18 Best Free Audio-Recording Software [2024]

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Edited by Ben Jacklin

If you’re looking for the best free audio-recording software, then you’re in the right place! In this article, you’ll learn the pros and cons of 18 free sound-recording software, from Movavi Screen Recorder to Audacity and beyond.

Quick summary

  1. For recording live podcasts: Riverside.fm

  2. For recording music: GarageBand

Our goal is to provide you with only verified information. To ensure this, Movavi Content Team does the following:

  • When selecting products to include in our reviews, we research both demand and popularity.

  • The team tests all the products mentioned in this article.

  • When testing, we compare the key characteristics of the products, which include selecting capture area, schedule recording, showing keystrokes and mouse, and other significant features.

  • We study user reviews from popular review platforms and make use of this information when writing our product reviews.

  • We collect feedback from our users and analyze their opinions of Movavi software as well as products from other companies.


Best audio-recording software for a PC and Mac

Best for: recording PC audio, video calls, and computer gameplay

OS: Windows and macOS

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5, 50 reviews

If you’re looking for the best audio-recording software for a PC, then you should consider Movavi Screen Recorder. This application is a professional audio recorder software that provides a host of features through a simple, easy-to-use interface. Once you’ve recorded your audio, you can use the app to make edits to your recording.

Key features:

  • Get crisp, clear sound in your videos by reducing ambient noise and other unwanted sounds your mic picks up
  • Record music, speech, and audio effects in high quality to enhance videos
  • Trim and clip recordings in a snap with a built-in editor


  • Record all sound in high quality – music, speech, audio effects – to enhance video tutorials and presentations

  • Easy to set up and grab from a screen or webcam in 4K


  • Use the full version of the program to fully express your creativity

Best for: multitrack audio recording

OS: Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5, 435 reviews

Audacity is a multitrack audio capture software, which means it allows you to record multiple, separate audio tracks. The app is free and open-source, which means you can study the source code and even use it in your own projects. It also allows you to create your own plugin effects, though you can always just use the tools included.

Key features:

  • Record external or system audio

  • Apply effects onto recorded audio

  • Read and use the source code


  • All features are available in the free download

  • Open-source software means the community can make improvements

  • Comes with multiple editing and audio effects tools

  • Can create your own plugins

  • Compatible with GNU/Linux


  • Interface might be confusing for beginners

  • No AI integration

  • No support for videos

Best for: recording and performing live music

OS: Windows, macOS

TechRadar rating: 4 out of 5

Ableton Live is one of the best audio-recording software for many professional musicians. It’s a powerful tool that lets you record, edit, and play audio, which is perfect for people interested in creating and performing music or other forms of live audio.

Key features:

  • Record multiple takes and choose your favorite

  • Wide range of tools to edit and add effects to your audio

  • Play audio recordings while you perform live


  • Comes with many tools, effects, and instruments to edit and add to your audio

  • Powerful playback tools, such as tempo following, help you perform live music

  • Edit multiple separate tracks of recorded audio at the same time

  • Connect and record audio from external devices


  • Free version only lasts 90 days, after which purchase required

  • Complex interface requires practice to use

Best for: recording live music

OS: macOS

PCMag rating: 4.5 out of 5

GarageBand is one of the most famous audio-recording programs available. With a smooth, professional interface, the app lets you easily record and edit audio. If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem, you’ll enjoy how the app syncs between versions on a Mac laptop or desktop, iPad, and iPhone.

Key features: 

  • iCloud sync lets you work on multiple devices on the go

  • Easily export audio to your Music app

  • Multiple tools to help record and edit audio


  • The drummer feature lets you add professional drums to your audio

  • Record and edit audio on the go with the iOS app

  • All key features are available for free

  • Plenty of plugins let you tailor how your audio sounds

  • Exporting and sharing your audio is simple and quick


  • Only available on a Mac

  • Compatible with fewer audio file types than some Windows audio-recording software

Best for: recording and editing audio quickly

OS: Windows, macOS, Chromebook

TechRadar rating: 4 out of 5

WavePad is one of the best audio-recording software that works on a range of devices, from Windows and Mac desktop computers to Chromebook laptops to mobile phones. The interface is basic and easy to use and allows you to edit your recorded audio in a number of ways, from simple splitting and trimming to more complex processes like amplification and equalization.

Key features:

  • Range of audio-editing tools

  • Edit multiple audio files simultaneously

  • Add effects to your audio

  • Remove unwanted sounds


  • Simple and easy to use

  • Supports many types of audio files

  • Suite of tools allows you to perform complex edits on your audio

  • Large library of sound effects you can use

  • Mark points or regions of your audio to quickly find them when working on large projects


  • Fewer tools than other Windows audio-recording software

  • Commercial use requires a purchase

Best for: professional audio recording

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

G2 rating: 4.1 out of 5, 11 reviews

Ardour is a powerful open-source audio capture software available on a number of operating systems. This app is aimed at industry professionals, from producers recording live music to composers to podcasters and beyond. While it’s not a tool for beginners, if you know what you’re doing, you’ll enjoy having a range of professional tools at your fingertips.

