Best FREE Audio Recording Software

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We tested and selected the best free audio recording software for Windows and Mac. For more audio software, return to free VST plugins.

We picked the ten best tools to let you record audio for free using your computer. Whether you want to mix audio content or record voice for a podcast, there’s no need to spend money on expensive audio recording software like Sound Forge, Adobe Audition, or Ableton Live.

You only need a sound card, a microphone, and a free sound recorder application to get a high-quality recording.

Of course, the choice of the app will depend on your specific needs. Most beginner users are looking for a simple voice recorder with an intuitive user interface and various effects that can be applied to the vocal recordings.

On the other hand, intermediate users like music producers and sound engineers typically require a multi-track audio editor that can handle more complex audio projects.

Reference our list of the best audio recording software below and learn more about each tool in our mini-reviews. We mentioned each app’s pros and cons so that you can decide which one is the best fit for your audio recording workflow.

For more features, check out our lists of free audio editing software and digital audio workstations. We also published an in-depth collection of free music production software.

10 Best Free Audio Recording Software for Windows and Mac

Discover the best audio recording software for 2024:

  1. Audacity
  2. Wavosaur
  3. Ocenaudio
  4. Wavepad
  5. Garageband
  6. Studio One Prime
  7. Pro Tools First
  8. Cakewalk by BandLab
  9. Waveform Free
  10. Ardour

The software programs are ordered by complexity, from simple to advanced. Scroll below to learn more about each audio recording app.

Audacity – start recording now!

Audacity 3.2 Gets One Step Closer To Being A DAW

Audacity is probably the most widely recommended audio recording application that’s free to use. It is a popular audio recording tool that lets you restore audio, create audio recordings, capture system audio, apply background noise reduction, and use audio effects.

Despite its unassuming looks, it offers plenty of audio recording and editing features, as well as some advanced functionality that you won’t find in other recording software.

In Audacity, the audio recording workflow is as easy as it gets. Launch the software, select the input device, and start recording. That’s all there is to it. Connect any audio source to the audio input on your PC, and Audacity will do the rest.

Once the audio is captured, you can edit the recording, cut the waveform, or apply effects like EQ and compression. The app supports VST plugins, too, so you can use any number of third-party effects.

Basic multitracking functionality is available, but don’t expect too much from Audacity in this regard. You can record, say, a guitar part, then record your vocals on a separate track. For anything more advanced than that, we recommend using a proper digital audio workstation.

Audacity can record any audio source, including computer audio.

Audacity can record any audio source, including computer audio.

Capturing internal audio is another one of Audacity’s strong points. Sometimes, you “simply” want to capture the audio that’s coming out of your speakers, but this is surprisingly hard to do with most other recording apps.

In Audacity, recording internal audio is an easy task.

Choose the “Windows WASAPI” audio drive, and select the desired output device (this could be your speakers or your headphones). Hit the record button, et voilà! Everything you hear on your PC is being recorded.

The only unfortunate thing about Audacity is that its interface can be confusing for beginners. If you’ve never used audio recording software in the past, it can look a bit daunting.

Again, the recording workflow is pretty straightforward, but the UI design is somewhat lacking. That said, there are plenty of tutorials online that will help you get started.

Wavosaur – a decent free recording tool for advanced users

Wavosaur Audio Editor Updated To v1.5 (Windows Standalone)

Wavosaur is one of the more intuitive audio recording software options for beginners. On the other hand, it only works on Windows and lacks some of the advanced features available in Audacity.

For the past ten years, I have used Wavosaur as my main audio editing tool for recording and editing sound effects. It lets you record sound, edit sound, apply effects, and export your work in various audio formats.

Wavosaur sports a somewhat archaic but intuitive interface with a handful of advanced features useful for professional musicians and sound designers.

I often use its batch editor to convert the sample rate of multiple audio files. I also appreciate the VST plugin support, allowing me to use my favorite third-party effects while editing audio.

To start editing sounds in Wavosaur, you can either record or import an audio file. After that, you can use the tools within the software to apply edits, split your recorded audio, or save it as a new audio clip.

Unfortunately, Mac users cannot access Wavosaur since it is a Windows exclusive.

