13 of the Best FREE Audio Editors in 2017

Rob Mayzes, founder of Musician on a Mission   by Rob Mayzes

ssIt was a lonely quiet night. I hadn’t slept for 20 hours. My coffee was depleted and my energy even more so.

Despite this, I had just spent the last 3 hours of my life searching for an audio editor that would do what I needed.

I had over twenty different pieces of software that had audio editing capabilities. Yet none of them could perform the simple task that I wanted to carry out.

Eventually I found an application that did exactly what I wanted with minimal effort. To be frank, I was ecstatic.

That event inspired me to try out every free audio editor out there and compile this list.

If you are thinking about setting up your own home studio, and you want to start looking at the available free audio editing software out there, you are in the right place.

But, if you want the quick answer, I narrowed it down to a short list of the top 3 audio editors.

Find out what they are here:

 

Recommended for you:

 

WHICH AUDIO EDITOR TO USE?

Audacity (Windows, Mac, Linux)

This is the godfather of free audio editing software. You can multi track to an extent (have more than just one stereo track e.g. a full band recording). There are a range of effects and plugins, and it’s easy to use once you get used to it. It’s by far the most popular free audio editing software. Volume automation is easy using the envelope. Deleting and muting sections of audio is also a breeze. Recording is easy too.

It does have its drawbacks though. The user interface is not particularly appealing, and there a lot of features that you’ll rarely use that clutter the tool bar.

It looks a bit ancient, but it gets the job done. This is an awesome starting point for anyone wanting a free editor.

Link: Audacity

 

Audacity, the godfather of free audio editors

 
 
 

ocenaudio (Windows, Mac, Linux)

This new simple audio editor has a clean and colourful user interface. It’s so easy to use! It’s fast and it’s lightweight compared to Audacity.

It’s bundled with loads of effects (including compression, EQ and reverb) that you can apply and tweak in real-time.

This is a huge benefit as most free editors are destructive (they record effects straight to the audio) so you have to rely on a ‘preview’ button. This is how Audactiy works, for example. But in ocenaudio you can play with the parameters of the effect and hear the changes instantly.

The editor has VST support so you can use your own plugins. It’s easy to record audio straight in to the software as well. There are lots of useful tools (such as a spectogram) for the more advanced user.

One downside of this software is that it only supports single stereo/mono files. You can’t have a multi-track session and record several instruments in your home studio and mix them.

But for editing stereo music files, or mono audio files (such as a voice recording) this is awesome. It’s also relatively simple in terms of features compared to Audacity, although they aren’t trying to compete on that front.

Link: ocenaudio

 

ocenaudio, a new free audio editor

 

 

 

Hya-Wave (Chrome)

This is a member of the new wave of online audio editors that run in your internet browser. And it’s my favourite of that bunch.

Released in January 2015, I only discovered this a few months ago. The interface is clean and user friendly and the learning curve is pretty much non-existent. Three cheers for simplicity!

It doesn’t support multi-tracking but you can copy, paste, cut, clear and crop your audio. You can load and save in the cloud, apply live effects and share to social media or via URL (take a listen to a song I applied some compression and a high-pass filter to here: )

Browser based DAWs could be the future of audio editing. There are several out there for music composition already and now more audio editors are appearing too.

This is ideal if you are recording or editing on the fly and don’t want to install large programme on to your laptop.

Link: Hya-Wave

 

Hya-Wave is an online editor that is free to use and brand new in 2015

 

 
 

WavePad (Windows, Mac, iPad, Android)

A slightly older DAW, but still highly useful. The interface may not be as sleek as some of the editors listed here, but it makes up for this in features.

It’s easy to install and easy to use. There are lots of bundled effects including noise removal, compression and reverb. There are also some great analysis tools for more advanced users.

Pitch and speed changes are possible. So is audio scrubbing, which can be very handy. It doesn’t support multi-tracking so you can only edit stereo or mono audio files.

My absolute favourite feature of this software is the batch processing (which I discussed in the introduction). You can apply compression, reverb, EQ or any effect to a number of audio files at once. This can save you HOURS in the right situation.