Key features:

  • Video import and audio extraction tool

  • Source code is available to view and use

  • Ability to record non-destructively or destructively

  • Wide range of audio-editing tools, effects, and plugins


  • One of the best audio-recording software for industry professionals

  • Full toolset for complex audio editing

  • Good video integration

  • Limitless tracks for large projects

  • Fully free and open-source


  • Not suitable for beginners

  • Interface might require a steeper learning curve than other audio capture programs

Best for: analyzing recorded audio

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

TechRadar rating: 4.5 out of 5

Ocenaudio is an easy-to-use audio-editing tool available on all major platforms. It prioritizes simplicity and speed, which means it might have fewer editing tools than other applications but should be less likely to run slower or crash.

Key features:

  • Based on the Ocen Framework library

  • Tasks that take time are run in the background, keeping the app responsive while editing audio

  • Select, listen to, and edit multiple portions of an audio track at the same time

  • View recorded audio files as spectrograms


  • Previous versions are available to download, which is good if you are looking for free audio-recording software for Windows 10

  • Real-time spectrogram view enables complex audio analysis and editing

  • Hear your effects in real-time

  • Edit audio on almost any operating system

  • Application is tailored to run fast, even when handling large audio files projects


  • Previous versions will not receive future updates

  • Fewer tools and effects than other more complex audio-recording programs

Best for: professional podcast creation

OS: Windows

TechRadar rating: 4 out of 5

If you’re a budding podcaster that uses Windows 11, then AudioDirector might be the best audio-recording software for you. It’s been built specifically to optimize voice recordings and comes with a powerful suite of tools to achieve just that.

Key features:

  • Enhance voice recordings with artificial intelligence

  • Remove unwanted sounds from recorded audio

  • Quickly apply edits made on one audio file to others

  • Add music and sound effects to your recorded audio


  • App filled with tools for perfecting recorded speech

  • Several powerful options for removing unwanted noises and sounds

  • Ability to remove echoes and reverb from your audio recordings


  • Many features require either a one-time purchase or paid subscription

  • You need a laptop or desktop PC with Windows installed in order to use this app

Best for: audio editors familiar with applications in Adobe suite

OS: Windows, macOS

G2 rating: 4.4 out of 5, 393 reviews

Adobe® Audition® is a multitrack audio-recording and editing application that comes with Adobe® Creative Cloud® suite of apps. While the powerful set of tools in the app let you create, record, and edit audio, Adobe® Audition® really shines when used with other apps in the Creative Cloud® suite, like Premiere® Pro.

Key features:

  • Multiple ways to view audio tracks

  • Good at cleaning and restoring recorded audio

  • Integrated with other Adobe applications like Premiere® Pro


  • Combine with other Adobe apps to work on large projects involving other media types

  • Restore damaged or poor audio recordings

  • Variety of tools to make your recorded audio sound professional

  • Adobe provides educational content to help you use the app when creating a podcast or other audio project


  • Free trial only lasts seven days, after which a paid Creative Cloud® subscription is required to use the application

Best for: professional audio recording on the go

OS: Windows

G2 rating: 4.4 out of 5, 29 reviews

If you’re someone who loves recording audio but hates being stuck in a studio, then GoldWave might be the best audio-recording software. This application turns your laptop into a professional audio-recording studio.

Key features:

  • Customize keyboard shortcuts

  • Process, convert, and edit large numbers of audio files in one go

  • Visualize audio in different ways while analyzing and editing

  • Record audio from different sources, including unusual ones like cassette decks or turntables

  • Take out vocals from a song


  • Supports multiple languages

  • Compatible with Windows 11 and Windows 10

  • Good collection of tools for editing audio

  • More than 40 effects available


  • Current version is only available on PCs running Windows, though the company also offers a version called GoldWave Infinity that also works on Linux, Mac, Android, and iOS

  • Commercial use requires the purchase of a license

Best for: recording and broadcasting computer audio

OS: macOS

If you use an Apple laptop or desktop and are looking for the best audio-recording software, you might want to consider Audio Hijack. The app is designed to capture computer audio, be it from apps, web browsers, or calls.

Key features:

  • Capture computer audio from applications, calls, web streams, and other sources

  • Increase the volume of audio

  • Quickly tweak recorded audio and export it to a different app for further processing

  • Broadcast your audio live to internet radio services worldwide

  • Route audio to servers for livestreams


  • Legacy versions are available for those using older operating systems

  • Volume increase allows you to bypass weak computer audio limits

  • Powerful suite of tools to help with live broadcasts of recorded audio


  • When using the free version of Audio Hijack, you can only record audio for 10 minutes. Any audio captured beyond this will have an unremovable noise added to it.

