Audacity — A Free, Open-Source Audio Editor

For those of you that have been reading the HTMLCenter blog for a while, you should know by now that I am a big proponent of free, open-sourced software. I am going to begin a short series of quick reviews/recommendations on good, free, open-sourced media proggies and Web developer helper apps.

The first article in this series deals with the audio editing program “Audacity”. Audacity is free, it’s open-source and it’s available on SourceForge. The program is compatible with all three OS platforms (Linux, Mac and Windows). If you have the need to edit audio files, in basically any format, Audacity offers that functionality.

You can download Audacity from its SourceForge project page.

Audacity is a fantastic audio editor. Granted, it doesn’t offer quite as many features as the extremely expensive professional software that studios purchase, such as CoolEditPro or the Adobe media studio, but it offers more than enough for the majority of the world that’s just looking to perform minor edits on their audio files.

Audio Formats

Audacity allows you, out of the box, to import audio in the following formats (external codecs may be required):

  • wav
  • aif
  • au
  • mp3
  • ogg

Audacity also allows you to install plug-ins to import and export audio in many other formats.

When you’re finished editing the project, you can save it as an Audacity Audio Project or you can export it to Wave, mp3 or OGG Vorbis.


You can use Audacity to edit existing audio files, record live audio and to edit multiple audio files. You can create multi-track recordings, apply a whole host of filters to the audio you’re manipulating and use multiple plug-ins to add unlimited functionality to the application.

How Well Does It Work?

Audacity works beautifully. I have never thrown anything at Audacity that it hasn’t been able to handle. I’ve imported an entire album-side and easily been able to normalize it and split it into individual tracks. I’ve imported a poor-quality audio file and been able to clean it up pretty well. I’ve imported multiple pieces of a single track and been able to easily splice them together. I’ve even created multi-tracked audio productions, adding vocals, sound effects and more to a music bed.

Audacity never balks at anything. I have yet to see the program freeze or crash when trying to render any files. I’ve never experienced any abnormalities or jitters in the audio it produces.

My Experience

I have been using Audacity as my only audio editor for about three or four years, now. I was a mass communications student in college, with a concentration on multimedia production, so I have used a host of different applications and suites to produce audio. I have dealt with digital and analog audio production.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, Audacity doesn’t quite offer all of the functionality that the expensive professional suites, but it does offer more than enough for those performing audio production as a hobby. It’s a very lightweight, quick application.

My Rating

With my background in multimedia production, I have to weigh the features and performance of Audacity against that of the professional applications. With that in mind, I will give Audacity a 4 out 5.

For audio hobbyists, Audacity offers everything you’ll ever need (and more). If you are not an audio professional, Audacity should get a rating of 5 out of 5.

For audio professionals, obviously Audacity is not going to allow you to do everything you’ll ever need to do. However, it will allow you to do about 80% of what you need to do, and it will do it quicker than any of the professional applications. For you, I would give Audacity a 3.5 out of 5, keeping in mind that, for pre-production, Audacity is more than capable.

One Response

  • Allen

    Love Audacity – great review Curtiss!