Audio production is one of the most important parts of media production. And in this age of multimedia, users don’t just seek a basic application to record and edit audio, but complete solutions that pack in the latest technologies, format support, filters and effects, ease of use, and speed.
It may not sound like that (pun always intended), but finding the best audio editing software for Windows 10 is easier said than done. Tens of programs are available, both free and paid, that can help you edit your audio, but only a few of them strike that perfect balance of features and freedom, creativity and control.
We take a look at the best of the bunch, in this group test, and filter out the most capable audio editing software programs available on Microsoft’s latest operating system.
Worth a mention that there is a marked difference between audio editors and digital audio workstations. DAWs are expensive solution, often costing around $500, and can record from an unlimited number of audio sources, while also providing effects and virtual instruments to help with the production of music.
Audio editors, on the other hand, can be had for $50, and several free ones are available that offer professional level audio editing capabilities on computers. Most of these programs work perfectly fine on lower end systems, and offer a lot of power to edit and export audio.
With this distinction made, let’s get down to the business of comparing the best audio editing editors.
Students and users new to audio editing
Open source, vibrant ecosystem of plugins, lightweight
Cluttered user interface, limited support for multi-track editing
Free Audio Editor
General and education use, hobbyists, home users, podcasters
Excellent user interface, tons of effects, impressive format support
Some options are limited to the premium version
Professionals, podcasters, musicians, multimedia producers
Pretty much the Photoshop for audio, smooth UI, advanced feature set
High learning curve, expensive for casual use
General use, first time audio editors
Uncluttered and familiar user interface, fast, low system requirements
Limited selection of effects and options
Powers users that want a free yet capable solution to manage audio
Fast, lightweight, with a bunch of highly advanced features
Interface straight from the 90s, rarely updated
Leapic Audio Editor
Casual use, basic audio editing
Fast, uncomplicated editing
Ancient user interface, low range of features
Lexis Audio Editor
Straightforward app, optimized for touch, stable, solid audio recording
Very limited feature set, UI could use some work
Let's look at detailed explanations of the features and specifications of these editors.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Audacity. This is by far the most popular software on this list, and its fame is well earned. Finding life as a small project back in 1997, this program has now become the go-to solution for many that want a simple software to edit, record and mix audio. Countless users use Audacity to prepare their podcasts, convert old tapes into digital recordings, and record audio for their video productions.
And this open source programs owes this success to its simplicity.
It has a very simple user interface that anyone can learn, and be up to speed in a few minutes. It provides access to a range of tools and effects. Recording audio is easy, editing clips is easier. Removing noise is a breeze, volume automation couldn’t be more straightforward, and correcting the pitch of a track is effortless.
Audacity also works nicely with extensible plugins that extend the functionality of this program. Support for a wide range of file formats, and the ability to record live audio through a microphone, capture streaming audio and digitize recordings from other media simply sweetens the deal.
The program does have its drawbacks, though. Like most free and open source software, Audacity is high on features, but its UI is not particularly appealing. A lot of features clutter the toolbar that most people will rarely use. In fact, the whole interface is ancient, and is long overdue an overhaul.
Fact is that this reliable program may be a great starting point for users new to audio editing, but experienced and power users will want to look at other solutions that offer more creative features, and better support for multiple tracks than Audacity.
For everyone else, this is about as good as it gets for free audio editing software.
When you name your product Free Audio Editor, you just have to get everything else right. Luckily, this program does. This powerful tool is light on system requirements, but high on features and other necessary bells and whistles.
You get both the traditional Waveform View or the frequency-based Spectral Display to edit your audio files, and either of these can be used to easily isolate and remove unwanted noise. A standard range of selection tools are available that can help you edit your recordings with milliseconds of precision.
Actions like cutting, copying, pasting, trimming, and muting are a click away.
The program also delivers when it comes to audio effects and filters, thanks to its inclusion of more than 30 native signal and effects processing engines. Need equalizations? Fade ins and outs? Delays, chorus, or reverbs? Time stretching and pitch shifting? All here.
Free Audio Editor also delivers when it comes to format support, and it can work with an almost overwhelming variety of source formats — 25 in total. These range from the most popular ones like MP3, WAV, AAC and FLAC, to a bunch of obscure proprietary ones like RA, RAM, AIF, and TTA.
And if you plan to use this program to digitize your audio, then the built-in audio recorder is up to the task of recording from practically anywhere. Mic, online streaming, web radio, internet telephone, cassette tapes, you name it.
If you can hear it, Free Audio Editor can capture it.
The UI may be a little old school now, but it is perfectly functional, and more importantly, familiar.
Available as a free version, a deluxe edition, and part of a suite of 8 tools, Free Audio Editor is one of the easiest ways to record, edit and enhance your sound, with several advanced features not found in other free or open source solutions. Well worth a try.
The design giant may be more known for its photo editing, illustration, page layout, document management, and video editing solutions, but Adobe also offers a powerful audio editor that goes by the name of Adobe Audition.
This is the tool you need if you want professional level editing capabilities.
And thanks to the brand strength of Adobe, a whole bunch of written and video tutorials are available for Audition that will help you to quickly get started with the program, and understand what its powerful features can do.