  • Older legacy versions are not updated or supported.

Best for: simple audio recording and editing

OS: Windows

PCWorld rating: 4 out of 5

Wavosaur might be the right audio capture software for people who really are just looking for the basics. Made by a tiny team, the app is completely free. While it only offers a few basic features, it aims to do the basics well.

Key features:

  • Basic audio-editing and processing tools

  • Install and use VST plugin effects

  • Create and export audio loops


  • Simple freeware that takes up little space and runs fast compared to other more complex programs

  • Supports different VST plugins

  • Easy and free to download and start using

  • Customizable appearance


  • Only available on Windows, though developers note reports of it working with the Wine emulator for Linux Ubuntu

  • Extremely basic with a limited suite of tools compared to most other audio-recording programs

Best for: corporate audio recording

OS: Windows, macOS, iOS

Top Ten Reviews rating: 3.5 out of 5

RecordPad is a basic PC audio-recording software. The app has a range of tools that help streamline professional audio recording, but it lacks any editing capabilities.

Key features:

  • Record and export audio

  • Voice activation allows you to only record when someone is speaking

  • Keyboard shortcuts that still work while you use other programs

  • Can integrate with other programs


  • Simple and easy to use

  • You can use programmed keyboard shortcuts to execute commands

  • Totally free with simple installation and setup


  • No editing capabilities

  • Very basic

Best for: professionals interested in recording interviews and podcasts

OS: any that supports a modern Internet browser

G2 rating: 4.8 out of 5, 396 reviews

If you want to start a podcast but don’t have a studio and would prefer not to download bulky software, then Riverside.fm might just be the audio-recording solution for you. With this tool, you’ll be able to host, record, and share professional video and audio podcasts and interviews, all in your browser or on the mobile app.

Key features:

  • Records audio and video locally for each participant

  • Uploads audio and video while recording

  • Video and audio tracks are kept separate

  • Transcribe audio with artificial intelligence, with support for dozens of languages

  • Simple audio- and video-editing tools


  • Used by major corporations and top news outlets such as the New York Times and NPR

  • Local recording ensures high-quality video and audio output even when the internet connection is poor

  • Simultaneous upload of audio and video acts as an autosave and lets you download your recording soon after finishing

  • Editing and sharing tools allow you to quickly create and share clips to social media channels


  • The free version has limited features, including a 2-hour cap on audio and video

  • Requires internet connection to use

  • Editing tools limited compared to other professional audio-recording programs

Best for: musicians working on Windows 11 or earlier

OS: Windows

Zynewave Podium is a digital audio workstation only available on Windows computers. With this app, you’ll be able to record audio, including from USB instruments, and edit it.

Key features:

  • Plug instruments into your laptop or PC via USB and record

  • A range of freeware plugins that can enhance your recording and editing capabilities

  • The ability to split the app into multiple windows


  • Customizable interface

  • Can record MIDI via USB at the same time as other audio

  • Visualization tools let you see how your audio tracks are connected


  • Only available on Windows

  • The free version is a demo with several limitations

Best for: recording voice notes on Windows

OS: Windows

If you want to record voice notes, check out Lucky Recorder. With a simple, easy-to-use user interface, even technophobes will be able to record and share simple audio recordings in no time.

Key features:

  • Record and share audio recordings

  • Playback audio recordings


  • Simple user interface makes the app easy to use

  • Records audio in high quality


  • No editing capabilities 

  • Full app costs money

  • Lacks many of the features present in other more complex audio-recording programs

Best for: experienced professional audio editors

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

PCMag rating: 4 out of 5

Reaper is a powerful, compact audio-recording software that puts the power in your hands. It comes with all the audio-editing tools you’d expect from professional software, but is efficient enough to be installed on and run from a portable USB drive or a network drive. You can even expand and improve the app if you have the technological ability to do so.

Key features:

  • Supports a wide variety of external and digital devices and plugins

  • Can be modified and improved by those with know-how

  • Powerful suite of professional audio-editing tools


  • Old versions are available for those using desktops or laptops with older operating systems

  • Compact coding lets the app be installed on and run from portable or network drives

  • The ability to modify and extend the app lets knowledgeable users tailor it to their specific needs and preferences 

  • Can use USB hardware to record audio

  • Can use a wide range of plugins


  • The free version is a 60-day trial, after which you must purchase a license to continue using

  • Could be overly complex for amateurs

Best for: professional audio recording and mastering

OS: Windows, macOS

GetApp rating: 4.7 out of 5, 26 reviews

Sound Forge Audio Studio is an audio recording, editing, and mastering software used by top professionals in the podcast and voice-over industry. The app is designed to be simple and easy to use, prioritizing a smooth experience while recording.

