My history and love affair with recording and editing audio goes back to the last century and started with Ampex one-track audio recorders, an aluminum editing block, Scotch tape, and a razor blade. Yes. A razor blade. And tape.
Here we are in the 21st century and the art of audio recording and editing has advanced beyond recognition; with multi-track audio recorders available for free; most of which contain many filters and effects, and precision audio waveform editors which put to shame the edit block, tape, and the razor blade. Here’s a look at what I use and why.
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There’s no shortage of ways to record audio, mix audio, and edit audio on a Mac starting with Garageband, which is free with every Mac. Garageband supports multiple tracks, loops, effects and filters, a few different audio file formats, but is a clumsy editor. Still, the quality from Garageband puts to shame recordings made on tape in the last century.
Also on my list are two trusted commercial editors which do some of what Garageband does not; both are similar but different. At the low end is Amadeus Pro, something of a Swiss Army Knife recorder and editor that handles more file formats than Garageband, easily edits and exports multiple track files, including QuickTime movies.
What I love to use is TwistedWave because it has macOS and iOS versions.
Waveforms are easy to cut and edit, and both Amadeus Pro and TwistedWave let you apply effects and filters (Audio Units) non-destructively and in real time. Amadeus Pro can even be set up to record on a schedule (perfect for internet streaming).
Amadeus Pro does a great job exporting files in a large number of file formats, from Mp3, MPEG-4 AAC, AIFF, WAVE, WMA, CAF, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis.
TwistedWave for Mac and iPhone. This one is more of an editor’s edit app and sports a clean and simple interface with the focus on the waveform and edit tools.
TwistedWave comes with capabilities not found in most audio editors, including an option to change pitch, process multiple files, detect silence in an audio track, and dig up more audio meta data than most of us knew existed.
It even makes iPhone ringtones, and the iPhone and iPad version is actually easy to use to edit and sweeten audio on a small screen. And if you love to tweak, you’ll appreciate the extensive preference configurations.
If you’re a Mac user on a restricted budget but still need basic audio recording and editing, there’s the highly acclaimed OcenAudio app. It’s free, and works something like TwistedWave Lite, though not as fancy as Audacity. Though this free Mac app is loaded with features, the user interface is audaciously complex and Windows-like. I’ve never been much of a fan.
Most of my multi-track recording and mixing these days is done in GarageBand or Apple’s Logic Pro X for Mac. Both have built-in editing tools that are feature rich, but come with a healthy learning curve. Sometimes small is beautiful and less is more, hence the use of TwistedWave or Amadeus Pro for basic two-track or single-track editing.