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.

by ak47wong on 4. December 2012 - 0:48  (103328)

Regarding the "graphically questionable slew of symbols" in mp3DirectCut, there is an option to switch back to the text buttons (which I also prefer).

Under Settings > Configure, on the Operation tab, under "Button layout", you can choose:

Icons (default) - the newer symbol interface
Text buttons - the old text buttons from v2.12
Nav left - Text buttons in a slightly different order
Slim - Text buttons rearranged to use less vertical space

This option was introduced at the same time as the symbol interface, so there has never been a need to link to the old version of the program. May I suggest you remove the link to v2.12 and just mention that you can switch back to text buttons in the options dialog?

by mr6n8 on 12. February 2013 - 0:38  (105319)

I know it has been a while since you posted this, but thanks for the info.
I just changed and it is a pleasure.

Steve

by AJNorth on 1. December 2012 - 10:11  (103161)

Another utility with which I have had success editing MP3s is MuseTips' Free MP3 Cutter and Editor (1.01 MB), which also provides additional functionality such as adjustment of the output audio level (including to the maximum without incurring distortion) and adding fade-ins / fade-outs -- http://www.musetips.com/free-mp3-cutter-and-editor.html. (As this is ad-supported, one needs to pay particular attention during installation.)

NOTE: as of this post, the vendor's website has yet to be updated to reflect the release of the newest version, 2.6.0 Build 1523.

by Chetan Prasad (not verified) on 29. November 2012 - 13:38  (103066)

i want to know How to retain the vocal of any song ? i mean to say dat i want to separate d vocal n music of any song.. i wanna keep the vocal sound... is it possible?

by Mojoe on 30. November 2012 - 16:23  (103124)

Vocals and other sounds have frequencies in various ranges that interlap in the mix, and if you try to remove just the vocals by rolling them off usually you'll also make changes to other sounds as well, but may/will cause bad results and you will still have
some vocal left-overs in the mix because it couldn't be removed 100%, so it won't sound good.

If you want to try, use plugins.
find a plugin that separates the vocal from the beat
or do it yourself using EQ

by Dorel (not verified) on 22. November 2012 - 7:19  (102726)

Very happy with Shuangs Audio Joiner !! Pretty easy to use , a great program !!

by skeetpick (not verified) on 18. September 2012 - 0:24  (99403)

MergeMP3. Wow! What a neat program without even installing. Simple, works perfect without instruction for this novice. Had 149 mp3 files in audiobook Hyperion, merged to 6 in just minutes. MakeitOne would not install on my windows 7 Dell, so I have no idea how it might work. Thank you.

by Anupam on 1. July 2011 - 9:25  (74607)

Mp3 Cutter from Eusing :

http://www.eusing.com/free_mp3_cutter/mp3_cutter.htm

Can also be used to cut wav, and wma files.

by Jimz (not verified) on 6. May 2011 - 19:01  (71542)

I went for the Shuangs Audio Joiner, and it works fine, however just one little thing I noticed, and that is if you are merging say 320 bitrate files to the same bitrate for example 320 to 320, the program still encodes the file data, and I would have thought that there should be an option to join as source bitrate without the need for encoding.

This of course would save time too.

by John Peter (not verified) on 19. April 2011 - 23:39  (70568)

Dont forget AUDICITY, very good

by Maximus (not verified) on 24. September 2012 - 15:43  (99694)

Audicity is a lossy format, whereas, Mp3DirectCut is lossless and does not effect nor degrade data.

by Bob on 20. April 2011 - 4:49  (70577)

Audacity is indeed a very good program. But, as mentioned in the Intro to this review, Audacity does not do lossless cutting, splitting or merging: you can do all those operations, but you lose some of the original data. This review focuses on the best free *lossless* cutters (and joiners/mergers, splitters)

by Geert on 6. March 2011 - 19:14  (67535)

I agree with Bob when he says about mp3DirectCut:
>> A particular strong point is the simplicity of its neatly arranged interface

But I was somewhat disappointed when recently I installed the last version of mp3DirectCut where all the text on the buttons was replaced by a bunch of - not always that clear - icons. In my opinion that was - maybe a step forward in the category "having a sexy look", but certainly - a step back in userfriendlyness.

by Bob on 9. March 2011 - 15:46  (67694)

Thanks for flagging this, Geert. I fully agree with you. Er, scarcely cutting edge, I'd say. And I don't even find the new buttons particularly sexy on her. Anyway, an older version (2.12) of mp3DirectCut with the more descriptive interface can still be downloaded  from here 
(I've updated the review.)

by Stacey (not verified) on 27. December 2010 - 13:08  (63349)

Could someone please help me........I am wanting to take some songs in my files and only use part of them. I play music at my sons hockey games and sometimes only have 10-25 seconds to play a song so I want to play the best part of the song. I am not real good w/ the computer so I need something that is very user friendly. Someone suggested acidpro but I found this hard to get around. Is there a free program that is simple to use???? I don't need to do any other crazy stuff to the songs, just cut the pieces out that I want to use (10-40 secs worth).
Truly would appreciate some help.
Stacey

by Bob on 27. December 2010 - 13:12  (63350)

Hello Stacey.

