August 29, 2023
11 Best Audio Recording Software for All Budgets & PCs in 2023
Anyone who records audio to create content for work, school, or entertainment knows the importance of recording quality audio. And, the best quality audio starts with choosing the right software.
The right software will look different based on your needs. You’ll have different requirements if you’re recording alone versus hosting an interview with guests. Luckily, there’s software suited for all use cases.
We’ve reviewed some of the best audio recording software options on the market and focused on the features important for podcasters, interviewers, live streamers, and other content creators. Read our audio recording software review to learn more about your options for recording audio and see our top list of recording software.
What Is Audio Recording Software?
Simply put, audio recording software is a user interface that records sounds. These applications allow users to record any sound, manipulate and mix audio, as well as generate audio files, often acting as a digital workstation (DAW).
Many podcasters use recording software to capture the sounds of their voice and the voices of their guests. Typically, the software collects audio from the input device you choose, whether it be your computer’s built-in mic or (preferably) a professional microphone.
You can also use audio recording software to import audio clips from other sources and mix and/or manipulate them to match your vision for your project.
And finally, the best audio recording software allows you to import and export audio in multiple formats.
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What Are the Benefits of Audio Recording Software?
For content creators like podcasters and musicians, choosing the right software is key. Professionals use audio recording software to improve the quality of their audio files and mix audio together to create cohesive content. Good audio recording software has features for editing out unwanted sounds and options for adding intros and outros, music, sound effects, or even recorded ads.
Some of the benefits of using audio recording software include:
- Real-time audio monitoring
- Easy mixing and mastering
- High-quality audio that sounds professional
- Social media sharing and streaming abilities
- Easier to minimize background noise while recording audio
Good audio recording software gives you all the tools you need to take your audio from good to great. In addition to improving the quality, you can add character to your content using the mixing features most audio records offer - add music, intros, sound effects, and more.
The Most Important Features to Consider for Audio Recording Software
Finding the best audio recording software for your content can seem overwhelming with so many choices on the market. You should pay attention to a few key features when determining which recording software you’ll choose for your recording and editing needs. Make sure the software you choose has the following features for recording audio and making edit:
Analog vs Digital Recording
You should always determine whether a software program uses analog vs digital recording. This will affect how you make edits to your audio files. Here’s the difference:
Analog recording stores audio information as a series of magnetic charges saved to a reel of magnetic tape.
Digital recording saves audio as bits of digital information to be read and interpreted by a computer or other digital device.
Most modern audio recording software uses digital recording. If your audio recorder doesn’t, you’ll have to convert your analog audio to digital files for editing.
Audio Mixing Features
Audio mixing involves combining sounds, music, and other audio from multiple tracks into one channel. At the point of the production process, you add intros, outros, ads, and sound effects to give your content some flavor. Your recording software should provide plenty of options for audio mixing as this is an important part of the editing process.
Gain and Equalization
All good recording software gives you the ability to adjust the gain and equalization so your audio has a consistent sound from start to finish. An equalizer will cut out unwanted sound picked up outside of the frequency spectrum you set and gain adjustments will ensure the sound level is consistent.
Internet Connection Requirements
Beware of web-based recording programs that depend on a steady internet connection to produce quality recordings. An unreliable connection or connectivity issues diminish the quality of your audio. Seek out a platform with local recording. This type of software records directly on your device or computer and doesn’t need a reliable internet connection to capture high-quality recordings.
Building a podcast studio the right way and having good equipment will prevent you from picking up most unwanted noises in your audio. You can’t block everything out, so look for a recording software that can remove unwanted sounds. Most recording programs have features to remove hisses, hums, pops, and plosives.
Record multiple channels
The ability to record multiple channels is essential if you host an interview-based podcast or you’re a podcaster who has a co-host! Make sure the audio recording software you choose has multi-channel recording. Recording multiple audio inputs at the same time is handy, even if you’re normally just recording yourself.
Using audio recording software helps make your recording sound better. Good recording software lets you edit tracks to reduce unwanted noise and clip irrelevant conversation to create a polished track that sounds professional. Look for a software program that uses simple cut/paste and drag/drop features if new to editing audio.
