Audio Basics


Zoom H2 – This is an affordable, compact and lightweight digital audio recorder that delivers professional-level sound quality. Records in stereo or mono. Costs about $150. (Transom review)

Zoom H1 – The cheaper, slimmer cousin of the Zoom H2, this $100 digital stereo audio recorder features high-quality recording ability and streamlined controls for greater ease of use.

Olympus LS-10 / Olympus LS-11 – (Transom review)

iPhone – Until very recently, cellphones were not suitable for recording broadcast—or even podcast-quality sound. That’s no longer the case. The two most recent versions of the iPhone (3GS and 4) perform remarkably well. And there are a number of applications available for recording and editing.


GarageBand – A simple-to-use, yet powerful audio editing tool for Macs. GarageBand allows you to import raw audio files from your recording device for editing. While it’s an ideal tool for cutting down interviews, GarageBand’s multi-track editor makes it possible to mix several layers of sound together, for those who want to include music or natural sound in their audio stories.

Audacity – Free, open-source editing tool for Macs and PCs. Gets the job done for when you need to cut a long interview down to something a little shorter. Warning: Audacity can be cumbersome for heavy-duty editing jobs and multi-track work.


“Buy an Audio Recorder and Learn To Use It” by Mindy McAdams – Journalism prof explains audio file types and gives basic tips on using an audio recorder regardless of the make/model. McAdams’s Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency series is highly recommended.

“Start Editing Audio” by Mindy McAdams – Nice guide to some important concepts behind editing audio. Can be applied to most software, e.g. GarageBand, Audacity, Pro Tools, Audition, etc.

GarageBand Basics (Knight Digital Media Center) – Clear, detailed screenshots make this a great step-by-step guide on getting started with GarageBand, with a focus on how to edit single audio files. Also useful is this tutorial on exporting files.

Audacity Tutorial – All you need to get started with Audacity, from set-up, importing and playing back audio, to cutting and pasting audio clips and adding effects.

Articles & Resources

“Radio: An Illustrated Guide” by Jessica Abel and Ira Glass – A concise, thoroughly entertaining comic book that explores the world of audio storytelling from the point of view of master radio producer Ira Glass. Particularly noteworthy are the sections that describe, in clear detail, the interviewing and editing process that happens behind the scenes of every “This American Life” episode. This $5 book is essential for all audio enthusiasts. (Note: This is available only as a hard copy and cannot be found online.)

“On Interviewing” by Alex Blumberg – Conducting an audio interview is very different from interviewing for print or video. This short piece explains how it’s different and how to take control of your interview. Includes an illustrative, cutting-room-floor audio clip that shows the importance of persistence in getting just the right soundbite.

Transom – One of the rare, one-stop shops for aspiring and veteran audio journalists. Filled with expert knowledge, gear guides, curated audio stories and more treasures. An essential site for anyone who’s serious about the medium.

Public Radio Exchange – Ever wonder if there’s a YouTube for audio stories? Well, there is. The Public Radio Exchange is a treasure trove. Listen to countless stories or upload your own. Public radio stations select material from this site to play on their air, so this is one way for independent producers to get their work noticed. (Video: How PRX works)

Free Music Archive – No, you can’t take just any song you want and put it in your audio story. Avoid the hassle of copyright and permissions by taking advantage of tunes you can use legally and won’t put your listeners to sleep.