Link: WavePad

 

WavePad is a great free programme that can batch process

 
 
 

TwistedWave (web app, Mac, iPhone)

Another awesome online web application for editing sound. Again, it can’t multi-track, but it makes up for this with usability and features.

It’s easy to normnalize your audio and the effects are easy to apply.

Quick tip: like a lot of audio editing software, if you delete a section of audio the rest will ‘shuffle’ back so that there aren’t any gaps. If you want to remove noise without shuffling the audio, you need to ‘mute’ or ‘silence’ the section with noise.

In TwistedWave you can do this easily by highlighting the section of audio that you want to mute and hitting ‘s’ on your keyboard!

Link: TwistedWave

 

twistedwave is a new free online DAW or sound software to use in your home studio
 
 
 

Wavosaur (Windows)

This one is a bit ancient. Dinosaur… Wavosaur… get it?!

It’s looks like the missing link in the evolutionary chain between tape cutting (prime apes) and modern DAWs (humans).

Joking aside, this application may be basic, but it works. The download is only 1.3MB. Now that is small!

And it’s not that old. The latest version was released in 2013. It’s a good piece of classic Windows software. No frilly bits, no messing about. Straight to the point.

It supports VSTs but doesn’t come with any. If you want to apply effects you’ll need your own. There are loads of great analysis tools and volume automation is easy.

It’s very basic and doesn’t look great. But if you just want to get the job done without downloading a huge application, it’s perfect.

Link: Wavosaur

 

 

 

Wavosaur, a new free online DAW sound editing application to use in your home studio
 
 
 

Soundation (web app)

This is a great online application that also functions as a multi-track DAW. This means you can have several audio tracks playing at once.

The interface is attractive. It’s easy to record. Volume and pan automation are easy to perform. You can change the color of the tracks to keep them more organised. Time stretching is also supported and there are a range of effects and plugins.

There is an awesome looping feature reminiscent of Logic Pro. This application is geared just as much to music composition and arrangement as audio editing.

Yet this may be it’s downfall when considered an audio editor – it’s features and workflow are perhaps better suited to arranging music.

Link: Soundation

 

Soundation, a free web application DAW
 
 
 

Acoustica Basic (Windows)

Easy to set up a project and start recording. It has a scrub tool which can be extremely useful! Unfortunately the basic edition does not support multi-tracking but there are some great analysis tools.

This is also the only free audio editor that I have come across that comes with a convolution reverb (a special type of digital reverb you can use to semi-accurately model any room). You have to use your own impulse files though.

Link: Acoustica Audio Editor

 

Acoustics Basic is a great free DAW

 
 
 

Audio Cutter Pro (web app)

If you just need to crop some tracks and add some fades, this tool is perfect. It’s simple, the interface is great and the keyboard controls are intuitive.

You can also import files from Dropbox or Google Drive so it fit’s in perfectly with cloud based storage.

Link: Audio Cutter Pro

 

Audio Cutter Pro is a simple online audio editor and mp3 cutter

 
 
 

Nero Wave Editor (Windows)

Another simple and free audio editor. There’s nothing particularly special about this one, but it will meet basic audio editing needs.

You can apply effects non-destructively which is pretty useful. You can also create your own presets.

Link: Nero Wave Editor

 

Nero Wave Editor is another awesome free audio editor

 

 
 

WaveShop (Windows)

WaveShop supports multi-channel audio (up to 18 outputs) which could be useful in the right situation. It also claims to be ‘bit-perfect’, so samples aren’t changed needlessly.

I can’t think of any more reasons why you would want to use this over any of the other editors listed here. But it’s worth taking a look if you want a simple Windows application for basic audio editing.

Link: WaveShop

 

WaveShop, new free software to use in your home studio

 
 
 

Qtractor (Linux)

A colourful and sleek UI, multi-track support and even a mixer! This one is perfect for Linux users.

Unfortunately I don’t have anything running Linux so I can’t give this a try myself. It has some great reviews though.

