Audacity (audio editor)

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Audacity Logo 2-2-0.png
Audacity Version 3 in Dark Theme.png
Audacity Version 3 screenshot showing the timeline, track, and basic controls
Developer(s)The Audacity Team
Initial releaseMay 28, 2000; 22 years ago (2000-05-28)
Stable release3.1.3 (December 23, 2021; 7 months ago (2021-12-23)[1]) [±]
Written inC, C++ (using the wxWidgets toolkit)[2][3]
Operating systemWindows, macOS, Linux, other Unix-like systems[4][5]
PlatformIA-32, x86-64, PowerPC
Size88.2 MB: Windows
98.3 MB: macOS
includes downloaded manual
Available in38 languages
TypeDigital audio editor
LicenseGPL v2 or Later, CC-BY-3.0 (documentation)[6] [7]

Audacity is a free and open-source digital audio editor and recording application software, available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and other Unix-like operating systems.[4][5] The project was started in the fall of 1999 by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenberg at Carnegie Mellon University, and released on May 28, 2000, as version 0.8.[8][9]

As of March 2, 2022, Audacity is the most popular download at FossHub,[10] with over 111.6 million downloads since March 2015. It was previously served from Google Code and SourceForge, where it was downloaded over 200 million times.

Audacity won the SourceForge 2007 and 2009 Community Choice Award for Best Project for Multimedia.[11][12] It is licensed under GPL-2.0-or-later.[6][7]

In 2019, then-lead developer James Crook started the fork DarkAudacity to experiment with a new look and other UX changes.[13] Most of its changes were eventually incorporated into the mainline version and the fork ended.[14]

In April 2021, it was announced that Muse Group (owners of MuseScore and Ultimate Guitar) would acquire the Audacity trademark and continue to develop the application, which remains free and open source.[15]

Features and use[edit]

In addition to recording audio from multiple sources, Audacity can be used for post-processing of all types of audio, including effects such as normalization, trimming, and fading in and out.[16] It has been used to record and mix entire albums, such as by Tune-Yards.[17] It is currently used in the Sound Creation unit of the UK OCR National Level 2 ICT course.

Audacity's features include:

  • Recording and playing back sounds[18]
    • Scrubbing (Version 2.1.1 and later)[19]
    • Timer Record[20] – schedule when a recording begins and ends, for unattended recording
    • MIDI playback (version 2.2.0 on)[21]
    • Punch and Roll recording – for editing on-the-fly (version 2.3.0 on)
  • Editing
    • Via cut, copy, and paste, with unlimited Undo levels[22]
    • Multitrack features 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)
    • Amplitude envelope editing[23]
    • Precise adjustments to speed (tempo) while maintaining pitch, to synchronize audio with video or for precise running time[24]
    • Conversion of records, tapes or MiniDiscs to digital tracks by splitting the audio source into multiple tracks based on silences in the source material[25]
  • Cross-platform operation – versions for Windows, macOS, and Unix-like systems (including Linux and BSD).[26] (It uses the wxWidgets software library for a similar graphical user interface on various operating systems.[27])
  • Large array of digital effects and plug-ins.[28] Additional effects can be written with Nyquist, a Lisp dialect.[29]
    • Built-in LADSPA, VST and Nyquist plug-in support[30]
    • Noise Reduction based on sampling the noise to be minimized[31]
    • Vocal Reduction and Isolation for creation of karaoke tracks and isolated vocal tracks[32]
    • Pitch adjustment maintaining speed, and speed adjustment maintaining pitch[33]
    • LADSPA, VST and Audio Unit (macOS) effects support real-time preview (version 2.1.0 on) (real-time preview does not yet support latency compensation)[34]
    • Saving and loading user presets for effect settings across sessions (version 2.1.0 on)[35]
  • Support for multi-channel modes with sampling rates up to 96 kHz with 32 bits per sample[36][37]
  • Audio spectrum analysis using the Fourier transform algorithm[38][39]
  • Importing and exporting WAV, AIFF, MP3 (via LAME encoder, now integrated), Ogg Vorbis, and all file formats supported by libsndfile library. Versions 1.3.2 and later supported Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC).[40] Version 1.3.6 and later also supported additional formats such as WMA, AAC, AMR and AC3 via the optional FFmpeg library.[41]
  • Detection of dropout errors while recording with an overburdened CPU
  • From 2.3.2 on, a mod-script-pipe for driving Audacity from Python (can be enabled in Preferences)
  • Full user manual included with the application (Windows and Mac),[42] available to download, or accessible online without downloading
    • Most dialogs and error messages have a "?" help button to link the user to relevant pages in the manual
  • Four user-selectable visual themes (version 2.2.0 on)[43]
    • Four user-selectable colorways for waveform display in audio tracks (version 2.2.1 on)[44]

Audacity supports the LV2 open standard for plugins, and can therefore load software like Calf Studio Gear.[45]

The version 3.0 update (March 2021) introduced a new project file format, .aup3, using an SQLite database to store each project in a single database file.[46]

