Podcastle, Riverside or Zencastr: The Better Podcasting Tool

Nidhi Raghuvanshi

Senior Writer


It used to be that podcasting was an obscure medium, with few outlets for finding podcasts and only clumsy and cobbled-together tools for producing them. This may have been fine in 2006 when only 22% of Americans had even heard the term “podcasting,” but today, the situation is radically different.

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With an estimated 120 million podcast listeners in the US in 2021, the reach and influence of podcasting are now undeniable. This explosion in audience and demand naturally has fueled a growth in interest from content creators, who are coming to the audio production world with varying degrees of technical know-how and limited access to expensive professional recording equipment.

Where can a novice, frugal, would-be podcaster turn today for a powerful yet simple-to-use production tool? Enter the browser-based podcast recording platform!

In this blog, we will compare the three leading names in this space–Podcastle, Riverside.fm, and Zencastr–but first, we should learn the fundamentals of what to look for when choosing a podcast recording platform.

What Makes A Great Podcast Recording Platform?

When putting together a podcast, there are four crucial and related functions that you need to do and do well. While a mix of individual audio and communication tools exist to accomplish each of these functions, a great podcast recording platform combines and integrates them all into a single piece of software. They are: 

Record audio: This is the simplest and most fundamental function, and it should be one that any worthy podcast recording platform excels at. Beyond offering reliable recordings without distorting or compressing the audio file, thoughtfully crafted software should take into account the imperfect recording environment most podcasters are working in.

Built-in filters for echo reduction and background noise suppression are useful for those working outside a professional studio’s walls.

Conduct remote interviews: Many podcasts consist of conversations between two or more people. Especially during these times of COVID-19 restrictions, those conversations–whether between two hosts or a host and guests–will often need to be conducted remotely, with all participants in different locations.

A good platform should be able to accommodate these conditions without sacrificing audio quality or requiring guests to do a lot of technical work on their end.

Edit audio: From trimming and fading the beginning and ends of tracks to adding in music and sound effects or manipulating audio speed, there are numerous ways that raw podcast files can be edited to produce a smooth and listenable experience. The more intuitive editing tools offered, the better.

Transcribe audio: This function is not as important as the others, so it can often be overlooked. However, the ability to automatically convert an audio file into text can be a decisive advantage when it comes to marketing your podcast or working on your website’s SEO. Transcriptions software are also invaluable for those in your audience who may be hard of hearing or are non-native speakers.

So if those are the functions you want in a podcast recording platform, let’s learn about who is developing this software.

An Introduction to Zencastr, Riverside.fm, & Podcastle

1. Zencastr

Founded in 2014, this OG of the web-based podcast recording game–Zencastr describes itself as “a tool for quality conscious podcasters.” Simple in its aesthetics and pared down in its offerings (unlike Riverside.fm, and Podcastle, it hasn’t released a mobile app yet), Zencastr seems to be most concerned with delivering audio (and now video) without a lot of distractions.

Zencastr Features:

  • Solid sound – Each host and guest records on a separate track. The free plan gets you 128Kbps MP3 files while paying users to record lossless 16-bit 48k WAV audio tracks.
  • Built-in VoIP, chat, and footnotes – Participants can send each other chats and leave footnotes synced to the live recording.
  • Soundboard for live editing – Hosts and producers can insert audio clips into the live recording, including intros, outros, and ads. Also, control looping, fading, and volume.
  • HD video recording – This new feature–currently in open beta–allows users to record up to 1080p HD video with up to four guests.

Pricing plans for Zencastr:

Hobbyist Plan (Free)

  • Host + up to four guests
  • Host + five or more guests (beta)
  • Unlimited audio recordings
  • Trial 1080p video recordings (beta)
  • Record High-Quality MP3
  • Audio/Video mixing (pay separately)

Professional ($18-$20 a month after a free 14-day trial)

  • Host + up to four guests
  • Host + five or more guests (beta)
  • Unlimited audio recordings
  • Unlimited 1080p video recordings
  • Record High-Quality MP3
  • Record in 160bit 48k WAV
  • Audio/Video mixing (10 hours a month)
  • Live editing soundboard
  • Unlimited English transcriptions 

2. Riverside.fm

Founded in 2019, Riverside.fm is known for its audio reliability and HD video recording feature. This platform was especially popular during the worst days of the pandemic because it combined the familiarity and comfort of a Zoom video call with the audio quality and stability of professional podcasting software.

