Music editing software allows a user to generate and edit audio data (music, in this case, but vocals and other spoken content would also qualify). Sound mixers, editors on films and TV sets, musicians, music producers, radio producers, and many other people use music software every day, whether professionally in a studio, recreationally in their garage or home studio, or even as an app on their phone.
However it’s being used, music editing software should be able to handle a number of different audio formats, and it should be able to produce music that sounds good on a radio stream or a premium streaming service. Users should be able to produce and cut high-quality audio tracks for any kind of artist or band.
Here are some of the best choices for music editing software:
Pros: Extensive features and completely free
Cons: Might be overwhelming for new users
While a number of tools on this list cost money, some are free, and one of the best ones you can find is Audacity.
Audacity can give many premium, paid-for programs a run for their money. The program has dozens upon dozens of features and effects, and it is continually supported by a very active developer community. You can create and add a huge variety of sounds, thanks to the enormous plug-in library.
The only downside to Audacity is that it can be daunting for beginners to get used to because the program has all the functions and features of a professional music editor and the lack of cost attracts many newcomers. However, once you get over the learning curve, Audacity can be a fantastic resource for you to record and produce your music.
Pros: Lightweight and easy to quickly understand
Cons: Not suited for heavy-duty music editing
This is another free program to consider, which is ideal for home-based musicians. The software is designed to not be too taxing on your computer’s memory, doing the work of encoding and filtering in the background, so you can make an audio file with many tracks without worrying about crashes or lag.
With ocenaudio, you get a number of built-in filters, and you can download VST plugins for further customization. These let you apply effects and filters, as well as copy and paste whole sections of audio, not just cutting and clipping tracks. Batch editing is also a possibility, if you are working with a number of tracks or files.
This might be a good program for newcomers to use because it is not as potentially overwhelming as Audacity.
3. Ashampoo Music Studio
Pros: Good for recording stripped-down music
Cons: Limited features
Ashampoo Music Studio is also another music editing software that might be easier for newer users to play with, and it still offers a number of tools for a complete music editing package. You can design CD labels, edit metadata tags, switch between different audio formats, and burn your music onto CD.
Ashampoo Music Studio is designed to be quick and easy to use. Perhaps, for that reason, it does not come with everything. For example, you cannot edit multitracks, which most other products on this list can do.
This makes Ashampoo Music Studio best for working with simple audio clips, perhaps with minimal instrumentation and production. If that is the kind of music you’re working with, Ashampoo Music Studio will be right for you.
Pros: Browser-based, can work from anywhere, and lots of add-ons
Cons: Limited recording capabilities
Audiotool makes use of cloud computing to let you work on files right from your browser (Google Chrome is best for this), which means you can continue to edit your music from any other Chrome browser you are signed into.
Because Audiotool is a browser-based music editor, it comes with some limitations. You can only record in 30-second segments, for example, but you can then apply any number of drum machines, other digital instruments, and tools that are already built into the editing software into the mix.
One nifty feature of Audiotool is that it is very focused on community collaboration. You can find user-made music through the program. This not only lets you find new artists to follow, but it also gives you a sense of the editing possibilities within.
Pros: Paid versions come with dozens of plug-ins and add-ons
Cons: Free version not updated and doesn’t have as many featured as paid counterparts
Price: $59.90 (Standard Edition); $199.90 (Premium Edition); Free (Basic Edition)
The Acoustica music editing software comes in two versions: a premium editor and a free basic edition. This allows the developers (Acon Digital) of the software to offer what TechRadar calls “a much more stylish affair” than other music editing programs that are open-source or that work on a donation model. The interface is very visually appealing and user-friendly.
For all you get with the Basic Edition for free, it is not as regularly updated and maintained as the premium product, so that is a trade-off. You will also not have access to advanced tools like support for 7.1 surround sound or even standard features like the multi-track editor.
However, if budget is a concern, the Acoustica Basic Edition is still worth your time. It is not quite as technical as Audacity and ocenaudio, but it will go much further than basic tools in letting you record and produce music.
Even the edits you make are nondestructive, allowing you to make changes to your music without overwriting the pre-existing material. This also means that you can easily switch back to your original material at any time. And unlike many free programs, the undo and redo functions in Acoustica Basic Edition are unlimited.
Another nice feature in Acoustica Basic Edition is that you can scrub through your audio track until you find the part you’re looking for, which is something that other free programs do not let you do. Additionally, you can export your recordings in different compressed and uncompressed formats, so your songs can be at home across different streaming and hosting services.