The 3.0.3 update (July 2021) introduced crash reporting and error reporting for database errors; optional update checking was also added.[47]

Version 3.1.0 introduced:[48]

  • Grab-handle drag-bars for clips to make repositioning audio easier (replacing the Timeshift tool)
  • Non-destructive clip editing
  • Improved, more discoverable, looping

In April 2022, an official Audacity app was added to the Microsoft Store.[49]


Audacity does not support instrument VST (VSTi) plugins.[50] There are no real-time track equalizers or other real-time effect slots for playback or recording. All such effects have to be rendered after recording/import. Audacity does not natively import or export WMA, AAC, AC3 or most other proprietary or restricted file formats; rather, an optional FFmpeg library is required.[51]

Language support[edit]

In addition to English, Audacity is available in Afrikaans, Arabic, Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Corsican, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Marathi, Norwegian (Bokmål), Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Welsh.[52]

The documentation, the Audacity Manual, is available only in English.[53] The Audacity Forum offers technical support in Spanish, French, Russian and German.


Software architecture of Audacity showing how the software is built in layers

The diagram illustrates Audacity's layers and modules. Note the three important classes within wxWidgets, each of which has a reflection in Audacity.

Higher-level abstractions result from related lower-level ones. For example, the BlockFile system is a reflection of and is built on wxWidgets' wxFiles. Lower down in the diagram is a narrow strip for platform-specific implementation layers.

Both wxWidgets and PortAudio are OS abstraction layers, containing conditional code that chooses different implementations depending on the target platform.


As free and open-source software, Audacity is very popular in education, encouraging its developers to make the user interface easier for students and teachers.[54]

CNET rated Audacity 5/5 stars, calling it "feature-rich and flexible".[55] Preston Gralla of PC World said, "If you're interested in creating, editing, and mixing you'll want Audacity."[56] Jack Wallen of Tech Republic praised its features and ease-of-use.[57] Michael Muchmore of PC Magazine rated it 3.5/5 stars and said, "Though not as slick or powerful as programs from the likes of Adobe, Sony, and M-Audio, Audacity is surprisingly feature-full for free software."[58]

In The Art of Unix Programming (2003), open-source software advocate Eric S. Raymond wrote of Audacity, "The central virtue of this program is that it has a superbly transparent and natural user interface, one that erects as few barriers between the user and the sound file as possible."[59]

Some reviewers and users have criticized Audacity for its inconvenient UX design, unsightly GUI, destructive editing, and comparative lack of features, contrasting it with competing products that require fewer actions to perform tasks such as noise reduction.[60][61]

In May 2021, after the project was acquired by Muse Group,[62] there was a draft proposal to add opt-in telemetry using Google Analytics and Yandex.Metrica to the code. Users responded negatively, with accusations of turning Audacity into spyware and violating the GPL by adding an age restriction.[63] This spawned several forks, most prominently among them Tenacity[64] and Audacium.[65][66] The company reversed course, falling back to error/crash reporting and optional update checking instead.[67][68] Another controversy in July 2021[69] resulted from a change to the privacy policy which said that although personal data was stored on servers in the European Economic Area, the program would "occasionally [be] required to share your personal data with our main office in Russia and our external counsel in the USA".[70][71][72] That July, the Audacity team apologized for the changes to the privacy policy and removed mention of the data storage provision which was added "out of an abundance of caution."[69]

