Try Movavi Screen Recorder to capture music!

  • Capture system sounds and microphone
  • Trim recorded audio
  • Save recordings in popular formats

If you’re looking for the best free music recording software to get started making voiceovers, creating your own songs, or recording your vocals, there are a lot of options on the market.

Best music recording software for your PC and Mac

Movavi Screen Recorder

Best for: Easy voiceover recording

OS: Windows, Mac

Price: Free trial, $57.95 for a lifetime version

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5, 50 reviews

Movavi Screen Recorder is a great piece of software for those who want to record anything to go along with visuals. It is used primarily for screenshot recording, but you can easily use this to your advantage to make some professional audio recordings.

It’s so simple and user-friendly that you can pick it up quickly, something that can’t be said for every option on the list, as a lot of the mainstream music recording software is tricky to learn. It isn’t cut out to record full bands from multiple microphones, but for simple voice recordings and working with images or even commentating on videos, Movavi Screen Recorder has plenty to offer.

Key features:

  • Take screen recordings from webcams, browsers, and other sources
  • Set the input microphone
  • Work with up to 4K video

Pros:

  • Easy user interface
  • Lightweight program that works on multiple operating systems
  • Great for working with visuals

Cons:

  • Free trial limitations

Audacity

Best for: Free audio editing

OS: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Price: Free

PCMag rating: 4 out of 5

If you are looking for the best software for recording music that provides a free download and is easy for your home studio then Audacity could be a good choice. It’s been a solid free option for over a decade now and there is a good community around the software if you need to get some advice on recording or mixing using the software. The interface hasn’t changed much in the time Audacity has been available, and it has a bit of an “old school” look to it, but don’t let that fool you, there are still plenty of functions on offer.

Key features:

  • 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit sample rates
  • Comes with inbuilt effects
  • Plugin compatible
  • Record using a mixer or USB mic easily

Pros:

  • One of the best programs for recording music
  • Totally free music recording software with no paid upgrades
  • High sample rates for recording voiceovers and songs
  • Some simple editing features

Cons:

  • Not the most user-friendly layout
  • Not as easy for multi-tracking instruments

Download Audacity

Ableton Live

Best for: Professional editing

OS: Windows, Mac

Price: $99 – 199

PCMag rating: 4 out of 5

Ableton Live is the sort of software used by a lot of industry professionals, especially as it is great for working in a live environment. This is arguably the best music recording software for a PC or Mac if you want to take your songs and turn them into live performances using samples and live looping. It also has the functionality to record, as you would expect.

Ableton Live lets you choose from different layouts whether you are working with loops and samples or whether you want to record audio directly. It can be a lot to learn, but if you want to edit and record to a high standard, it is a time investment.

Key features:

  • Includes a large sample library
  • Use up to 256 mono audio input channels
  • Warp modes and slicing
  • Unlimited audio and MIDI tracks

Pros:

  • Easy to create live performances
  • Capable of performing full-band performances and more simple digital recordings
  • Free trial to see if you like the interface

Cons:

  • Demanding. This music recording software needs a powerful system
  • Not the easiest to learn how to use, especially with multiple layouts

Download Ableton Live

WavePad

Best for: Affordable Mac software

OS: Mac

Price: $80

G2 rating: 4.4 out of 5, 33 reviews

A lot of the Mac software is quite pricey, but if you want to find an affordable solution then the WavePad software can give you plenty of features for a good price, especially if you just need some basic functionality. That doesn’t mean this isn’t professional enough to run your home studio.

It can recognize 50+ file types and lets you record multiple tracks, edit, and apply multiple audio effects, so while you probably won’t hear the next hit single recorded on WavePad, it is definitely capable of recording voices, and can even remove pops, clicks, and unwanted noise in the background.

Key features:

  • Preset noise reduction and click/pop removal, great for vocals
  • Compatible with MP3, WAV, VOX, GSM, WMA, AU, AIF, FLAC, OGG, AAC, and more
  • Batch processing
  • Includes effects such as reverb and normalization

Pros:

  • You get a lot of features for the money
  • Record multiple tracks and use a mixing desk or multiple inputs if you like
  • Reduces pop and click noises on vocal editing
  • iPad/iPhone version

Cons:

  • Only works with Mac, not PC computers
  • Takes some time to get used to the layout

Download WavePad

PreSonus Studio One

Best for: PreSonus mixing desks

OS: Windows, Mac

Price: $99.95 – $399.95

PCMag rating: 4 out of 5

PreSonus is a brand that has really made waves in the world of audio, and they make some excellent speakers, mixing desks, and software solutions, too. The Studio One software has become really popular among professional studio engineers, with some impressive reviews.

If you are looking for high-end software, PreSonus has created something to rival the likes of Logic Pro and ProTools. The full version even includes 38 Native FX plug-ins so that you can create songs from scratch. It’s not easy to get to grips with, so expect to take some time learning the software.

