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There are a healthy number of free or budget video editors available for Mac OS X The Top 8 Free Video Editors For macOS The Top 8 Free Video Editors For macOS The best video editors for macOS cost a lot of money, but what if your budget is $0? Read More , but what if you only need to edit audio? The selection might not be quite as hearty, but if you need to slice up a WAV or merge a couple of MP3 files then you’re in luck.

Considering Apple’s media-savvy approach with free apps like iMovie, it’s surprising that there’s not a simple audio editor bundled with OS X. We’ve found a few that won’t break the bank.

Audacity (free)

If you’re looking for a completely free audio editor that eats uncompressed audio for breakfast, Audacity is the only open-source box of tricks you need. The editor supports .WAV, .AIFF, .FLAC, .MP2/3 and .OGG filetypes, with an interface that loosely resembles the fondly-remembered CoolEdit.

Record from external inputs, monitor volume levels, make use of JACK Audio and apply a whole host of effects. There’s even support for non-destructive editing, unlimited undo/redo and a spectrogram view for analysing audio. If you want to record your computer’s audio (from any playing audio source) you will need to follow the setup and use SoundFlower. Check out the full set of Audacity features.

WavePad (free for non-commercial use)

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Hot on the heels of Audacity is WavePad, another highly competent audio editor that’s free provided you’re only using it at home and non-commercially. If you want to use WavePad in commercial projects or for music you intend to eventually sell, you’ll need to cough up the $70 for a standard license.

That non-commercial five finger discount provides home users with a great piece of software at no costs, with support for .WAV, .MP3, .M4A, .WMA, .FLAC and .AAC among many others. The interface allows you to work on multiple files at the same time, and you can even batch process thousands of files at once. WavePad supports audio bookmarking, the usual range of effects and some text-to-speech and vocal manipulation tools to boot.

OcenAudio (free)

Thanks to an anonymous MakeUseOf reader for pointing this one out in the comments.

A completely free and feature-packed cross-platform audio editor from Brazil, OcenAudio is another option for the budget sound engineer. The app supports a huge number of filetypes including .MP3, .WAV, .FLAC and .WMA. It also supports videos formats like .WMV and the .MKV container, and raw sound files in the form of .PCM among others.

OcenAudio also has one rather unique feature you won’t find in other sound editors – a multi-selection tool, which (using CMD+click) allows you to select multiple portions of the waveform at once. There’s also support for VST instruments, a range of effects, a fully featured spectogram and the ability to edit very large files without kissing goodbye to all of your Mac’s memory.

TwistedWave Lite ($19.99)

Three down and we’re already out of free options, but at least TwistedWave Lite is fairly inexpensive at only $20. This lightweight version of TwistedWave for Mac ($80) is only available through the Mac App Store and withholds advanced functions such as automatic silence detection, time stretching, pitch shifting and support for more obscure formats like .FLAC, .OGG, .WMA and video files.

That said there’s still a big visual waveform to play with, effects like amplify and normalize to apply and the ability to record from Apple’s own Audio Unit plugins.

Adobe Audition ($20/month)

I know what you’re thinking – no Adobe products are cheap! That may be true, but Audition is arguably the best in class here, and under the new Creative Cloud pricing model you can have access to Audition for just $20 for a month’s usage, or $29 as part of a package. That makes it ideal for temporary projects where you need the best tool for the job, without making a longterm investment.

Adobe Audition is the spiritual successor to CoolEdit Pro, the aforementioned king of audio editors that existed in the day before Adobe dominated the entire media software market. There’s very little it can’t do and very few filetypes it doesn’t support. Adobe has even produced a full range of tutorials to get you up and running straight away – in terms of functionality, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Fission (free trial, $32)

Fission is an audio editor that focuses on fast, lossless editing in a neat and stylish package. Developers Rogue Amoeba are also responsible for MakeUseOf musical favourite AirFoil Airfoil Adds Extended AirPlay Functionality To Mac and PC Airfoil Adds Extended AirPlay Functionality To Mac and PC AirPlay is Apple's way of wirelessly streaming audio and video to supported devices on your local network. If you have one of Apple's more recent Airport base stations, an Apple TV or a Boxee box... Read More , and that means quality isn’t an issue. The app comes with a decent free trial which provides unhindered access to all functions, except for one thing: audio files saved result in degraded audio.

The app has a long list of features including batch editing, multiple windows for editing more than one file at once, simple waveform editing, support for FLAC and WAV (among others) and the lossless editing of already-compressed MP3 and AAC files. You can find the full feature list on Rogue Amoeba’s website.

Looking For More?

Five editors is hardly a crowd, but in terms of cheap and free solutions for OS X it’s about as good as it gets. Windows users have freebies like Wavosaur and RecordForAll 6 Awesome Alternatives to Audacity for Recording & Editing Audio 6 Awesome Alternatives to Audacity for Recording & Editing Audio There's nothing wrong with Audacity, and we recommend giving it a try if you haven't yet. But alternatives do exist - here are some of the best ones we've found. Read More , and Linux users can opt for LMMS Top 5 Free Linux Music Creation Tools For The Artist On A Budget Top 5 Free Linux Music Creation Tools For The Artist On A Budget Read More  – but for simple Mac audio editing, these are the cream of the crop.

