Comparison of free software for audio

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This list of free software for audio lists notable free and open source software for use by sound engineers, audio producers, and those involved in sound recording and reproduction.

Players[edit]

Logo Component GUI Programming
language
Database Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? mka

support

Notes License
Amarok Amarok Qt C++ MySQL Yes Yes Unstable GPL-2.0-or-later
aTunes aTunes Swing Java GPL-2.0-or-later
Aqualung Aqualung GTK C no database GPL-2.0-or-later
Audacious Audacious GTK / Qt C no database Yes Yes yes BSD 2-Clause
Banshee Banshee 2.6.2 GTK+ C# SQLite Yes Yes Yes MIT
Clementine Clementine Qt C++ SQLite3 Yes Yes Yes GPL-3.0-or-later
Exaile Exaile GTK Python Pickle Yes Yes Yes GPL-2.0-or-later
Guayadeque Guayadeque wxWidgets C++, C SQLite3 Linux(Gstreamer) GPL-3.0-or-later
Juk JuK Qt C++ Linux(KDE) GPL-2.0-or-later
Miro Miro WebKit in

GTK/Cocoa

Python ? GPL-2.0-or-later
Muine GTK# C# no database can use GStreamer and xine GPL-2.0-or-later
Nightingale Nightingale XULRunner C++ SQLite? fork of Songbird, with Linux support GPL v2, MPL, BSD
Quod Libet Quod Libet 4.3.0 GTK Python Pickle Yes Yes Yes no GPL-2.0-or-later
qmmp qmmp Qt C++ no database GPL-2.0-or-later
Rhythmbox Rhythmbox GTK C not GNU Data Access GPL-2.0-or-later
Songbird Songbird XULRunner C++ SQLite? Abandoned

(last release on February 4, 2013)

GPL v2 with exceptions,

Android client closed source

Tomahawk Qt C++ SQLite GPL-3.0-or-later
XMMS GTK+ C++ no database Discontinued in 2007 GPL-2.0-or-later
XMMS2-Logo-white-128.png XMMS2 C SQLite LGPL-2.1-or-later

Audio analysis[edit]

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
BRP-PACU Yes Yes Dual channel FFT tool for equalization of sound systems using the transfer function. GPL-2.0-or-later
Praat Paul Boersma and David Weenink of the University of Amsterdam Yes Yes Yes A program for the analysis of speech in phonetics. GPL-2.0-or-later
Sonic Visualiser Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London Yes Yes Yes GPL-2.0-or-later
WaveSurfer Yes Yes Yes BSD-like

Converters[edit]

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
FFmpeg Fabrice Bellard Yes Yes Yes Yes Audio & video. LGPL-2.1-or-later, GPL-2.0-or-later
fre:ac Robert Kausch Yes Yes Yes Yes formerly BonkEnc GPL-2.0-or-later
Libav Libav team Yes Yes Yes Yes Audio & video. LGPL-2.1-or-later, GPL-2.0-or-later
MPlayer Yes Yes Yes Yes Audio & video. GPL-2.0-or-later

DJ software[edit]

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
Mixxx Mixxx Development Team Yes Yes Yes Yes GPL-2.0-or-later
Xwax Mark Hills Yes No No No GPL-2.0-only

Distributions and other platforms[edit]

Various projects have formed to integrate the existing free software audio packages.

Name Creator Description Note License
AVLinux Linux distribution various
dyne:bolic Linux distribution various
Musix GNU+Linux Linux distribution various
Planet CCRMA set of packages (in RPM format)
Ubuntu Studio Linux distribution various

Modular systems[edit]

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
Integra Live Birmingham Conservatoire No Yes No Yes GPL-2.0-or-later
Libvisual Yes Yes Yes Yes LGPL-2.1-or-later
VisualAp Yes Yes Yes GPL

Notation[edit]

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
LilyPond Han-Wen Nienhuys and Jan Nieuwenhuizen Yes Yes Yes Yes a music engraving program GPL-3.0-or-later
MuseScore Werner Schweer Yes Yes Yes Various BSDs[1] Yes a WYSIWYG scorewriter with midi playback and audio export v4: GPL-3.0-only
v0-3: GPL-2.0-only
with font exception, Proprietary (mobile app and online service)
Impro-Visor Bob Keller Yes Yes Yes Yes lead sheet notation, jazz improvisation, auto-accompaniment GPL-2.0-or-later

Programming languages[edit]

Many computer music programming languages are implemented in free software. See also the comparison of audio synthesis environments.

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
Csound Csound community, Barry Vercoe Yes Yes No? Yes LGPL-2.1-or-later
ChucK Ge Wang, Perry Cook Yes Yes No? Yes GPL-2.0-or-later (Mac, Linux, Windows versions)

Proprietary (iOS version)

Nyquist Computer Music Project at Carnegie Mellon University, Roger B. Dannenberg Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pure Data Pd Community, Miller Puckette Yes Yes Yes Yes BSD-3-Clause
Sonic Pi Sam Aaron Yes Yes ? Yes MIIT
SuperCollider SuperCollider community, James McCartney Yes Yes Yes? Yes GPL-3.0-or-later
TidalCycles Alex McLean et al Yes Yes Yes Yes GPL-3.0-or-later

Radio broadcasting[edit]

See also streaming below.

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
Airtime (software) Sourcefabric Yes No ? No Successor to Campcaster
From 2.5.2: AGPL-3.0-only
1.6 to 2.5.1: GPL-3.0-only
Campcaster Sourcefabric Yes No ? No GPL-2.0-or-later
OpenBroadcaster OpenBroadcaster Yes No Yes No AGPL-3.0-or-later

Recording and editing[edit]

The following packages are digital audio editors.

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
Ardour Paul Davis Yes Yes Yes Yes multi-track audio recorder GPL-2.0-or-later
Audacity Dominic Mazzoni Yes Yes Yes Yes multi-track audio recorder and editor GPL-2.0-or-later, CC BY 3.0 (documentation)
Ecasound Yes Yes Yes Yes limited support through Cygwin audio recorder GPL-2.0-or-later
Gnome Wave Cleaner Jeff Welty Yes No No audio editor GPL-2.0-or-later
Jokosher Jokosher community Yes No Yes multi-track audio editor GPL-2.0-only with exception
LMMS Tobias Doerffel Yes Yes as of 0.4.0 with Qt4 Yes Free cross-platform alternative to commercial programs like FL Studio, which allow customers to produce music with a computer.

Intended as a replacement for Cubase-like software (DAW)

GPL-2.0-or-later
MusE Yes No No MIDI sequencer GPL-2.0-or-later
Qtractor Yes No No A non-destructive multi-track audio and MIDI Workstation (DAW) GPL-2.0-or-later
Rosegarden Chris Cannam Yes No No MIDI sequencer and multi-track recorder GPL-2.0-or-later
SoX Yes Yes Yes Yes command-line multi-track audio editor/processor LGPL-2.1-or-later,

GPL-2.0-or-later

Sweep Conrad Parker Yes No Yes No GPL-2.0-or-later
Traverso DAW Remon Sijrier Yes Yes Yes multi-track audio recorder and editor GPL
WaveSurfer Centre for Speech Technology at KTH Yes Yes Yes Yes BSD-like

Softsynths[edit]

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
FluidSynth Yes Yes Yes Yes SoundFont player/renderer LGPL-2.1-or-later
TiMidity++ Yes Yes Yes Yes GPL-2.0-or-later
Yoshimi Alan Calvert Yes No Yes Various BSDs No Forked from ZynAddSubFX in 2009 GPL-2.0-or-later
ZynAddSubFX Paul Nasca Yes Yes Yes Yes GPL-2.0-or-later
WildMIDI Yes ? ? ? Some alternative to TiMidity Player: GPL-3.0-or-later
Library: LGPL-3.0-or-later

Streaming[edit]

These programs are for use with streaming audio.

