[Note: this review was written by reader Sinkhan, a connoisseur of freeware and open source programs– The Freewaregenius]

Audacity is a free full-featured digital audio editing program. It offers a broad spectrum of audio editing tools and capabilities and a simple, easy to use user interface.

Audacity is an open source program developed by a large and dedicated community of programmers. It has an immense array of capabilities, functions, and tools.

I’ve personally used this program for tons of things, from recording and piecing together audio projects, to just random fiddling around. Some features of this application are:

  • Supports many audio formats (from the common .wav and .mp3, to others such as .aiff, and .ogg).
  • An easy to understand interface with large play, stop, pause, and skip buttons to control the playing of the file as you are editing it.
  • A main display showing the frequencies or sound waves of the audio files. The scale can be adjusted from blocks of 24 hours to increments of 1/1,000,000 of a second.
  • Various effects can be applied, such as echo, invert, and fade in and out. You can easily apply volume, normalization and gain changes to entire tracks. There is also a “noise removal” plugin, but in all honesty I have found that other (commercial) programs produce better noise removal results.
  • Features a very nice collection of tools and plugins, including an envelope tool (for writing volume envelopes), draw tool (zoom to waveform level and “draw” data to eliminate noise/distortion). You can also apply gain, amplify, and normalize commands. There are also a host of other commands/tools I will not mention that you would expect in an audio editing application (cut, copy, paste, select, etc).
  • Great set-up for recording
  • Meters that indicate the left and right input audio levels
  • The ability to split and individually edit both halves of a music track
  • The ability to trace back and undo all of your edits. Like most programs, you cannot undo after a save, as the history list is gone after saving.

Overall, the program is quite user-friendly and easy to navigate. There is a very helpful brief manual included with the program that can guide you through any parts that you may find difficult to understand, as well as a larger and more comprehensive online user guide. I myself have found the learning curve of this program to be quite smooth. A few brief looks at the included documentation is all that is needed to learn how to use this program (which is more than can be said for most audio editing programs out there).

The Verdict: This program is extremely versatile and can handle pretty much all sound editing needs. Although commercial programs such as Adobe Audition, Protools, and Nuendo are more sophisticated, Audacity is much more straightforward than those and easier to use (not to mention it is free). It is quite possibly one of the best and most useful sound editing utilities you’ll ever use. If you need a flexible free program to edit your sound and music files, Audacity is most certainly your top choice

Version tested: 1.26

Compatibility: Windows 98 and newer, Mac OS X, Linux, and Unix-based systems. There are also older versions available for Mac OS 9.

Go to the download page to get the latest version (approx 2.1 megs) . Also visit the program home page.