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What is Audacity and How Does it Work?

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What is Audacity?Audacity is a popular open-source audio editor and recorder, offering a comprehensive suite of tools for editing and mastering audio files....

What is Audacity?

Audacity is a popular open-source audio editor and recorder, offering a comprehensive suite of tools for editing and mastering audio files. This free software, compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems, is known for its user-friendly interface and robust functionality. It supports a wide array of audio formats including WAV, AIFF, FLAC, and OGG Vorbis, making it a versatile choice for audio projects.

Top Audacity Features

Audacity boasts several top features that make it a powerful digital audio workstation (DAW). Its intuitive interface, complete with a toolbar and shortcuts, allows users to easily navigate and use Audacity to its fullest potential.

The software offers an array of editing tools, such as the selection tool and envelope tool, which enable users to manipulate waveforms, adjust volumes, and craft their sound files to perfection. The record button initiates live audio recording, while the playback feature allows for immediate review of the recorded sound.

Audacity's noise reduction functionality is particularly appreciated by users, as it effectively reduces background noise, enhancing sound quality. Other features include the capacity to amplify and normalize audio, apply sound effects, and perform fade-outs, among other audio editing options.

With its robust VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugin support, users can extend Audacity's functionality even further. Whether you're recording a podcast, creating voiceovers, or working on vocals for a song, Audacity provides the tools you need.

Cost and Subscription

Unlike many other audio editing software, Audacity is completely free to download and use. This open-source software doesn't require any subscription, making it an accessible option for both beginners and pros alike.

Audacity and Adobe Cloud

Contrary to some misconceptions, Audacity is not a part of the Adobe Cloud. It is a standalone product that you can download directly from the Audacity website. The confusion here arises from Adobe’s audio editing application; Adobe Audition which is a paid subscription available through Adobe Cloud.

Is it good for pros or beginners?

Whether you're a beginner just learning how to use Audacity through a tutorial, or a pro looking to optimize your audio editing process, Audacity has something for everyone. Its user-friendly interface and extensive online tutorials make it an ideal starting point for beginners. Meanwhile, the depth of its editing capabilities and plugin compatibility ensures that even seasoned pros will find value in its functionality.

What gear do you need for Audacity?

To use Audacity, all you need is a computer with a sound card and a microphone for recording audio. Depending on the nature of your audio projects, you may also want to invest in a high-quality microphone or audio interface for enhanced sound quality.

Audition Minimum Specs for Mac and PC

For macOS, you need at least a Mac running OS X 10.7 or later. For Windows, you need at least Windows 7 or later. Both operating systems should have a minimum of 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended) and 1 GB of free disk space. Linux users can also use Audacity, with similar system requirements.

Pros and Cons of Audacity


  1. Free and open-source.
  2. Extensive audio editing tools.
  3. Supports a variety of audio formats.
  4. VST plugin compatibility.
  5. Active community for support and tutorials.
  6. Cross-platform compatibility (Windows, macOS, Linux).


  1. Interface might seem outdated compared to other modern DAWs.
  2. No built-in MIDI sequencing.
  3. The learning curve can be steep for some beginners.

AI Alternatives to Audacity

The rise of AI technology has brought forward new audio editing software like Descript and Sonix, which offer unique AI-powered transcription and editing services. These tools can automatically transcribe audio, making it easier to edit by manipulating text rather than sound waves.

9 Best Alternatives to Audacity

While Audacity is a powerful tool, there are several other audio editors that might suit your needs better, depending on your requirements. These alternatives are a mix of online and installable apps:

  1. GarageBand (Installable, macOS): A user-friendly DAW great for beginners and intermediate users, particularly those interested in music production.
  2. Adobe Audition (Installable, Windows/Mac): A professional-grade audio editor, part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, offering a wide range of tools and functionalities.
  3. WavePad (Installable, Windows/Mac): A feature-rich audio editor that supports a variety of file formats.
  4. FL Studio (Installable, Windows/Mac): A complete DAW that excels in music production, with strong MIDI capabilities.
  5. Ableton Live (Installable, Windows/Mac): A popular DAW among music producers that offers advanced features and plugins.
  6. Logic Pro X (Installable, macOS): A professional DAW with advanced mixing and mastering capabilities.
  7. Pro Tools (Installable, Windows/Mac): An industry-standard audio editor, used in professional music and film industries.
  8. Reaper (Installable, Windows/Mac/Linux): A fully-featured DAW with a flexible and customizable interface.
  9. Soundtrap (Online): A browser-based DAW that allows real-time collaboration and is great for recording podcasts or music.

The Best Alternative: Speechify AI Voice Over

Speechify Voice Over is an online app that allows you to convert text into audio. You can upload your script or type it in and add a unique voice to every paragraph. Add royalty free background music and download the audio recording in various audio formats to use in either your personal or commercial projects.

With over 200 voices, languages and accents, you can find the perfect voice in various languages.

In conclusion, Audacity is a versatile and robust open-source audio editor that caters to a wide range of audio editing needs. Its free software status, coupled with comprehensive functionality, makes it a favored choice among many. However, depending on your specific needs and budget, exploring alternatives can lead you to a DAW that's a perfect fit for your audio projects.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.