While often an afterthought (or sometimes ignored) in the world of video editing, sound and audio editing is equally important for any film or video project.
Audio is a crucial building block for any video edit. And while you can handle a lot of audio and sound controls in many video editing softwares — like Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro — for most serious video editors, it’s helpful to have at least a basic understanding of some other audio-specific platforms.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at some of the best digital audio workstations (DAWs) currently available for film and video editors to focus specifically on working with their audio and sound needs.
What are digital audio workstations (DAWs)?
For anyone coming from the world of sound (or music) recording, a DAW (digital audio workstation) should be a familiar term. However, for those of us hailing from a video-centric world, don’t let the term intimidate you. DAWs are simply editing softwares dedicated to working with audio and sound files.
These DAWs run a wide gamut of app and software types which range from the super high-end which are used by world class musicians and recording studios, to more prosumer options meant for smartphones and laptops and casual recording and editing.
When looking for the right DAW (or simply for the right audio editing software) for you, it really comes down to your skills and needs. Here are some of the best options which any video editor looking for sound help might want to consider.
Pros and cons of 5 popular sound editing software
Let’s start with one of the most famous and iconic names in sound editing: Audacity. Originally released way back in the early days of the internet (read: the early 2000s), Audacity is a completely free and open-source based digital audio editing software.
It’s an extremely easy-to-use program that should help you learn some of the basics, however it does leave more advanced users wanting for more functions and controls. However, as a free legacy software, you should absolutely consider at least downloading it and checking out when first starting off.
- Available on Windows, macOS and Linux
- A bit archaic design
- Not many effects
- No advanced features
For anyone who’s ever owned a Mac computer or laptop before, GarageBand is everyone’s favorite digital audio station that can serve as a great introducer to the world of sound recording and editing.
And while there may be some softwares which are more sophisticated, GarageBand is about as intuitive and fun-to-use as it gets with a straightforward design that lets users get creative as well as technical.
- Fun and intuitive design
- Great for recording audio
- Free for Mac users
- Design is meant for beginners to intermediates
- More music focused than film or video
- Not as many advanced features or effects
Price: Free (Mac only)
Avid Pro Tools
A mainstay in both the video and audio industries, Avid represents some of the best and most sophisticated technology for professionals of each. While Avid’s Media Composer might be a favorite of industry video editors, its Pro Tools is hands down one of the best digital audio workstations (DAWs) on the market.
However, if you’re new to audio editing, Pro Tools represents a pretty steep learning curve so should really only be used by more experienced and advanced sound editors.
Avid Pro Tools features:
- Industry-standard tools and design
- A huge array of options and effects
- Great for professionals looking to work with other Avid products
- Steep learning curve for beginners or intermediates
- Need a good deal of processing power
- One of the more expensive options
Price: $299 yearly subscription
Another popular DAW audio editing software for video and audio professionals, Adobe Audition is a great option for any video folks who already subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud and use video editing apps like Premiere Pro and After Effects.
Audition is a solid choice on its own as well as it provides enough sophistication for advanced sound editors along with a simple-to-learn design that isn’t too intimidating to those just starting out. (Plus if you do use Premiere Pro, you can quickly switch between the two to really get the best of both worlds for your video projects.)
Adobe Audition features:
- Solid amount of controls and effects
- Great for working with Adobe Premiere Pro
- A bit of a learning curve
- Not as powerful or sophisticated as some other DAWs
- Maybe not preferred for non-Adobe users
For Mac-users who might be ready to take a step up from GarageBand, Apple’s Logic Pro is one of the best DAWs on the market and an awesome sound editing software for video and sound professionals. Like GarageBand though, it is a bit more music-focused than audio for film and video perhaps, but it certainly has all the bells and whistles which you might need.
That being said, it’s still maybe not the best app for beginners due to its sophistication, and it still trails behind Pro Tools in terms of industry use and support. However, if you’re a Mac user who uses Final Cut Pro who wants more audio controls, Logic Pro could be the perfect option.
Logic Pro features:
- Relatively easy-to-learn
- Plenty of effects and controls
- Great for Mac users
- More music-based than film/video
- Still a bit of a learning curve
- Not great for non Mac-users
Making your decision
Hopefully these options should give you at least a good understanding of the modern state of DAWs and audio editing platforms currently on the market. Remember, these options are meant for a wide variety of skill types, so if you’re just starting off you don’t always need to invest in the highest-end offering.
However, if you are serious about getting the best audio and sound into your film and video projects, it’s important to take the craft seriously and use one of the right tools for the job. So, check a few of these options out and see which one is right for you.