PC recording software has a lot different types and capabilities. What I want to focus on here is software you can use to record music or acim overs onto your computer. That narrows it down to two categories of audio recording software: programs to use for “tracking” or getting the sound into the PC or Mac, and programs used for editing audio after it has been recorded.
Audio Tracking Software
I should mention that there is considerable overlap between the two kinds of program I am describing, but the main distinction is that one is primarily used to record the sound (music, voice over, etc.), and the other is primarily used to modify the audio in some way, usually by altering the actual audio file (destructive editing). For audio tracking you will absolutely want the ability to multitrack. What I mean by this is that you need to be able to record one item on one track (say, an acoustic guitar), a second thing (say, a singer’s voice) on a second track that will play back AT THE SAME TIME as the first track, etc. If a tracking program can do multitrack recording, the number of tracks you can record (remember…all playing back at the same time) is usually unlimited. That means you’ll be able to do some very cool things like record yourself singing harmony with yourself (a quartet or entire choir!), add guitar, drums, piano, etc. and be a one-person band. This is truly the killer app for computer recording. In the old days it was difficult and expensive to do multitrack recording.
Audio Editing Software
Like I said, there is significant overlap between these two types of audio program. For example, most editors can also record audio as well. But you usually can’t do multitrack recording with an editor. For the purpose of this article, I want to focus on the editor’s use once multiple tracks have been mixed down/rendered to a single file. Sometimes this is called mastering. Though in truth, audio editors have many other uses.
So after you’ve mixed all your audio tracks down to a single final stereo sound file in your DAW, you’re ready to use your editing software. The primary difference now is that you’re working on how one single file sounds, rather than how a bunch of different bits of audio sound, alone and together with the other bits of audio. That is such a big mindset difference that in the music business it is common for different people entirely to do each job. For most home recording projects though, we frequently end up doing both jobs. You open the file in the editing program and turn it into a final product by slicing, fading, turning up, turning down the file, and other actions that modify the audio in some way. For example, if I were doing the final edits for a song.