Audacity is a free, open source audio recording and editing software for podcast, music, lecture, and other audio creations. It is one of the most popular software downloads out there, and since it was first released in 1999, it has improved and added new features.
While Audacity is a great tool with a lot of fans, it isn’t perfect. There are a number of downsides to using Audacity.
First, the interface could use some improvement. While it isn’t overwhelmingly difficult for most people, you may find the interface a bit confusing or not very intuitive.
That’s why there is a need for a simpler, more straightforward Audacity alternative for recording and editing audio for those with simple needs. Audacity is just not everyone’s cup of tea.
Another problem with Audacity is that it is a destructive editor. There are two types of editing: destructive and non-destructive.
Since Audacity is a destructive editor, when you add effects to your music or audio, or if you delete a part of the track and then save your progress, your edits are permanent. You can not remove the effects later or restore the deleted part of the track.
Of course, as long as you haven’t saved the new file, you will be able to undo changes, as changes are made to a copy of the file you are working on.
However, non-destructive editing, by definition, irreversibly alters the file once you save it, meaning the effects become an integral part of the file that can no longer be removed.
Therefore, there is a need for a non-destructive Audacity alternative as well.
While you can use Audacity on most devices, it was not originally designed for touchscreen devices; instead, it was designed to respond to mouse input.
The original Audacity software may struggle to respond to touchscreen inputs. Also, there are no mobile apps for editing on Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices.
As such, there is an obvious need for alternatives that do provide mobile apps for iPads, iPhones, and other phones and tablets.
Finally, while Audacity might be good for less complex projects, if you are a professional, you might need something more advanced. Audacity is decent, but for large, professional projects, you will need a more innovative alternative.
In fact, although Audacity is, by the strict definition, a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), it lacks many features that more advanced DAWs have, making it a good option for producing something simple like a podcast but not as great for more complex music production.
In this article, I will go over some of the best Audacity alternatives on the market, including more advanced and non-destructive alternatives.
Let us get into it.
The first Audacity alternative we will focus on in this article is Reaper. Reaper is not a simple alternative to Audacity, but it is a non-destructive alternative, and it is generally considered to be a superior product to Audacity.
In fact, many people consider Reaper to be one of the best, if not the best, DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) on the market for the price, simply because it has so many features and options.
It is a lot more advanced than Audacity, which is not astounding considering that Audacity is a free and open source software while Reaper is a paid program, meaning it can afford to add more features.
Not only that, but Audacity tends to have more bugs, lags, and crashes than Reaper, which is generally more stable. Reaper is so stable, in fact, that you can run and edit an unlimited number of tracks and work on complex projects.
Not many other DAWs can measure up to Reaper’s stability. Not only does it have a lot of features, but it is also a lightweight program that won’t take up too much space on your computer or use up too much of your CPU at once.
As mentioned, Reaper is non-destructive. That means that when you add effects or plugins, it is almost like an Instagram filter that is applied on top of the original file, which can be removed; you can always access the original, untouched file and work on it later.
Audacity does not give you that option after you have saved your initial changes.
Again, be aware that Reaper is a bit complicated and less intuitive than Audacity as it has more features, but it is worth it. Be prepared to go through a learning curve and spend a day or two figuring out how to use the software.
Once you get used to it, I am sure you will like it.
Also, there is an active forum, where you can discuss issues relating to music production on Reaper or get solutions to technical problems.
Reaper is not that expensive. For a personal, educational, or nonprofit license, it will cost just $60 (that is a one-time fee).
You can also download a free demo version to use for 60 days.
You can see more on the pricing page.
2. GarageBand (On MAC or iOS)
GarageBand is a great DAW if you are on a Mac or an iPad and are looking for a simpler, more straightforward alternative to Audacity. It might not be as advanced as Audacity, but it is much simpler and easier to use.
Although the interface is simple and easy to use, there is a vast soundtrack library and tons of cool features. For example, when using GarageBand on your Mac, you can turn the touch bar on your computer into a piano, drum set, or various other instruments for music production.
You can also plug in your electrical guitar and select various amps or cabinets. There are also 28 virtual drummers and three percussionists you can add to play along with your song in six genres.
You can customize the virtual drummer to add or remove specific sounds and instruments.
When creating EDM or hip-hop music, you can choose from over 100 synth sounds, with each sound being fully customizable.
Another cool thing about GarageBand is that it features lessons with demo videos that teach you how to play 40 different genres on the keyboard or guitar.
