Whether you want to make music, record a podcast, or just knock together a ringtone, you’ll need a good quality Mac audio editor. There are some amazing audio editors for Mac available that won’t break the bank. In fact, many won’t cost you anything at all.
So, from quick and simple apps to professional level tools, here’s our pick of the best affordable and free audio editing software for Mac.
Audacity is the first audio editor that most people will stumble upon through a Google search. It’s an easy recommendation. It’s free and open source, has a fairly straightforward interface, and supports a massive number of file types, including MP3 and WAV.
You can record straight into the app (though not using instruments), or edit existing files. There’s an enormous number of effects you can use, a spectrogram for analyzing frequencies, and it supports high quality 32-bit audio as well.
Audacity is a fantastic starting point for anyone who needs a simple editor, but has enough power to grow as you become more experienced. The only downside is that it doesn’t support full non-destructive editing, so make sure you’ve got a backup of your original audio before you begin.
Download: Audacity (Free)
WavePad is another highly competent Mac audio editor that’s free so long as you’re only using it non-commercially.
It supports a large number of file types. It 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.
The multi-window interface takes a little getting used to, but as a free WAV or MP3 editor for Mac it’s well worth a look.
Download: WavePad (Free for non-commercial use)
A completely free and feature-packed cross-platform audio recorder and editor from Brazil, OcenAudio is another option for the budget sound engineer. The app supports a huge number of file types including MP3, FLAC, and WMA. It also supports various videos formats including the MKV container.
OcenAudio is often seen as the main alternative to Audacity. It has a similar feature set, but a much more refined interface that makes it super accessible. There’s also support for VST instruments, a range of effects, a fully featured spectrogram, and the ability to edit very large files without kissing goodbye to all of your Mac’s memory.
Download: OcenAudio (Free)
4. PreSonus Studio One Prime
For the best free audio mixing software look no further than Studio One Prime. It’s a free version of a professional suite that would normally set you back $399.
You can create or mix music with the built-in effects, instruments, and loops. And it’s just as good for recording and editing podcasts and voiceovers. It takes some time to find your way around the interface—let alone master. But if you’re willing to invest the time Studio One Prime has got everything you’ll need in a free package.
Download: PreSonus Studio One Prime (Free)
5. Avid Pro Tools First
Pro Tools is the industry standard for audio production. Pro Tools First is a free, stripped down taster for new users.
It’s feature rich but a daunting proposition, with a complex interface and steep learning curve. It also needs a more powerful computer than the other apps we’ve listed here. There’s a big limitation on free users—you can only save your files to the Avid cloud servers, and you can only have three projects on the go at once.
Pro Tools First is overkill if you’re only looking to edit your podcast. But if you want to try your hand at recording and mixing music you won’t find better free sound editing software.
Download: Avid Pro Tools First (Free)
Finally, as far as free audio editors for Mac are concerned, don’t overlook the app you’ve already got installed on your machine… GarageBand.
Although it’s designed primarily as a tool for making music, the app works as basic audio editing software. You can record directly into the app, or import and edit existing recordings. It’s a decent option for podcasters, too, with voice-optimized features built in.
For more, see our guide detailing how to use GarageBand.
Download: GarageBand (Free)
On to the paid options, and at $60 Reaper is at the upper end of what we’d class as a cheap audio editor. But it comes with a very generous 60-day free trial, so you’ll know whether or not it’s for you long before you have to stump up any cash.
And the signs look good. Reaper is loved by its userbase. It’s a small download, and much lighter than the likes of Pro Tools First. It supports all common file formats at whatever quality you need, and you can use free VST plugins, making thousands of instruments and effects available.
What it lacks compared to similar commercial products is a sound library. But the internet is packed with thousands of freely downloadable samples you can use to build your own.
Download: Reaper ($60)
8. Adobe Audition
I know what you’re thinking—no Adobe products are cheap! It’s true that using Audition long term will set you back hundreds of dollars. But if you’re just working on a specific project and you want the best, you can pick it up for a month for a little over $30.
Adobe Audition is a popular choice for all types of audio editing and mixing. It’s great for music and podcasts, and even integrates with Adobe Premiere Pro so you can create soundtracks for your videos. There’s very little it can’t do and very few file types 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.
Download: Adobe Audition (Subscription from $20.99/month)
Fission is an audio editor that focuses on fast, lossless editing in a neat and stylish package. The app comes with a decent free trial which provides unhindered access to all functions, except for one thing: audio files are saved at lower quality.
Fission has a long list of features including batch editing, simple waveform editing, support for FLAC and WAV (among others), and the lossless editing of already-compressed MP3 and AAC files. You can batch convert from one file format to another, while a handy Podcasts panel makes it easy to package your broadcasts to share online.
Download: Fission ($35)
More Mac Software for Creative Types
It’s surprising just how good the free or cheap audio editors for Mac are. There are apps in this list that are suitable for anything, from quick 5-minute jobs to launching your recording empire. However, if you’re planning to use one of these apps to start a podcast, make sure you invest in the best podcasting equipment first.
Apple’s macOS has always been the platform of choice for creative types. If video is more your thing, check out the best free macOS video editors to get started.