Key features:

  • 38 Native FX Plug-ins
  • Works natively with PreSonus mixing desks
  • Unlimited tracks, plus third-party plugin support
  • 40 GB of samples and loops included

Pros:

  • Let your creativity run wild. No limits to the creative potential
  • Professional level music recording software for Windows or Mac
  • Good for live applications as well as studio recording

Cons:

  • Quite expensive for beginners
  • The $99.95 version has limited functions
  • Steep learning curve

Download PreSonus Studio One

Adobe® Audition®

Best for: Advanced sound wave editing

OS: Windows, Mac

Price: $20.99/month

PCMag rating: 3.5 out of 5

When it comes to audio software, it’s no surprise that Adobe has created an option for pro use. The makers describe this as the “best audio cleanup, restoration, and precision editing tool for video, podcasting, and sound effect design”.

It is not as good for audio sequencing or working with MIDI or other songwriting tools, but it is great for capturing high-quality audio. It's about considering what is the best for your own needs, and if you are working with a lot of high-quality audio, Adobe® Audition® is one of the top options.

Key features:

  • Precise audio cleanup
  • Adobe’s “Essential Sound panel” gives you all the basic tools to clean up your audio
  • Regular updates and support
  • Can be bundled with the other Adobe® Suite options

Pros:

  • Allows you to tweak to precise details
  • A spectral frequency display lets you analyze and “repair” the audio
  • Great for podcasts and voiceovers
  • Fantastic for editing sound effects in immense detail

Cons:

  • Works out expensive with a monthly payment option
  • Not great for beginners, you need a decent level of audio knowledge

Download Adobe® Audition®

Sound Forge Pro

Best for: Simple workflow

OS: Windows, Mac

Price: Up to $678.98

G2 rating: 4.3 out of 5, 47 reviews

This software has been around in some form or another for over 30 years. Sound Forge Pro 16 is powerful for recording and editing audio, and in spite of having quite a lot of excellent features, the workflow manages to stay pretty flexible and simple. It isn’t too intimidating.

There are plenty of effects to use both creatively or just to perfect your audio, for instance, you can easily EQ and cut audio to the length you want it, plus record from multiple sources. It’s also great for mastering audio and ensuring loudness. DSP algorithms optimize the sound of your recordings without degrading the quality too much. For the full version, it is a bit on the pricey side, but there is a monthly payment option.

Key features:

  • Advanced DSP algorithms to optimize loudness
  • Recording on up to 32 channels and resolutions up to 64-bit/768 kHz
  • Spectral and loudness analyzers inbuilt
  • Dynamic EQ gives full control over the frequencies

Pros:

  • Excellent workflow even for relative beginners
  • Lots of inbuilt effects
  • Good for writing songs with inbuilt virtual instruments

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer unlimited channels like many of the others (capped at 32)
  • Expensive for the features it offers

Download Sound Forge Pro

Wavosaur

Best for: Free batch editing

OS: Windows

Price: Free

G2 rating: 3.5 out of 5, 1 review

Okay, Wavosaur is not an impressive piece of software when you compare it to some of the top software out there. For PC music recording software that’s free, it is fine, without being spectacular, and the interface has a feeling of 1998 about it. It does work on modern Windows computers though, and the fact that it costs nothing is a huge bonus.

Wavosaur offers batch editing, so if you need to compress, EQ, or convert a lot of different files, you can set up a batch and let it do its thing in the background.

Key features:

  • Totally free music recording software
  • 32-bit and 64-bit versions available
  • Supports VST plugins, ASIO drivers and multi-tracking
  • Lightweight software

Pros:

  • Takes up very little space on your computer (lightweight software)
  • A quick start guide makes it simple to get started
  • You can install third-party addons such as VST plugins
  • Allows you to record from multiple inputs

Cons:

  • Only works on Windows devices
  • Quite limited features, especially if you don’t install plugins

Download Wavosaur

Ocenaudio

Best for: Linux support

OS: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Price: Free

TechRadar rating: 4 out of 5

This is another free music recording software. It’s very basic in some of the functionality it offers, but the fact that Ocenaudio can be downloaded and used on Mac, Windows, or even Linux makes it a widely-compatible option that doesn’t cost a thing.

It also allows batch processing and much of the functionality can run in the background. The software doesn’t demand too much of your system, so you can enjoy simple functions while letting Ocenaudio run quickly in the background.

Key features:

  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • An “advanced memory management system” keeps it running quickly
  • Full spectrogram included
  • Basic effects included
  • VST support

Pros:

  • You can expand and enhance functionality with VSTs
  • Supports many different file types
  • Totally free music recording software

Cons:

  • The effects that are inbuilt leave a little to be desired
  • Workflow is not great for multi-channel recording

Download Ocenaudio

Traverso

Best for: Speed editing

OS: Windows and Mac

Price: Free

Traverso is all about speed. This lightweight and simple software means that you can quickly learn a few shortcuts, set up a microphone, and make some quality recordings for your YouTube channel. Unlike some of the top music recording programs out there, it doesn’t have overly complex controls, which makes it a simple choice. It doesn’t do much other than recording, cuttting, and editing, but it is great for those who just want quick and easy functions.