It’s a great option for beginner musicians who are just starting out with learning how to play the guitar or keyboard and want to produce music at the same time.
3. Pro Tools
Pro Tools is also a great alternative to Audacity. The paid version has a lot more features and is more advanced than Audacity, making it a better option if you are a professional with more complex needs.
However, Pro Tools does offer a forever-free version as well. While not nearly as advanced as the premium version, it does measure up well against Audacity.
Both Audacity and the free version of Pro Tools are great options for amateurs and beginners, with the premium versions best for pros.
Pro Tools is called “Pro” Tools for a reason. It is a bit on the expensive side, but that is because the developers and programmers are always putting in time and effort to add new features and fix bugs.
Pro Tools is an excellent choice for mixing, and it also has a non-destructive function, which Audacity does not.
Pro Tools First is the free version of Pro Tools. While somewhat limited, it does allow you to add plugins and do basic editing.
For the heavy artillery, you will need a regular Pro Tools license, which currently costs $199/year (check the pricing page for updated information).
It comes with the Pro Tools software, including tons of sounds and effects, the full plugin library (116 plugins vs the 23 plugins available on the free plan), 1 GB of cloud storage, and more.
There are some extra add ons available, such as the Autotune Hybrid license, which cost more.
You can also opt for Pro Tools Ultimate, which costs even more. Check the comparison page to see a detailed comparison of the different licenses available (for example, the more expensive plans contain more MIDI, instrument, and auxiliary tracks, as well as more inputs).
In addition, Pro Tools make music distribution on channels like iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Pandora easy, helping you reach more people. The cloud collaboration tools make it a good option for teams, and Avid Link helps you network and connect with professionals in the music industry.
There are 768 voices/audio tracks, with 384 additional voice tracks available, making Pro Tools an excellent option for mixing. It also offers immersive audio and 3D sound quality.
It is hard to really compare Audacity to Pro Tools because Pro Tools is so much more advanced. Audacity is like an amateur tool in comparison.
4. Studio One
Studio One is a great alternative to Audacity that offers a unique drag and drop interface. You can drag and drop plugin effects, virtual instruments, and a lot more to your browser while editing music, something you can’t really do with Audacity.
If you have been struggling to use the Audacity interface, you may find the Studio One drag and drop interface more intuitive.
There are a lot of other things you can do with drag and drop. For example, you can convert MIDI to audio and vice versa or copy FX chains from channel to channel using drag and drop.
Mixing audio and managing complex articulations are two more things that are easy with Studio One.
All in all, while Studio One has some bloatware plugins, it is one of the best alternatives to Audacity, with an easy-to-use drag and drop workflow.
In addition, Studio One is a great alternative to Audacity for those who plan to hold live performances, as it will give you a list of the songs you edited to play during your live performance along with pre-recorded tracks and virtual instruments.
Then, once you get on stage, you can launch that list and make use of the live performance controls to adjust levels, parameters, and a lot more.
Studio One also offers non-destructive editing, unlike Audacity. Almost every mix or edit action can be undone, and you can go back as far as you want, without any limits; once you undo actions, you can go ahead and redo actions as far ahead as you want.
Studio One also integrates your songs and mixes them into your finished Projects page. In other words, after transferring a stem or a song to the projects page, you can go into an individual stem and edit it from the projects page.
All of these features make Studio One an easy DAW to use when you are editing songs.
Ardour is free and open source, like Audacity, but it is still a somewhat better option for recording music. It is a non-destructive editor, unlike Audacity, which is a destructive editor.
Ardour is a better choice if you are recording multiple people at once because Audacity doesn’t really let you record multiple inputs at the same time. Also, Ardour is better overall for adding and positioning tracks.
Ardour may involve a somewhat larger learning curve than Audacity, but it is worth it if Audacity does not fulfill your needs.
You can record yourself, plug in a keyboard, or import audio or MIDI from your hard drive. It is a multiplatform software, supporting Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Since Ardour is open source, there is an active community behind it, working on fixing bugs and improving the end product. There is also a bug tracker and feature request submission form.
Bitwig is a DAW that is a somewhat better choice than Audacity if you want to compose music, as it comes with more than 90 instruments and various sound effects. It also has awesome synthesis and modulation features.
In particular, Bitwig is a better alternative if you are creating electronic music, experimental music, psychedelic music, and similar music styles, due to the various effects and sound design features it offers.
For modulation, you can use Envelopes, Note Expressions, and Macro controls to modulate any device. There are over 30 modulators overall.
Sound design at Bitwig is generally superior to Audacity. Sound design is possible in The Grid, the sound design system at Bitwig that includes tons of audio effects and synths.
Bitwig is not free. However, it does offer a forever-free demo license.
With the demo license, you can record and edit for as long as you want, with no time limitations. You just won’t be able to export or download the music you create; for that, you will need to buy a premium license.
7. FL Studio
FL Studio is a better alternative to Audacity if you want to create beats, as Audacity lacks all the great functions that FL Studio has for making beats. Although it is not free, buying a license will entitle you to lifetime free updates, so you will never have to renew your license.
Another reason to choose FL Studio over Audacity is that FL Studio has apps for Android phones, iOS mobile devices, and Windows phones. These mobile apps allow you to create music on the go.
Audacity does not have apps for Android and iOS devices, making it a good option for desktop users, but not so great for on-the-go music creation. FL Studio is a good option for Chromebook users as well.
Also, FL Studio allows you to share projects between mobile devices using WiFi-sharing technology, making your life easier if you work on multiple devices.
FL Studio offers a wide range of compatible plugins, such as the Drumaxx percussion modeling instrument. Some plugins, like the FLEX synthesizer, are free.
Ableton actually has two products: Live and Push. Ableton Push is an electronic multi-instrument device that allows you to record all kinds of genres on all kinds of instruments on a single device.
Let’s focus on Ableton Live, which is for recording, editing, and enhancing music you create for live performances and DJing. For creating music, it is a much better option than Audacity, and it allows you to experiment more and be more creative.
It has tons of cool features for editing music, such as linked track editing. You can link two tracks together and edit them at the same time, making Audacity a great option for editing performances that feature multiple musicians.
Also, you can splice tracks to get the best moments and create an end result featuring those best moments.
You can even let the software surprise you with random drum or note hits during your live performances to spice things up a little.
Ableton is also great for sound manipulation and creative ideas.
LMMS is a free Audacity alternative that includes synthesizers and samplers (Audacity does not include a built-in synthesizer).
It also supports direct MIDI input, something that Audacity does not (although Audacity does allow you to import MIDI files).
Like Audacity, LMMS is open source, so you won’t have to pay anything to use it. Also, you can edit and share the source code.
There are 16 built-in synthesizers, as well as amazing effects and mixing features.
LMMS is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac computers. There is a strong community behind it and a forum where you can get help on technical issues.
10. Sound Forge
Sound Forge is very similar to Audacity, but it is still a somewhat better alternative, even for editing simple podcasts and tracks. That’s because users tend to find the workflow in Sound Forge a little more intuitive and straightforward than in Audacity, despite the many similarities in both tools.
Not everyone will prefer Sound Forge to Audacity, but it is an option to consider if you are getting frustrated with Audacity due to its workflow or any other reason.
You may also prefer Sound Forge to Audacity when it comes to audio cleaning. Although both tools let you clean up audio quality, Sound Forge has an entire Audio Cleaning Lab for importing audio tracks from any source (including CD, records, tape cassettes, and video) and removing background noise like vinyl cracking or wind.
Sound Forge also has an automatic cleaning option that will automatically improve the audio quality of your track, in addition to the manual cleaning tools, allowing you to save time.
Cakewalk is an Audacity alternative that supports non-destructive editing for editing out the beginning or end parts of a track. With slip editing, you can hide those parts but leave them intact.
In other words, those hidden parts will not be played or heard during playback. However, they will not be destroyed or deleted in an irreversible manner.
Instead, you can go back at any time and restore them.
Cakewalk has an excellent user interface. It has a wide range of instruments you can use and is great for mixing. It supports unlimited tracks as well.
Cakewalk works well with touchscreen devices. If you are having trouble using Audacity on a touchscreen device, you may try Cakewalk instead.
Cakewalk is owned by BandLab and it is entirely free to use.
BandLab offers a suite of products you can use alongside Cakewalk to compose and make music online, as well as publish it and share it with audiences.
As you can see, there are many Audacity alternatives that solve one or more of the problems Audacity has:
- Lack of advanced features for professional music production and editing
- No non-destructive editing
- No mobile app
- Poor touchscreen optimization
- Not-so-simple interface
At the end of the day, I would have to recommend Reaper as the best Audacity alternative.
It is relatively cheap, with only a one-time $60 fee, and it has tons of advanced features that Audacity does not have, including non-destructive editing. It is an excellent choice for podcasters and professional music producers alike.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.