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; 21 years ago (2000-05-28)
Stable release3.0.2 (April 19, 2021; 55 days ago (2021-04-19)[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
Size65.6 MB: Windows
86.0 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] 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.[8][9]

As of April 19, 2021, it is the most popular download from FossHub,[10] with over 110 million downloads since March 2015. Previously, downloads were served from Google Code and SourceForge, with a combined total in excess of 200 million downloads. Audacity won the SourceForge 2007 and 2009 Community Choice Award for Best Project for Multimedia.[11][12] Audacity is licensed under GPL-2.0-or-later.[6][7]

In April 2021, it was announced that Muse Group (owners of MuseScore and Ultimate Guitar) would be acquiring the Audacity development project and continuing development of the software.[13]

Features and usage[edit]

Audacity's main panel annotated. All the components that have been labelled are custom for Audacity.[14]

In addition to recording audio from multiple sources, Audacity can be used for post-processing of all types of audio by adding effects such as normalization, trimming, and fading in and out.[15] Audacity has also been used to record and mix entire albums, such as by Tune-Yards.[16] It is also currently used in the UK OCR National Level 2 ICT course for the sound creation unit.

Audacity's features include:

  • 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).
  • Four user-selectable themes enable the user to choose their preferred look and feel for the application (version 2.2.0 and later)[42]
    • Four user-selectable colorways for waveform display in audio tracks (version 2.2.1 and later)[43]

Audacity supports the LV2 open standard for plugins and can therefore load software like Calf Studio Gear.[44]

Audacity's 3.0 update, in March 2021, introduced a new project file format, .aup3, using an SQLite database to store each project in a single database file.[45]

In May 2021, after the project was acquired by Muse Group, there was a proposal to add opt-in telemetry using Google Analytics and Yandex.Metrica to the code. This was met with a large negative reaction from users and resulted in the company deciding to use error reporting and update checking instead.[46][47][48][49]


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 is built in 32-bit for Windows and 64-bit for macOS.

It does not support instrument VST (VSTi) plugins.[50]

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.[51]

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), Corsican, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Marathi, Norwegian (Bokmål), Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, 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[14]

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.[14]


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.[54]

CNET rated Audacity 5/5 stars and called 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 highlighted 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 Audacity with competing products that require fewer actions from the user to perform tasks such as noise reduction.[60][61]

In 2021, Anthony Spadafora of TechRadar reported: "Audacity 3.0 finally lands after years of waiting - Latest version of Audacity comes with some big improvements including a brand new file format. It's been over nine years since Audacity last released a new numbered version of its free audio editor but fans of the open source software can now download Audacity 3.0. With the release of Audacity 3.0, the company has made a number of significant improvements to its software including adding new features, fixing over 160 bugs and introducing a brand new project file format."[45]

Audacity trademarks[edit]

On January 16, 2004, Dominic Mazzoni filed the trademark for "AUDACITY" with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as seen by the USPTO Serial Number 78352743. On January 27, 2021, the USPTO website shows the status of "Automatic Update of Assignment of Ownership" to MuseCY SM Ltd.[62]

On March 19, 2021, MuseCY SM Ltd. (or Muse Group) filed a new trademark for Audacity name with the headphones logo with the USPTO as seen by the USPTO Serial Number 90591173.[63]

On March 24, 2021, MuseCY SM Ltd. filed a new trademark for the Audacity headphones logo by itself with the USPTO as seen by the USPTO Serial Number 90600351.[64]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Release Notes 3.0.2". Audacity Wiki. April 19, 2021. Retrieved April 19, 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 README.txt
  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. ^ Rothman, Philip (April 30, 2021). "Muse Group formed to support MuseScore, Ultimate Guitar; acquires Audacity". Scoring Notes. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c James Crook (March 15, 2012). "Chapter 2. Audacity". The Architecture of Open Source Applications. Amy Brown, Greg Wilson. ISBN 978-1257638017.
  15. ^ "Podcasting with Linux Command Line Tools and Audacity". Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  16. ^ 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.
  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. ^ "Themes".
  43. ^ "Waveform colorways".
  44. ^ "Calf Studio Gear - Audio Plugin Pack". SourceForge.
  45. ^ a b 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.
  46. ^ Speed, Richard (May 7, 2021), "'A massive middle finger': Open-source audio fans up in arms after Audacity opts to add telemetry capture", The Register, archived from the original on May 8, 2021, retrieved May 8, 2021
  47. ^ Vedenko, Dmitry (May 4, 2021), "Basic telemetry for the Audacity", GitHub, archived from the original on May 7, 2021, retrieved May 8, 2021
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ Speed, Richard. "Audacity's new management hits rewind on telemetry plans following community outrage". Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  50. ^ "FAQ:How do I install VST plug-ins? - Audacity Manual". 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 Development 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. ^ "Trademark Status & Document Retrieval 78352743". Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  63. ^ "Trademark Status & Document Retrieval 90591173". Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  64. ^ "Trademark Status & Document Retrieval 90600351". Retrieved May 17, 2021.


External links[edit]