Having a great DAW is important, but a good audio editor is easily the #1 priority for anyone dealing with sound design or mastering their own tunes. So, as the latest addition to the freeware studio section on BPB, I wanted to make a selection of the best free audio editors for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
For the past several years, the only two serious freeware audio editors in existence (probably a few more if we include Linux, though) were Audacity and Wavosaur. There were other free alternatives out there, of course, but many of those were either designed for fairly basic use (making Mp3 ringtones and such), or were severely limited versions of commercial software. There was also (and still is) a considerable amount of free audio editing software which comes bundled with toolbars, demo versions of various bloatware, and pesky adware programs. I got burned by those quite a few times in the past and have paid special attention to include none of that stuff in this list.
The goal for this article was to make a selection of 100% clean freeware tools which can be used for recording, editing, and mastering audio with ease. As always, my advice is to check out all available alternatives, but stick to using only one or two programs once you decide which ones best suit your needs. If you’re looking for a freeware DAW, click here to jump to that article.
For recording and basic audio editing, Audacity is still my #1 choice. I’ve been using it for years (it’s one of the first audio apps I’ve ever installed) and am too used to the interface now to make the switch to another application. However, I’ve never really done any serious editing with Audacity. There’s just something about the workflow that doesn’t allow me to do certain things fast enough. But for recording and simple cut/paste sort of stuff, it’s a breeze. Audacity also supports 3rd party VST plugins and comes with its own set of (pretty decent) effects.
For more demanding editing tasks, I still stick to using Wavosaur. It can get buggy sometimes (especially when using VST plugins), but most of the time it works just great. All of my free sample packs have been edited and looped using Wavosaur. It’s also a handy tool for batch processing and converting a large number of audio files. My favorite features of Wavosaur are the extremely fast and simple workflow and the basic (but perfect for my needs) loop editor.
ocenaudio is still in development, but the current beta release looks very promising. It loads VST effects, supports working with large audio files, has a gorgeous looking and clean interface, and acts stable most of the time. I was in doubt that this application will remain free after the beta stage ends, however the developers confirmed that there will always be a free version of ocenaudio available (even if they decide to release a commercial version in the future). Once we get a 100% stable release, this one might easily become my new favorite tool for editing samples.
Another relatively new free audio editor is Acoustica Basic Edition, which is a freeware version of Acon Digital’s flagship Acoustica software suite. The Basic Edition is still a pretty capable editor, with several features you definitely won’t find in other freeware alternatives (convolution reverb and virtual phono preamp, for example). This program also supports VST effects and features a handy set of analysis tools in the main window. Here’s a complete for different versions of Acoustica.