Link: Qtractor

 

Qtractor, a new free online audio editing application for Linux

 
 
 

Audio MP3 Cutter Mix Converter (Android)

If you need to make edits on the move, check out this Android app.

It has over 1 million downloads, 55,000 ratings and a range of features.

Link: Audio MP3 Cutter Mix Converter

 

 
 
 

The Top 3 Editors for Musicians

There are a lot of options out there.

It can be overwhelming.

I tried every editor on this list, and narrowed it down to the top 3.

Find out what they are here:

29 Responses to “13 of the Best FREE Audio Editors in 2017”

  • Hello,

    Thanks for the great list!

    A question though to you, if I may:
    I have multiple recordings of a single conference at different locations according to the speakers. Of course if they all used the microphone there won’t be any issues however, that was not the case.
    With that being said, would there be an optimal software where I would upload all the audio files in multi tracks and with a single function would enable me to have a single final audio file where the software would only take the clearest pitches of each sound file? In other words, say speaker A would speak in Audio File A. It’s not that Speaker A would be speaking all the time during the Conference. Would there be an existing software or function where the software would automatically crop the high pitches, the actual speaking voices and edit/crop them into a single file?

    I’ve been struggling with this problem for quite some time and for ever similar occasion had to simply resort to manual options where it would take me nights after nights for the editing. And the backside would be that there would eventually be some howling esp on the latter part of the file.

    So, if you could help or give me any kind of advice, that would be mostly appreciated.

    Thank you very much in advance!

  • I need to record four tracks simultaneously using the Behringer UMC404HD. I was assured by several dealers before buying it that this would work but it doesn’t. Audacity says this is because the (program) needed (maybe ASIO) needs to be paid for. This implies to me that NO free recording programs can record more than two track at a time. This seems a basic requirement but it is rarely mentioned in articles, reviews, and ads. It’s rarely mentioned in regards to budget-priced programs either. Even expensive programs do not provide a list of the digital interfaces they will recognize. I’m pretty puzzled by this.

  • Thank you ever so much I’m quite new to youtube and have been looking for some software to alter voice recordings. Audacity – downloaded in seconds and minutes later I’ve got a little recording going.
    Great article

  • I’ve used Audacity almost exclusively for years and always wondered why the plug-ins LAME and Fmeg are necessary in order to export various file formats, MP3, etc. Do any of the other fifteen editors you sampled also have that feature, that additional plug-ins like LAME and Fmeg are necessary? Anyone out there use Ocenaudio and how does it compare with Audacity?

    • MP3 is a copyrighted, non-free compressed data format. Several open source audio editors deliberately avoid building MP3 support into their own source code because of the licensing problems this may cause. Instead they rely on the user adding 3rd party plugins/software to address support for these formats. This puts the licensing burden on the user and/or the 3rd party software (e.g. LAME or ffmpeg).

  • Will you publish the best free audio editors in the end of the year?
    Also, Audacity and Qtractor are my favourites. Thanks for great reviews!

  • Before you install Nero Wave Editor (Windows) please know it will install an app called OpenCandy that installs in most browsers and runs ads. I read complains that if you don’t install it with Nero it won’t let you install Nero. Look up reviews for Nero Wave Editor (Windows) and do research on OpenCandy and it’s removal before installing. I won’t touch Nero Wave Editor (Windows) because of this.

  • Rob Mayzes, before you create your next article, learn the difference between a DAW and an audio/sample editor. They are not used for the same task. You’re mixing both kind of softwares in this article.

    • Related to Pete Melissakis’s comment. I use Audacity everyday. I record complete albums in Wav format, then I split out all the tracks and then I export in MP3. No problem at all. Just splitting the tracks is a bit time consuming!!
      I’ve tried Reaper, Studio one and FL Studio 12 and could not figure out how to set them up, use them or get any sound out of them! Manuals were just too complicated!! I’m planning to purchase a 25 key midi controller in the next month and play around with it! – DN

    • Hi Pete, You need to install the MP3 Codec (LAME) to export MP3’s.
      (It’s a free download and they put a link to it if I remember correctly.)
      Audacity usually prompts you to do this when you try to export to MP3.

