Free Audio Tools for Editing Music and Sound Recordings

Polish your podcasts and tune up your tunes with one of five free audio editors

Man with headphones, listening to music, gesturing in urban alley
Hero Images / Getty Images

The market for audio-editing tools feels like a maze filled with dead-ends. The market is saturated with programs that either cost a ton of money—think, for example, of Adobe Audition—or programs that haven't been maintained in many years. 

A good audio-editing program for editing music or podcasts, recording sound, or remixing tunes features several essential tools:

It's always best to record clean audio from the get-go, to reduce your post-processing rework. But for those times when you have no choice but to edit an audio file, we've pulled together a list of five free programs to help you edit your audio with professional flair.

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Audacity (Windows, Mac, and Linux)

The main editing window of Audacity, open to a single-track segment of a podcast.

Audacity remains one of the most popular free audio editors on the market. The program features excellent editing features, plus it ships with dozens of native plugins and the capacity to load more.

In addition to its editing capability, Audacity works as a multitrack recorder, too. This feature can be useful if you want to record live audio or convert vinyl records and cassette tapes to digital audio.

It's compatible with a wide range of audio formats, including MP3, WAV, AIFF, and OGG Vorbis.

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Wavosaur (Windows)

Main application window, with several projects open simultaneously.

This compact free audio editor and recorder doesn’t need to be installed to get started. Wavosaur runs as a portable app and is compatible with all versions of Windows since Windows 98.

Sporting a good set of tools for editing digital audio files, Wavosaur handles audio formats such as MP3, WAV, OGG, AIF, AIFF, wavpack, AU/SND, raw binary, Amiga 8svx & 16svx, ADPCM Dialogic vox, and Akai S1000.

Wavosaur is VST compatible.

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Wavepad Sound Editor (Windows, Mac, Android, Kindle)

Wavepad Audio Editor
Image © NCH Software

Wavepad Sound Editor is a feature-rich program that supports a good selection of file formats, including MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, OGG, and RealAudio.

Use Wavepad Sound Editor for reducing noise, clicks, and pops, and for adding effects like echo and reverb. The program offers spectral analysis, speech synthesis, and batch processing—and the editing process is inherently nondestructive, so your risk of corrupting the original data is reduced.

The program ships with all the familiar, basic tools for editing audio files, but it can also import VST plugins (Windows only) to extend its capabilities—but that feature is only available if you upgrade to the Master's version.

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WaveShop (Windows)

Main application window.

If you’re looking for a program that does bit-perfect editing, then WaveShop could be the app for you. The program’s interface is clean, well laid out, and ideal for quickly editing your sounds.

It supports most formats—including AAC, MP3, FLAC, and Ogg/Vorbis—and comes with an array of advanced tools.

The application hasn't been updated since 2013, but it remains available and works perfectly on Windows-based PCs.

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Power Sound Editor Free (Windows)

Power Media
 Power Media

This great-looking audio editor offers a lot of functionality. It features a broad set of effects—more than 25 built-in, including some rare noise-reduction tools as voice breath reduction, which is useful for cleaning up voice recordings.

Power Sound Editor Free offers high-quality native recording, audio extraction from videos or YouTube streams, and support for a large number of input audio formats.

The downside to this program is that the free version only allows you to save your processed files as Wave files—but it does allow you to convert afterward. Upgrading to the deluxe version does away with this two-step process and unlocks additional features.

The installer for this program also contains extra, unrelated software. If you don't want these apps installed on your system, click the decline button for each one.