As for usage, Adobe Audition, just like other software from the company, is easy to learn but hard to master. For example, you can remove unwanted noise from your audio tracks simply by using the paintbrush tool to select it, while the healing option automatically removes background noise. But more advanced tools and options will demand an investment of time and practice before you get comfortable with them.
The latest 2017 version comes with a bevy of new features, including automatic loudness correction, timed recordings, support for Dolby Digital, custom channelization, smart track colors, frequency band splitter, to go with faster, more precise editing.
Even the user interface finally got refinements for high-resolution screens.
These are all improvements that only a company like Adobe can roll out on regular basis, and this makes the program well worth the asking price for power users, professional audio editors, and people that do serious work with audio for their organization or businesses.
And since Adobe Audition is part of the company’s Creative Cloud suite of applications, it plays nicely with other programs that carry the Adobe logo. For example, the ability to export directly from Audition with Media Encoder, or do automatic backups to the Adobe Creative Cloud service.
Adobe calls this the industry’s best solution for audio cleanup, restoration and precision editing, and while these are lofty claims, Audition is not far off.
The other free programs listed here will be more than enough for casual users, and people that just want to quickly edit an audio out. But pro and power users would do well to invest in a solution like this, and bring it to their video production or audio editing workflows.
Sign up for the free trial and see whether Adobe Audition is for you.
Ocenaudio is a program that knows exactly what it is doing, and this impressive audio editor for Windows is perfect for users that want to analyze and edit their audio files without complications. This shows in the minimalistic and fairly modern user interface of this program, and its basic feature set.
That is, nevertheless, more than enough for both novices and intermediate audio editors.
Things start with real time preview that allows you to hear the processed signals, while you adjust the controls. This majorly speeds up the editing process. You can also select different portions of an audio file, listen or apply affects as needed.
And best of all, Ocenaudio keeps things light and snappy. It does not require large drive space while exporting the finished files, and it also does the job quickly, requiring notably less time than some other programs to complete the task — signs that the program is properly optimized.
Although Ocenaudio does not vary too much in capabilities that other free audio editors in this list offer, it does have its own unique and simplified interface. Which may well end up being a deciding factor for users that give this program a try.
Things continue to get simple and simpler in this list, with Wavosaur a neat little basic application that comes straight to the point. At just a 1.3 MB download, this is one of the lightest programs around to get going with, which is good for people rocking older hardware.
Speaking of older things, well, the name Wavosaur has now become a veiled reference to the word dinosaur, considering the fact that this program has not been updated in a while. The latest version was released last year, but the one before that came out all the way back in 2013. Facts that nudges this program towards classic Windows software territory.
The territories notion doesn’t end here, though.
Wavosaur lies somewhere between a basic audio editor and a Digital Audio Workstation, albeit a rather basic one, but that’s what makes it unique. It lies at the cusp of both worlds, so to say.
For example, it supports VST, the Virtual Studio Technology, but does not come bundled with any effects. Meaning, if you want to get a little creative with your audio, you will need to bring your own goodies and add the necessary plugins yourself.
But the program is up to the task when it comes to audio analysis and volume automation, and you will be able to edit and manage different kinds of voice and music tracks with ease. Batch processing and the ability to export files through third-party software makes it a handy choice for those that work regularly with audio.
A range of skins are also available that let you customize the look and feel according to your tastes.
Fancy name, but the audio editor itself is actually one of the more simpler ones on the market. From its workman-like user interface to the features this program provides, the developer has opted to keep things simple and straightforward.
And this gives Leapic Audio Editor massive amounts of both charm and utility.
Its UI is something that will not most people long to grasp — you can be up and running in minutes. All the features and options are neatly tucked away in toolbars up top, the menus are properly planned, and the overall look and feel is something that should be familiar to most PC users.
This simplicity also extends to the included voice recording tool, and the small, but useful, selection of effects and filters that can easily be applied to audio tracks. Basic functions like the ability to remove noise or insert silence make it a good no-frills choice for podcast creators.
While Windows 10 apps are still a country mile behind the traditional desktop software program, every now and then you do find a gem in the Windows Store. There is no shortage of audio and voice recorders on the platform — even Microsoft packs one by default in its new operating system — but bona fide audio editors are few and far between.
Enter Lexis Audio Editor.
This is, without doubt, one of the most user-friendly audio editor that the Windows Store houses, and though its interface borrows a lot from the base design language of Windows 10, it does offer a touch-optimized experience for tablet users of the platform.
The black background is easy on the eye for long audio editing session, while a range of buttons are available at the bottom that help accomplish basic tasks like importing, trimming, normalizing, editing or adding effects to audio files.
You can create new audio records or edit audio files that you already have available, and these files can then be saved in any of the 4 audio formats that this app supports. These include MP3, WAV, WMA and M4A formats.
Lexis Audio Editor may not be the most feature-packed or impressive audio editor that Windows 10 users have access to if they looked beyond the Windows Store. But for an app, it does the trick. The trial version includes all the features of the paid version, except the possibility of saving audio files in the MP3 format. For that privilege, you will have to buy it from the Windows Store for a small fee.
Shawn is a WindowsChimp Staff writer, who is a fan of making lists and does the same on this site. He has a Contemporary Writing degree and been in technology niche since last 3 years.