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Audio Editing Powerhouse: Audacity. Looking for a very powerful, feature-rich and free audio editing program? Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multitrack audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux in multiple languages. In addition to recording audio from multiple sources, Audacity can be used for post-processing of all types of audio, including podcasts by adding effects such as normalization, trimming, and fading in and out. Audacity has also been used to record and mix entire albums.

Audacity sports the following basic features:

  • Record live audio
  • Record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs
  • Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files
  • Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording

As well as these advanced features, and many more:

  • Importing and exporting of WAV, AIFF, MP3 (via the LAME encoder, downloaded separately), Ogg Vorbis, and all file formats supported by libsndfile library. Versions 1.3.2 and later support Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC). Version 1.3.6 and later also support additional formats such as WMA, AAC, AMR and AC3 via the optional FFmpeg library.
  • Recording and playing back sounds
  • Editing via Cut, Copy and Paste (with unlimited levels of Undo)
  • Multitrack mixing
  • A large array of digital effects and plug-ins. Additional effects can be written with Nyquist
  • Built-in LADSPA plug-in support. VST support available through an optional VST Enabler.
  • Amplitude envelope editing
  • Noise removal based on sampling the noise to be removed.
  • Audio spectrum analysis using the Fourier transform algorithm
  • Support for multi-channel modes with sampling rates up to 96 kHz with 32 bits per sample
  • Precise adjustments to the audio’s speed while maintaining pitch in order to synchronize it with video or run for a predetermined length of time
  • Changes to the audio’s pitch without changing the speed
  • Features of modern multi-track audio software including navigation controls, zoom and single track edit, project pane and XY project navigation, non-destructive and destructive effect processing, audio file manipulation (cut, copy, paste)
  • Conversion of cassette tapes or records into digital tracks by automatically splitting the audio source into multiple tracks based on silences in the source material

Audacity was started in May of 2000 by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenberg at Carnegie Mellon University. As of 10 October 2011, it was the 11th most popular download from SourceForge, with 76.5 million downloads.

Although it’s not something we open every day here in the studio, what we like about Audacity (besides the price tag) is that it loads quickly and works great for quick-n-dirty edits. It’s also useful for some technical/scientific and acoustics experimenting and calibration in terms of precise waveform and phase editing and signal generation. It’s a handy tool in the toolbox for both audio engineers and composers. Give it shot!

Download Audacity here: