Pros / It’s free and compatible with all operating systems.
Cons / It doesn’t have any support options besides its user forum.
Verdict / Audacity is popular free software; however, its focus on simplistic vocal recording and destructive editing isn’t for everyone.
Audacity is one of the most popular audio recording and editing applications on the market and is beloved by users who do voice recording for podcasts and similar endeavors. Year after year, Audacity has proved its mettle within the audio recording industry, despite being the only recording application that’s completely free. This makes it easy for curious or inexperienced users to try out voice recording software without shelling out an average of $60 or more for a program.
One of the best things about Audacity is its availability for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, which is the broadest operating system compatibility of any of the products in our comparison. When you first open the program, you’ll see a clean, albeit bare-bones interface that’s well-organized and approachable even for the most novice of users. But don’t let its simple aesthetic fool you – behind it lies a powerful arsenal of features, tools and controls. However, be aware that Audacity is geared more towards those who want to record simple vocal audio for things like podcasts and audio books over users who want a fuller studio experience where they can create multi-track beats with vocal audio paired with loops or MIDI instruments. If you do want more robust audio recording software, consider Mixcraft 8.
The application makes it easy to get your external equipment, such as a microphone, connected and ready to record. In addition, Audacity’s powerful and versatile tools make the process of setting up, recording, editing and polishing your tracks a cinch. It has VST plugin support as well, and it easily integrates with other applications.
Whether you prefer to capture audio from computer playback or a microphone, Audacity’s sample rates go as high as 192kHz, and can support recording at 24-bit depth. From the interface, you can monitor volume levels while you record and detect issues like clipping before you wrap. It lets you cut and combine clips as needed and add a variety of special effects to your tracks before exporting them. And on that note, Audacity is compatible with several major file formats, making its price tag even more attractive.
The program gives you access to tools for simple things like adjusting bass or treble levels, as well as more powerful tools, such as those for analyzing frequencies. However, as far as editing is concerned, one of the largest downsides to Audacity by far is its use of destructive editing. This feature means that any changes you make to your newly recorded track alter its actual waveform, which is the original file, and you can’t undo these changes later. While technically there is a way around this, through exporting the file, the process is time consuming.
If you come across a problem with Audacity, or simply have a question about the software, finding an answer may be challenging. Whereas every other program in our comparison offers at least one method of contacting the company’s technical support team directly – be it via email, phone or live chat – Audacity doesn’t offer that. Since the software is open source and free, those kinds of dedicated resources simply can’t exist for this software. However, there is a robust and active community user forum on the developer’s website, where you should be able to find answers for most questions and solutions for troubleshooting issues.
Audacity may not be the most powerful program in the industry, but it handles voice recordings quite well. Overall, Audacity is an immense value in every meaning of the word, especially for anyone wanting to try out a program like this without dropping serious cash.