Key features:

  • Separate recording control panel

  • Multiple channels

  • Create specific, complex actions that can then be executed with one click

  • Edit in and for surround sound


  • Control panel can be detached from the app and placed over another application, allowing you to read a score or script while monitoring your recording

  • Professional plugin effects are available for you to upgrade your audio recording and editing

  • Monitor the waveform of recorded audio in real-time as it’s being recorded

  • Export tools help you ensure your audio is compatible with popular audiobook marketplaces

  • Record audio in top quality


  • The free version is a trial, with the full version requiring purchase

What is audio-recording software?

Put simply, audio-recording software is an application that allows users to record sound. That might be as simple as pressing a button to record audio and pressing the stop button when you’re done. However, most audio-recording applications come with more features than that!

Usually, audio-recording software will also let you edit the audio that you’ve recorded. Simple editing tools include cutting, trimming, and splitting audio recordings. More advanced tools let you play with a wide range of powerful plugin effects that can make your recorded audio sound unrecognizable.

Audio-recording applications are often tailored toward specific uses. Some might be aimed at recording podcasts or voice-overs, with powerful tools for making recorded speech sound clean and professional. Others are geared towards musicians, and might let users create audio using digital instruments or hardware connected via USB. Some apps, like Movavi Screen Recorder, focus on capturing computer audio, which is perfect for people trying to record online calls or meetings.

Of course, no audio recording software would be complete without the ability to share the sounds you’ve recorded. Most will let you export to a wide variety of audio types, and some will help you ensure your audio is tailored to the place you want to share it.

What is audio-recording software used for?

Audio-recording software is used for many different things. Professional musicians use it to record and polish their songs. Top news outlets use it to record and share their podcasts. You can even use some audio-recording apps to create and edit videos. On the other hand, audio-recording software can be used to record random thoughts, notes to self, and ideas that pop into your head. There’s no right or wrong way to use audio-recording software!

What are the benefits of using audio-recording software?

Using audio-recording software brings plenty of benefits. If you’ve ever been struck by a brilliant idea, heard an amazing melody, or thought of a hilarious joke, and you later forgot it, then you can already guess what those benefits might be! With audio-recording software, you can record any sound, including computer audio, and listen to it later. While you’re recording, many audio capture applications allow you to monitor the audio in real-time. After you’ve recorded audio, you can use most audio-recording apps to edit it until it sounds perfect. Finally, audio-recording software allows you to export your polished audio, so the world can hear what you’ve created.

What are the different audio formats supported by audio-recording software?

Different audio-recording apps support different audio formats. Most audio-recording software will support the most popular file formats, MP3 and WAV. If your audio-recording software also supports video, then you should also be able to use MP4. Other popular audio formats that are usually supported by audio-recording apps include M4A, FLAC, and AAC. Before you download software, you should check which audio file formats it supports.

How do I record high-quality audio?

If you’re recording audio, you want to ensure it’s high-quality. Put very simply, more information means higher quality. In the same way that a screen with more pixels can display more information, or detail, to produce a high-quality image, an audio file with more auditory information will sound better than a lower-quality one. Similarly, just as an image is considered high-quality if it lacks any distracting blemishes, high-quality audio should sound clean, without unwanted noise. Here are some tips for ensuring you always record high-quality audio:

  • Select audio-recording software built for professionals

  • Avoid audio-recording apps that compress audio, as this leads to a lower-quality sound

  • A cheap, old, or broken microphone can also lead to low-quality recorded audio, so make sure you’re using good hardware

  • Ensure you are recording in the right environment, without any unwanted noises that might lower the quality of your recording

How do I choose the best audio-recording software?

There’s no one perfect audio-recording software. Before you choose an application, think about what you’re going to use it for. Try to choose one that can help you achieve that. For example, don’t download an app aimed at musicians if you want to record podcasts online.

That being said, there are several general things you can keep in mind when selecting the best audio-recording software.

  • First, think about how easy to use the app is. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want one that has a simple user interface.

  • Similarly, beginners should probably opt for an app with fewer features, as more complex ones can take a long time to learn.

  • If you’re new, you also might want to avoid more expensive software. All the ones featured in this guide are free to a point, but many often require a purchase after a period of time or to unlock certain features. There’s little point spending all your money on a professional app if you’re a beginner who really only needs a basic audio recorder!


So, what is the best audio recorder? Hopefully, you can see that there’s no shortage of best free audio-recording software from which you can choose. Just remember not to get overwhelmed by choice and to keep the advice listed above in mind as you make your decision.

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Disclaimer: Please be aware that Movavi Screen Recorder does not allow capture of copy-protected video and audio streams.

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