Best Audio Editing Software of 2018

Billy Bommer ·
Writer/Reviewer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We tested the editing tools, audio restoration capabilities and file compatibility of 15 audio editing programs that cost less than $100. After considering our test results and overall impressions of each product, we feel confident recommending Adobe Audition as the best overall audio editing software. It has the best tools for restoring poorly recorded audio, and it has a user-friendly workflow. This is the only program we tested that requires a monthly subscription rather than a one-time purchase, but you can cancel your subscription at any time if you aren’t going to use it frequently.

Best Overall

Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition is powerful editing software with a customizable user-interface. You can record multiple sources simultaneously, and the audio editing and restoration tools ensure your recordings sound professional.
View on Amazon
Best Value

Acoustica Standard Edition

Acoustica editing software is available for PC and Mac operating systems for less than $60. The interface is easy to use and supports multi-track editing with an impressive list of restoration tools.
View on Plugin Boutique
Best for Beginners

WavePad

WavePad has an intuitive and clean layout that is appropriate for novice and expert users alike. It has a good selection of effects and restoration tools for customizing recordings.
View on NCH Software
Best Overall

Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition is one of the most user-friendly audio editing programs available. The layout is customizable and it has all the tools you’ll need to record, edit and finalize any audio project.
This is one of the few programs in this product category that allows you to record multiple sources simultaneously on separate tracks. If you have an audio interface with more than one input, you can record each microphone on its own track, which makes post-production tasks like editing and effects processing easier. The audio restoration tools in this software make it easy to fix damaged or old recordings. You can highlight a portion of a recording that has too much room noise, or pops and clicks, and use the sound sample tool to analyze the problem area. Once it learns which unwanted noise you want to remove, you can apply the tool to the entire track and it will remove every occurrence of the noise. This was the best software we tested at restoring poorly recorded audio without negatively affecting the source material. You can purchase a monthly, yearly or multi-year subscription to just the Audition software, or if you plan to do photo or video editing too, you can get it as part of the entire Creative Cloud package. There are discounts available for students and teachers, as well as for businesses that need multiple licenses.
Pros
  • Great audio restoration tools
  • Multitrack recording
  • Customizable user interface
Cons
  • Subscription based ownership
  • Expensive
  • Advanced tools may require tutorials
$239.88Amazon
Best Value

Acoustica Standard Edition

Acon Digital’s Acoustica audio editing software has an attractive and well-organized user interface. The effects, recording tools and plugins are divided into easily identifiable sections in the menu ribbon, streamlining the post-production process.
The standard edition of this software is available for Mac and PC platforms for less than $60, which makes it one of the best values in our comparison. This is one of the most customizable audio editing programs we tested. In addition to the editing window, there is a file browser, effects chain and FFT analyzer that you can add or remove at your convenience. Acoustica also allows you to customize the toolbar with the editing tools you use most, which helps maximize your workflow. We tested the file compatibility of this software by importing multiple audio and video file types. Acoustica had no problem importing all the popular file formats we threw at it, and it worked well for extracting audio from MOV, MPG and WMV video files. We also tested this software’s ability to remove unwanted noise by importing a noisy audio sample that was inundated with clicks, pops and hums. We used the noise reduction, declicker and declipper tools in Acoustica with great success. Those tools are easy to use and provided some of the best results in our audio restoration test. The premium version of this software has more advanced restoration tools, but it is four times the price of the standard edition.
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Clean and attractive user interface
  • Extract audio from popular video formats
Cons
  • No multitrack recording
  • Premium version has better editing and restoration tools
  • Spectral editing tool only available in the premium version
$59.90Plugin Boutique
Best for Beginners