The trimming feature will let you cut down your audio tracks to reduce their length. You can also create sound snippets that you can repurpose as sound bites for use in ads, effects, or anything else you can think of.
What Are the Different Audio Formats Supported by Audio Recording Software?
Each software will support different audio formats. Check the specifications to learn which audio formats are supported by any audio recording software. Make sure the program you choose can export the file type you need if the social platform or streaming service you use requires audio files in a certain format.
Some of the most popular audio file formats include:
- MP4 (combined audio and video in one file)
Does Audio Recording Software Affect Sound Quality?
In a word, yes. The type of recording software you choose determines how good your finished product will sound.
Why? Because it all comes down to how much data is gathered.
Let’s use televisions as an example. You probably already know that the higher the resolution of the television screen (think SD vs. HD vs. 4K), the better the picture. This is because the more pixels there are, the more detail is possible—and therefore, the sharper the image.
The same principle holds true in audio as well. The more information is captured by the recorder, the clearer, and higher-quality the sound. That’s why when choosing your audio recording software, you should look for tools built for professional recording.
If the tool compresses audio to save bandwidth when transferring data, some of that precious audio data is lost—resulting in a sound that’s not as crisp or clean.
The Best Audio Recording Software for 2023 (Free & Paid)
Riverside is your best bet if you’re looking for professional-quality audio recording software at an affordable price. As the first browser-based recording platform to offer 4K local video and audio recording, Riverside delivers quality podcast episodes no matter the format you choose.
Price: Free plans with paid plans starting at $15 per month.
Compatibility: Mac & Windows PCs (as well as iPhone and Android mobile devices).
- Local recording so all files are captured directly on your device and quality isn’t affected by faulty internet connection
- High-quality sound with up to 48kHz 16-bit audio resolution
- Uncompressed WAV audio to maximize quality or MP3 audio to save up on file size.
- Separate audio (and video) tracks for each participant
- Implements progressive uploading to the cloud to keep your recordings safe, even if your internet connection is lost
- Producer mode so that the host or producer can adjust audio levels in real-time to keep post-production work to a minimum
- Live media board for easy sound affects while recording
- Integrations for live streaming to social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch—as well as the platform itself
- Create quick shareable clips with Ai so you can effortlessly share and promote your podcast on social media
- Automatic audio transcriptions for transcripts and captions straight after recording so you can easily repurpose your content
- Live video call-ins from guests—a unique feature in podcast recording software
- Easy to use, with no downloads or installations
- Up to 8 co-hosts and guests
Best for: With Riverside’s local recording and high-quality sound, this is your best option for recording audio remotely. You can record with up to 8 participants no matter where they are, without worrying about the quality of your recording.
Want to see how easy it is to record audio remotely with Riverside? Sign up and start recording!
If you want to get more of a little taste, you can watch the video below to see how simple it is to record a podcast remotely on Riverside.
2. Ableton Live 10
Ableton Live provides a lot of creative opportunities through its advanced DAW. The recording software was created for artists and musicians, which is made obvious by the advanced creative control you’re granted over audio files.
Price: $99 intro package
Compatibility: Mac and Windows
- Ability to record on multiple tracks simultaneously
- Over 5k sounds and virtual instruments
- Powerful automated features
Best For: Because of the way its workflow is set up, this software is great for composing and recording live music.
3. Adobe Audition
Many professional content creators, especially those in the podcast world, use Adobe Audition to record and edit their content. This podcast recording software is packed full of features you can use to produce a professional-quality podcast. Because of its lack of music composition tools, Adobe Audition may not be the best choice for you if you’re producing music.
Price: $20.99 / month
Compatibility: Mac and Windows
- Easily integrates with other Adobe programs
- Single and multi-track editing capabilities
- Excellent for audio restoration, sound removal, and noise reduction
Best For: Adobe Audition was designed specifically with podcasts in mind, so it’s a good recording software choice for podcasters who have the budget for it.
4. Apple GarageBand
If you have an Apple device, you probably already have GarageBand. This free (but powerful) recording program facilitates professional audio recording on iPhone, iPad, and other Apple devices. Overall, it’s one of the best free audio recording software for Mac users who are beginners to recording.