Over time, some developers of Audacity forks lost interest[73] and sent their forks into hiatus.[64][74][better source needed] The developer of one fork, Tenacity, had been allegedly harassed by 4chan users, who "took issue with the name Tenacity" and were purportedly associated with a fork "Sneedacity".[75][76]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Release Notes 3.1.3". Audacity Wiki. December 23, 2021. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  2. ^ SourceForge (July 2004). "Project of the Month July 2004 – Audacity". Archived from the original on December 23, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008.
  3. ^ United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2004). "E-Commerce and Development Report 2004" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 3, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder". Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "About Audacity". Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Audacity Team. "License". Audacity. Archived from the original on June 2, 2021. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "audacity/audacity". June 14, 2022 – via GitHub.
  8. ^ "Version 0.8: May 28, 2000" in README.txt of
  9. ^ "Credits". Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  10. ^ "Download Audacity".
  11. ^ " 2007 Community Choice Awards". Archived from the original on January 20, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  12. ^ " 2009 Community Choice Awards". Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  13. ^ "But Why?". Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  14. ^ "DarkAudacity, a customised version of Audacity".
  15. ^ Rothman, Philip (April 30, 2021). "Muse Group formed to support MuseScore, Ultimate Guitar; acquires Audacity". Scoring Notes. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  16. ^ "Podcasting with Linux Command Line Tools and Audacity". Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  17. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (May 2, 2011). "World of Wonder: How Merrill Garbus left the theatre and took the stage." The New Yorker. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  18. ^ "Playing and Recording". Archived from the original on March 24, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  19. ^ "Scrubbing and Seeking". Archived from the original on March 8, 2016.
  20. ^ "Timer Record".
  21. ^ "Note Tracks".
  22. ^ "Edit commands in Audacity". Archived from the original on April 2, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  23. ^ "Audacity's Envelope Tool". Archived from the original on April 16, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  24. ^ "Change Tempo". Archived from the original on March 23, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  25. ^ "Copying tapes, LPs or MiniDiscs to CD". Archived from the original on April 16, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  26. ^ "Cross-platform downloads for Audacity". Archived from the original on January 21, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  27. ^ "wxWidgets Cross-platform GUI Library".
  28. ^ "Index of Effects, Generators and Analyzers in Audacity". Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  29. ^ "Nyquist Plug-ins Reference".
  30. ^ Audacity development team . "Audacity: Plug-ins and Libraries".
  31. ^ "Noise Reduction". Archived from the original on April 4, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  32. ^ "Vocal Reduction and Isolation". Archived from the original on April 13, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  33. ^ "Change Pitch". Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  34. ^ "Real-time preview of effects". Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  35. ^ "Manage Effects, Generators and Analyzers". Archived from the original on April 13, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  36. ^ "Multichannel Recording".
  37. ^ "Audacity Tracks Menu". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  38. ^ "Plot Spectrum". Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  39. ^ "Audacity's Spectrogram View". Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  40. ^ Audacity development team (October 30, 2006). "Audacity 1.3.2 a 1.2.5 released". Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  41. ^ "Importing Audio". Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  42. ^ "Audacity Manual".
  43. ^ "Themes".
  44. ^ "Waveform colorways".
  45. ^ "Calf Studio Gear – Audio Plugin Pack". SourceForge.
  46. ^ Spadafora, Anthony (March 18, 2021). "Audacity 3.0 finally lands after years of waiting". TechRadar. Archived from the original on March 19, 2021. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
  47. ^ Muse Group. "Desktop Privacy Notice". Retrieved July 22, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  48. ^ Muse Group. "3.1 Release Notes". Retrieved October 27, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  49. ^ "Audacity developer puts the 'proper' version on the Microsoft Store". PCWorld. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  50. ^ "FAQ:How do I install VST plug-ins? – Audacity Manual". Archived from the original on October 28, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  51. ^ "Audacity: Features". March 22, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  52. ^ "Languages – Audacity Development Manual". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  53. ^ "Audacity Manual". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  54. ^ Jaworski, Nick; Thibeault, Matthew D. (2011). "Technology for Teaching: Audacity. Free and open-source software". Music Educators Journal. 98 (2): 39–40. doi:10.1177/0027432111428745. ISSN 0027-4321.
  55. ^ "Audacity". CNET. November 8, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  56. ^ Gralla, Preston (October 22, 2008). "Audacity". PC World. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  57. ^ Wallen, Jack (July 18, 2011). "Giving Audacity its due: An audio editor with serious functionality". Tech Republic. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  58. ^ Muchmore, Michael (February 5, 2010). "Audacity 1.2 review". Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  59. ^ "Studying Cases".
  60. ^ Lewis, Daniel (December 3, 2012). "7 reasons I'm switching from Audacity to Audition (and why you shouldn't)". Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  61. ^ McLean, Matthew (June 1, 2017). "Audacity Vs Adobe Audition CC | Where Should I Record & Edit My Podcast?". Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  62. ^ Rothman, Philip (April 30, 2021). "Muse Group formed to support MuseScore, Ultimate Guitar; acquires Audacity". Scoring Notes. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  63. ^ "Audacity 3.0 called spyware over data collection changes by new owner". AppleInsider. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  64. ^ a b "tenacityteam/tenacity". Github. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  65. ^ "SartoxOnlyGNU/audacium". GitHub.
  66. ^ Speed, Richard. "Audacity users stick the knife – and fork – in to strip audio editor of unwanted features". Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  67. ^ Speed, Richard. "Audacity's new management hits rewind on telemetry plans following community outrage". Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  68. ^ Tantacrul (May 13, 2021). "Actions we propose to take on PR #835 #889". GitHub. Archived from the original on May 14, 2021. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
  69. ^ a b Speed, Richard. "Apologetic Audacity rewrites privacy policy after 'significant lapse in communication'". Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  70. ^ "Audio editor Audacity denies spyware accusation". BBC News. July 6, 2021. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  71. ^ "Audacity sends your personal data to Russia and other 'third parties'". The Independent. July 5, 2021. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  72. ^ Halfacree, Gareth; Claburn, Thomas. "Open-source dev and critic of Beijing claims Audacity owner Muse threatened him with deportation to China in row over copyright". Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  73. ^ "SartoxOnlyGNU/audacium: Update". GitHub.
  74. ^ "The 7 Best Audacity Alternatives – Review Geek". Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  75. ^ Halfacree, Gareth. "Audacity fork maintainer quits after alleged harassment by 4chan losers who took issue with 'Tenacity' name". Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  76. ^ Halfacree, Gareth (July 8, 2021). "Audacity alternative abandoned after developer allegedly subjected to stalking and harassment". TechRadar. Retrieved July 15, 2022.


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