Is there a free music editing software that can really get the job done?

I'm quite suspicious when somebody tells me about a free music editing software that performs similar as some of the established, well known sound editors.

I didn't count on free music editing software when I wanted to get the job done. But as time goes by some things change.

I recently tested some free programs and must admit that the standard of free music editing software has raised dramatically.

Note: As many people are actually confusing the three models of "free" software, I've tried to clear it up in this article:
The differences between Freeware, Shareware and Open Source

I've made up a list of what you can expect from a free music editing software today.


  • Multitrack recording with the appropriate hardware.

  • Overdubbing: Recording of new tracks while playing back already recorded tracks.

Import and Export of Audio files:

  • Import of the most popular sound formats like wav, mp3, aiff, ogg vorbis, etc...

  • Exports all popular file formats especially mp3


  • Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete of tracks or portions of tracks.

  • Unlimited Undo (and Redo) to go back any number of steps.

  • Fast editing of large files.

  • Editing and mixing of an unlimited number of tracks.

  • Zooming in to sample level to alter individual sample points.

  • Working with envelope tools for volume or other functions.


  • Changing pitch without altering the tempo, or vice-versa.

  • Noise reduction/removal.

  • Filtering by EQs, FFT (Fast Fourier Transformation), etc...

  • Adjusting volumes with Compression, Amplification and Normalize

  • Time shifting effects like Phaser, Flanger, Delay, etc...

Sound Quality

  • Recording and editing of 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit (floating point) samples.

  • Recording at sample rates up to 96 KHz.

  • Sample rate and format conversion using high-quality resampling and dithering.

  • Mixing tracks with different sample rates or formats (automatic conversion in real-time).


  • Support of proprietary plug-ins

  • Loading VST plug-ins

  • Writing own plugins with special programming languages (only for real aficionados)

Audio Interfaces

  • Multiple I/O Support

  • Some applications also support ASIO (low latency) drivers

The conclusion?

The seasoned professional will probably not change to a free music editing software or open source program, except it would be definitely better than anything else.

But that's not the point. You get a lot of editing power and a perfect sound quality at 32bit/96kHz for nothing. That means a lot more people than before can engage in sound tweaking, cutting pasting, putting effects on it, etc...

Never before a beginner had all this power in his hands to change sound at will for free. You can do almost anything with this free music editing software that you could only do with a "big" sound editor.

Not anything as smooth and some effects don't just sound as good as with specialized plug-ins but certainly fair enough for most applications.

Now you probably want to know which programs offer such astounding quality for free, nothing, rien, nada....

Well here is one, that really got my attention.

Audacity/Audacity (Mac/PC/Linux/BSD)
A fast free music editing software that is capable of multi-track recording for Linux, BSD, Mac OS, and Windows. Supports WAV, AIFF, Ogg, and MP3 formats. Features include envelope editing, mixing, built-in effects and plug-ins, all with unlimited undo.