Best Audio Editing Software for Mac

Using the right audio editing software can help improve the quality of your audio tracks. The only problem is finding the best choice.

Choosing the Right Audio Editing Software

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is a computer program that provides a visual interface for editing audio files. As with video editors, most DAWs include a timeline that separates the project into individual tracks. You can cut, edit, and paste audio files, samples, or effects.

When comparing audio editing software, look for programs that fit your workflow and production goals. If you are editing audio for a video project, you may have different needs compared to a music producer.

For example, when editing videos you may want to easily import and export audio tracks to a dedicated DAW. When producing music, you may need access to pitch correction tools and virtual studio technology (VST) plugins, such as virtual instruments.

The main features to pay attention to include:

  • Variety of editing tools
  • Built-in effects
  • Access to plugins
  • Interface and timeline

Most editing software includes basic tools, such as the ability to trim and rearrange audio clips. The more advanced programs also include tools for eliminating background noise, adjusting the timing, or adding audio effects.

The audio effects typically include a mixture of virtual instruments, synthesizers, ambient sounds, and sounds from the environment, such as people laughing or cars driving by.

To increase the function of a program, you can often add third-party plugins. The best audio editing programs allow you to choose from large selections of free and premium plugins. This may include additional effects, instruments, tools, or filters.

Along with plugins, some DAWs integrate with other programs from the same developer. For example, Adobe products integrate easily with Adobe Audition while Apple Logic Pro X integrates with Final Cut Pro X.

Beginners should pay attention to the interface. Professional audio editing software often has crowded workflows and timelines that can overwhelm novices.

If you are just getting started with audio editing, consider using one of the more user-friendly DAWs. Some DAWs are also customizable, allowing you to rearrange and resize windows to accommodate your work style.

Budget is also an important consideration, as the best audio editing software for Mac tends to cost more. Some of the top choices are available with subscription plans. You pay a monthly fee with a one-year contract.

Luckily, most of the recommended software comes with free trials. If possible, try to test more than one program before paying for a subscription or license.

Reaper

Reaper is a lightweight digital audio workstation (DAW). It can even be run from a portable USB drive, making it a stable choice for those using older Mac computers or laptops.

Reaper also includes the basic audio editing tools needed for mixing music or cleaning up dialogue. It has a standard mixer workflow, with a timeline view of each track, equalizers, and quick access to editing tools and filters.

As with other recommendations, Reaper uses 64-bit processing to support almost any sample rate and bit depth. It also includes the most potential, as it works with thousands of virtual instruments, effects, and plugins, including VST, VST3, and AU plugins.

Reaper stands out as the most cost-effective audio editing software. You can test it for free for up to 60 days before deciding if you want to purchase a license.

If you use it for personal use or make less than $20,000 per year from your audio projects, you can get the discounted license for $60. The standard commercial license is just $225.

Pros

Free to try for 60 days
One of the most affordable options
Completely customizable interface
Access to thousands of plugins and effects

Cons

Beginners may struggle with the crowded interface
Prone to occasional bugs and crashes

Avid Pro Tools

Avid Pro Tools is widely used by professional audio engineers and sound editors. The full version is considered the industry standard for audio editing.

Avid Pro Tools includes everything needed for mixing music or audio for podcasts or film productions. It offers MIDI support and access to over 100 sound processors and virtual instruments.

Pro Tools is one of the few options to support Dolby Atmos 7.1.2, advanced automation features, and native object panning. You can also increase the functionality of the program with your choice of over 1,000 plugins, including many VST and AU plugins.

The major limitation of Avid Pro Tools is the learning curve. The vast range of tools and features can be confusing for novices. However, more experienced editors will appreciate the professional-level tools.

Avid Pro Tools includes advanced editing features, including the ability to change or fix the tempo, pitch, or timing. You can even edit videos directly in the timeline, which is not something found in most DAWs.

Another potential issue is the price of $29.99 per month for a one-year subscription.

Pros

Access to a wide range of plugins
Includes advanced editing tools
Allows you to edit HD video

Cons

One of the more expensive options
The interface may be too complex for novices

Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition is aimed at content creators and video producers. It has limited tools for music producers. Unlike other options, it lacks support for MIDI sequencers. However, it provides several useful features for cleaning up the dialogue for podcasts or video productions and has a straightforward audio mixer interface. With one mouse click, you can reduce background noise.

Adobe Audition also integrates easily with other Adobe Creative products, which is one of the reasons it remains popular for editing audio for video productions. You can easily import and export projects to and from Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and other Adobe apps.

The main drawback to Adobe Audition is the price. It costs $20.99 per month for a one-year subscription. However, you can purchase the Adobe Creative bundle for $52.99 per month and receive access to the entire suite of Adobe products.

The feature set is limited but offers the essential audio editing tools, including the ability to cut and paste from multiple tracks and apply audio effects. It also works with a variety of third-party plugins, including VST 3 and AU (Audio Unit) plugins.

Pros

Integrates seamlessly with Adobe products
Makes it easy to clean up audio tracks
Includes 50 audio effects
Supports up to 128 audio tracks in a project

Cons

Expensive subscription price
Offers limited music editing features

Apple Logic Pro X

Apple Logic Pro X is one of the most popular DAWs on Mac, as it is an Apple product. Apple Logic Pro X is also a good fit for those who work with Final Cut Pro X, as the two programs integrate flawlessly. You can easily transfer audio projects to and from the programs.

Logic Pro X provides a comprehensive selection of audio editing tools, including the ability to control the program from an iPhone or iPad. Mac users can use Logic Pro X for almost any type of project, from editing audio for video productions or podcasts to mixing music. It includes 22 built-in instruments, 58 effects, and offers close to 72GB of audio samples and content.

Music editing features include notation and pitch correction, which are lacking in some of the other options. The interface is the standard mixer view with a clear timeline and support for unlimited audio tracks. As with most DAWs, it also supports hundreds of third-party plugins, such as VST, VST3, and AU plugins.

Pros

The interface is user-friendly
Comes with a wide range of built-in effects and samples
Offers the largest selections of audio editing tools

Cons

The variety of tools may overwhelm beginners
Costs a little more compared to some DAWs

Ableton

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Sjoerd
Working in the creative industry on projects such as marketing campaigns, videos, design, and development I have come across a lot of tactics and tools. With Codename Creative I hope to share my insights and develop further in being a creative professional.