Publisher: the Audacity developers at http://audacity.sourceforge.net
Category: Sound Recording and Editing
My Shareware/Freeware Pick of the Week is Audacity, which is an free, open-source audio recording and editing software package. The Audacity project is hosted at that home of open-source software SourceForge.net. SourceForge provides storage space, a version control system, bug-tracking software and more for open-source projects. Audacity is available for Windows, Mac OS9, Mac OS X, Linux and Unix.
What can I say about Audacity? WOW! I’m amazed that you can find many of the free open-source projects that are available. In most cases, they are either small focused applications or they are complicated applications that appeal to a broad range of users. Audacity, on the other hand, is a complex program that appeals to users who want to record audio. By that, I mean that it is complex programming — it is easy to use.
Start the program, click on the record button, start your audio source, and you are now recording. Highlight and delete the part you don’t want. You can save your files as Audacity projects (so you can continue work later) or "export" the as standard .WAV files. If you download the LAME encoder (which may have some patent issues if you are in the US), you can export the file in .MP3 format.
Your first stop is the File / Preferences menu. By default, Audacity records in mono (1 channel). When I heard that, I wondered why. The answer was simple, 1 comes before 2, which comes before 3, which comes before … all the way up to recording or mixing 16 channels into the finished wav or mp3 file. The budding musician in your house might record a guitar, then play the piano recording while recording a drum, then play the recording of both while recording voice — all with one musician in his (or her) instant home music studio.
Audacity makes it easy to record anything to which you are listening on your computer. Play an old LP record and feed the "tape out" to your soundcard’s inputs — then you can use Audacity to convert the LP to wav or mp3 format. Listen to Internet radio? Audacity can record it for you.
After recording, and before exporting as a wav or mp3 file, you can edit the file to remove any pops, crackles or extraneous noise (e.g., the radio disk jockey talking before the show starts).