I had little joy getting Macsome Audio Editor or Traverso DAW working at all, so you can give them a miss. Personally I’d recommend sticking with Audacity or, if you’re only editing for non-commercial purposes, WavePad. If the task is particularly demanding and you’d like some advanced tools, maybe a month of Adobe Audition will suit you. If you need a permium tool with polish and support, go for Rogue Amoeba’s Fission.

If you love free software don’t forget to check out our budget OS X video editors The Top 8 Free Video Editors For macOS The Top 8 Free Video Editors For macOS The best video editors for macOS cost a lot of money, but what if your budget is $0? Read More  and pocket-friendly vector apps The Best Vector Software For Mac Designers On A Budget The Best Vector Software For Mac Designers On A Budget Adobe Illustrator might be the gold standard when it comes to vector software for the Mac, but you don't always have to spend a fortune on design software. Read More .

  1. Rob B
    March 24, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Hi,
    I am looking for an app that can cut a MP3 in many MP3 automatically based on the silences between the words. Each MP3 will then gets it own id.

    IMac El Capitane, no experience in audio editing

    • Treatment
      July 31, 2016 at 4:37 am

      Rob B:
      What you are asking to do is a Two step process, and you are not going to be able to do this on the cheap.
      First, you need a proper DAW like Logic or Digital Performer. These are EXPENSIVE, but they WILL isolate the silent bits automatically without you having to do this by hand.
      Second, if you want the tagging, you need a Batch Editor, like Adobe Audition. Which will tag all of those bits for you.
      Treatment

  2. Zorglub
    January 24, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Wavepad is NOT free. You get a demo that allows you to save/export a very few file. To continue saving, you MUST by the full edition. If you don't, all your work is LOST !!!
    :=( (

    • Tim Brookes
      January 28, 2016 at 3:58 am

      That's interesting, I'm quite surprised to hear that as the software states that it is free for non-commercial use with "most" of the features of the full paid version.

      Have you tried using AppCleaner to remove and reinstall to reset any "trial" period?

      Tim

  3. Paul
    November 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    I cant believe Adobe are trying to charge customers per month for using software? who came up with that pricing model? It wouldn't be so bad if the pricing was sensible, but $20 a month? this needs to be nipped in the bud, and Adobe need to go back to selling products not renting them out! Ridiculous!

    • David
      May 18, 2016 at 2:40 am

      I am finally able to enter the digital photography field because of the Adobe CC subscription based model. I am sure you have good reason for objecting, but I get immediate access to thousands of dollars worth of software for an extremely approachable fee.
      I believe you can still purchase all their products as always, but the CC model lets the the working class have access too.

  4. Ralph
    March 13, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I've used Audacity in the past for simple audio conversion and slice & dice, but I've upgraded to Yosemite 6 months ago, but I see there's still no OSX 10.10 support, so I've just downloaded & installed WavePad to give that a try and I have to say it looks better then Audacity.
    Seriously the GUI, the icons and the waveform of Audacity looks like it's some crappy Windows software.

  5. Morph Mode
    January 1, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I have been doing DSP for over 35 years. I remember back in the day before wav files even existed and it was all just raw data. These days, I mostly edit by frequency (spectral editing) instead of amplitude. David Johnston created Cool Edit, then pro before Adobe bought them out. I get free copies from SW companies all the time. I sandbox them all and I must admit that Adobe has kept their word to David that his foundational CEP program will always be the best. Because of the plugs available, Audition is way ahead of them all. I can not only transpose vocal pitch, but I can also manipulate depth, width, and length of the vocal cavity. I know and understand why Wayne Newton sounded like a girl when he was young and I give credit to Adobe for that. Other wav editors cant even come close to that, and many other intricacies that you can do like using plugs to manipulate algorithmic sets to make your edits way over the studio standard. Even if it's only me that can hear these differences. Adobe Audition might cost substantially more money, but you get what you pay for. Just because I am sponsored and get Adobe Audition cost free means nothing. I never asked them for sponsorship, and they know I could care less if they sponsor me or not. As of this 1st day of 2015, Audition IS the best wav editor for single track editing. I use it as my wav editor for Reaper, which I use as a multitrack editor. Adobe is also OK for mastering although I personally prefer doing that task with outboard hardware type gear. Happy New Year! Morph Mode

    • Tim Brookes
      January 2, 2015 at 1:47 am

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. I definitely agree – in terms of features Adobe takes the gold. It's just the way it goes when you've got a dedicated following who are happy to pay top dollar for your products! At least these days we can "rent" Creative Cloud for about $20 per app per month...

  6. Ethan W
    July 27, 2014 at 2:24 am

    Mote of a DAW than a simple wave editor, but Reaper is also a pretty amazing value: http://www.reaper.fm/

  7. Claire
    July 23, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Are you aware that "five-finger discount" means theft, usually shoplifting? Your use of the term to refer to "free for non-comercial use" is a bit disconcerting.

