Whether you want to compose music, record podcasts, or just tap a ringtone along, you’re going to need a good quality Mac audio editor. There are some excellent audio editors for Mac available that won’t break your pocket. In fact, many won’t cost you anything.
So, from quick and simple apps to professional-grade tools, here are our picks for the best affordable and free audio editing software for Mac.
Audacity is the first audio editor that most people will find through a Google search. This is an easy recommendation. It’s free and open source, has a fairly straightforward interface, and supports a large number of file types, including MP3 and WAV.
You can record directly into the app (even if you don’t use an instrument), or edit existing files. There’s a plethora of effects you can use, a spectrogram to analyze frequencies, and it supports high-quality 32-bit audio as well.
Audacity is a fantastic starting point for anyone who needs a simple editor, but has enough power to grow as you become more experienced. The only downside is that it doesn’t support full non-destructive editing, so make sure you have a backup of your original audio before you start.
Download: Audacity (Free)
WavePad is a very competent Mac audio editor that’s free as long as you only use it non-commercially.
It supports a large number of file types. This allows you to work on multiple files at the same time, and you can even process thousands of files at once. WavePad supports audio bookmarks, the usual range of effects and several text-to-speech and vocal manipulation tools to boot.
The multi-window interface takes some getting used to, but as a free WAV or MP3 editor for Mac, it’s well worth a look.
Download: WavePad (Free for non-commercial use)
A completely free and feature-packed cross-platform audio recorder and editor from Brazil, OcenAudio is another option for the budget sound engineer. The app supports a large number of file types including MP3, FLAC, and WMA. It also supports multiple video formats including MKV containers.
OcenAudio is often seen as the main alternative to Audacity. It has a similar feature set, but a much smoother interface that makes it very accessible. There’s also support for VST instruments, a range of effects, a full-featured spectrogram, and the ability to edit very large files without kissing goodbye to all of your Mac’s memory.
Download: OcenAudio (Free)
PreSonus Studio One Prime
For the best free audio mixing software look no further than Studio One Prime. This is the free version of the professional plan that usually sets you back $399.
You can compose or mix music with built-in effects, instruments, and loops. And it’s equally good for recording and editing podcasts and voiceovers. It took me some time to find my way around the interface let alone master. But if you’re willing to invest the time, Studio One Prime has everything you need in a free plan.
Download: PreSonus Studio One Prime (Free)
Avid Pro Tools First
Pro Tools is the industry standard for audio production. Pro Tools First is a free taster for new users.
It’s feature rich but a daunting proposition, with a complex interface and steep learning curve. It also requires a more powerful computer than the other apps we’ve listed here. There are big limitations on free users: you can only save your files to Avid’s cloud servers, and you can only have three projects on the go at a time.
The Pro Tools First is overkill if you just want to edit your podcast. But if you want to try recording and mixing music, you won’t find a better sound editing software.
Download: Avid Pro Tools First (Free)
Lastly, as far as free audio editors for Mac are concerned, don’t overlook the apps you already have installed on your machine
Although designed primarily as a tool for creating music, this app functions as a basic audio editing software. You can record directly into the app, or import and edit existing recordings. It’s also a viable option for podcasters, with sound-optimized features.
Download: GarageBand (Free)
On to the paid options, and $60 Reaper is on the high end of what we class as a cheap audio editor. But it does come with a very generous 60-day free trial, so you’ll know if it’s right for you long before you have to raise any cash.
And the signs look good. Reaper is loved by the user base. It’s a small download, and a lot lighter than what Pro Tools First likes. It supports all common file formats at whatever quality you need, and you can use the free VST plugin, making thousands of instruments and effects available.
What it lacks compared to similar commercial products is a sound library. But the internet is packed with thousands of freely downloadable samples that you can use to create your own.
Download: Reaper ($60)
I know what you’re thinking there are no cheap Adobe products! It’s true that using Audition long term will set you back hundreds of dollars. But if you’re only working on a specific project and want the best, you can pick it up for a month for a little over $30.
Adobe Audition is a popular choice for all types of audio editing and mixing. It’s great for music and podcasts, and it even integrates with Adobe Premiere Pro so you can create soundtracks for your videos. Very little it can’t do and very few unsupported file types.
Adobe has even produced a full set of tutorials to get you up and running in terms of functionality, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Download: Adobe Audition (Subscription from $20.99/month)
Fission is an audio editor focused on fast, lossless editing in a neat and stylish package. The app comes with a decent free trial that provides seamless access to all functions, except for one thing: audio files are saved at a lower quality.
Fission has a long list of features including batch editing, simple waveform editing, support for FLAC and WAV (among others), and lossless editing of compressed MP3 and AAC files. You can batch convert from one file format to another, while the handy Podcasts panel makes it easy to package your broadcasts for sharing online.
Download: Fission ($35)
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