Have you tried CutMP3.net? I think you'll find this online app really simple. However, since the site doesn't actually provide any instructions, I'll briefly talk you through the job. I'm assuming that the files you want to use are mp3 (and that you don't happen to know in advance the exact timings of the points where you want to cut).

To use CutMP3.net, go to the webpage (http://cutmp3.net/), click 'Open MP3' and select the file with the song you wish to cut. Wait for the file to load (this shouldn't take too long unless the file's too big for the app). Press 'Play' and listen till you get to the point where you wish to start your personal selection and then press 'Pause'. When you're satisfied that you've paused at just the right place, you can select the start of your soundbite by dragging the left-hand bottom cursor to exactly the point you paused at (reddish orange line). Now repeat the process, this time using the right-hand bottom cursor to select the end. In other words, continue playing the track, pause where you want your song to end, and then drag the right hand cursor to the chosen point. Your selection should now be highlighted in blue. Finally, press 'Cut', rename the new file (for example, "extract.mp3"), and save it wherever you want. You should now have the soundbite you need.

Hope this helps
Bob

by Dwain Wood (not verified) on 1. December 2010 - 14:02  (61889)

Recorders apps used to turn your iphone into a recorder use aiff and caf file formats.
iWisoft Video Converter does a good job of converting and trimming the aiff file to the more popular mp3 format.

by arto65 on 1. December 2010 - 7:25  (61862)

Thanks for this good review!

I wanted to add:
- wma cutting can be very tricky (stream rips for example). The tool I use for that is asfbin by radioactivepages. It automatically fixes files when splitting them.
- mp3 direct cut can trim mp2 files, but you need to download a plugin.

by Bob on 1. December 2010 - 9:28  (61872)

Thank you for the useful suggestions. I'm afraid Asfbin is technically outside the scope of this review as it is specifically a video file cutter / joiner. According to the developer, "AsfbinWin is a Windows utility for cutting out fragments, joining, editing and repairing ASF/WMV files. All processing is lossless apart from recreating the first video frame." I note that Asfbin is currently free for non-commercial use. No installation is required. Additionally, there are command line versions available for both Windows and Linux (see http://www.radioactivepages.com/asfbin.aspx)

by Anonymous on 28. February 2010 - 20:06  (44737)

I'm here for a different reason: audiobooks. Downloads from Audible.com come in several .AA files. Each file contains ~6 hours of narration. It's easy enough to convert the .AA files to .MP3 to eliminate the copy protection, but you lose the ability to insert bookmarks in Itunes. Then you're stuck with a single 6-hour MP3 file. If you lose your place, it's very time-consuming to find the spot on an MP3 player by fast-forwarding. Slicing the book into ~5 minute segments makes the book much easier to navigate. I've only seen one tool capable of automatically detecting silences and splitting the file at those points: http://www.audiobookcutter.com/products.html . They have a free version, but it lacks the auto-detection feature. You could do the job manually with any software that will split MP3 files, but it would take longer to split the file than to listen to the whole book. Does anyone know of a freeware splitter with silence auto-detection that does the same job as Audiobook Cutter?

by raritan2002 (not verified) on 2. December 2010 - 4:13  (61915)

Is there a good tool for converting audiobook .aa files to .mp3 files?

by Anonymous on 25. May 2010 - 11:27  (50287)

Get AudiobookCutter from SourceForge.net - archive of last open source version (0.7.5): http://sourceforge.net/projects/audiobookcutter/ .
This version had the ability to detect and cut at silence points as opposed to the latest free releases. Just make sure you don't update it.

by Bob on 7. March 2010 - 17:55  (45166)

Have you tried mp3DirectCut's "pause detection" function (in the "Special" dropdown menu)? You may find you have to experiment with the settings a little to fit the characteristics of your file.

Alternatively, if you only need to cut your outsize mp3 into a series of files of a fixed length you could use the "Autocue" option.

by Anonymous on 12. October 2009 - 18:09  (34446)

Meda MP3 Joiner: http://www.medafan.com/mp3-joiner/
WavePad 4.27: Softpedia link

by Anupam on 12. October 2009 - 14:44  (34415)
by Bob on 12. October 2009 - 15:49  (34427)

Cheers - Shuangs Audio Joiner is very neat (it's on the list).

by Anupam on 13. October 2009 - 6:57  (34502)

Glad to offer a good suggestion :)

Anupam

by Jojo Yee on 12. October 2009 - 12:46  (34402)

An application that is free and simple to use for cutting mp3 files is much sought after. I've seen many requests for this, especially for cutting mp3 files and turn them into ring tones for smart phones.

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