All new Macs come with a free copy of the powerful music production app GarageBand — but if you’re looking for something different, there are plenty of great alternatives.
Whether you want to create music, record an audio file, or just put together a ringtone, you’ll need a high-quality Mac audio editor. There are some amazing audio editing apps for Mac that won’t make you empty your wallet. In fact, many of them will not cost you anything at all.
So, from quick and simple apps to professional level tools, here is a collection of the best affordable and free audio editing apps for Mac.
Audacity is the first audio editor that most users find through a Google search. It is an easy recommendation. It is free and open source, has a fairly straightforward interface, and supports a large number of file types, including MP3 and WAV files.
You can register directly in the application (although it is not used for tools), or edit existing files. There are a huge number of effects that you can use, a spectrogram to analyze the frequencies and it also supports high quality 32-bit audio.
Audacity is a great starting point for anyone who needs a simple audio editor, but has enough power to keep up with the growth you reach as you become more experienced. The only downside is that it doesn’t support full non-destructive editing, so make sure you have a backup copy of the original audio before you start.
Download: Audacity (Free)
WavePad is another very efficient audio editor for Mac that is free as long as you use 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 edit thousands of audio files at once. WavePad supports audio bookmarking, the usual set of effects and some text-to-speech and voice manipulation tools to boot.
You should get used to the multi-window interface a bit, but as a free WAV or MP3 editor for Mac, it’s worth a try.
Download: WavePad (Free for non-commercial use)
A completely free audio recorder and editor with tons of features, OcenAudio is another option for the mid-budget audio engineer. The application supports a large number of file types including MP3, FLAC, and WMA files. It also supports various video formats including MKV.
OcenAudio is often seen as a major alternative to Audacity. It has a similar feature set, but offers a more refined interface that makes it incredibly easy to use. There’s also support for VST hardware, a suite of effects, a fully featured spectrogram, and the ability to edit very large files without taking up your Mac’s memory.
Download: OcenAudio (Free)
4. PreSonus Studio One Prime
For the best free audio mixing app, look no further than Studio One Prime. It’s a free version of a professional suite that would normally cost you around $399.
You can create or mix music with built-in effects, instruments, and loops. It is also good for recording and editing podcasts and voiceovers. It takes a while to find your way around the interface – not to mention mastering its use. But if you’re willing to invest the time, Studio One Prime has everything you 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 tool, which has been stripped of some features for the sake of new users.
This application offers rich features but a tedious proposition, with a complex interface and steep learning curve. The app also needs a more powerful PC as compared to the other apps we have listed here. There is a big limitation for free users – you can only save your files on Avid cloud servers, and it can only work on three projects at the same time.
Pro Tools First is overkill if you’re just looking to edit your podcast. But if you want to experiment with recording and mixing music, you won’t find a better audio editing app for free.
Download: Avid Pro Tools First (Free)
Finally, in terms of free audio editing apps for Mac, you shouldn’t lose sight of the one that is already installed on your device… GarageBand.
Although it is primarily designed as a music creation tool, the app works as a perfect audio editing basic app. You can record directly in the app, or import and edit existing recordings. It’s a decent option for creating podcasts, too, with built-in audio-enhanced features.
To learn more, check out our guide detailing how to use GarageBand.
Download: GarageBand (Free)
To the paid options now, and at $60, the Reaper is on the higher end of what we’ve been using as a cheap audio editor. But it does come with a generous 60-day free trial, so you’ll know if it’s worth using it for so long before you have to pay any more money for audio editing.
And the signs look good. Reaper is loved by the user base. It is a small and lighter application than the likes of Pro Tools First. It supports all popular file formats in any quality you need, and you can use the free VST components, making thousands of tools and effects available.
What it lacks compared to similar commercial products is the audio library. But the Internet is filled with thousands of freely downloadable samples that you can use to create your own.
Download: Reaper ($60)
8. Adobe Audition
I know what you’re thinking – there are no cheap Adobe products! It’s true that using a long-term solution will set you back hundreds of dollars. But if you’re only working on a specific project and want the best, you can get a month’s license for just over $30.
Adobe Audition is a popular choice for all types of audio editing and mixing. It’s great for music and podcasts, and it even integrates with Adobe Premiere Pro so you can create audio clips for your videos. There is very little that can’t be done and very few file types are not supported by this app.
Adobe has produced a whole host of tutorials to make it easy to use and get up and running right away – in terms of functionality, there is nothing better than this.
Download: Adobe Audition (subscription from $20.99/month)
Fission is an audio editor focused on quick editing in a sleek, modern package. The app comes with a decent free trial that provides unhindered access to all functions, except for one thing: the audio files are saved in lower quality.
Fission has a long list of features including batch editing, simple waveform editing, support for FLAC and WAV (among others), and lossless editing for already compressed MP3 and AAC files. You can batch convert from one file format to another, as the handy Podcasts panel makes it easy to create your own podcasts to share online.
Download: Vision ($35)
More Mac Apps for Creative Types
It’s surprising how good free or cheap audio editing apps for Mac are. There are apps on this list suitable for anything, from quick 5-minute jobs to launching your own legendary recording. However, if you plan to use one of these apps to start your podcast, make sure you invest in the best streaming equipment first.
Apple’s macOS has always been the platform of choice for creative types. If video is your thing, check out the best free video editing apps for macOS to get started.