For sound design, mastering, or editing a bunch of audio files, an audio editor is often a more suitable choice than a digital audio workstation. In this article we are focusing on the best free audio editing software for PC, Mac, and Linux.
For the past several years, the only two notable freeware audio editors in existence (probably a few more if we include Linux, though) were Audacity and Wavosaur. There were other free alternatives out there, of course, but many of those were either designed for fairly basic use (making MP3 ringtones or performing the simplest of audio edits), or were severely limited trial versions of commercial software.
There was also (and still is, unfortunately) a considerable amount of free audio editing programs which came bundled with toolbars, demo versions of various bloatware, and pesky adware programs. I got burned by those quite a few times in the past, and even recently while testing a bunch of new audio editors while working on this article. Having said that, I paid special attention to exclude any unsafe software from this list.
Best Free Audio Editors
My goal with this article was to make a selection of professional-quality freeware tools which can be used for recording, editing, and mastering audio with ease. As always, I would advise you to test all the available audio audio editing software listed below, but stick to using only one or two programs once you decide which ones suit your workflow the best. The audio editors featured in this article are listed in no particular order.
1. Audacity (Linux, Mac, Windows)
For recording and basic audio editing, Audacity is still considered to be the best freeware audio editor by most users. I’ve been using it for years (it’s one of the first audio-related apps I’ve ever installed) and it’s always been a very reliable and stable piece of audio editing software. For recording, cutting audio files, adding fade ins and fade outs, or applying effects, Audaicity is a great choice. The program can also load third party VST plugins and comes with its own set of (pretty decent) effects.
One aspect of Audacity that isn’t so great is the user interface. It kept the same, bland grey look throughout the years, and would definitely benefit from a facelift. On the other hand, the simple UI design makes Audacity one of the best performing audio editors on this list, and is a good choice if you haven’t updated your computer hardware in some time.
Audacity works equally well on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. You can download 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the program for all platforms. It is also available as a portable app, which is fantastic for users who like to transfer their audio editing tools between multiple computers.
Download: Audacity (25.8 MB)
2. Acoustica Basic Edition (Windows)
Acoustica Basic Edition is a relatively new audio editor. It is the freeware version of Acon Digital’s flagship Acoustica audio editing software. The commercial edition of Acoustica is currently at version 7, whereas the Basic Edition is based on version 6.
Despite being a lightweight free version of a commercial application, Acoustica Basic Edition is still a very capable audio editor, with several features you definitely won’t find in other freeware alternatives (convolution reverb and virtual phono preamp, for example). This program also supports VST effects and features a handy set of analysis tools in the main window.
Download: Acoustica Basic Edition (4.65 MB)
3. Wavosaur (Windows)
For the most demanding of editing tasks, I still stick to using Wavosaur. It can get buggy sometimes (most noticeably when using VST plugins), but most of the time it works just great. All of my free sample packs have been edited and looped using Wavosaur. It’s also a handy tool for batch processing and converting a large number of audio files. The things that make Wavosaur stand out from the competition are its extremely fast and streamlined workflow and the basic (but perfect for sample editing) loop editor.
Download: Wavosaur (1.3 MB)
4. ocenaudio (Linux, Mac, Windows)
ocenaudio is was introduced back in 2013 and his since become a rather capable and fully stable audio editor. Currently at v3.2.13, ocenaudio is a fully cross-platfoirm audio editor which loads VST effects, supports editing of large audio files, and has a clean, modern looking interface. It is easily the most polished looking free audio editor on the market. I was in doubt that this application will remain free after the beta stage ends, however the developers confirmed that there will always be a free version of ocenaudio available (even if they decide to release a commercial version of the software sometime in the future).
Download: ocenaudio (42.4 MB)
Is our list missing a free audio editor that you enjoy using? Let us know in the comments section below. For more freeware programs and plugins for making music, visit it our directory of free VST plugins.