Audacity (audio editor)

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Audacity Logo 2-2-0.png
Audacity 2-3-1 Light theme.png
Audacity 2.3.3 default Light Theme
Developer(s)The Audacity Team
Initial releaseMay 28, 2000; 19 years ago (2000-05-28)
Stable release2.3.3 (November 22, 2019; 2 months ago (2019-11-22)[1]) [±]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC, C++ (using the wxWidgets toolkit)[2][3]
Operating systemWindows, macOS, Linux, other Unix-like systems[4][5]
PlatformIA-32, x86-64, PowerPC
Size62.5 MB: Windows
71.7 MB: macOS
includes downloaded Manual
Available in
TypeDigital audio editor
LicenseGPLv2, CC BY 3.0 (documentation)[6]

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] Audacity was started in the fall of 1999 by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenberg at Carnegie Mellon University and was released on May 28, 2000 as version 0.8.[7][8]

As of November 20, 2019, it is the most popular download from FossHub,[9] with over 80 million downloads since March 2015. Previously, downloads were served from Google Code and SourceForge, with a combined total in excess of 100 million downloads. Audacity won the SourceForge 2007 and 2009 Community Choice Award for Best Project for Multimedia.[10][11]

Features and usage[edit]

Audacity's main panel annotated. All the components that have been labelled are custom for Audacity.[12]

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.[13] Audacity has also been used to record and mix entire albums, such as by Tune-Yards.[14] It is also currently used in the UK OCR National Level 2 ICT course for the sound creation unit.

Audacity's features include:

  • Four user-selectable themes enable the user to choose their preferred look and feel for the application (version 2.2.0 and later)[15]
    • Four user-selectable colorways for waveform display in audio tracks (version 2.2.1 and later)[16]
  • Recording and playing back sounds[17]
    • Scrubbing (Version 2.1.1 and later)[18]
    • Timer Record[19] enables the user to schedule when a recording begins and ends to make an unattended recording.
    • MIDI playback is available (from version 2.2.0 onwards)[20]
    • Punch and Roll recording - for editing on-the-fly (from version 2.3.0 onwards)
  • Editing
    • via cut, copy, and paste, with unlimited levels of undo[21]
    • Features of modern multitrack 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)
    • Amplitude envelope editing[22]
    • Precise adjustments to the audio speed (tempo) while maintaining pitch in order to synchronize it with video or run for a predetermined length of time[23]
    • Conversion of cassette tapes or records into digital tracks by splitting the audio source into multiple tracks based on silences in the source material[24]
  • Cross-platform operation — Audacity works on Windows, macOS, and other Unix-like systems (including Linux and BSD)[25]
  • A large array of digital effects and plug-ins.[27] Additional effects can be written with Nyquist, a Lisp dialect.[28]
    • Built-in LADSPA, VST(32-bit) and Nyquist plug-in support[29]
    • Noise Reduction based on sampling the noise to be minimized.[30]
    • Vocal Reduction and Isolation for the creation of karaoke tracks and isolated vocal tracks.[31]
    • Adjusting audio pitch while maintaining speed and adjusting audio speed while maintaining pitch[32]
    • LADSPA, VST (32-bit) and Audio Unit (macOS) effects now support real-time preview (from version 2.1.0 onwards). Note: Real-time preview does not yet support latency compensation.[33]
    • Saving and loading of user presets for effect settings across sessions (from 2.1.0 onwards).[34]
  • Multitrack mixing[35]
  • Audio spectrum analysis using the Fourier transform algorithm[37][38]
  • Importing and exporting of WAV, AIFF, MP3 (via the LAME encoder, now integrated as part of Audacity), Ogg Vorbis, and all file formats supported by libsndfile library. Versions 1.3.2 and later supported Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC).[39] Version 1.3.6 and later also supported additional formats such as WMA, AAC, AMR and AC3 via the optional FFmpeg library.[40]
  • Detection of dropout errors while recording with an overburdened CPU
  • From 2.3.2 onwards, mod-script-pipe for driving Audacity from Python now comes with Audacity and it can be enabled via preferences.
  • A full downloadable Manual[41] (or available online without downloading).

Audacity supports the LV2 open standard for plugins and can therefore load software like Calf Studio Gear.[42]


Audacity supports only 32-bit or 64-bit VST audio effect plug-ins, depending on which architecture it was built for, but not both at the same time. It does not support instrument VST (VSTi) plugins.[43]

Audacity lacks dynamic equalizer controls and real time effects while recording.

