Audacity – Open Source Audio

Screen Shot of Audacity

It was brought to my attention the other day that I had only ever mentioned Audacity in passing. Today we will rectify that.

So lets begin by saying that Sound Forge is possibly the greatest audio swiss army knife ever invented. I absolutely love it, but (there always has to be a but doesn’t there) it only works under Windows and it costs an arm and a leg as well.

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. The fact that I can use either Linux or Windows depending on how the laptop is configured is great.

Here is a short list of the things I have used Audacity to do recently:

  • Record live audio on my laptop. Chop out the quiet bits and then burn off a CD of the recording before we left the gig.
  • Edit MP3 and WAV sound files. Converting from one to the other.
  • Cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together. This was to repair a butchered sound track on a video
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • Generate Click tracks in a hurry. (This worked really well)

All in all a useful little program, and if you don’t require some of Sound Forge’s more obscure and esoteric functions well worth having in your toolkit.

UPDATE: It must be the day for it. Newsforge has an article on “Mastering podcasts with Audacity”.

Heres a quote…

Open source software makes podcasting easy — too easy. Listening to a playlist of first-timer podcasts can leave your ears ringing from sudden changes in playback volume. The problem is audio mastering. Recording sound is simple, but mastering that sound — compressing volume differences, maintaining a decibel ceiling, and similar operations — is anything but. Fortunately, an open source tool offers everything you need for mastering podcasts and other spoken-word recordings. Audacity is well-known among podcasters on all platforms for its ability as an editor; here are some tips and tools for mastering and adjusting volume, aimed at podcasters, but they could apply to anyone who needs to produce a spoken-word recording under less-than-perfect conditions.

The article mainly covers covers using compressors but it is very good. The comments down the bottom are worth a read as well.


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