Upgrade prices being what they are, I managed to winnow the number of apps– from Pro Tools to Logic to Cubase to MOTU and others– down to a precious and affordable few. One audio recording, editing, and mixing app that has always remained in my collective is free.
You Get What You Pay For
For Mac audio recording it’s difficult to beat Apple’s Garageband on the Mac. The strong suit is multi-track recording, not editing, so that’s not the free app I mention.
If you’re hamstrung by an overly tight budget, but you want to record, edit, and mix audio, the choices are few and far between.
Audacity has been on my Mac since back in the last century. It’s free. It’s cross platform.
And other than sporting a user interface from hell, Audacity actually works well, especially for editing.
Audacity comes with plenty of built-in options not available on Garageband. Editing audio waveforms is particularly more accurate.
The interface is a different story.
Click on the image above for a larger, pop up view with more detail.
Audacity is more of a jack-of-all-trades audio app. It records audio through your Mac’s sound input or microphone.
It opens and plays, or imports and plays MP3 files, as well as WAV and standard AIFF files. Undo is unlimited.
There’s an amplitude envelope editor, a customizable spectrogram, as well as a frequency analysis window. Transport controls lace the top of the app while waveforms for audio clips grace the bottom.
Tracks can be recorded, edited in the waveform, and mixed with other audio clips. Some audio effects are built into Audacity but it also supports the popular VST plugin effects.
Unfortunately, the added functionality of using VST plugins or exporting MP3 files requires optional downloads. That, coupled with the antiquated interface make Audacity look more like a relic from the past than a competent audio editing alternative to Garageband.
Another point that is valuable to some is the cross platform option. There’s an Audacity option for Windows PCs and even Linux PCs. If anything, you could use Audacity to learn the basics of audio editing and mixing, and then, when finances are right, move up to a more capable app such as Amadeus.