Ocenaudio – a lightweight sound recording tool

Ocenaudio is excellent free audio recroding software for Windows and Mac

Ocenaudio is primarily a freeware audio editor, but it also works as a powerful tool for recording audio using your computer.

If you’re looking for software with a simple interface that allows you to apply edits to existing recordings quickly, Ocenaudio is a top choice. Its main advantage over Wavosaur and Audacity is the user-friendly interface.

The UI is optimized for a fast workflow, and the clean control layouts help users find the most crucial audio editing tools instantly. You can cut and edit audio recordings, change the volume, apply effects, and save your work as a new audio file.

Ocenaudio also lets you record audio files using your microphone or audio input. I often use it to record new guitar riffs and other musical ideas before exporting them into my main DAW.

Ocenaudio is fast and intuitive free audio recording software.

Ocenaudio is fast and intuitive free audio recording software.

You can also use Ocenaudio to capture streaming audio and other online audio sources for later editing.

Due to its highly optimized workflow and efficiency, Ocenaudio stands out as a high-quality audio recorder, editor, and converter for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Wavepad

WavePad is an excellent free audio recording software for home use

Wavepad is one of the best audio recorders you can download for free. However, the free version is available for non-commercial home use only.

You can use Wavepad to capture quality audio from your microphone or other audio sources. It includes a wide selection of editing tools, including the ability to split audio files, trim, merge, and merge your recordings.

GarageBand – record audio on your Mac

Garageband

GarageBand is the free audio recording and mixing program that comes pre-installed on every Mac computer. Free software that comes with your computer is generally regarded as “not that great,” but this is not the case with GarageBand.

It is an excellent tool that makes it easy to capture a professional-grade audio recording with Apple devices.

Apple’s free recording software can capture audio and handle basic mixing tasks. For absolute beginners, Apple GarageBand is a lot more intuitive than something like Audacity. The interface design is user-friendly, and you’ll probably feel right at home after launching the program for the first time.

Most importantly, the recording workflow is intuitive and straightforward while offering a wide range of features. There’s no menu diving or messing around with advanced settings here. Hook up any audio source to your Macbook and start recording.

To be fair, Garageband can actually do a lot more than record audio.

Apple’s free recording software has many effects, virtual instruments, and audio loops to help new users get started. If you’re interested in making music on a computer, Garageband is a great place to begin your adventure.

Once you figure out the basics of recording and mixing, move to something more advanced like Logic Pro X, Cubase, Studio One, or Pro Tools.

If you need a simple, budget-friendly audio recording program for your MacBook, look no further than Apple’s own GarageBand. It’s gratis, well-designed, and easy to use. However, if GarageBand is too simple to handle your audio recording needs, the next two entries in the list will be a much better fit.

Studio One Prime – a free music recording program

Studio One Prime Free Audio Recording Software

Studio One Prime is the free version of the Studio One digital audio workstation developed by PreSonus. It is the best free recording software for working with multiple audio tracks.

You can use Studio One Prime as your voice recording software for podcasts or an audio mixing platform for music production.

With Studio One Prime, you can even record multiple audio sources simultaneously. The technique is known as multitrack recording or multi-tracking.

Of course, you will need an audio interface with multiple audio inputs for this to work.

But why would you want to record multiple audio tracks?

Let’s say you’re recording an interview for a podcast. In such a scenario, it’s always better to use two microphones, one for each person. That way, you can adjust the volume, EQ, and compression for each microphone in the mixing stage, resulting in a more balanced-sounding podcast.

Another typical example would be a singer/songwriter who is recording their voice and a guitar track. If the two are recorded separately, it is much easier to make the final result sound more polished with a bit of post-processing.

Studio One Prime lets you enhance the recorded audio with a compressor, EQ, chorus, distortion, reverb, and more.

It also includes a guitar amp simulator called Ampire, although it is just a basic edition of the plugin with only a few virtual amplifiers and cabinets. Still, this is an excellent addition for users who need a piece of recording software to capture and mix electric guitars.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to use third-party VST plugins in Studio One Prime. This is one of the limitations of the Prime edition compared to the full version of the software. For more flexibility, you would need to purchase Studio One Artist or Studio One Professional.

Studio One Prime offers excellent recording quality and supports all main audio formats, including WAV, AIFF, MP3, FLAC, and AAC. This free audio recorder can capture audio in 64-bit floating-point WAV format, supporting up to 64-bit/384 kHz audio processing.

