Best Voice Recording Software of 2018

Suzanne Humphries ·
Electronics & Software Writer
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 10 voice recording applications spanning a wide price range and a multitude of audio input sources to single out the best ones. Our overall winner is WavePad. It has a clean and highly intuitive interface that’s approachable for users of any experience level. It works with and wide variety of file formats, filters and special effects so you can polish your audio tracks.

   

Best Overall
WavePad
WavePad is an easy-to-use audio recording application that’s feature-rich and powerful. Although it lacks unlimited technical support, it can handle any project and create professional-quality audio recordings.
View on NCH Software
Best Value
Audacity
Audacity is free audio recording software aimed at those focusing more on recording and editing voice audio clips rather than recording or building multi-track beats made from samples and loops.
View on Audacity
Best DAW Crossover
Mixcraft 8
Mixcraft 8 is easy-to-use audio recording software with superb functionality and extensive control over filters and special effects editing. You can record multiple tracks and even convert or compress files.
View on Musician's Friend

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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Price
Interface
Filter/Effect
Compatibility
Help & Support
Price
Ease of Use Score
Recording Timer
Voice-Activated Recording
Digital & Analog Rip
Burn Option
Configurable Interface
File Compression
Change File Format
Equalize
Reverberation
Fade In/Out
Pop and Click Removal
Noise Reduction
Edit Silence
Mono to Stereo
MP3
WAV
FLAC
AAC
Direct Support
Online Resources
User Forum
$39.95 CJ
9.5 8.5 10 10 10 10
$39.95
A+
Chat, Email, Phone
$0.00
9.5 10 10 10 10 5
$0.00
A-
-
$59.99 CJ
9.2 9.5 8.5 10 8.5 9
$29.95
B
-
-
Email, Phone
$45.00
8.4 7.5 7.5 10 10 8
$45.00
A
-
Email
$50.00 Regnow
8.3 7.5 8.8 8.5 10 6.3
$50.00
A-
-
-
Email
-
$179.00 CJ
7.8 6 8.8 8.5 8.5 8
$179.00
A-
-
-
-
-
Email
$29.95 Regnow
7.5 9.5 7.3 2.8 8.5 10
$29.95
B-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Chat, Phone, Email
$39.95
6.7 8.6 4.8 7.3 5.8 6.3
$39.95
B+
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Email
$99.95 Avangate
6.7 6.5 4.8 7.3 8.5 8
$99.95
C
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Email
-
Check Price
6.2 9 5.8 2.8 5.8 6.3
$31.45
D
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Email
-
Best Overall
WavePad is intuitive and powerful voice recording software that’s simple enough for a novice to use. It is compatible with a multitude of audio file formats and gives you the option to convert files to an equally large array of audio formats. The program can mix and split audio files, edit silences, reduce or eliminate background noise, integrate filters and special effects, and even convert a mono audio file into stereo.
The program’s layout is clean and intuitive, and meant to encourage a smooth workflow. It does an impressive job of balancing all of its features without hurting its usability. Toolbars within change as you click on different tabs, keeping features and functions organized. It lets you customize the toolbar to include or remove any tool and configure many other features to create an optimal workspace. WavePad comes with tons of effects and filters, which can be applied manually or set automatically. Whether you want to add distortion, reverb or a delay to your latest song, or you need to amplify, reverse, fade out or otherwise tweak and equalize your tracks, WavePad makes it easy to do that. And if you need to convert a file to a different format that’s compatible with your gear, such as to MP3, you can quickly do so.
Pros
  • It has over 20 filters and audio effects, the best among programs we tested.
  • It’s extremely easy to use.
  • It’s compatible with all common file formats.
Cons
  • Technical support is only available via pricey tiered packages.
  • Pop and click removal can be time-consuming.
  • There aren’t as many fade options as other programs.
$39.95NCH Software
Read the full review
Best Value
Despite being open-sourced and free, Audacity has held its own for years amongst other pricy options within the audio recording software industry. Its availability for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux has the more OS compatibility than any of the paid options. Its clean interface is approachable even for the most novice of users. Beware, however, that Audacity’s bare-bones design is geared more for users wanting to create vocal audio for a podcast, rather than multi-track music created from samplers, loops and MIDI instruments. Overall, though, Audacity is an immense value, especially for anyone wanting to try out a program like this before dropping serious cash.
Don’t be fooled by Audacity’s simplistic interface; within a few minutes of tinkering, you can easily find a battery of features and controls. The program makes it easy to connect and set up external equipment, record, edit and mix tracks, and polish your work before exporting it. You have access to tools for adjusting things like treble and bass, and even frequency analysis. The largest downside of the program, however, is that it makes use of destructive editing, which means that any changes you make on your track alter its actual waveform – the original file – and you can’t undo them later. Should you have a question regarding the software, Audacity has tons of informational resources on its website including tutorials, manuals and a community user forum. However, unlike the other programs we reviewed, there is no direct customer service.
Pros
  • It’s completely free.
  • It works on any operating system.
  • It has a simple interface but is feature-rich.
Cons
  • There is no dedicated support option besides a community forum.
  • It doesn’t have non-destructive editing.
  • There are no beat-making tools.
FreeAudacity
Read the full review
Best DAW Crossover
