do is copy and paste sections of your MIDI. Nowadays, that’s a deal breaker for most producers.
You can generate a few sounds in Audacity, whether it’s chirp, noise, or tone, and there is an impressive set of effects that come bundled with it.
But that is about all you can do with Audacity.
Loops, Samples & Sounds
Audacity has a very limited set of generatable sounds] There’s Chirp, DTMF Tones, Noise, Silence, Tone, Pluck, Rhythm Track (this basically acts as a click), and Risset Drum. These all have configurable parameters.
I don’t think these sounds are here for any other purpose than for reference, timekeeping, or possibly sound effects.
Audacity is quite limited this way, but if audio recording is the main function you need, it is relatively self-sufficient.
Virtual Instruments & Effects
There are a surprising number of effects build into Audacity.
The basics are all here, including compression, distortion, graphic EQ, phaser, reverb, and limiter.
But there are also quite a few others, like auto-duck, wahwah, spectral delete, and so on.
There’s enough here for track editing, maybe even enough for some very basic mixing, but not enough for today’s deeply layered multi-track projects.
Audacity prides itself in being cross-platform, and this multi-track recorder / editor works on Windows, Mac, GNU / Linux and even other operating systems.
There aren’t any online versions though.
Audacity is not an online music collaboration app. You can save your projects and share them with others, but synchronized collaboration isn’t built in.
Podcasters usually don’t require sophisticated DAWs to take their project from idea to reality. It’s no wonder, then, that podcasters like the unsophisticated Audacity.
Your main task list as a podcaster would include recording, editing, and inserting themes or bumpers at the right spots, and this is all quite doable within Audacity.
That said, this is where the buck stops. Audacity doesn’t let you collaborate and record online with your co-host or guests, and there are no publishing options. You would need to set up your podcast with a tool like Anchor or Blubrry.
Audacity is free, open source, and community driven. There are opportunities to get involved too if that’s something that interests you.
Soundtrap and Audacity are basically two different things.
Soundtrap is an online music collaboration platform with full DAW functionality. Meanwhile, Audacity is a basic audio recorder / editor with no frills, except for maybe the variety of included effects.
In most regards, Soundtrap is superior, whether it’s virtual instruments, virtual effects, samples, loops, mixing, mastering, or otherwise. And that means whether you’re a beat maker, composer, artist, or even producer, Soundtrap is sure to have more of the features you need to get your work done and out into the world.
Even in the realm of podcasting, Soundtrap probably has more to offer, especially since it has an easier workflow, and it lets you publish your content to Spotify.
Of course, the full version of Soundtrap costs something. Audacity doesn’t cost a thing. The full version of Audacity can’t keep up with the free version of Soundtrap, mind you, so that might not be a major concern.
The best news, perhaps, is that this is not an all or nothing conundrum. You can use both Soundtrap and Audacity if you want to. Audacity doesn’t take up much hard drive space, and it’s CPU-friendly. It’s not too hard to use, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping it around for the occasional audio editing, regardless of intent. And Soundtrap is always conveniently waiting for you online.
Overall, for most types of projects, simple or complex, Soundtrap is a great solution. For especially quick and easy projects, Audacity could come in handy.