Pro Tools – Intro

Pro Tools - Intro by Avid

Pro Tools – Intro is another free program for recording audio. It is the free edition of Pro Tools, the industry-standard software for multitrack recording, mixing, and mastering.

Just like Studio One Prime, the free version of Pro Tools comes with some limitations, but it isn’t a free trial. It’s a high quality audio recording tool that lets you capture live audio, edit music, and export audio as a mix or separate tracks.

You can only record up to sixteen audio tracks and use up to four audio inputs simultaneously. The free edition includes 23 audio effects, compared to the 115 in the flagship version of Pro Tools.

Still, Pro Tools – Intro is more than capable of handling various audio recording tasks. It is an excellent free recording software for podcasts, multimedia projects, interviews, music demos, and more.

The maximum supported audio quality is slightly lower than what you get with Studio One Prime. Pro Tools can handle up to 32-bit/96 kHz audio. Of course, this will also depend on the recording capabilities of your audio hardware.

To summarize, if you want a taste of recording software used by the pros, Pro Tools – Intro is an excellent place to try. Check out the free version and decide if the upgrade is worth your hard-earned cash.

Cakewalk by BandLab – free sound recording software for professionals

Cakewalk by BandLab

Cakewalk by BandLab is the most advanced recording software on this list. It does everything you would expect from a modern digital audio workstation. You can use Cakewalk by Bandcamp to record, edit, mix, and even master your audio.

Due to its complexity, Cakewalk by BandLab is not an audio recording program we would recommend to an absolute beginner. On the other hand, if you want to develop your audio recording and production skills, it might be a good idea to start learning with a more capable piece of software.

Cakewalk by BandLab is based on the old Sonar Platinum DAW, which used to be a very popular audio production workstation. BandLab acquired the Cakewalk and Sonar brands from Gibson and re-released the program as free recording software back in 2018.

The result is Cakewalk by BandLab, a free audio recording program and music production tool that continues its famous predecessor’s legacy.

The software comes with a wide selection of effects, including some premium-quality compressors and reverbs. Cakewalk can also load VST plugins to expand the included FX collection with third-party audio effects from other developers.

The ability to load VST plugins is one of the main features that set Cakewalk by BandLab apart from other free DAWs like Studio One Prime and Pro Tools First. Another similar app to try is Waveform Free by Tracktion.

Waveform Free – free recording software with audio and video capabilities

Waveform 12 Free

Waveform Free is another advanced music production workstation. It is a competent free recording software, but you can do so much more with Waveform Free.

The program will let you record an unlimited number of tracks. The recorded files can be edited, rearranged, and processed using digital effects.

Similar to Cakewalk by BandLab, Waveform Free can also load VST plugins. This means that you’ll have access to a virtually unlimited collection of third-party audio effects and instruments.

Waveform can also work with video files. This makes it an ideal choice for content creators who need to sync or edit the audio part of a recorded video.

Ardour – works with a variety of audio formats

Ardour is an advanced audio recording software

Ardour is a professional audio recording software for Linux. It is a popular audio recording software that works on all desktop operating systems.

If you’re using Windows or Mac, there are many other great audio tools you could try. But Ardour is one of the best options for multi-track recording and editing on Linux.

What is the best audio recorder software for beginners?

Any audio recorder on this list will let you capture high-quality audio recordings. If you’re a beginner looking to easily record audio, I highly suggest Ocenaudio and Wavosaur.

For simple recording tasks like a quick voiceover or a guitar riff, we recommend using Audacity or GarageBand.

For recording multiple audio tracks, Studio One Prime would be a better choice. If you want the full power of a modern audio workstation when recording, use Cakewalk by BandLab or Waveform Free.

What is the best audio recording software for Mac?

There are multiple free applications you can use to record audio on Mac. Garageband is an obvious choice. It was developed by Apple and is highly optimized for use on Mac computers.

Garageband is the best audio recording software for beginners on macOS.

Garageband is the best audio recording software for beginners on macOS.

Ocenaudio is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a simple audio tool on Mac. It is one of the best free audio editors that also produces high-quality audio recordings.

I use both Garageband and Ocenaudio on my Macbook Air, one for quickly capturing song ideas and the other for editing existing audio files.