Garageband was designed for musicians, which explains why it comes with a variety of virtual instruments like guitars, pianos, and keyboards. However, the software does offer a lot of customizability, letting you create separate tracks for intros and outros, advertisements, music and even voiceovers.
The recording platform is also equipped with a visual EQ featuring eight color-coded bands on your computer screen, arranged from treble to bass. It also integrates with a variety of plugins to broaden your recording and audio editing capabilities.
Compatibility: Mac only
- Supports third-party plug-ins
- Streamlined, easy-to-use interface
- Social sharing capabilities
Best For: Mac users on a budget will love how the free Garageband audio recording app produces high-quality audio recordings that can be used for content online.
Audacity’s versatile audio recording program enables podcasters and other content creators of all skill levels to capture and edit professional audio. This recording software doesn’t have some of the advanced features of other digital audio workstations, but it lets you make quick and easy edits to improve your audio quality. While the learning curve for this free software is a little steep, it does have some useful features.
Compatibility: Mac and Windows
- Batch and multitrack processing capabilities
- Open-source software that’s constantly updated
- Import, mix, and combine audio tracks easily
- WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3, and Ogg Vorbis file editing
- 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit sound quality
- Audio effects, such as changing the speed and pitch of a track
- Exporting files in multiple common audio formats
Best For: Audacity is a good audio recording software option for creators who don’t want to spend money and only need to make basic edits to their content.
This voice recording software is full of tools to help you get crystal clear speech in your audio recordings. It has a suite of tools to remove plosives, clicks, pops, hisses, and other interference from your recordings. Use the software to produce professional recordings with a full-bodied and balanced sound.
Price: A one-time charge of $129.99 or a monthly subscription of $4.33 / mo (billed annually)
Compatibility: Mac and Windows
- Supports multi-channel device recording and batch processing
- Powerful tools to produce crisp vocals
- Advanced audio restoration tools
Best For: This software’s vocal-focused features make it an excellent program for podcasters, interviewers, and singers.
7. Audio Hijack
Audio Hijack lets you record audio from an input device, your system, or any app. The audio recording software lets you capture conversations from apps like Skype, FaceTime, and Google Talk. It also has features that make it easy to livestream to YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and other social sharing platforms. It’s initiative interface makes it a great choice for newbies.
Compatibility: Mac only
- Live stream and broadcast capabilities
- Streamlined recording options
- Record multiple input sources simultaneously
Best For: Mac users who are beginners when it comes to recording and editing audio.
Ocenaudio's free audio recording program lets you perform basic audio edits. Even though it doesn’t have as many features as other audio recording software you have to pay for, Ocenaudio has everything you need to clean up your audio and produce a quality recording. The interface is simple to understand and the program has editing features like adding sounds and effects that many other free platforms don’t provide.
Compatibility: Mac and Windows
- Helpful spectrogram and file analysis
- No limit on the length or the quantity audio files you can edit
- Real-time audio effect previews
Best For: Ocenaudio is perfect for content creators seeking a free, basic audio editing program to improve the quality of their recordings.
Reaper from Cockos provides a lot of bang for your buck, but it isn’t for beginners. You should have a bit of experience if you plan to use Reaper as your primary audio recording software. The interface is not intuitive and those new to using digital audio workstations might feel overwhelmed. If you know what you’re doing, Raper is a powerful tool for multi-channel audio recording, mixing, and mastering.
Price: Starting from $60 once-off
Compatibility: Mac and Windows
- Powerful tools for editing audio clips and MIDI data
- Full automation capabilities
- Totally customizable user interface
Best For: Experienced sound editors will love the amount of customization and number of features Reaper provides.
10. Sound Forge Audio Studio
This recording software is intuitive and easy to use - you can cut, move, and edit audio with only a few clicks. Anyone who’s new to capturing and editing audio can use the software’s wizardFX suite to create a clean recording that sounds professional.
Price: `From $39.99 once-off
Compatibility: Mac and Windows
- Multi-channel and multitrack recording
- Professional recording quality up to 32-bit/384 kHz
- Remote recording capabilities
Best For: Its low price and easy-to-use features make this software a great choice for new podcasters and other content creators on a budget.
