What is The Best Free Editing Software?
So I’ve received requests to cover more budget alternatives for those starting out, whether that be budget or buying second-hand equipment or even like the subject of today budget (in this case free) editing software. Mild spoilers but I’ve tried Audacity before and was not a fan so wanted to see what other options where out there.
I discovered a wide variety of blogs already out there who have covered this subject but decided I did not necessarily agree with their findings. A lot of these writers have a background in making music, so I felt it was still warranted to cover from a podcast editors’ perspective. A lot of the instrument tools, particularly in Garagband and Audio Tool I wont be discussing here as they aren’t relevant to my workflow but will perhaps be more relevant to you if you do make your own music.
Lots of plug ins
Lots of support
Works on everything
Good background noise tool
Kind of said it in the intro but I don’t like Audacity, in my experience it is slow and its export times are a massive bottleneck. To its credit it works on basically anything, probably even a typewriter, has lots of support for third party plug-ins and has a really good native background noise tool. There’s also an overwhelming amount of hobbyist developer support out there for it so that combined with the fact it can work on basically anything means it can be clutch in a pinch.
Clean and simple design
Can easily change shortcuts and turn features on and off in settings menu
Can edit non-destructively
No clear way to adjust strength of Fade in/Fade out and Normalise tool
I like the layout and the customisation options as well as the simple design and menu layouts. The fact there is no way that I could tell to adjust the normalisation tool is kind of a deal breaker for me, bit of a shame as I otherwise really liked the app. Would consider using if I was boring a computer that didn’t have another editing software pre-installed and I knew its functionality wouldn’t interfere with my workflow.
Ashampoo music studio 2019 https://www.ashampoo.com/uk/gbp/media/1530
Commonly used tools are easy to find
Must create an Ashampoo account
Only works on windows
Features more suited to music production
No multitrack support
Safe to say I don’t recommend this one, wouldn’t be too bad if it had support for multiple tracks but is otherwise still outclassed by all the others on this list. The lack of support for multiple tracks makes this application completely unsuitable for my workflow.
Audio tool https://www.audiotool.com/
Doesn’t need to be downloaded
Good if you hot-desk a lot
Have to create an account to use
Really ugly and confusing design
Heavily catered to music, not really any good for podcast editing due to limited features
Only works through Chrome browser
Would only recommend if your podcast quite heavily relies on music and you have some sort of technical knowledge about music production, maybe also if you find you don’t like the layout of several of the other applications I mentioned. As for me I find the layout too confusing and a lot of the features I wont use so it’s a no from me.
Acoustica 6 https://acondigital.com/downloads/
Ability to add Plugins
Looks like an advanced version of audacity
Fantastic fade tool with multiple modes
Don’t like menu layout
Cannot guarantee it will receive any updates or bug fixes in the future
As this app has been replaced by version 7 which is a paid version I cannot guarantee how long it will continue to work. Otherwise though I think this is a pretty safe bet, would say I do prefer it to Audition and it’s definitely trading blows with Ocenaudio depending on what the workflow would consist off. The ability to add plug in’s makes it technically superior but the menu layout does irritate me a tad.
Wave pad https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/wavepad-audio-editor-free/9p0kqx1z0wm2?activetab=pivot:overviewtab
Lots of features
Navigate speech feature
Multi window controls bit confusing at first but nice when only working on one screen
Horrible fade in controls
Not bad I would definitely use this app if I had to edit down long interviews because of its navigate speech function; even if the text isn’t always the most accurate. Otherwise pretty midrange.
Studio One Prime https://www.presonus.com/products/Studio-One/compare-versions
Lots of features
Ability to use plugins
Could look a bit daunting to users at first
Some things not where you expect them e.g. export menu being in song rather than file
Certainly not the most user friendly on this list but definitely something you could easily adjust too for someone more experienced with Pro Tools or Reaper. Lots of great features but for sure not my preferred from this list.
Lots of online guides and resources
Really simple to use
Pre-installed on Macs
Lack of features
Only works on mac
Very friendly for first time editors thanks to it’s simple layout and the wide array of online guides and tutorials. The fact it’s only available on Mac means it will be unsuitable for a lot of people though. Use if you want something simple and don’t plan on adding on loads of effects.
Power sound editor https://free-sound-editor.com/
Great for ripping clips from youtubes or CD’S
Computer really did not like it and seemed convinced it was trying to install malware
Kept trying to force me to install updates despite thinking I had uninstalled the app
Probably safer to avoid
Music Maker https://www.magix.com/gb/music/music-maker/
Installation is rather slow due to large file size
Menus aren’t the cleanest
All in all, pretty good if you are willing to wait about 30 minutes for it to install or have decent internet (1GBPS and up). Might be worth trying if you only use one computer or if you also use music as part of your workflow. Definitely the most functional of the ones I’ve tried, could be convinced to pick it over Acoustica or Ocenaudio.