On the face of it, Acoustica Basic Edition looks limited, but the fact that you can expand it to meet your needs without having to buy the full edition makes it a very competitive entry among other free music editing programs.
Nonetheless, Acoustica Basic Edition is more suited to recreational musicians. If you are a professional musician, you would be better served with the premium version of Acoustica or another music editing program on this list.
6. Adobe Audition
Pros: One of the most comprehensive music editing programs available
Cons: Subscription model favors serious musicians and producers
If you’re willing to pay $21 a month, Adobe Audition is unbeatable for professional musicians and producers. There are the usual music editing tools, but it also has special features like ducking the music, dereverb and denoising, and even a sound remover for when background noise creeps into your recording.
If your recording does not have an eleven-sound mix, you can use the strip silence option to compensate. There is even a loudness meter for you to set all your music to comply with international loudness standards.
Adobe Audition is also ideal for musicians who have visual components to their recordings. The remix feature, for example, automatically matches music to the length of a video. If your music (or your music video) has lots of sound effects, Audition is a great editing software for sound effect design, with over 10,000 effects to choose from.
One of the good things about Audition being part of the Adobe family is that your music projects can easily work with the other software in the Creative Cloud suite.
All this means is that Adobe Audition is not suited for beginners. This is serious software that works best if you have a clear vision, a budget, and the ambition to make the most of it.
7. Samplitude Pro
Pros: Like having an entire studio at your fingertips
Cons: Not affordable, and not meant for beginners; even intermediate users might be overwhelmed
Price: $399 (Samplitude Pro X); $129 (Samplitude Music Studio 2023)
Samplitude Pro is a heavyweight in the world of professional music editing software. Not only can you stack a total of 999 audio tracks, but you can also get 256 physical inputs and outputs as well as nondestructive edits.
The program lets you do floating-point calculations, where you can get high-quality sound even after digital processing. Full-bit transparency gives you complete sound neutrality.
One of the best things about the Samplitude Pro family of music editors is that you can edit and cut your audio while you are still recording, an incredibly valuable feature if you are working against the clock.
If you need multiple takes to work out a song, you can use the take composer, which shows you all the recordings of a single passage you’ve worked on. It even lets you cut and combine takes to create the arrangement you’re looking for.
You can tailor the interface and meters of the audio editor, with further custom modifications at your disposal. There’s even an audio search function, so you can find sounds with a simple keyword search.
The Samplitude Pro series has a challenging learning curve, so this is not the music editing software for amateurs or beginners. Its steep price tag should be a warning. If you are a professional musician or producer, this program might be what you’re looking for.
Finding the Right Music Editing Software for You
With so many choices available, how can you know which music editing software is right for you? Start by looking at your own skill level.
If you’re taking your first steps in cutting some music tracks together, a program like ocenaudio will get you started with a very easy user experience and intuitive introduction into the world of music editing. On the other hand, if you know your way around a program, Acoustica or a similar editor might give you more of what you’re looking for.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing the right music editor is to know your hardware and your software. The programs available for Windows or Mac devices (for Android or iOS platforms) are very different.
If you’re on the move a lot, or don’t have the space for a home studio, this will narrow your options. Desktop-based programs will have more processing power, but they will come with a hefty price tag. Mobile editing programs will be more affordable, but you will be more limited in what you can do on them. If you are cutting together just a few audio tracks, a mobile option may be all you need.
This leads to a big factor to consider when choosing the right music editing program for you: your budget. Adobe Audition will give you an entire studio’s worth of software, but the ongoing subscription fee might be a deterrent. Ashampoo Music Studio has a one-off fee that might be easier to budget. On the other side of the spectrum is Audacity, which is entirely free to use, but it does not have the extensive capabilities of some of its counterparts.
Lastly, which music editor is best for you depends on you and your music. Consider whether an attractive piece of software is the right fit for your goals or whether an affordable, no-frills program can fully capture what you want to do.
Choose your audio editor based on what best unlocks your creativity, gets you in the zone, and offers the best workflow for you.
How to Edit Audio in Audacity. (September 2018). Music Radar.
Is Ocenaudio The Audio Editing App For You? (December 2020). Robots.net.
Ashampoo Music Studio Review. (October 2014). Yahoo!
Acoustica Basic Edition Review. (October 2017). TechRadar.
Adobe Audition Review. (April 2022). PC Mag.