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Audacity Definition & Meaning

Audacity is an open source, multilingual audio editing and recording software for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. First released in May 2000, Audacity is used by musicians, scientists, podcasters, foley artists, and narrators to compose, record, and produce numerous types of audio recordings. New versions of Audacity are released on a regular basis (about twice per year) and the Audacity Wiki provides in-depth tutorials and up-to-date reference material.

With this software, users can accomplish a number of tasks including:

  • Record live audio and audio playback
  • Upload and edit existing recordings
  • Export final recordings in a number of different file formats
  • Apply effects like echo, distortion, reverb, noise reduction, tempo increase/decrease, and 
  • Generate artificial sounds such as keypad tones, chirps, and pink noise
  • Record sound from virtual instruments
  • Write custom effect and sound plugins (supported formats include LADSPA, LV2, Nyquist, VST, and Audio Unit)

Audacity vs. other audio software

Audacity is the most popular audio editing software that’s available under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which allows vendors to freely sell/distribute Audacity or bundle it with their own products. Its open source code means Audacity is incredibly versatile and can be customized to meet any user’s specific needs. The flexibility can sometimes be a drawback, however, as Audacity has been criticized for its learning curve; the wide selection of controls, effects, and customization options can be overwhelming for a newcomer to the program, especially when coupled with its lackluster user interface.

For this reason, some Audacity critics prefer to use a more intuitive, licensed audio editing software like Adobe Audition, Wavepad, or Apple’s Garageband. These types of programs are also often favored for their ability to handle larger files at a higher volume, although they usually incur a cost and might not be able to perform specific functions as finely tuned as Audacity. Other open source audio softwares—with fewer features and more limited functionality than Audacity—include Ardour, LMMS, and Mixxx.










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