What makes a good audio recording software in 2024?

If you’re looking for audio recording software, make sure that it meets your audio recording and editing needs.

Generally speaking, your audio recording app should be compatible with the standard audio formats (WAV, AAC, MP3, FLAC, etc.), lets you customize the recording parameters to customize the quality of your recording (sampling rate, bit depth, compression, etc.), and supports your operating system.

If you are recording multiple audio sources for a song or podcast, you should choose recording software that allows multiple track recording and editing of audio files.

For audio restoration, choose an app that offers background noise removal and an equalizer that will let you adjust the frequency response.

More Free Audio Recording Software (Honorable Mentions)

Before you go, here are some additional recording apps that you could try.

  • REAPER is really a digital audio workstation, but you can also use it for audio recording. The software is not freeware, but the developer offers a very generous 60-day trial period with unlimited functionality and no strings attached. Still, it isn’t open source software, and you need to purchase the software license.
  • Quicktime is included with macOS, and it works well as a very basic audio editor. You can use it to split an audio file or quickly capture a new sound.

Would you like to suggest some other free recording software? Feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

FAQ

Is there any good free recording software?

Yes, there are several excellent free audio recording programs for all major operating systems. Audacity, Ocenadio, Garageband, and WavePad are the best recording software you can use for free.

What is a good free recording software for PC?

The three best free recording software tools for PC are Audacity, Ocenaudio, and Wavosaur. These free applications let you record audio, edit audio files, apply effects, and remove background noise.

How can I record audio from my computer for free?

To record your computer audio, open your audio recording software and select the Windows WASAPI audio driver as the sound source. Play the sound and click the record button to capture your computer audio.

Is Audacity completely free?

Audacity is completely free, open-source software. It is an excellent free audio recording app. However, there are several freeware alternatives that provide a better user experience for recording audio.

Is GarageBand still free?

Yes, GarageBand is a free audio recorder developed by Apple. It is completely free to use and fully optimized for macOS. It is an excellent tool for recording and mixing audio for free on your Macbook or iPad.

For more freeware plugins and instruments, return to our Free VST Plugins page.

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About Author

Tomislav is a music producer and sound designer from Belgrade, Serbia. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief at Bedroom Producers Blog.

28 Comments

    • Jacques Boileau

      on

      Which is number 1 on my list of free DAW for Windows. But it’s Windows only. It is a really powerful and complete DAW. Not a scaled down lite version. And, although it is free, it is still maintained and new versions with new features come out every couple of months. Not to be overlooked if you are on Windows.

    • Tomislav Zlatic

      on

      My goal for this article was to provide a short list of recording software aimed at beginners. As in, users who need to record some audio without going too deep with mixing and production. In the fourth paragraph, there’s a link to our article about free DAWs where more demanding users can find Cakewalk, Waveform, and a few other advanced recording tools.

      All that said, I think you have a good point. Cakewalk is so well-made that I will add it to this article, too. It’s not something a beginner will use to record a quick voiceover, but it might inspire some users to learn more about audio processing and music production.

    • Tomislav Zlatic

      on

      I agree and it’s intuitive for me too. But I’ve heard from many beginners that Audacity isn’t very good if you’re just starting out. Interestingly, a more advanced recording software like Studio One Prime seems to be more intuitive for beginners.

      • Since my first dip into audio capture in 2013, I actually loved to record lots of computer audio directly into Audacity, it took no time to learn how to do a quick trim on each end and separate/merge regions, then export it; all any beginning recordist should need- Dead simple controls. Interested to know why it’s not very good for the untrained?
        Once I felt like expanding my sonic-editing world and boosting sw looping potential, got AbletonLiveLite free with Novation hardware. Then there was no looking back, ProTools for school and here we are lol

        • Tomislav Zlatic

          on

          Same here. I started with Audacity, then moved to two old recording apps called Kristal Audio Engine and MuLab. After that, I started using Studio One and never looked back.

    • Thanks for your suggestion! I tested Music Maker multiple times (several different versions of the software) and I wouldn’t recommend it for audio recording. It is oriented towards beginner music makers who want to experiment with audio loops and MIDI. Even so, it isn’t particularly good as a music making app. And its audio recording capabilities are definitely lacking.

