Don’t let anyone tell you that Garageband is not a professional level, multitrack audio recording app. It is. And it’s free with every Mac. Garageband has limits, of course, but is an excellent tool to get started with quality recording. And, yes, there are many recording apps with even higher quality and greater capability.
At the other end of the scale is Audacity, a multi-platform audio recording app that’s been around many years (Mac, Windows, Linux).
Audacity records live audio, features many tools and effects, and is sufficiently capable to arrange an audio production via cut, copy, splice and mix. It even manages audio files that Garageband cannot (Ogg Vorbis for example).
Audacity’s interface is instantly familiar if not rather cluttered.
The transport track (record, pause, play, forward, reverse) is conveniently located in the top left of the screen. The mixing tracks make it easy to add effects to audio, and even cut, copy, and paste audio segments within a mix.
Audacity features a built-in amplitude envelope editor, a spectrogram and frequency analysis window, and a bunch of audio effects which range from Base Boost, Reverse, Phaser, Echo, Truncate Silence, Noise Removal.
The Noise Removal function works similar to that of commercial audio recording apps.
Use the audio waveform to select a few seconds of background noise, click the Get Noise Profile, then adjust the reduction tools. It’s a quick and easy way to reduce background noise from video camera audio.
There’s plenty to like with Audacity. With the right hardware it can record sample rates up to 192kHz, and supports 16bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit samples.
On the negative side, Audacity’s user interface feels clumsy compared to Garageband, or Amadeus Pro. While you can record and edit dual tracks (stereo), Audacity shouldn’t be used as a multi-track audio recorder.
Still, the price is hard to beat even if the look and feel dates back to the 1990s.