Audacity is a simple and elegant open-source sound recording/editing application that does just about everything a home recording enthusiast needs to do, from recording the raw sound files to editing the files to formatting the output in several different formats, including mp3, Ogg Vorbis, AIFF, WAV, and many others. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. I really haven’t found anything to dislike about this software in my several months of using it.
It does require a high-quality microphone, but once that is connected, the user experience is seamless. Recording is as simple as pushing “Record”; editing a sound file is as simple as cut and paste; outputting to mp3 is as simple as selecting “Export” from the menu. And it’s free! What’s not to like? I imagine that if one is a professional sound engineer, one will find Audacity quite inadequate; but for mere mortals, it is exactly what the doctor ordered.