Riverside.FM Features:

  • Studio-quality audio and video – Users can choose between 48k and 44.1k audio files and get a local recording of up to 4k video resolution.
  • Automatic noise suppression – This allows you to quickly and easily remove background noises like fans, AC, heaters, and other ambient hums and throbs.
  • Magic Editor – Automatically stitches together all your locally recorded, separate audio or video tracks with three simple clicks.
  • Mobile app – Allows users to invite guests, record interviews, and download high-quality audio and video recordings using just your phone. The app is available for the iPhone and in beta version for Android.
  • Built-in Teleprompter – Script your way to flawless recordings with Riverside’s integrated teleprompter. Keep everything at eye-level, share the teleprompter with guests, and adjust text speed and size for optimal recording. Perfect for podcasts, talking head presentations, keynote speeches, training videos, and voiceovers.

Pricing Plans for Riverside.fm:

Basic Plan ($7.50-$9 a month)

  • Record two hours a month of studio-quality audio and video
  • Separate audio tracks
  • Separate video tracks

Standard Plan ($15-$19 a month)

  • Record 5 hours a month of studio-quality audio and video
  • Separate audio tracks
  • Separate video tracks
  • Live stream to Twitter/YouTube/Facebook
  • Accept live call-ins

Pro Plan ($24-$29 a month)

  • Record 15 hours a month of studio-quality audio and video
  • Separate audio tracks
  • Separate video tracks
  • Live stream to Twitter/YouTube/Facebook
  • Accept live call-ins
  • Including transcriptions

Enterprise (Contact Riverside.fm for pricing)

  • All the “Pro” features
  • Custom recording packages
  • Team spaces – shared work environment between team members
  • Full frame view
  • 29.97 and 24 FPS
  • Custom branded green room and studio
  • Custom Success Manager & Live Support
  • Master Service Agreement
  • SSO (Okta, Azure + more)
  • Onboarding and training

(Riverside.fm offers a free trial where users have the full run of all their features, but they are limited to one 60 minute audio or video recording. If your recording exceeds 60 minutes, you will have to pay for a subscription in order to retrieve your file.)

3. Podcastle

Founded in 2020, Podcastle is the brash new kid on the block, on a mission “to democratize access to broadcast storytelling through easy-to-use tools that are professional, yet fun.” Podcastle sets itself apart from the rest with its powerful AI-based features, which seem to point the way forward towards some exciting innovations.

Podcastle Features:

  • Professional-quality audio – Once again, each participant in the podcast is recorded on their own locally uncompressed 48k WAV track.
  • Magic Dust – This AI-powered tool gives you several automatic mega-enhancements to your audio with just one click. First, it uses a compression tool to improve the dynamic range of speech on a track, as well as softening a speaker’s plosives (those troublesome “P’s” and “S’s”).Second, it sweetens and enhances voices with a dynamic equalizer. Finally, it isolates speech and removes all the annoying and extraneous background noise.
  • Revoice – With this feature, users can convert any piece of text into speech using high-quality and ultra-realistic stock voices. As an extension of this function, users can edit their own audio by simply getting an automatic transcription of their podcast, editing the text, and turning the corrected text back into audio.
  • Audio Editor – This tool allows you to split, trim, fade, and change the speed of each individual track that makes up your final podcast. You can even import and edit files that weren’t previously recorded using Podcastle.
  • Mobile app – Billed as “the world’s first professional-quality audio recorder for the iPhone,” this easy-to-use app allows users to record interviews in stunning HD quality sound from anywhere, with just one click. It also includes a slick scheduling and invitation tool that acts as a Google calendar for all your important podcast events.

Pricing Plans for Podcastle:

Free Plan Includes:

  • High-quality audio interviews
  • One host and up to nine interviewees
  • Editing with separate audio tracks
  • Auto-saves using the cloud technology
  • Manage unlimited projects
  • Unlimited content publishing
  • Advanced Sound Editor
  • One hour of transcription and/or text to speech (one time)
  • Magic Dust three times per month
  • Chrome extension

Storyteller Plan ($11.99-$14.99 a month)

  • Everything in the Free package, plus
  • Unlimited audio processing with Magic Dust
  • Unlimited AI-based silence removal
  • Music Library with up to 7,000 high-quality songs
  • 10 hours of transcription and/or text to speech per month
  • High-quality downloads
  • Revoice

Podcastle Pro Plan ($23.99-$29.99 a month)

  • Everything in the Storyteller package, plus
  • 25 hours of transcription and/or text to speech per month
  • Early access to new features

Enterprise Plan (Contact Podcastle for pricing)

  • Everything in the Podcastle Pro package, plus
  • Multiple user accounts
  • 24/7 support
  • Dedicated customer success manager
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • Invoicing
  • Personal training
  • Custom feature requests

Which One To Choose Between Zencastr, Riverside.fm, and Podcastle?