The Wavosaur user interface is a bit old-school in its appearance, but the audio recording software is super efficient and is loaded with features to improve the quality of audio recordings. The program won’t take up much space on your system (the download file is only 225KB!) and any edits you complete are non-destructive.
Compatibility: Mac and Windows
- Supports ASIO and VSTfx
- Accurate waveform representation
- Automated volume control features
Best For: Wavosaur is great for anyone learning the basics of audio editing because any mistakes that are made can easily be fixed by clicking the “undo” button.
The Best Audio Recording software for all PC devices
While there are several great options for recording audio, Riverside is your best recording software for producing high-quality audio (and video) remotely and cost-effectively. Podcasters, interviewers, and other content creators use Riverside to record professional audio. Guests can easily join your recording environment by clicking a link, and audio is recorded separately for improved quality.
We’ve highlighted some of the features that set Riverside apart and make it a top choice for recording professionals:
High-Quality Local Recordings
Riverside uses local recording to save audio directly to your computer, so you don’t lose quality if you’re dealing with a bad internet connection. Record HD audio and video in up to 4K resolution no matter where you are or what the WiFi signal is like. Get reliable quality every time you hit the record button!
Separate Track Recording
Video and audio are recorded separately for each input/guest when using Riverside. This means that you get separate tracks for all of the participants in your recording, which gives more control in post production. Easily remove noise from and make cuts to individual tracks to further improve the quality of your recording!
Remote Recording & Screen Share Capabilities
Riverside.fm has everything you need to host a class, meeting, or podcast! You can have up to seven guests in your recording environment at one time. Guests can join your recording environment with one click and you can present information on your screen using the software’s screen sharing feature.
The Riverside mobile app turns your phone into a recording studio so you can capture HD audio and video no matter where you are!
Riverside.fm Media Board
Riverside.fm’s Media Board feature lets you make live edits to your audio, which saves you time in post-production. You can upload and insert intros, outros, ads, and other effects as you record so you don’t have to add them later—especially handy if you livestream your content.
You don’t have to spend hours analyzing and editing your audio tracks. Riverside makes video editing as easy and quick as editing a text document. Just by deleting text in your recording transcript, you can remove the corresponding audio in your actual recording. Plus, you can use these Ai transcriptions to navigate through your recording.
Riverside's editor also offers automated tool tos improve the quality of your audio by removing noise and adjusting volume levels. With just a couple of clicks, the Editor tool will do all of the hard work and create a high-quality audio file that’s ready to be uploaded. You can also create short shareable videos, with the Riverside Magic Clips feature.
Start experiencing all these benefits and more! Sign up on Riverside for top-quality audio recording.
The Best Free Audio Recording Software?
We suggest you try Riverside’s free plan. You can still record in high-quality resolution and make use of local recording, separate tracks, and remote guests. Other options available include Audacity and Garageband.
Audacity has a bit of a learning curve, but it offers a lot of features as a free software recording platform. Garageband, on the other hand, is already built into Mac devices, but it's important to note that this is created for music recordings. At the end of the day, the best one for you will depend on the features you’re looking for and the type of content you’re creating.
The Best Audio Recording Software for Mac
There’s no clear cut answer for which audio recording software is best for Mac users. It depends on what tools and features you need. GarageBand is an audio recording app that’s free for MacOS users and is available on most Apple devices. However, it might not offer everything you need. You can try other alternatives such as Riverside or Adobe Audition.
The Best Audio Recording Software for Windows
Out of our list above, most of the audio recorders are compatible with Windows. You can try an online-based platform like Riverside or you can download software directly to your computer. Great audio recording software for Windows PCs you can try include Adobe Audition and Reaper.
The Best Home Studio Recording Software
If you’re recording alone, you can technically use any of the above options to record audio in a home studio. Although, if you’d like to record with guests we reccommend you use remote recording software for your home studio. From our list of top recording programs, Riverside is especially made with this in mind. With local recording, remote guests and separate track recording it’s the best at home audio recording software.
