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Audacity review

Audacity is one of the most popular free audio recording and editing applications on the market.

Audacity review

Our Verdict

Audacity is popular free software; however, its focus on vocal recording and destructive editing isn't for everyone.

For

  • Free, and compatible with all operating systems
  • Great voice recording tools

Against

  • No support options besides its user forum
  • 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.

Audacity Review: Features

Audacity is available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, which is the best operating system compatibility of any of the products in our comparison. The interface when you first open the app is clean, albeit rather bare-bones, and 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. 

Audacity is geared more towards those who want to record simple vocal audio for things like podcasts and audiobooks over those who want a fuller studio experience where they can create multi-track beats with vocal audio paired with loops, or MIDI instruments. If you want more robust audio recording software, consider Mixcraft 8.

The application makes it easy to get your equipment, such as microphones, connected and ready to record. In addition, Audacity’s 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.

(Image credit: Audacity)

Audacity Review: Recording

Audacity’s sample rates go as high as 192kHz, and can support recording at 24-bit depth whether you're capturing audio from mics or another source. You can monitor volume levels while you record, and detect issues like clipping before you wrap. Audacity lets you cut and combine clips as needed, and has special effects you can add to your tracks before exporting them. Audacity is compatible with several major file formats, making its price tag even more attractive, but if you want to export to MP3 you'll need a special encoder.

Tools for simple things, such as adjusting bass or treble levels, are easily accessible, as well as more powerful tools such as those for analyzing frequencies. As far as editing is concerned, Audacity's use of destructive editing is one of its major downsides. 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. You can make backups of your recordings before you begin editing, and can export a new file at the end rather than save over your originals, but these are time-consuming workarounds to a problem that shouldn't really exist.

(Image credit: Audacity)

Audacity Review: Technical help

If you have a problem with Audacity, or want to ask a question about the software, finding an answer may be challenging. Whereas every other program in our comparison lists 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, created by a diverse team of volunteers, 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, and a wiki that holds FAQs and the software's history, 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 immensely good value, and should appeal to people in every sector of the market.