Best Free Audio Recording Software for Windows

Contributor, Benzinga

Quick audio recordings do not have to be expensive or even time-consuming. You do not have to spend hours learning how to work a program or even buy expensive equipment. If you’re on a PC, you have many different options for recording your audio that can cost you nothing. All you have to do is pick the best free audio recording software for Windows for you. 

What to Look for in Audio Recording Software

Each audio recording software choice has its own strengths and weaknesses. Generally, with the free choices, the only cons are the limitations that are in place to make you want to buy the full program. Beyond that, there are factors that you want to consider when choosing the best audio recording software for Windows. You want to make sure you have one that fits the needs of your project. Look through these ideas and you will see some factors that will help you determine the best free option for you. 


You need to determine just how many channels you want to record at once. Some free digital audio workstations (DAWs) have a limit to how many tracks can be recorded at once. The only time you would need to record a large amount is if you are working in a band setting. Recording drums can take more than 8 channels depending on the method you want to use. 


Most audio recording and editing software will have their own built-in plugins to get you started. When you start finding third-party plugins from companies like Waves or iZotope you’ll then want to use those on your sessions. Some free DAWs will only allow you to use the plugins that come with the program. 

Ease of use

If you are a beginner looking to work with audio and learn the ins and outs, you want to make sure you have a program that is easy to learn. This could mean that it is laid out in a way that makes sense to you or it just has plenty of resources online for you to learn from. Each option in this list has a long list of resources on the host websites as well as tutorials and walkthroughs available on YouTube and forums. 

Downloads and updates

Be careful when you search for downloads of any sort of free tool on the internet. You want to make sure that any downloads you get for any of these programs are from the official website. Being on other sites for the download could lead to downloading viruses and corrupting your computer.

When it comes to updating your programs, you will most likely have to check for the updates and download and install them yourself. Automatic downloads are not always available for these programs. You can most likely find a newsletter or notification to sign up for alerts and update releases. 

The Best Free Audio Recording Software for Windows

Now that you have some guidance and insight on what to look for with your audio recording program, here are our choices for the best free audio recording software for Windows. 


When it comes to a fully functioning professional DAW with no price tag, Cakewalk is the first to come to mind. It is a fully functional audio recording and editing program. It offers amazing plugins within itself but also works with third-party plugins to get you the sounds you need. 


  • Works with third-party plugins
  • Has an app for iPhone and Android


  • Very basic virtual instruments

Best for: Musicians who want a cheap multifunction DAW 

Pricing: Free

Rating: 5 stars 

Pro Tools First

Looking for a taste of a truly professional program? Pro Tools First is the free limited version of Pro Tools Standard. There’s a lot to take advantage of with Pro Tools First that can get you hooked into wanting the full suite. You will be surprised at how well everything sounds in this free program.


  • Is a great way to learn Pro Tools
  • Has great stock plugins included
  • Does not require an iLok (Pro Tools Standard and Ultimate do)


  • Does not work with third-party plugins
  • Limited to only 16 tracks (only 4 can be recorded simultaneously)

Best for: Users wanting to learn digital audio with a professional feel

Pricing: Free

Rating: 4 stars 

Studio One Prime

If you like to work with drum samples and creating beats and patterns, Studio One Prime might be the perfect free choice for you. There is an intuitive and easy-to-use drum and MIDI layout window that will help you perfect your sounds.


  • Works well for MIDI programming
  • Includes a library of loops and samples
  • Has high-end built-in plugins


  • Does not work with third-party plugins
  • Workspace can feel cluttered

Best for: Working with MIDI and real instruments combined

Pricing: Free

Rating: 4 stars


As far as easy-to-use audio recording programs are concerned, this is the simplest one you will find. With Audacity, it is easy to record and export audio files, but the mixing itself is a little hard to work with. Audacity has many engineers and users all over the world, so any help you need or questions you may have can be met easily. 


  • Endless learning resources
  • Compatible with some third-party plugins


  • Difficult to connect interfaces
  • Does not work with any sort of MIDI  

Best for: Quick and easy recordings

Pricing: Free

Rating: 3 stars

Recording Projects that Don’t Sound Cheap

Knowing this information is just the beginning. Once you have picked the audio recording software for yourself and installed it, you can get started. Actually recording and editing the audio — whether it be music, spoken word or even sound effects — is an amazing process. To take a basic sound and turn it into a lively and attention-grabbing final product to impress your listeners — and for free — is a bonus.