WavePad

WavePad has a clean and inviting layout that makes audio editing easy, even for someone who hasn’t used audio editing software before. The toolbar that sits above the editing window is customizable, so you can add or remove any editing tool you use often.
Recording audio into WavePad is as easy as plugging in a USB microphone or interface and pressing record. This software doesn’t allow you to record multiple sources simultaneously unless you add the MixPad software, which works in conjunction with WavePad. MixPad is a free add-on as long as you aren’t using it in a commercial capacity. In our file compatibility test, we imported multiple audio and video files to make sure you can edit and convert all the popular file types. WavePad had the best conversion and importing capabilities of all the products in our comparison. We were able to upload AAC, AIFF, FLAC, MP3, MP4, WAV and WMA files without any problem, and this software can also convert and export an audio file to any one of those formats. WavePad was also able to extract the audio form all the popular video formats, including MOV, MP4, MPG and WMV. WavePad has tools to remove unwanted clicks and pops from poorly recorded audio tracks. We used the click/pop filter to remove some unwanted noise from a voice recording and found that the tools worked well, but took a long time to render. It took 30 minutes for WavePad to apply the effect to the track, which is far longer than any other software we tested.
Pros
  • Great file compatibility
  • Easy user interface
  • Customizable toolbar
Cons
  • Effects processing takes too long
  • Multitrack recording requires a software extension
  • Help and support features are lacking
$69.95NCH Software

Why Trust Us? 

I have been using audio editing software in both a recreational and commercial capacity for more than 20 years. My formative years were spent recording voice-over and producing sound effects as a Foley artist. Those endeavors were usually undertaken in environments that were poorly sound-proofed, so I found myself experimenting with the tools available in early versions of audio editing software to help my recordings sound more professional.

As an engineer and producer for a broadcast radio station, I produced hundreds of commercials and advertisements using software similar to what I am recommending here. I also spent two years teaching audio recording and editing at my local University. And in true educational fashion, I often learned more than my students did.

My recommendations are based on my impressions of the software as I edited and restored poorly recorded audio with each program, and I specifically focused on testing features that I think will be most useful to someone with limited editing experience. I had used a few of these programs before I started the testing process for this guide, but that prior knowledge and experience had nothing to do with my recommendations. I know everyone reading this has a different need for editing software, so I focused my recommendations on which tools I found useful and how easy each program’s interface made it to locate those important tools.

How We Tested 

We spent more than 80 hours researching and testing the features of audio editing software to help you make an informed buying decision. We focused our testing and research on free and for-pay programs that are easy to use and would be a good fit for someone who has limited experience with editing software. We chose to test the audio restoration (noise reduction) capabilities, editing tools and file compatibility because those are important features for podcast production and for cleaning up digitized vinyl recordings.

To test the noise reduction capabilities of each product, we uploaded a track with a single talking voice that was laced with hiss, hum, cracks and pops associated with old vinyl recordings. We used all the tools available in each program to clean that track up without negatively affecting the sound of the voice.

The file compatibility test was conducted to make sure you can import and export all the popular file types necessary to publish your content on any online or physical platform. We also made sure to test the editing tools and effects within each program by applying effects and recording our impression of the quality and effectiveness of each.

Key Features to Look for When Buying Audio Editing Software 

Recording Capability
Some audio editing software can only edit an audio file. If you plan to record your voice – such as for a podcast – make sure that the product you choose can record from a USB microphone or audio interface. Some of the programs we reviewed can also record multiple sources simultaneously (known as multitrack recording). This is a handy feature for podcast producers that use more than one microphone, and it allows you to edit those tracks separately.

File Compatibility
The best audio editing software can import and export a wide selection of file types. Compatibility with all the popular audio and video files makes it easier to integrate previously recorded material into a podcast without using another program to convert it. It is also important for an audio editing program to be able to export your finished product in a format that you can archive or upload to any destination.

Editing Tools and Effects
All the programs we tested are capable of simple editing tasks, like fade-ins and fade-outs, volume normalization and copy and pasting. However, the best programs offer advanced tools that allow you to apply fun effects like delay, echo and pitch-shifting. They also have mastering effects that help you publish your final product at industry standard volume levels for online and physical distribution.

id:26