If you’re creating songs, podcasts, or anything people can listen to, you need an audio editor. But with so many options out there, which one’s the best for you in 2023?
How do I edit audio?
While some people make a living editing audio, you can get started with just a computer and a simple audio editor program. You don’t need a studio, thousands of dollars of hardware, or a trained professional watching your every move – they wouldn’t hurt, though!
How can I edit audio for free?
There are hundreds of free audio editor programs out there, but we’ll concentrate on three of the most popular and accessible ones: Audacity, GarageBand, and Audiotool.
The old reliable. Audacity remains free, open-source, and compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you’re new to audio editor software, Audacity is as simple as you make it. You can drag, drop, crop, then save – if you just want to tidy stuff up, this will be up your street. The range of lossy and lossless audio formats you can export is pretty comprehensive, too.
But if you're looking to tinker, Audacity offers equalization, bass, and treble options. There's a whole host of effects like fade in/out, amplification, and compressor. Audacity also provides a generously sized, multi-track waveform layout, so you can inspect your audio with an eagle eye. These controls are all tucked away in the upper section of the project window, so if you're only interested in the basics, you can just ignore all that!
Is Audacity the best audio editor out there for free? It’s hard to argue otherwise. Check it out here.
As the name suggests, GarageBand is only available for Apple users. However, what it lacks in compatibility it makes up for in simplicity – the interface is much cleaner, friendlier, and easier to understand than Audacity.
If you have a Mac, you should already have GarageBand. It makes composing music and audio editing simple to understand. The user experience is a breeze, too, but make sure you have space on your hard drive – project files tend to be pretty meaty.
GarageBand is by no means the best audio editor out there, but if you’re an Apple devotee, you could do worse than starting here! Read more about it here.
Unlike Audacity and GarageBand, Audiotool is an online platform rather than software. It only works via Google Chrome, but it’s won awards, so don’t rule it out! Visually, it shares a lot with GarageBand; if you’re not a Mac user, it might be worth trying Audiotool to get an idea of what you're missing out on.
It’s surprisingly adept, giving you the chance to record audio directly into the platform. Also, given it’s available via your browser, it means you can hop on wherever. Find out more here.
If you’re looking for music or sound effects to bolster your audio adventures, we’ve got you covered. Epidemic Sound’s royalty-free catalog has 40,000 tracks and 90,000 sound effects for you to flick through – we’re sure there’ll be something there for you!
What is the best audio editor?
If you want to advance from something like GarageBand, Audacity, or Audiotool, there are tons of paid-for programs to choose from – most of them are used by audio professionals. We’re focusing on Ableton Live and Pro Tools.
Preferred by DJs and electronic artists for the sheer scope of beat customization, Ableton Live is Mac and Windows-ready, with the potential to be used in a live DJ setting.
There are more effects and built-in devices than you can shake a stick at. In particular, the take comping feature is something all musicians will want to get in on – it organizes multiple takes into a single, coherent track.
Ableton Live is super generous with its free trial, giving you 90 days before you have to open your wallet. We’d recommend you do that, as it costs $16.50 per month for the Intro package, $78.85 every month for the Standard deal, and a whopping $124.85 per month for the Suite, which is essentially a full-on studio in your computer.
It’s worth noting these prices only apply for six months. After that, the software’s yours forever, and there’ll be no more payments. It’s pricey up-front, but pros use Ableton Live for a reason. Check it out here.
This is it.The motherload. Pro Tools is associated with studio trickery because it’s the best audio editor for the job. The software is compatible with Mac and Windows, giving you everything you need to create professional, high-end recordings.
Just like Ableton, Pro Tools is often used in a studio setting. It's cloud-connected, so multiple people can use it – even an entire band, if you dare. You can record, produce, edit, mix, and master audio, plus use more than 120 plugins in the Ultimate package.
But that’s the catch: it’s not cheap. You're looking at $29.99 per month for the regular Pro Tools package. For the Ultimate subscription, which contains everything and the kitchen sink, it’ll set you back by $79.99 per month. It’s pretty much the best audio editor out there, so that’s why the price point is so high. Perhaps try the 30-day free trial before you splash the cash.
Speaking of free trials – we’ve got one of those! Click below for 30-days of access to our royalty-free catalog.