Regardless of the type of audio you’re working with, there’s a good chance you’ll want software to help you mix, edit, or directly record the source. It doesn’t matter whether you’re producing music, podcasts, or audio to sync with video; many free audio editors and DAWs supply all the tools necessary to track or edit sound.
We’ll take a look at some of the best free DAW/audio editors available right now. Some of these are big-name DAWs, with capabilities beyond simple audio tracking and editing, and others are more straightforward. Any DAW listed will give you some growing room to branch into more complex mixing, MIDI sequencing, or multitrack recording if you decide to later!
One of the most popular open source programs for many years running has been Audacity. Currently on version 2.2.2 as of February 2018, Audacity is compatible with Windows, OS X, and Linux operating systems, ensuring access for all users. If multitrack recording and editing seems like it’s for you, try it out with Audacity before dropping the dough on expensive software.
Right off the bat, if you own an Apple computer or mobile device, you also own Garageband. For $0, it’s a surprisingly capable DAW (that is, if you already own an Apple computer!). A stripped-down version of the professional DAW Logic Pro X ($199), Garageband is the perfect place to tinker with tracking, MIDI, and mixing before taking the plunge with weightier software. Its intuitive design makes it easy for beginners to jump in and test the waters.
Pro Tools First
A lighter, and best yet, free version of Pro Tools, First is ideal for anyone who is new to Pro Tools or audio recording. Pro Tools First supports playback for up to 16 audio tracks and allows recording of up to 4 tracks simultaneously.
The free DAW also includes 20 plugins/effects and the powerful virtual instrument, Xpand!2. Most importantly, you’ll have everything you need to make powerful edits for any sort of audio you can imagine.
For those who simply need a no-frills, easy-to-use program to edit and analyze audio, look no further than Ocenaudio. Compared to the previously suggested DAWs, Ocenaudio is much more lightweight, designed specifically for editing.
Ocenaudio offers an incredible waveform view for making precise edits, and it also comes with a fully featured spectrogram for analyzing waveform content.
Additionally, the multitrack recording software comes bundled with its own effects, but also supports VST plugins so you can use what you may already own. As far as free audio editors are concerned, Ocenaudio is one of the best single-purposed programs available.
Hya-Wave is a browser-based editor for Google Chrome. While it doesn’t support multitrack recording, you can still make powerful audio edits and take advantage of supplied effects.
Browser-based audio editing is a great alternative to traditional software, especially if you need to make simple adjustments on-the-fly without the need of a clunky DAW.
A standalone application or browser-based editor, TwistedWave is another easy-to-operate program for tracking and editing audio. The browser-based version of the software is free after creating a basic account, though it’s functionality is limited (mono audio files up to 5 minutes in length).
The downloadable TwistedWave application is free only for a 30-day trial, so the browser version is most relevant to this list.
Again, if simplicity is the name of the game, then Wavosaur is a winner. This free audio editor for Windows gives you just enough power to cut, copy, paste, and analyze audio, create music loops, or batch convert. It doesn’t come with any plugins, but does support VSTs.
Version 1.3 appears to be from 2017, which is still fairly current. At this price, it’s tough to argue!
Audio Cutter Pro
This free web-based application allows users to simultaneously edit multiple audio fragments, with support for every file type imaginable. Waveform zooming ensures precise edits and fade ins/out will reduce unwanted noise between cuts.
Audio Cutter Pro is extremely barebones, ideal for users with the most basic needs. It’s also extremely easy to work with, and it seamlessly integrates with Dropbox or Google Drive for cloud-based audio importing.
Free Audio Editor
Free Audio Editor was developed as another basic editing program, and yes, that’s actually its name! I hope the implications are clear…
The interface is quite simple, as indicated by the snapshot above. You’ll be able to cut, copy, paste, and adjust levels, as well as convert audio to a variety of formats, including MP3, WAV, AAC, M4A, FLAC, and others. If there’s any downside to this one, it’s that it’s Windows-only. However, there are plenty of other options which we’ve detailed throughout this list.
If you’re looking for one of the best free audio editors in 2018, take your pick of the choices given here!