Although Mixcraft 8 is easy enough for people of any experience level to use, the recording application looks and works like a digital audio workstation and has an intimidating-looking interface. However, after tinkering for a few minutes, anyone can see that the software is powerful and full of features to help you not only record your audio but edit, enhance and burn it as well. And while it is the priciest program we tested, it’s also the most versatile and a great option for those focusing on audio engineering and music recording.
Mixcraft is stocked with an arsenal of over 7,800 loops, special effects, filters, digital instruments and samplers. It also boasts unlimited submix nesting, allowing you to tweak each track perfectly. All of the standard effects and editing functions are available to you, including an equalizer as well as fade and reverb options. It can reduce or eliminate unwanted background noise, remove pops and clicks, and edit silences in your tracks. There is no option for converting a mono audio file to stereo. You can set a recording timer; however, the biggest downside to this particular program is that it doesn’t have a voice-activated recording option. There’s also no ripping or burning option.
Pros
  • It has advanced abilities like pitch correction and plug-in support.
  • It includes over 7,800 loops, samples and sound effects.
  • The software has an integrated recording timer for defined sessions.
Cons
  • It lacks ripping and burning options.
  • Customer service is only available via email.
  • It isn’t available for Mac users.
$179.00Musician's Friend
Read the full review
Most Recording Options
Though RecordPad is technically part of a larger range of digital audio applications from NCH Software, it runs as a standalone recording tool capable of supporting audio feeds from multiple channels.
You can use the other programs to complement and enhance RecordPad’s abilities, however. The software supports audio input from all sources using default application settings and the “loop cable” method, and it allows you to capture audio from internet streaming sources, a line-in device or computer playback. With this recording software, you can record, rip or burn audio, and schedule future recordings, though you may need to enable a plugin for editing, conversion and burning functions. If you want to edit or add effects to your audio, you’ll have access to noise reduction, reverb, pop and click removal, equalizing and fade among other abilities. However, keep in mind that the program’s weak point is its limited file format compatibility. It’s only compatible with WAV, MP3 and FLAC, unlike other programs that include several others.
Pros
  • It has more recording, burning and ripping options than any other application in our comparison.
Cons
  • There is no option for changing file format.
-
Read the full review
Most Support Options
AV Music Morpher Gold is straightforward voice recording software that leaves out the frills.
It’s also backed by more technical support and informational resources than any other application in our comparison. It has enough tools to help you record and edit audio as well as convert file formats and burn audio as needed. The software is decently easy to use and leaves out super advanced features, making it great for the average user. Despite slightly missing the mark with a few editing effects and recording tools, it is a powerful option nonetheless. The program supports audio input sources from all standard audio feed and input sources, such as line-in devices, microphones, internet streaming, video playback and audio playback. To record audio, you’ll have to manually initiate the process, as there are no voice-activation or timer options. If you’re wanting to rip audio rather than record it, the software has a tool for doing so, and you can save to WMA, MP3, WAV, OGG and FLAC formats among others. You can also easily apply a variety of filters to your audio, including amplify, notch filter, mix and normalize, then alter the pitch, timbre, speed and other settings.
Pros
  • There are ample technical support resources for education and troubleshooting.
Cons
  • It doesn’t include timer or voice-activated recording features.
-
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We have been reviewing voice recording software for over eight years, and our most recent series of in-house tests took over 15 hours. Each program was carefully assessed and thoroughly tested by multiple qualified experts who record audio by trade (and sometimes just for fun). We set up multiple testing scenarios involving microphones, CDs, DVDs, flash drives and other audio input sources to simulate how the software would typically be used.

In addition, our test assistants evaluated each program’s ease of use and effectiveness. They told us who they thought would enjoy the software most – beginners or experienced users. Our assistants also discussed their opinions on each application’s customizability options and tools for both editing and exporting audio. All of this factored into our final scoring of each of these 10 products.

How We Tested

Testing 10 voice recording applications was both educational and informative. We pushed each one to its limit testing its organizational, audio capturing and audio editing abilities, extensive file conversion and compression functionality, and even file importing and exporting abilities. We ran multiple tests using a USB microphone, a computer’s built-in microphone, CDs, DVDs, streaming audio and other input sources to test standard audio capture, scheduled capture and voice-activated capture. This showed us which programs could recognize and capture a quality audio recording. We worked with several built-in filters and special effects to determine the extent of each application’s editing abilities, as well as how efficiently it could edit. We also compared each program’s features and functionality with its price to determine its overall value for any user.

