When you want to edit an audio file or when you want to create or record your own music, you need a capable audio editing software that has all the features, can handle long sessions of recording, and even lets you make and manage music. In our previous articles we covered free audio editing software, but most of them contain ads, upgrade prompts, and even limitations. To deal with that, here are some of the best free and open-source audio editing software.
Open Source Audio Editors
Audacity is one of the best in terms of features, accessibility, and plugins. I use Audacity from time to time for some minor tasks like converting M4A format to MP3, Splitting MP3 files, removing noise from old audio files, etc. The user interface is traditional and looks a bit dated but it is very user friendly and gets the job done without any hiccups.
We use audacity to edit audio for our YouTube channel
Audacity supports a wide range of audio formats including but not limited to WAV, FLAC, AIFF, AU, MP3, etc. When it comes to editing, you can do things like recording, import and export, scrubbing and seeking, cut, copy, paste, mix multiple tracks, etc. It also lets you undo without any limits, has automatic crash recovery, sync-lock tracks, and much more useful features.
You can also add various included effects, reduce noise, change pitch and tempo, isolate vocals, generate tones, etc. The best part is, Audacity supports external plugins to improve and/or add extra functionality. Simply put, no matter who you are, just download and install Audacity. It will come in handy from time to time. After all, Audacity is completely free.
Pro Tip: You can also use Audacity to record audio coming out of the computer.
Platform support: Audacity supports Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Install Audacity (free)
2. Traverso DAW
Traverso DAW is a powerful audio editing and audio recording software for Linux users. You can edit multi-track audio with layers and effects. If you want to, you can record the complete band and burn it to a CD or DVD directly from Traverso DAW, no need of yet another software. Just like Audacity, the user interface looks dated but once you get comfortable, it is very user-friendly. You can connect multiple instruments to Traverso DAW and record them in multiple tracks with ease.
Traverso DAW is officially only available to Linux users and you need to know how to compile Traverso DAW from the source and then install it. That being said, on some distributions, like on Ubuntu and its derivatives, you can install Traverso DAW with a single command. Optionally, you can check for its availability on the included app store.
If you are looking for a scalable professional audio editing software that can effortlessly manage recording multiple instruments then try Traverso DAW.
Platform support: Traverso DAW is available for Linux.
Install Traverso DAW (free)
Ardour is a professional open-source audio editing workstation for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. One of the best features of Ardour is its Flexible Recording. Using which you’ll be able to set layered, destructive, and non-layered modes on per track basis. You can even manage individual monitoring options per track by simply clicking on the individual monitor buttons. The Mixer section of Ardour is one of the best compared to other software on this list. It has a ton of options with a friendly user interface.
Other features of Ardour include but not limited to non-linear and non-destructive track editing, unlimited multichannel tracks, ability to extract audio from video, lock audio and MIDI regions, blank frames, automation, mixing, support for external plugins, ability to import and export, etc. The source code is available for free but you’d need to compile it manually on your computer, however, you can simply donate a small amount to the dev and download the compiled file directly.
Platform support: Ardour supports Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Install Ardour (free)
If you are into DJing then Mixxx is the one to go for. The software is designed to be friendly for both beginners and professionals alike. Gettings started with Mixxx is easy, simply drag a song into Mixxx and you can start manipulating it using beats, cue points, and scrollable and scratchable waveforms among other things.
You will also have access to various features like sampler decks, pitch, and key control, master sync, beat looping, chained effects, built-in music library, key and bpm detection, recording, live broadcasting, etc. There is also a fun feature called Auto DJ which can take over your job in the time of need. All you have to do is point it towards a playlist and you are good to go.
Of course, being a DJ software, it has multiple skins with a customizable layout. If you not a fan of the default layout then you only limited by your imagination when it comes to layout customization.
Platform support: Ardour supports Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Install Mixxx (free)
Qtractor is an Audio and/or MIDI multi-track sequencer application. Unlike all the other applications shared in this list, Qtractor is designed for professionals. Also, it gives you the power of the Jack Audio Connection Kit. In fact, you need to have Jack Audio Connection Kit in order to work with Qtractor on your Linux machine. Unfortunately, though Qtractor is easy to use and has support for Jack Audio Connection Kit, it is not as complex or flexible as Ardour.
Features of Qtractor include but not limited to unlimited undos and redos, built-in connection patch bay control, multi-select, drag and drop, multi-track tape recorder, loop recording, unlimited location markers, MMC control surface, session or project description files, support for non-destructive and non-linear editing, Jack Audio Connection Kit transport sync, etc.
Platform support: Linux only.
Install Qtractor (free)
These are some of the best open-source audio editors out there. Unless you have a specific need for a special feature, Audacity works just fine for most people. However, if you have a better alternative that is not listed here, let me know in the comments below.