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
Firefly Media Server Yes Yes Yes streams music to DAAP clients like iTunes and Rhythmbox GPL-2.0-or-later
Icecast Yes Yes Yes a broadcast server, serves audio signals to clients over the HTTP protocol GPL-2.0-only
VLC media player Yes Yes Yes Yes media and server programs for video and audio streaming VLC: GPL-2.0-or-later
libVLC: LGPL-2.1-or-later

Technologies[edit]

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) Yes the sound card driver and management system in the Linux kernel GPL-2.0-or-later
LGPL-2.1-or-later
aRts Yes an audio programming API and sound server for general desktop, no longer in development GPL
DSSI Yes a plugin architecture for software synthesizers LGPL-2.1-or-later
GStreamer Yes Yes Yes Yes a graph-based multimedia framework LGPL-2.1-or-later
JACK Audio Connection Kit (JACK) JACK Team, Paul Davis Yes Yes (JACK OS X) Yes (jackdmp) a sound server for integration of general and low-latency pro audio applications, including timebase transport GPL-2.0-or-later
LGPL-2.1-or-later
Linux Audio Developers Simple Plugin API (LADSPA) Yes a plugin architecture for digital signal processing LGPL-2.1-or-later
Open Sound System Yes Yes a sound card management and driver system for Unix operating systems BSD-2-Clause
CDDL-1.0
GPL-2.0-only
Proprietary (formerly)
PortAudio & PortMidi Ross Bencina Yes Yes Yes a cross-platform, open-source C language library for real-time audio & midi I/O MIT License
PulseAudio Yes Yes Yes (Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD) Yes a sound server for general desktop and multihost LAN applications LGPL-2.1-or-later
RtAudio & RtMidi Stephen Sinclair, Gary Scavone, and others Yes Yes Yes A set of C++ classes that provide a common API for realtime audio input/output across Linux (native ALSA, JACK, PulseAudio and OSS), Macintosh OS X (CoreAudio and JACK), and Windows (DirectSound, ASIO, and WASAPI) operating systems. And realtime MIDI input/output across Linux (ALSA & JACK), Macintosh OS X (CoreMIDI & JACK), and Windows (Multimedia Library) operating systems MIT License with non-binding request to share contributions
sndio Yes No Yes (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD) No sound and MIDI server ISC

Trackers[edit]

These music sequencer programs allow users to arrange notes (pitch-shifted sound samples) on a timeline: see tracker (music software).

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
MilkyTracker Yes Yes Yes Yes Also runs on various other platforms including Windows Mobile, PlayStation and AmigaOS 4. GPL-3.0-or-later
MilkyPlay: BSD-3-Clause
OpenMPT Olivier Lapicque No No No Yes Released as free software in 2004 BSD-3-Clause (since OpenMPT 1.17.02.53) / GPL-2.0-or-later, partly public domain
Psycle Juan Antonio Arguelles Rius (Arguru) No No No Yes A tracker combined with modular capabilities GPL, public domain
SoundTracker Yes No Yes No Fast Tracker clone GPL-2.0-or-later
SunVox Alexander Zolotov Yes Yes Yes Yes Also runs on Windows CE. Proprietary (Music Creation Studio)
BSD-3-Clause (Engine)

Other[edit]

Name Creator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows? Note License
Gnaural Yes Yes Yes Yes Binaural beat and pink noise generator GPL-2.0-or-later
Hydrogen Yes Yes Partial Partial an advanced drum machine GPL-2.0-or-later
libsndfile Yes Yes Yes Yes library for reading and writing many sound formats LGPL-2.1-or-later
EasyEffects Wellington Wallace Yes No Yes No Effects processing for applications using PipeWire sound server GPL-3.0-or-later

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Download". MuseScore.org. Retrieved 2021-10-05.