| By Lincoln Spector |
Applications such as Windows Media Player and iTunes are great for playing music, but not for changing it to suit your needs.
Fortunately, there are free applications that can let you convert, trim, and otherwise modify audio files.
Free music editors have their limitations
If you have a sizable music collection on your PC, chances are good you’ve wished you had some way of editing your tracks. Perhaps, when you burned that recording of your kid’s school concert to an audio CD, it didn’t break up the tracks properly. Or maybe you love Bruce Springsteen’s singing voice but can’t stand his long, spoken introductions. With a music editor, you can delete sections of a track, add fade-ins and fade-outs, split one track into several, and make other creative changes that might suit your fancy.
If you’ve got a collection of LPs or tapes that you want to digitize, a music editor is a must. It’s the only way to reliably split long, continuous recordings into multiple tracks — that homemade tape of the 1973 Grateful Dead Winterland concert, for example. Any worthy music editor can also filter out background noise — important when you’re converting those well-worn LPs and tapes to digital.
Free music editors will, in most cases, provide all the tools you need for simple audio alterations. But free does have a price: these programs don’t offer much handholding — their user interfaces are often opaque and their documentation sparse and confusing.
They also lack a deep level of file support. I could not find a worthwhile free editor that supports .wma or .m4p formats. And creating .mp3 files required downloading a separate library file.