    • Tomislav Zlatic

      on

      As previously mentioned, I’m well aware of Waveform Free but I wouldn’t classify it as audio recording software. I think its a far more capable program and thus a much better fit for our free DAW article. That said, it seems that many of our readers would expect to see DAWs like Cakewalk and Waveform Free listed in this article, too. So, with that in mind, I will add Waveform Free to the list of free recording software. Thanks for your suggestion!

      • Ok under this conditions you are right Tomi.
        Bythway the chowtape plugin got a massive overhaul since your last report.
        Thank you so much for this wonderfuls site

    • Tomislav Zlatic

      on

      Ocenaudio is listed in the “Honorable Mentions” section for now. Great little recording software, indeed. I will consider moving it to the main part of the article. Thanks for your suggestion!

  1. Kelvin Hulsebos

    on

    It would also be great to have a list of VST audio “export/recording” tools (that you can use to record “on the fly” what you’re doing in your DAW). I was actually expecting that when I read the headline :+)

    • Tomislav Zlatic

      on

      That’s a great suggestion! I remember using a couple of plugins that recorded internal audio back in the day. I also know that Ableton Live has this feature. Anyway, thanks for the suggestion. I’m adding this to my to-do list. :)

  2. Audacity has been my go-to software for recording voice. I love how it’s free and still provides amazing features to edit the audio. I also use it when I need to do a voice-over on my recorded videos. But when I need a quick recording of audio, I used iMyVid Free Online audio recorder since I can always access it anytime. Nevertheless, Studio One Prime caught my attention and I would like to try it too! thanks for the suggestions! :p

  3. Studio One Prime appears to have been discontinued. The only recognition it ever existed on Presonus’ website is the listings for the paid upgrades to add Mai Tai, Pro Plug-ins Bundle, and Audio Batch Converter.

  4. I find the integration of software in hardware is hard to see a better example of the interface than with a device designed with graphics in mind. That being said, the OS has a lot to do with the parameters people sense in their ideas regarding the simple function of processing a 1 or a Zero. I like Audacity for that. I can picture what’s going on then I can see if I’m right thinking the way I do, which works well for me. At the same time I’m not impressed with the lack of organization of settings, adjustments, and characterization usage accept for the name of the piece of software. I think when you get down to what works for you and what doesn’t, there’s no wrong way to get started. I just hate reading help files, and text in general on an illuminating screen and there should be some consideration for the stresses and strains we are expected to endure when better options exist.

  5. Have you ever checked out MultitrackStudio? https://www.multitrackstudio.com/index.php

    There is a free Lite version I’ve used for years to capture ideas and scratch tracks. I’ve also used it for voice over on company marketing videos, company phone system to record navigation prompts. The full standard version is only $69 for unlimited tracks and it supports VST plugins. or the Pro Edition for $119. Lifetime upgrades & license.

    I started using Cakewalk Pro, then Sonar, Sonic Foundry’s Sound Forge, Acid Loops, Cubase VST24, Saw Pro, Cool Edit Pro, Fruity Loops, Hydrogen, Retro AS-1, Spectra Lab, …. stick with me I’m making a point here.

    I started my journey in digital recording formats and software at the beginning. I’m old school. I know my DAW’s and multitracking, editing tools. I still have a laptop from 2007, top of the line in it’s time, running XP professional. It never connects to the web, and all those programs are loaded. Believe it or not, they are still functioning wonderfully. So, I know a thing or on the subject.

    MulltitrackStudio is simple, intuitive, and the best available full-on recording, mixing, editng, and Mastering DAW, and midi intrument operation seemlessly. No matter whether your needs fit the LITE, Standard, or Pro. The price point for these features is punching way above it’s weight class. I d/l both Audacity and MultitrackStudio in 2018, to try them both. MultitrackStudio was the most user-friendly most obvious control layout and functionality was just better all around for me, and closer do that of that of the cakewalk. What love to know your thoughts.

    • Tomislav Zlatic

      on

      Yes, I tested it in the past. It’s decent software, but I think other alternatives mentioned in the article are more intuitive. Still, great suggestion, thank you for the reminder.

  6. Recording studio 9

    on

    FYI. Studio One Prime has a limitation of only recording 2 mono or 1 stereo input from your device, even if your device supports multiple inputs.

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