Key features:

  • Completely free music recording software
  • 32-bit and 64-bit versions
  • Supports WAV, Ogg, FLAC, MP3, or WavPack files
  • Fast and intuitive shortcuts

Pros:

  • Simple to get used to the layout
  • Intuitive yet customizable shortcut commands

Cons:

  • Very limited editing options
  • No VST support

Download Traverso

GarageBand

Best for: iOS and Mac users

OS: Mac, iOS

Price: Free

PCMag rating: 4.5 out of 5

GarageBand has become the starting point for a lot of musicians to create their very first song. It’s free music recording software that comes with Apple devices including Mac computers. With lots of included loops and samplers, it’s also really easy to start putting new ideas together and experimenting with songs.

On top of that, it has the capacity to record from multiple inputs, you could record a full band if you wanted to. While it is seen as a bit of a stepping stone into the more professional Logic Pro, this still has enough functionality to make songs, podcasts, and more to a high standard.

Key features:

  • Lots of loops and samples included
  • Virtual instruments
  • Drummer function allows you to add a ‘virtual’ drummer
  • Lots of presets for instruments and recording setups, as well as effects

Pros:

  • Great for writing songs with plenty of functions for composing
  • Easy to connect a microphone and record using presets
  • Works on iPhone and iPad

Cons:

  • No Windows version
  • Doesn’t offer unlimited recording

Download GarageBand

Spek

Best for: Spectrum analyzer

OS: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Price: Free

If you want a free and easy spectrum analyzer then Spek could be for you. It works on all major operating systems and is compatible with virtually all main lossy and lossless file types.

Spek also has the advantage of being lightweight and simple to use and has a great function to let you save your file as an image to analyze spectral data.

Key features:

  • Supports most lossy and lossless files
  • Free music recording software
  • Works on Linux as well as Windows and Mac
  • Save spectral analysis as an image

Pros:

  • Reliable spectrum analyzer
  • Free and simple to use

Cons:

  • No recording functionality

Download Spek

What is a music recording program?

A music recording program, often referred to as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is a piece of software that can record audio directly or work with existing audio, allowing you to edit, multitrack, and even compose within one simple workflow.

There are other music recording programs that have other functions. Some standalone software such as spectrum analyzers can be used in the workflow. People also tend to build up the functionality of their DAW, as many allow you to install third-party plugins in the VST or VSTi format.

With a good program installed on your device (and there are options for many devices, and both paid and free choices) then you can use the program to make podcasts, songs, voiceover recording, sound effects, and much more. A good DAW should support you while you use audio in a creative way.

How to choose music recording software for Windows and Mac

Choosing the best music recording software is different for everyone, and it will depend on your own specific needs.

  • Usability: Some of the music software out there can be a little bit difficult to learn if you are a beginner in the world of audio, make sure you’ve got something with simple usability that still provides the functionality you require.
  • Features: You should ensure that the software has plenty of features to support your needs. For instance, supporting multiple inputs if you are using more than one microphone or instrument. Do you need to edit the audio heavily or just record and export it? These are all things to consider.
  • Price: There are some good options out there at many different price tags. At the top end of the market, you can spend many hundreds of dollars getting good software which might even be overkill, you might not use even 10% of its functionality. Try to match your needs with a reasonable budget.
  • Operating system: Of course, you need to be sure that the software you are buying is going to work with the operating system you are using. Some software is Mac-specific and some is Windows-specific.
  • Support: Going to be using the software a lot? It helps if you have support, and can email the company or watch YouTube videos to understand what is happening when there is an error. Usually, if you spend more on software it is likely that you’ll have more support available.

Summary

There are more recording options than ever before, so whether you want to just record your voice for a voiceover or audiobook, or you’re looking to compose a full piece of music with instruments and multiple tracks, there’s something for you.

Be sure to pay close attention to the features you’re looking for and match this up to the software you buy or download. There are also plenty of free trials so you can check that a DAW is for you before you part with your money.

Ben Jacklin

Ben is a writer from the UK with qualifications in Media and Music Technology, he specializes in software reviews and tutorials. Ben has been blogging about media and tech subjects since he was a teenager from his base in the East of England.

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

Frequently asked questions

What is the best free music recording software?

Check out some of the best programs:

  • Movavi Screen Recorder
  • Audacity
  • Ableton Live
  • WavePad
  • PreSonus Studio One

For more music recording options, read this article.

Go to the article

How do I record music on my computer?

Follow these steps to capture audio using Movavi Screen Recorder:

  1. Download and install the program on your computer.
  2. Use the sidebar to select the recording source.
  3. Select the screen recording area by clicking and dragging your cursor.
  4. Record system audio, microphone audio, or both by clicking the correct icon.
  5. Hit the REC button to start, and the Stop button at the end of your recording.