As a Mac user with a broadcast media background from way back in the last century I have more than my fair share of audio recording and editing apps. I know what you’re thinking. “Why would anyone need another audio app when Garageband is included with each new Mac?”
As a multi-track audio recorder and mixer, Garageband is very good, but also very limited, and the target user is the Mac user with limited requirements. That explains why Apple has not done much to improve or add features to Garageband beyond the basics.
For Mac users who need a little more than Garageband can provide, especially with audio editing, audio file conversions, and prefers an approachable user interface, there’s Sound Studio. In one version or another, Sound Studio has been around for years and I’ve purchased at least three versions spanning both 20th and 21st centuries.
The interface is standard for audio apps, and the price modest, relative to the package of features, which includes effects and filters, and file format conversions. Audio recording and editing is straightforward, but provides easier sound wave editing than Garageband.
Tools and features are easy to find. Transport controls are on the bottom, volume meters on the left side (stereo) and editing controls and options are on the top in the toolbar.
The list of audio file formats that can be saved in Sound Studio is extensive. There’s the basic AIFF, AIFF-C, Wave, MPEG-4 AAC, Ogg Vorbis, NeXT Sun, Flac, CAF, and Apple Lossless. A few dozen effects and filters are built in to Sound Studio, including fade, normalize, compressor, expander, noise gate, amplify, volume, reverse audio, reverb, graphic EQ, and many others.
Considering the nominal price tag, Sound Studio is packed with capability. It runs AudioUnit plugins and comes with support for AppleScript and Automator. It records and plays back on two channels and multiple tracks but the number of tracks is limited only by your Mac’s CPU and memory.
Editing audio tracks is far easier in Sound Studio than in Garageband and options are much easier to find and use. That makes it good for recording and editing podcasts, music sessions, audio interviews, with plenty of options to reduce noise and sweeten the audio with EQ and plugins.
Unlike Garageband, however, Sound Studio doesn’t directly open movie files so you can sweeten the audio, doesn’t support Windows Media Audio files (a dying breed), and there is a problem with MP3 files on OS X El Capitan (work arounds are effective on older versions of OS X).
As useful as Sound Studio can be, I have two other favorites. The first is Twisted Wave which has similar features but a heftier price tag, but it also has iPhone and iPad versions. For simple and straightforward audio recording and editing I’ve used Amadeus Pro for many years, and neither of those apps have the same MP3 problems found in Sound Studio.