Best Free Music Editing Program

 
Introduction

So, you've got some big mp3 or other audio files which you want to trim, splice, split or otherwise cut down to size, maybe for your mp3 player. Perhaps you want to extract one or more songs from a large audio file, or a particular part of a radio program you recorded (cut-out the commercials!). You want to split a wav file you've transferred from vinyl into its original track. Or you want to use a particular portion of an mp3 file to create a personalized ring tone for your smart phone.

You could use an all-round audio editing freeware program like Audacity, but that isn't the most convenient or efficient way. Your best bet is probably to use a smaller, more specific program for the job: a lightweight freeware splitter or joiner.

Perhaps something you can run even on an oldish laptop. And you'll be better off choosing a lossless splitter which — unlike Audacity, for example — will cut (or merge) your files without any loss of sound quality due to decompressing and recoding.

This review will focus on simple audio cutter/joiner freeware for use with mp3 and ogg files, and also for wav and other formats.

 
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Quick Selection Guide - Audio Cutters or Splitters
Quick Selection Guide - Audio Joiners

 
Discussion

Audio Cutters / Splitters

mp3DirectCutmp3DirectCut is likely to be top choice if your main need is simply to cut/split mp3 files. It's a lightweight, portable, lossless mp3 splitter which is a joy to use, even on less powerful computers.

Like other top audio file splitters,  mp3DirectCut  incorporates an audio player with a volume unit (VU) meter which lets you see as well as hear the points where you want to cut. Mp3DirectCut offers a good range of handy features, including pause detection, CUE sheet support, looping, volume gain, fading, trimming and ID tagging, etc.

It's a pleasure to get to know this no frills program. There's an excellent manual (available here or here), as well as a useful tutorial on how to make a ring tone with mp3DirectCut. Splendid, straightforward portable freeware.

NB: A particular strong point of mp3DirectCut used to be the clarity of its neatly arranged interface (as illustrated above). However, the most recent version has sacrificed the logical descriptive buttons for a graphically questionable slew of symbols (screenshot here). Therefore, we continue to recommend the older version, while providing download links to both versions. Take your pick.

mp3Splt-gtkmp3splt-gtk has the advantage that it handles ogg vorbis files as well as mp3. It also has a few more features than mp3DirectCut, including the ability to identify split points between tracks via online database services (CDDB or FreeDB).

On the downside, the user interface is less tidy than mp3DirectCut's (at least in its older versions), and the program's response times tend to be somewhat longer. For instance, you have to load the player's VU meter (by checking "Show amplitude wave"). Documentation too seems to be confined to the command line version of mp3splt. However, you can find a good overview of the program and its interface here.

 

Audio Joiners

MakeitOne MP3 Album MakerMakeitOne MP3 Album Maker outshines other joiners for its ability to join multiple mp3 files and, if required, "unpack" them back to their original state. Either way, the program is a lightning fast mp3 joiner and unpacker that accepts large files.

The mp3 files packed by the program can be played on any mp3 player. It features drag-and-drop files for ease of use and includes a tagging function which lets you tag artist and album title information and album art to the joined files.

On the downside, the only audio format it supports is mp3.

Shuangs Audio JoinerShuangs Audio Joiner takes three simple steps to join audio files, Add files in the list, Select Output Format, and Join the files; straight forward, easy to use and effective.

Joins mp3, wma and wav files. The mp3 files can be joined using a bitrate ranging from 32 to 320 kbps, wma files with a bitrate ranging from 48 to 160 kbps.

The user interface shows a small advert panel linking to the developer's homepage but it is not intrusive.

 

Online applications:

  • cutmp3.net - There are several valid online mp3 cutters around, but for straightforward jobs CutMp3 really is a cut above the rest. Since cutmp3.net doesn't require you to upload the mp3 file, this app works lightning fast. There is no limit to the size of file you can use, and all in all cutmp3.net really cuts the mustard!
  • Audiko.net - If you have proprietary ringtone needs, then Audiko may provide the answer. This app lets you cut an mp3, ogg or aac audio file online easily, and could be good for creating a personalized ringtone for iPhone or other smart phones without installing any software. Just upload a file, choose the best fragment by dragging the start and end point on a volume unit (UV) meter while the audio file is automatically being played. Then, click the Create Ringtone button and download the file in mp3, m4r or an amr format directly to your mobile or smart phone; you'll have to send a text first though.

 

More freeware review suggestions:

  • Merge MP3 - A strong contender for best free joiner based on its ability to merge mp3s very rapidly without the need to re-encode. Recommended by Gizmo reviewer mr6n8, here
  • mpTrim - This portable program will remove silent parts of mp3 files. Its sister program - wavTrim - will do the same for wav files.
  • Ventones.com - Another web site to create ring tones online from your mp3 collection; or download free ringtones made by others (free registration required).
  • Free Audio Dub - This standalone program promises to let you cut a variety of audio formats, including aac, ac3 and m4a (as well as mp3, wav, ogg, wma and mp2). So Free Audio Dub could come in useful for iTunes files. INSTALLATION NOTE: The installer asks you to install the Ask toolbar and set Ask as your home page and default search engine: to opt out,  uncheck all three tick boxes when installing.
  • Medieval Cue Splitter - Good for other audio file types if you want to split into original CD tracks a ripped audio file with an accompanying CUE file; supports mp3, flac, ape, ogg, wma, mpc, wv (lossless WavPack compressed) and ta (True Audio codec) files.
  • Free MP3 WMA Cutter - Also includes several basic audio file editing functions and can be used as a ringtone maker for iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, etc.
  • Free MP3 Joiner - Drag and drop (and can also convert several audio file types).
  • Meda MP3 Joiner - Another contender.
 