How Much Does Voice Recording Software Cost?
Voice recording software that you can use at home is largely free, thanks to popular and powerful programs like Audacity. However, there are also paid options that run from $30 up to $200, though at the higher end, the software becomes more of a DAW.

Why Voice Recording Software?

How many times have you regretted not recording an important phone conversation, business meeting or class lecture? Or perhaps you missed the opportunity to digitize your cherished cassettes and vinyl collection before time and use took their toll on them. Luckily, audio recording software presents us with a way to capture and preserve audio digitally.

Good voice recording software, with ample features and tools, is a prerequisite to a quality digital reproduction. The quality of your audio recordings, especially voice, has to be maintained through its various stages of recording, mixing, editing and burning. Otherwise, the end product could be compromised and, in extreme cases, rendered inaudible or unusable. This seemingly ominous task is made easy with modern recording software. Any person, with a little practice, can master this user-friendly software.

Key Features to Look for in Voice Recording Software

Most of the voice recording programs in our comparison come bundled with all the required tools and features needed to perform several tasks, including audio input, editing and output. There are a number of aspects you should consider while evaluating your voice recording options. Below are the features and criteria we looked at to compare the best voice recording software:

Audio Feed/Input Source for Capture
Recording is traditionally done using a microphone and line-in jacks located on the audio interface panel of the computer system. But more advanced software also supports audio pick-up from media playback; CD, VCD, DVD, USB devices; internet streaming; phone recording or any audio playback by sound card. Essentially, you can record any audio being played by or through the computer. The best recording applications understand this and already have the ability to work with you if you need to work with other input sources. Consider your current input methods – and any you plan to use in the future – before choosing an application.

Record/Rip/Burn Features
A few additional features are essential to the recording and sharing process. For example, recording timers and schedulers let you define the time frame of a particular session, ensuring that your recordings start and end exactly when you need.  Similarly, voice-activated recording automates the start of a recording session whenever a predefined level of audio signal (decibels) is registered by the software. All of these can make it a little easier to record things like a podcast or a college lecture without wasting space on your computer’s hard drive.

A program with both digital and analog ripping offers the most versatility for a variety of needs. Digital ripping is useful when recording digital media, and you need analog ripping with copy-protected digital media that cannot be ripped conventionally. Both are handy methods to digitize your aging CD or DVD collection, for example. Burn tools are used for saving files to optical media for storage and playback.

Filters, Effects and Editing
Most of the time, simply recording the audio isn’t enough; you may want to enhance the recording or edit the files before releasing your finalized product. You might need to edit a silence, add a filter or special effect, or manage background noise. Most programs can handle standard editing needs, but the best applications can handle whatever you throw at them.

Many programs let you trim or insert a silence in an audio track or file, which typically smooths out the flow of a recording or makes it easier to add music or other effects later. Special effects like Sound Warmer, Bass Boost or Echo can also be applied to further enhance or achieve a particular audio effect. Whether you’re using filters and effects to enhance clarity or for fun voice morphing, a good set of filters is an essential component of voice recording software. Some programs – typically those with a DAW interface – offer far more effects and editing options, as they are closer to the software that studio audio engineers use.

A program with a noise reduction function can mostly or completely eliminate background noise interfering with your actual recording, such as your air conditioner, refrigerator or a vacuum. Any program worth its weight will also have a pop and click removal option for handling additional unwanted noise. Although a frequent problem, pops and clicks can come from a variety of sources and often be fussy to track down and resolve. So, having a program that automatically monitors and limits that is essential, especially if you don’t have the extra dough to purchase things like a pop filter or a more powerful CPU for your computer.

Options to change a file format and size are also useful and are often used to output files in the desired audio quality, typically to MP3. An integrated ID3 tag editor is also useful to label files appropriately for better organization for archiving and future searches.

Supported Formats
If the software can’t manage or play all of your audio files, what good is it? While most voice recording suites are compatible with only a few of the most common audio file types – MP3, WAV, WMA – others go the extra mile and support additional file types, like FLAC and AAC, as well as file compression and converting. Top programs are not only compatible with a wide variety of file formats but are also adept at importing and exporting files.

Ease of Use
Recording your voice – or any audio, for that matter – on your computer can be difficult when you factor in things like choosing and setting up hardware or searching for the right software application to use. However, it doesn’t have to be, and choosing the best voice recording program can make things much easier. From installation to implementation to actual use, the entire process of voice recording should be straightforward and simple.

Help & Support
A good help and support system is essential for a speedy and trouble-free learning experience, and further instilling confidence in the user. Help files, manuals, FAQs and tutorials address day to day issues, whereas phone support, email, live chat and forums are best for solving specific issues. The best developers host a full array of informational resources on their website and provide multiple ways to contact their technical support teams directly.