Audacity – digital audio editing

Few programs have dominated an open source category like Audacity.  It works so well that many people don’t even try other programs — especially for podcasts and “Powerpoints.”

Audacity can import or record multiple tracks, trim audio, level audio, fade-in and out, cut-out mistakes, etc — all the basic features you need for podcasts, radio spots, presentations, etc.   It has more audio-processing filters and the ability to add even more but I rarely use any of those.

It can export to WAV, WMA (Windows), AIFF (Apple), FLAC (cool) and most importantly, MP3.

Like  most open source software, Audacity is similar to programs from about ten years ago — but I consider this a virtue.   Modern programs can have so many features they they are a nuisance to learn.

A few years ago, I had a radio production studio with a couple of expensive commercial editing programs but I found Audacity to be the quickest for simple  productions — like two or three voices and a music track.

I challenged one of my technicians to produce a song with Audacity but he didn’t like it, saying it gave him timing problems.  (three or four musicians?).  More recently, I tried to use Audacity as a music sequencer and didn’t like it for that, either. I have also had problems with very long, single take, recordings (like over an hour.)

But, for simple audio production, it’s a very useful program, rivaling commercial products.  Highly recommended.

Tool: Audacity
Description: Cross-platform digital audio editor
License: GNU, free
Alternatives: Linux MultiMedia Studio, several others
Rating: very useful