The Best Simple Recording Software for beginners
If you’re a beginner, you’ll want affordable, maybe even free, and easy audio recording software. Although this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t choose high-quality audio recording software. We’d say from our list the most user-friendly recording software options are Garageband or Riverside. These both have intuitive interfaces and are simple to use. They’re also both some of the best budget recording software options. While Garageband is completely free for Mac users, Riverside also offers a free plans for beginners to get started.
How Do I Make My Sound Clearer When Recording Audio?
Of course, the best way to end up with clear, studio-quality sound is to use quality recording software like Riverside.fm. But no matter what software program you choose, there are still a few ways you can make your sound as clear as possible. Let’s look at a few below.
Use A Good Podcast Microphone
While you can always use the built-in microphone on your computer or phone, investing in a separate microphone can make a great deal of difference to your audio quality. Choosing a podcast microphone can instantly make your podcast sound better.
If you’re new to the podcast world, all the mic options can be overwhelming. For starters, you’ll need to choose between:
- Polar patterns,
- XLR vs. USB, and
- Condenser vs. dynamic microphones.
Check out our guide to choosing a podcast microphone for more details!
Find a Quiet Place
Protecting your recording space from external noise is important, especially if you have a quality microphone that picks up every noise possible.
If you can, consider soundproofing or sound treating your studio space. Soundproofing involves isolating your room from unwanted external noises. This is typically done by using heavy building material on the room’s walls and sealing any air gaps in entry points like windows and doors.
Sound treatment involves improving the quality of sound in a room by focusing on acoustics and reverb. This is done by using soft surfaces to absorb sound so that it doesn’t echo or reverberate an unwanted amount.
Start Recording Audio in HD Today
Not all audio recording software has the same features and some don’t have HD recording capabilities. Carefully research the features of recording software before you commit to one. While there are many good recording software options out there, we’ve chosen Riverside.fm as our top pick because of its versatility, affordability, and simple interface.
Audio Recording Software FAQ
Still unsure about how to find the best audio recording software for your podcast, interviews, or other content? Check out our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about audio recording software.
Can I Use GarageBand Commercially?
Yes, you can use GarageBand commercially. There are currently no copyrights or other restrictions that prevent content creators from using the program for recording audio for commercial use.
What Audio Recording Software Do Most YouTubers Use?
Many high-income YouTubers use a wide variety of delicate and sophisticated video production equipment—and some even hire professional producers and video editors. Other YouTubers rely on common audio recording software like Audacity, Adobe Audition, and Riverside.fm.
If you regularly publish your episodes to YouTube, consider software like Riverside, which allows for live streaming straight to YouTube and other social media platforms.
Can You Record Audio on a Chromebook?
Yes, you can record audio using a Chromebook. Chromebooks come with a built-in microphone, but you have to download a recording program to capture audio. There are many third-party apps available for download in the Chrome Web Store, including AudioRecorder, WeVideo, and Reverb Record.
What Can I Use Instead of Audacity?
Riverside.fm, of course!
While Audacity is a solid option for beginners or those looking for a simple, no-frills recording option, Riverside.fm provides many benefits that no other software can offer. After all, if you’re passionate about growing and monetizing your podcast, you’ll need to invest in software that can deliver studio-quality results.
What is the easiest audio recording software to use?
Any software you choose should be easy to use! If you’re a beginner you’ll need something you can manage with, and if you're a professional easy software will save you time. It depends on how many features you need, but generally the simpler the software the easier it is to use. Riverside provides all the features you need but doesn’t have any complicated tools that’ll leave you confused. A lot of Riverside’s features are automated so recording and editing audio can be quick and efficient.
How do I record audio from my computer?
Recording audio from your computer is very easy! All the audio recording software options operate a little different but in general, you can follow these quick steps:
- Choose the best audio recording software for you. You can even use an audio recorder online.
- Create a new recording or a new recording studio.
- If you’re recording remotely with guests, invite your participants to your recording.
- Test your equipment and select your audio inputs. You can connect a microphone for high-quality sound.
- Start recording. (Usually, you will have to press a record button to do this.)
- When you are done stop the recording and download your audio files.
Note that some software also allows you to record sound coming directly from your screen. This is usually the case for software, like Riverside, that comes with screen recording features.