Audio editing software is also referred to as a DAW, which stands for a Digital Audio Workstation. A DAW holds all of the tools you will need to edit and manipulate recorded audio with a multitude of tools that are either included with the DAW or can be purchased separately.
To get started you need to gather the equipment necessary, which includes an audio editing software. Get started with our list of the best.
What to Look for in an Audio Editing Software
There are many different key features to consider in a DAW. If you are new to audio editing, you will want to stick with some of the easier platforms or even the free versions of popular programs.
Listed here are some of the best features to consider when you are looking for an audio editing software.
Prices for audio editing software can range anywhere from under $100 to over $500 depending on the program. More popular DAWs such as Pro Tools or Logic Pro are going to be a higher price than that of a smaller company such as Reaper.
To make any financial predicaments easier, some companies offer subscription packages that are close to the same price as a Netflix or Hulu subscription.
Certain audio editing software is only compatible with one type of operating system. Logic Pro, for instance, is only available on Mac and not on PC. Beyond the basic capabilities, you also want to make sure that your computer has the processing power required to run an audio editing software.
The minimum suggested RAM for your computer is usually 8 GB, and most software requires 64-bit capabilities.
What you plan to use your DAW for will determine which you should choose. FL Studio is one of the best for creating electronic music, while Pro Tools is the best choice for general audio editing and recording.
On the website for each company, you’ll find the features and strong points for each DAW and that will help you determine what that audio editing software is best suited for.
If you are a beginner, opening up any audio editing software can feel daunting. That is why research and learning are so important when you are purchasing your DAW.
There are numerous tutorials and courses for these programs available on YouTube, Coursera, Udemy and many more places. Taking advantage of these learning tools will help you understand your program and succeed in your use of the software.
The Best Audio Editing Software
In this list you will find what are considered the best audio editing programs for professionals and beginners alike.
1. Best for General Audio Editing and Manipulation: Avid Pro Tools
Pro Tools has been considered the most professional and commonly used audio editing softwares on the market. Engineers and producers in all genres such as Dr. Dre and Chris Lord-Alge use Pro Tools for their work with audio.
- Pro Tools First: Free
- Pro Tools Standard
- Perpetual License: $599
- Subscription: $29.99 to $34.99 per month
- Pro Tools Ultimate
- Subscription: $79.99 to $89.99 per month
You can find deals on Avid’s website or through a reseller if you are currently a student or teacher for discounted subscriptions or perpetual licenses of Pro Tools.
2. Best for Mac Users: Apple Logic Pro
Logic Pro is a DAW that is only available on Mac devices. It has been used to create award winning songs for artists such as Billie Eilish and Demi Lovato. Not only do you get a professional program, but Apple also includes thousands of royalty free loops and sounds in their library.
Bundles: Apple offers an education bundle that includes Logic Pro, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Compressor and MainStage. If you were to purchase each of these programs separately, you would be spending over $500, but in the Bundle for Education, you only pay $199.99.
3. Best for Songwriting: Steinberg Cubase
Cubase is a perfect DAW for creating music that is based around MIDI and virtual instruments. There are many functions that improve the use of virtual instruments in Cubase as well as making it easy to write a song with its chord assistant.
Pricing: $99 to $552
While Cubase does not offer a subscription method, they do have discounts for upgrading from previous versions. Currently, if you are upgrading from a recent version of Cubase to Cubase 11, you will be spending less than one third of the price of a brand new license.
4. Best for Electronic Music: Image-Line FL Studio
FL Studio is one of the most popular DAWs due to its creative design and functionality with electronic music. While it can be used for any style of mixing, the majority of users focus on electronic and rap music.
Pricing: $99 to $499
There are 4 choices when you are purchasing your version of FL Studio and each has a certain set of features that are not included in the lower versions. One of the biggest benefits to using FL Studio is that updates are free for life after your initial purchase.
5. Best Price: Cockos Reaper
Reaper is the lowest price you can find to purchase a perpetual license for any audio editing software out there. It has all of the professional requirements for most studios and there are a multitude of learning avenues available on YouTube.
It’s the audio editing software of choice for engineers such as Glenn Fricker and Leo Moracchioli (both of whom have successful channels on YouTube.)
- Discounted license: $60
- Commercial license: $225
Reaper seems to work on the honor system for engineers. The Discounted License and the Commercial License seem to have no differences in what is included. There are options for creating classroom licenses as well as upgrading from Discounted to Commercial licenses.
6. Best for Studio and Live Performance: Ableton Live
Ableton Live is built with cues and options that are perfect for playing live tracks and working in the studio. It does not have the standard layout that you will find across most of the other choices on the list, but it brings its own strengths to the table.
Other DAWs such as Pro Tools even have created unique collaborative abilities between Pro Tools and Ableton Live users.
- Intro: $99
- Standard: $449
- Suite: $749
Ableton understands that it can be difficult to put all of the money up front on a big purchase like a DAW. Thankfully, it has developed 6-month payment plans for each version that does not include any sort of interest.
Secure Your Audio Editing Software Now
Working with audio editing software can feel daunting but as you learn you become more comfortable with the program. Depending on what you plan to use your software for, you will need to adapt how you use the software.
Editing audio for a video or commercial can be an extremely different process than working with music of any genre. Being able to adapt and use the amazing tools that come with your DAW is what makes a great audio engineer.