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.[44]

Language support[edit]

In addition to English language, the Graphical User Interface of the Audacity software program is translated into Afrikaans, Arabic, Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Norwegian (Bokmål), Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Welsh.[45]

The documentation, the Audacity Manual, is available only in English.[46] The Audacity Forum offers technical support in: Spanish, French, Russian and German.

Audacity architecture[edit]

Software architecture of Audacity showing how the software is built in layers[12]

The diagram illustrates the layers and modules in Audacity. 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. Both contain conditional code that chooses between different implementations depending on the target platform.[12]


The free and open nature of Audacity has allowed it to become very popular in education, encouraging its developers to make the user interface easier for students and teachers.[47]

CNET rated Audacity 5/5 stars and called it "feature rich and flexible".[48] Preston Gralla of PC World said, "If you're interested in creating, editing, and mixing you'll want Audacity."[49] Jack Wallen of Tech Republic highlighted its features and ease-of-use.[50] 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."[51]

In The Art of Unix Programming, Eric S. Raymond says 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."[52]

Several authors criticized Audacity for inconvenient user interface, destructive editing and lack of features, comparing Audacity unfavorably to competing products, which require fewer actions from the user to do tasks such as crossfade and noise reduction.[53][54]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Release Notes 2.3.3". Audacity Wiki. November 22, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  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. ^ Audacity Team. "Copyright". Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  7. ^ "Version 0.8: May 28, 2000" in README.txt of
  8. ^ "Credits". Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  9. ^ "Download Audacity".
  10. ^ " 2007 Community Choice Awards". Archived from the original on January 20, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  11. ^ " 2009 Community Choice Awards". Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  12. ^ a b c d James Crook (March 15, 2012). "Chapter 2. Audacity". The Architecture of Open Source Applications. Amy Brown, Greg Wilson. ISBN 978-1257638017.
  13. ^ "Podcasting with Linux Command Line Tools and Audacity". Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  14. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (May 2, 2011). "World of Wonder: How Merrill Garbus left the theatre and took the stage." The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  15. ^ "Themes".
  16. ^ "Waveform colorways".
  17. ^ "Playing and Recording".
  18. ^ "Scrubbing and Seeking". Archived from the original on March 8, 2016.
  19. ^ "Timer Record".
  20. ^ "Note Tracks".
  21. ^ "Edit commands in Audacity".
  22. ^ "Audacity's Envelope Tool".
  23. ^ "Change Tempo".
  24. ^ "Copying tapes, LPs or MiniDiscs to CD".
  25. ^ "Cross-platform downloads for Audacity".
  26. ^ "wxWidgets Cross-platform GUI Library".
  27. ^ "Index of Effects, Generators and Analyzers in Audacity".
  28. ^ "Nyquist Plug-ins Reference".
  29. ^ Audacity development team . "Audacity: Plug-ins and Libraries".
  30. ^ "Noise Reduction".
  31. ^ "Vocal Reduction and Isolation".
  32. ^ "Change Pitch".
  33. ^ "Real-time preview of effects".
  34. ^ "Manage Effects, Generators and Analyzers".
  35. ^ "Audacity Tracks Menu". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  36. ^ "Multichannel Recording".
  37. ^ "Plot Spectrum".
  38. ^ "Audacity's Spectrogram View".
  39. ^ Audacity development team (October 30, 2006). "Audacity 1.3.2 a 1.2.5 released". Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  40. ^ "Importing Audio".
  41. ^ "Audacity Manual".
  42. ^ "Calf Studio Gear supports LV2".
  43. ^ "FAQ:How do I install VST plug-ins? - Audacity Manual". Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  44. ^ "Audacity: Features". March 22, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  45. ^ "Languages - Audacity Development Manual". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  46. ^ "Audacity Development Manual". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  47. ^ 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.
  48. ^ "Audacity". CNET. November 8, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  49. ^ Gralla, Preston (October 22, 2008). "Audacity". PC World. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  50. ^ Wallen, Jack (July 18, 2011). "Giving Audacity its due: An audio editor with serious functionality". Tech Republic. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  51. ^ Muchmore, Michael (February 5, 2010). "Audacity 1.2 review". Retrieved September 1, 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  52. ^ "Studying Cases Chapter 6. Transparency".
  53. ^ Lewis, Daniel (December 3, 2012). "7 reasons I'm switching from Audacity to Audition (and why you shouldn't)". Retrieved February 15, 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  54. ^ McLean, Matthew (June 1, 2017). "Audacity Vs Adobe Audition CC | Where Should I Record & Edit My Podcast?". Retrieved February 15, 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External links[edit]