When dealing with any audio recording you will come in contact with an audio editor program of some sort to make any changes to an audio file. To be clear audio editors are setup to change and alter audio files permanently.(*1)
The first audio editor program I can remember coming across was Sony Soundforge. My main reason for using Soundforge was because it allowed me to do the small things to an audio file such as being able to blend waveforms together as a single file. As well as copy, cut, paste all the general editing really. It's also where and how I began learning to cut samples from other audio.
As the program I just described, I would later come to know these programs as "wave editors", which are nice compact audio editors very commonly found actually. These programs are great for general quick edits. Some have luxury features, but a lot in my opinion don't. Basic examples of wave editors are Audacity, Goldwave, Wave Editor, Wave Pad, Ocean Audio.
When I began to record I also used another program with Soundforge it was called Acid Pro 4.0. In this program Acid Pro 4.0 it had the capabilities to record multiple tracks which was cool because, I could put an instrumental in the program, and then record vocals on a different track separate from the instrumental. This allowed me to do a couple things.
1. I could re-record certain parts of a vocal performance, without having to record the entire performance all over if I needed to because I was able to record separate takes on separate tracks*(2)
2. I could also mix better because I had multiple audio signals to work with versus one.*(3)
So back to the Acid Pro 4.0 it had a multitrack recording, and could separate my tracks, and add separate effects to each track.Even though it was watered down I would later know programs like these to be known as a D.A.W.(Digital Audio Work Station) A D.A.W. in classification are the Big dogs of the audio editor programs. The major D.A.W. programs are FL Studio, Protools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Cubase, Reason, Garageband, Sonar Cakewalk, Adobe Audition, Mixcraft, Studio One, and Digital Performer.*(4)
(*1.) Audio editors change audio permanently as an end result in a new recording file. A changed audio file is not restricted to only change made to audio through the use of effects.
Most audio editors will have processing available. Processing is a permanent procedure to apply an effect to an audio file.
In a D.A.W. it's available, but also with the use of plugins instead of making effects permanent you can record them into the mix when you choose. Plugins definitely add more strain on a computer, but more convenient and easy to make changes to audio and not have to worry about not being able to fix mistakes made by adding effects.
(*1.2) Audio editors are able to produce new audio files in formats that can be played on most or any system, such as new a .wav or mp3 file. It's NOT uncommon especially with wave editors that they may only produce .wav/Aiff files.
A wave file also known as .wav or .wave. Is really the most basic waveform file types in digital audio recording. The .wav format was created by Microsoft and IBM in 1991 the file type was only meant to support multichannel audio. The Apple Equivalent to a .Wav file is a .AIFF. File. .AIFF and Wave are the most common file types you will come across.
Exporting out most audio editors usually you have the option to convert before you get them as a finished file. Wav/Aiff take up a lot of space very quickly compared to the highest quality of a mp3 which is 320
(*1.3) (Back to my point) Wave/Aiff files are the most commonly found audio files in the recording process, but alot of times are not able to be played on a lot of music programs for playing music. because a wave audio file is raw uncompressed audio and without an audio medium such as a cd which changes it from the .wav form or through some other conversion styles for files types which is how you get a mp3 file.
Again that's a technicality, but for learning purposes I state because it is not a fully true statement and it comes with quirks.
(*2.) This can be very vital especially when dealing with an undeveloped artist. Sometimes the studio can be very rough on them for a range of reasons. Being able to have multiple tracks as well as the ability to have audio takes. Removes a huge load off producer/engineer/artist in the recording process. You should also note its also a very bad habit for an actual recording artist to use it as a crutch.
(*3.) Compared to if I was in a wave editor Ima have to get real creative about how I'm going to play the music live - out loud on some speakers. (Cause Ima have to hear the instrumental playing while I record right?) Have my speakers at the right volume level so that God willingly I will be able to get some vocals that you can halfway hear. Then record it, record it correctly in 1 take, and have it sounding good.
Hopefully, you were able to read how complex and exhausting that workflow was just in reading. Imagine it being seriously done. Sounds bad!
(*4.) D.A.W. programs like wave editors have similar goals in mind, but a D.A.W. has way more capabilities in the recording process.
Its up to the user to find the program that suits best. I wouldn't recommend expecting a perfect fit with a program but if it is. Perfect! If not would advise to look for the best fit for you, and what you are trying to do and accomplish. You actually have to know what you are doing and you do this by practice.
*D.A.W. programs like wave editors have similar goals in mind, but a D.A.W. has way more capabilities in the recording process than any wave editor.
There is no good or bad program it is more about what program benefits the user in making the best music possible.
*Additional Notes (Random)
*I was recording off a headset with a microphone from office depot plugged into the microphone input and headphone/speaker input of a regular desktop computer with a factory soundcard.
* Other positive things about a wave editor is that they are extremely easy on computers. They don't require much processor at all from the computer. Which I've always found useful because when your working between programs it's easy to do your work in the wave editor, and then get it into action quickly. They also are programs that load fast. They don't normally have a lot of stuff to preload to get up and running.
* Before I actually successfully sampled any record I learned a lot about changing things involving the waveforms from how they play to how I could make them play manipulating timing all in a wave editor. With sampling, there are a lot of timing issues, but before that issue can exist u have to have a wave editor/audio editor of some sort to get it sampled. I've used a lot of wave editors kind of like my regular music player programs...for me a wave editor has worked as a really good place to start at times in the creation process, and making all audio the way I need it to sound on the fly.
*A cool thing that soundforge did that ive seen very few audio editors be able to do, and that was having multiple windows open to edit. I can only remember cubase allowing you to have multiple session files opened at the same team. Very convenient feature.
*A wave editor is a tool as is a D.A.W. use both efficiently, effectively, and excellently
*I wouldn't advise making life or death changes to audio in a wave editor.
*I had to sit and think about it for a while, but in addition to audio editors, DJ software such as Virtual DJ, Serato, and Traktor would also be considered a more manual form of an audio editor, but an audio editor none the least. They record effects and deliver a new a file with a recording which meets all the requirements of an audio editor.
*An audio editor can usually be found with many video editing programs. Sometimes its in a suite.
*Also for an artsy twist every time I referred to an audio editor I was referring to a software program, but for an actual audio editing person who would also be an audio editor.
what I've stated still applies.
Hope this helps someone out.
If there are any questions or suggestions just post in the comments Thanks!