Audacity (audio editor)
|Developer(s)||The Audacity Team|
|Initial release||May 28, 2000|
|Stable release||3.0.3 (July 26, 2021)|
|Written in||C, C++ (using the wxWidgets toolkit)|
|Operating system||Windows, macOS, Linux, other Unix-like systems|
|Platform||IA-32, x86-64, PowerPC|
|Size||83.6 MB: Windows|
98.5 MB: macOS
includes downloaded Manual
|Available in||38 languages|
|Type||Digital audio editor|
|License||GPL v2 or Later, CC-BY-3.0 (documentation) |
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. 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.
As of July 26, 2021, it is the most popular download from FossHub, with over 110.6 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. Audacity is licensed under GPL-2.0-or-later.
In April 2021, it was announced that Muse Group (owners of MuseScore and Ultimate Guitar) would be acquiring the Audacity trademark and continue to contribute to development of the software, which remains open source.
Features and usage
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. Audacity has also been used to record and mix entire albums, such as by Tune-Yards. 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
- via cut, copy, and paste, with unlimited levels of undo
- 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
- 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
- Conversion of cassette tapes or records into digital tracks by splitting the audio source into multiple tracks based on silences in the source material
- Cross-platform operation — Audacity works on Windows, macOS, and other Unix-like systems (including Linux and BSD)
- A large array of digital effects and plug-ins. Additional effects can be written with Nyquist, a Lisp dialect.
- Built-in LADSPA, VST and Nyquist plug-in support
- Noise Reduction based on sampling the noise to be minimized.
- Vocal Reduction and Isolation for the creation of karaoke tracks and isolated vocal tracks.
- Adjusting audio pitch while maintaining speed and adjusting audio speed while maintaining pitch
- LADSPA, VST 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.
- Saving and loading of user presets for effect settings across sessions (from 2.1.0 onwards).
- Multitrack mixing
- Audio spectrum analysis using the Fourier transform algorithm
- 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). Version 1.3.6 and later also supported additional formats such as WMA, AAC, AMR and AC3 via the optional FFmpeg library.
- 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 user manual downloaded with the application on Windows and Mac (or available to download or use online without downloading).
- Most dialogs and error messages in the application have a "?" help button to link the user to the relevant page in the manual from within the application.
- Four user-selectable themes enable the user to choose their preferred look and feel for the application (version 2.2.0 and later)
- Four user-selectable colorways for waveform display in audio tracks (version 2.2.1 and later)
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.
Audacity does not support instrument VST (VSTi) plugins.
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.
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.
The documentation, the Audacity Manual, is available only in English. The Audacity Forum offers technical support in: Spanish, French, Russian and German.
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.
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.
CNET rated Audacity 5/5 stars and called it "feature rich and flexible". Preston Gralla of PC World said, "If you're interested in creating, editing, and mixing you'll want Audacity." Jack Wallen of Tech Republic highlighted its features and ease-of-use. 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."
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."
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.
In 2021, Anthony Spadafora of TechRadar reported: "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."
Data collection controversy
On July 6, Muse Group head of strategy Daniel Ray responded to the controversy with a discussion post on Audacity's repository site on GitHub, addressing the privacy concerns.
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 December 1, 2020, Dominic Mazzoni assigned all right, interest, and title in the trademark "AUDACITY" to MuseCY SM Ltd. in exchange for one dollar "and other good and valuable consideration" a legal phrase used when one side wishes to conceal the amount or nature of the payment. 
On January 27, 2021, the USPTO website shows the status of "Automatic Update of Assignment of Ownership" to MuseCY SM Ltd.
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.
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.
- Audacium - Audacity fork without telemetry and with new features added.
- DarkAudacity - a customized version of Audacity with a dark theme. It uses the same audio engine, but comes with a darker and more modern theme and some additional small changes.
- Sneedacity - a fork of Audacity created by members of "/g/" (4chan's technology board) that removes telemetry as well as the outdated conan build system.
- Tenacity - a fork of Audacity that removes the telemetry code added in July 2021 and fixes long-standing Linux packaging issues with Audacity-vendored dependencies.
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