  • Hi Rob! First of all : thanks for your great posts and curses!

    I was looking for an Audio Editor where I could also edit fades and have the best zoom level on the waveform to be the more precise as possible.
    At work, I’m working on SADiE for those editing operations. But I can afford SADiE and plus I’m working on Mac at home which isn’t SADiE-compatible…

    Does anyone have an idea?

    Thanks!
    Cheers from Belgium__

  • Hi, I’ve been trying out a few of these free DAWs, using my laptop with windows 8.1 and my focusrite 18i20 and I haven’t had much luck with anything free thus far. Studio one was a big disappointment because you go through the trouble of signing up, installing it and setting it up and then after a while you realize that it limits you to two tracks. There’s just stuff like that.

    The best thing to do is just buy the full version Reaper. It runs on anything–mac, pc, linux–and it’s very smooth and runs on my systems. Where as protools and cubase are huge hogs on your system and bug you endlessly with registration related stuff. I can’t stand protools especially.
    Honestly I’m thinking of going to logic pro, after many years of messing around with windows apps.

    • Your are wrong about Studio One limiting you to 2 tracks. It’s unlimited even in the free Prime version and as of version 3.52 the Arranger track is now included in this free version. Here’s a short summery.

      https://www.presonus.com/press/press-releases/Studio-One-3-Prime

      Studio One Prime Highlights
      “Studio One Prime does not time out, feature a nag screen, or limit the number of songs you can create.
      Record and mix with no limit on the number of simultaneous tracks, plug-in inserts, or virtual instruments.
      Create songs quickly with Studio One’s fast drag and drop workflow, and newly enhanced browser for accessing backing tracks, plug-ins and more.
      Get inspiring sounds with the new Presence XT sampler featuring a rich 1.5 GB sampler library.
      Sweeten your mix with nine PreSonus Native Effects™ audio plug-ins that cover all the bases.
      Access the power of a real DAW with real-time time stretching, resampling, and normalization; single and multitrack comping; multitrack track transform (advanced freezing), and Control Link controller mapping.
      Expand Studio One Prime with more Presence XT libraries and professional loop content, purchasable directly from within the Studio One browser. “

  • Hi Rob! I loved your article and I was wondering if you could help save all these hours that I am spending looking for an online solution. I would like to stream but my voice (45 yrs old) is not great. I would like to make my voice more attractive to the audience. I am looking for a real time voice editor/changer as I hate the way my voice sounds. The Voice changers that I have downloaded make my voice sound so fake and in order to try a product I am prompt to buy it. I dont mind spending money on buying a product as long as I know that it will work in real time streaming and the result wont sound fake or like Im an Alien/Robot.
    I would really owe you a huge favour if you could please please help me. Caroll <3

  • As a Ubuntu user I was looking for something lighter and Audacity. Audacity also makes a 1+ gb file for a 1 hour file to edit. That is not good for my 32 gb hard drive! That was how I found this web page. I tried oceanaudio and this was exactly what I was looking for… more than better! The UI was so friendly and easy to use. However, GDebi said that it could be a security risk to install deb files without being in the standard distribution. How do I know that this safe?

  • This weekend we made a home movie via an iPhone. It has some background noise, a truck, and a dog barking. Is there some sound editing software you would recommend that could take this out?

  • Good post Rob, I didn’t know about all the cats in this list. I’m familiar to Audacity because my school forced us to use it to send our oral english exams via internet. As for DAW usage, I go with Studio One by Presonus which is pretty intuitive and easy to get going. Audition by Adobe is also great, and it’s featuring in their creative cloud membership so if you’re a designer making also music, like in my case, that makes all sense :) Looking forward to read your next posts.
    Lionel

    • Thanks for your comment Lionel!

      Have never had the pleasure of using Studio One but have heard great things and will definitely use it someday. Love the way it looks.

      Audition is awesome, I’m a big fan of all Adobe products as well! It’s very common amongst sound designers (for many a good reason). Have been considering the creative cloud for a while now… might be time to commit :)

      – Rob

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