Audio editing software is an affordable and simple way to edit and record audio. Whether you are looking for an audio editor to record your podcasts or you have a crate of old vinyl records and tapes that you want to digitize and restore, audio editing software has the tools to accomplish those and many similar tasks.
Most audio editors have an innate ability to improve the quality of analog recordings. Many of the professional audio editing software we reviewed provides tools to remove hiss, hum, clicks and pops that are associated with bad analog recordings.
Audio editing software is also a great tool for podcasters. Most audio editors allow you to record one or two sources of audio simultaneously. The amount of equipment you need is minimal, which is an advantage of owning audio editing software compared to a digital audio workstation (DAW). All you need is a USB microphone, an audio editor and something to talk about, and you'll be on your way to recording a podcast.
Best Audio Editor for Mac
Mac audio editing software goes beyond the apps that come with your computer, combining the organizational and conversion features of iTunes with the recording and editing tools of GarageBand. The best programs, like WavePad Sound Editor, allow you to import and export a number of different audio file formats and let you extract audio data from video files. There are also tools that create podcasts or restore audio.
WavePad not only provides an easy-to-use interface that even a novice audio editor will feel comfortable using, but it also has a large toolset to accomplish a variety of audio editing jobs. WavePad is also compatible with a multitude of audio files and can convert those files to a wide variety of audio formats.
Best Audio Editor for PC
Unlike the Mac operating system, Windows does not include a free audio editor. There are a plethora of free audio editing software titles available for a PC, but free software generally offers limited resources compared to their purchasable counterparts.
When you purchase audio editing software for your PC, such as Adobe Audition, you get more effects, filters and editing tools that help you create better-quality audio recordings.
Adobe Audition Creative Cloud is incredibly powerful. Not only does it have all of the functionality of an audio editing program, but it also has the multitrack recording and editing capabilities that are associated with digital audio workstations (DAWs). The layout of the software is intuitive, clean and customizable, and the software provides an impressive toolset to handle any type of audio editing job.
Audio Editor vs. DAW: What’s the Difference?
Audio editing programs seem synonymous with DAWs – digital audio workstations – but they are two different entities. DAWs have the ability to record an unlimited number of audio sources simultaneously. DAWs also provide many plugins, effects and virtual instruments to aid in the production of music.
However, even the introductory versions of DAWs are expensive compared to professional audio editing programs. A basic DAW will run at least $100, but you can purchase a professional-grade audio editor for under $50. If you are looking for a professional-level DAW, that can cost upwards of $550 and eat up much of the available storage and memory on your computer, something an audio editor won't do.
How We Tested Audio Editing Software
One of the most important attributes to consider when searching for the best audio editing software is how well it removes unwanted noise from a bad audio recording. This depends on the type of noise reduction tools the software has and their effectiveness.
Noise Reduction Test
We used a vinyl recording of a single talking voice laced with the hiss, hum, cracks and pops associated with old vinyl recordings. We imported the recording into each program and used the noise reduction tools provided within each one to clean up the recording as much as possible.
The recording was not enhanced by effects or plugins; we only used tools such as DeNoisers, DeBuzzers and other available noise reduction tools to remove the unwanted noise. We compared each of the recordings side by side using a frequency analyzer to not only hear but see the results of each sample.
The best audio restoration results we found came from MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab and Adobe Audition. These two products removed the majority of the noise without compromising the volume of the vocal track. Diamond Cut 8 was not far behind in terms of quality of the restored audio, as it removed the majority of the original audio sample noise. MAGIX Music Maker 2015 does not provide the audio restoration tools needed to execute our noise reduction tests.
File Compatibility Test
Another important attribute of a top-rated audio editing program is its ability to import and convert a variety of audio formats. We tested each program to see if it could import, export or convert popular audio file types, including AAC, AIFF, AU, FLAC, MP3, MP4, M4A, OGG Vorbis, WAV and WMA.
We also tested each program's ability to extract audio from seven different video file types: M4V, MOV, MP4, MPG, DIVX, DV and WMV. In our tests, WavePad trumped all other products in terms of file compatibility. No other product was able to both import and export every file format that we tested.
Tools & Customization
To get the most out of an audio editor, look for software with a plethora of audio editing tools and effects. They can all, to varying degrees, restore noisy analog recording, but additional tools give you options for more creative and better edits.
An audio editor should also provide a clean and customizable workspace. When you can customize menus and toolbars, you can create a workspace that is conducive to productivity. The user experience is every bit as important as the tools provided within the software.