To figure out how these podcast recording platforms stack up against each other, let’s look at how they each compete when it comes to the main functions they were built for.

Who Wins At Recording?

This is the foundational building block for podcast creation, and while all three platforms offer the highest quality level of recording, not all three are identically generous with it. 

Zencastr’s free plan limits your recordings to 128Kbps MP3 files, and you have to sign up for a paying subscription to get a better quality level.

Riverside.fm limits you to one 60 minute file on the free plan. Even their Basic subscription will only get you two hours a month of recording. 

Podcastle is the only platform that offers free, unlimited uncompressed 48k WAV tracks. Therefore, unlimited projects and content publishing is a significant advantage.

Who Wins At Interviewing?

All three platforms offer easy, reliable remote interviewing that doesn’t require much equipment or professional know-how. Each platform allows participants to record locally on their own computer or device before uploading to the cloud, ensuring the best quality audio while protecting the podcast from lost or degraded interviews caused by unstable internet connections. There is a slight difference between the platforms.

Zencastr is currently beta testing allowing separate recordings for a host and up to five guests.

Riverside.fm gives you separate tracks for a host and up to eight guests.

Podcastle offers separate free tracks for a host and up to nine guests.

Who Wins At Editing?

Each platform takes a different approach to the sort of editing help and options it provides its users, but only one offers a full range of tools that can be applied for free.

Zencastr offers an “Automatic Postproduction” tool that mixes the different participants’ tracks into a combined file and then runs it through leveling, noise suppression, and dynamic range enhancements. Users on the paid Professional plan get editing for 10 hours of tracks a month, and users on the Hobbyist plan can buy monthly credits as needed.

Riverside.fm offers some automatic noise suppression settings and the “Magic Editor,” which automatically stitches together all of your separate audio tracks. They also provide a limited library of music and sound effect clips that can be added live from their “Media Board.”

Podcastle’s editing tools are extensive, with many available at limited capacity for users in the free subscription level. For instance, free users get three applications of the “Magic Dust” feature a month, as well as access to a generous amount of music and sound effects from the media library.

They also get unlimited use of the Audio Editor, which allows you to make edits to individual tracks and the final combined file for any project you’re working on. The next step up to the Storyteller level gives you unlimited “Magic Dust,” unlimited AI-based silence removal, and unfettered access to the media library files.

Who Wins At Transcribing?

While the usefulness of automatic transcriptions has become more well known, this feature still isn’t as accessible as the others to all users.

Zencastr offers unlimited English transcriptions, but only for those on the Professional paying plan. Podcast episodes are transcribed and made available in .csv format, as a .txt file, or copied to clipboard.

Riverside.fm only has transcripts available at the Pro level, which is two up from the Basic entry-level plan. Transcripts can be exported as either .srt or .txt files.

Podcastle allows free users a one-time use of their transcription service for up to an hour of audio. Users at the Storyteller level get 10 hours per month, and Podcastle Pro users get 25 hours of transcription a month. Transcripts can be exported as a .docx or a .pdf.

Conclusion: While all three of these podcast recording platforms make solid cases for themselves in terms of quality production capability and ease of use, only Podcastle indeed seems to contain a complete suite of features that will take podcast production from start to finish. 

While Riverside.fm restricts free trials to a single, 60-minute project, and Zencastr only grants use of their limited editing tools to their paying users, Podcastle’s free plan offers the most comprehensive introduction to their range of features, allowing users to try out creating and editing whole projects without committing a single cent.

Podcastle’s free plan allows users to create and publish unlimited projects, interview up to nine separate remote guests at a time, try out advanced features like transcription and Revoice, and edit tracks with Magic Dust and other easy-to-use tools, all without risk. So for those who are new to the audio medium and for veteran podcasters looking for a powerful and easy-to-use platform, Podcastle seems like the best bet.

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