    • Tim B
      July 24, 2014 at 12:34 am

      Indeed I am, it was only meant as a play on the idea that home users really should be paying quite a sum for what WavePad offers, considering the software costs around $70 for a standard licence. It felt a bit like I was robbing the developers as I downloaded it for free, because it's quite a powerful bit of software.

      Hopefully this article was still useful to you.

    • Claire
      July 24, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Yes, thank you! I've used several DAWs, but having had several upgraded out from under me (wanting a re-purchase) I've been looking for lower-price alternatives. This article got me to download ocenaudio, and so far, I'm impressed!
      BTW, several DAWs have iOs versions. TwistedWave is one. There is an iOs WavePad, but apparently the integration to the desktop is not terribly good (hearsay; I haven't tried it.) Might be a topic for a future article.

  8. DJ Row row
    July 23, 2014 at 9:28 am

    That should read *for Linux :)

  9. DJ Row row
    July 23, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Hi, have you got a similar article planned or Linux?

    • Tim B
      July 24, 2014 at 12:35 am

      I do now :)

      Duly noted – we will see what we can find!

  10. DJ Sam Soul
    July 23, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Thanks for the reply. WavePad does work (and is also on the iPad), but I will be using it for commercial use and desktop suite integration makes it a bit cumbersome.

    Honestly, OcenAudio may be the one. I learned about it from the comments section.

    It's incredible because I need very little from the program, as I am only editing the timeline of .wav or .aiff files that are already premixed. I'll be putting OcenAudio to the test tonight!Thanks again for the article.

    • Tim B
      July 23, 2014 at 3:12 am

      Thanks Sam, all the positivity towards that software has prompted me to download it and I must say I'm impressed. I have now added it to the article just after WavePad, hopefully we can spread the word about a hidden gem.

      If you come across any more quality freeware audio tools on your travels, do let us know!

      Cheers, Tim

  11. DJ Sam Soul
    July 22, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Good article. I've been looking for a replacement for Cool Edit Pro 2.1 for about 10 years. Audacity is not really an adequate replacement, and there is no way I am paying $20+ a month for any software. I've actually had to install Windows XP just to use Cool Edit because the Wine emulation suffers from latency issues. SMH, SMH.

    • Tim B
      July 23, 2014 at 12:16 am

      CoolEdit Pro makes me feel all nostalgic, as if you couldn't tell from the many mentions in the article.

      Does WavePad (Lite) do the trick for you? That or Fission – it might be $30, but unlike Adobe's solution it's a one-time fee and the developers are a small but dedicated little team.

  12. Anonymous
    July 22, 2014 at 6:16 am

    OcenAudio is free and runs on Mac. It's very slick for a free offering and meets all my needs managing my sample collection when i don't want to open Ableton up. Has the added bonus of metadata handling too. Worth a look!

    • Tim B
      July 23, 2014 at 12:18 am

      Thanks for the recommendation, never heard of it nor did it appear in my searches. Good to know!

    • Tim B
      July 23, 2014 at 2:39 am

      This has now been added to the article, thanks. I've had to credit you as an "anonymous MakeUseOf reader" though :)

  13. Matt
    July 22, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Don't forget Ardour. Inexpensive and arguably the most powerful editor in the no- to low-cost category.

    • Tim B
      July 22, 2014 at 3:43 am

      I tried Ardour but for the life of me I couldn't work out how to perform simple wave edits. I can see it being good as a budget DAW if you know what you're doing, but it's probably one of the least user-friendly bits of software I've ever downloaded!

      For the effort involved, Audacity is the better choice.

    • Matt
      July 22, 2014 at 3:52 am

      Agreed. If you're not coming from a DAW background or something like Pro Tools or Logic, Audacity is much more accessible, but they're definitely in two different classes.

  14. bshell
    July 22, 2014 at 1:22 am

    To Tim B: you are wrong about this for GarageBand 11, which is pretty new. See Apple Support document http://support.apple.com/kb/PH2008?viewlocale=en_US "To import an audio file: Drag the audio file you want to import from the Finder into the timeline, to the empty area below the existing tracks. A new Real Instrument track is created, and the audio file appears as an orange region in the track." You can import many kinds of audio files to GarageBand.

  15. bshell
    July 21, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Doesn't Apple's native Garageband come for free? It used to. I'm pretty sure that you can edit sounds and do a lot more with it. Also, there's QuickTime, which I believe comes free on all Macs. It can do basic sound file editing.

    • Tim B
      July 22, 2014 at 12:47 am

      You used to be able to edit audio with GarageBand by dragging WAV/MP3 files onto the dock icon. Alas, no longer can you do so. It's strange that Apple actually removed this functionality, but according to Google it's been gone for a few years now :(

      You're right that QuickTime can perform simple edits, though this essentially amounts to trim. Nice to know though!

  16. Gustav Speed
    July 21, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    What I want is an audio editor that can splice out certain segments. An analogous example would be to cut oot commercials from a TV show. Do any of these do this?

    • Tim B
      July 21, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      So you just want to select, delete the segment and save? Audacity or WavePad will do the job just fine in this instance :)

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