Tested and not recommended:

  • iWisoft Free Video Converter - This excellent freeware video converter successfully cuts mp4 video files, but it isn't primarily an audio file cutter. Since the developers used to claim the program could cut and merge a wide variety of audio file formats I decided to try to split a Monkey's Audio ape file; the results were not good (far easier to decompress to wav and then split with CD Wave Editor). Still... worth watching.
  • Slice Audio File Splitter - Partial reliance on an ambiguously "freeware"  audio editor (Wavepad Basic) is an annoyance... as is the stuff these two programs write to the registry.
 
How to cut and join .wav files

If you're transferring LP records or tapes to your computer, or otherwise making high quality audio recordings to store and play from a hard disk or music player, you'll probably want to work initially with a pristine .wav (pcm) file before converting to a compressed format. This process is valuable if you're going to store your audio files in a format which can't be split, such as high quality lossy .mpc (musepack).*

  • Wave Splitter - This tiny, highly efficient and portable program provides an alternative way to cut wav files. Since it doesn't consume any RAM, WaveSplitter should be particularly useful on less powerful computers. The final version of this little freeware gem dates back to 2000, but it seems to work just fine even on recent platforms like Vista (0.3 MB).
 
*A few words about how to cut or merge tricky audio file formats:
  • If you're working with files already compressed into a lossless format like .flac or .ape, you can just decompress them to .wav without losing any information and then use one of these tools before compressing again to whatever format you need (CD Wave Editor will do all this for you from inside the program).
  • If the file you want to work on is a lossy one that can't be split (eg musepack), you can follow the same procedure by converting to wav or mp3 etc and then cutting; however, you'll inevitably lose some information and impair the sound quality. So, in that case it's much better to edit the wav file before converting to the compressed lossy format.
 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide - Audio Cutters or Splitters

mp3DirectCut
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
An audio cutter that's lightweight, simple, efficient and user friendly; neat interface.
Mainly restricted to MP3.
http://mpesch3.de1.cc/mp3dc.html
2.19
294 KB
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Windows, Linux with Wine. Common codecs: mp3 ACM or mpglib.dll; ACM or Lame for recording.

The recommended version (v2.12) with neatly arranged GUI and helpful button descriptions can be downloaded from here. Current version with symbol interface here.

mp3splt-gtk
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Cuts/splits vorbis ogg files as well as MP3; many features; works well.
Slightly less user friendly than mp3DirectCut.
0.8.2
8.5 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows, Mac OS X, Linux (Ubuntu, Debian and others)

Portable version available for Windows and Mac. To download the mp3splt-gtk for Windows, scroll down to the bottom of the page and go to the far right hand column.
exe download 8.5MB
zip download 14.4MB

 
Quick Selection Guide - Audio Joiners

MakeitOne MP3 Album Maker
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Ability to join/pack and unpack, processed in a fast speed. Adding tags and album art.
Supports only MP3 file format.
3.61
433 KB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows

MP3 Album Maker is written in C# and requires the DotNet Framework.
View the changelog here.

Shuangs Audio Joiner
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple and easy to use, adjustable bit rates.
Shows an ad panel.
2.5
1.22 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/7

Supports audio formats: MP3, WMA and WAV.

 
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Tags

mp3 cutter, mp3 joiner, mp3 splitter, ogg cutter, ogg joiner, ogg splitter, wav splitter, wav joiner, wma joiner, audio file cutter, joiner, splitter, freeware, free, mp3 editor, audio editor, how to cut split merge audio files

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Comments

by MarkinAZ on 6. September 2013 - 23:00  (110567)

Merge MP3 joins low bit rate streams where MakeItOne MP3 Album Maker is unable.

Usually, MakeItOne is chosen to join or split files together, and it has done so successfully for years. Recently some 32 kbps audiobook files were joined and failed, also some 16 kbps mp3s. Below is more on the problem and the solution:

At the online forum for MakeItOne it was discovered the program is intended for streams between 96 and 320 kbps. This was quite a surprise because 100s of mp3s were previously joined at 64 kbps and at 32 kbps, all with 100% success.

The 32 and 16 kbps audiobook streams that failed actually worked OK with the VLC Media Player where they were checked before loading them into an old, probably obsolete, Muvo 100 mp3 player from Creative labs that still works well. In the Muvo 100 the audiobooks either played with breakups or a file error message appeared. Some files were rejoined with MakeItOne to check, but the results were the same.

It looked like Merge MP3 might work, and the fact that it does not re-encode was a plus for low bit rate streams. Moreover, the program was used a few times in the past.

(The editor’s link for Merge MP3 under “More freeware review suggestions” is broken, but it worked previously. I’d really like to read what reviewer mr6n8 wrote…)

Merge MP3 fixed every set of low bit rate audiobooks 32 kbps and also 16 kbps, over 600 files so far.

Merge MP3 is a good tool for joining files. It is unable to unpack joined files like MakeItOne, but this is needed infrequently, and it is still a very nice tool that works below its 96 kbps lower limit.

by Agesilaus on 11. February 2013 - 10:01  (105302)

Somehow I can't figure out how to simply just cut an mp3 file and save it with MP3 DirectCut. When I cut the file, it disappears. All I have left is the other part.

How do you just cut a track, and save it? And then save the other part too.

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