Aside from commercial alternatives, the preferred open source audio editor tool is Audacity. Early releases of Audacity were unquestionably rough around the edges, in terms of both stability and features, but thanks to the efforts of the open source community, the software is steadily improving.

Version 1.2.5, released this week, is the new stable version, with Intel Mac support, bug fixes, and now FLAC audio support. (Seems the FLAC support alone is worth keeping it on your hard drive, even if you prefer other tools.)

The 1.3.2 beta is where things start to get more interesting:

  1. New selection bar and improved selection tools
  2. Dockable toolbars
  3. New “Repair” effect, other improved effects
  4. Auto-save and automatic crash recovery

Audacity Homepage
New 1.3 Features

I’ve been playing around with the beta a bit and am finding it fairly stable; there are lots of stability improvements and fixes in the 1.3.2 beta as well as the 1.2.5 stable release. Given the auto-save and crash recovery in the beta, I’d actually skip the stable build and move straight onto the beta, if you can.

Also new with this release: 90 LADSPA plug-ins (the open source plug-in format, standard on Linux audio apps) have now been ported to Windows:
Audacity Plug-in Effects Downloads

Again, it might be worth downloading Audacity just to gain access to these LADSPA plug-ins. Now, I’ll repeat a plea before to commercial developers: please, consider adding LADSPA support to your application. Cakewalk? Ableton? Adobe? Anybody? It’d be great to have this open source format become more of a standard outside Linux; everyone would benefit from wider adoption.

Audacity itself is still worth a try if you can’t shell out cash for a commercial audio editor. I still think it’s worth investing in a wave editor if you rely heavily on this tool in your work, but it’s still important to have open source alternatives.

[tags]audio-editors, open-source, linux, mac, windows, mactel, universal, software, upgrades, beta, free, plug-ins, LADSPA[/tags]