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Audacity beta 1.3.8: Open-source audio at its best

The just-released beta of the free audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux may well be music to your ears.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

There may not be a free lunch in this world but, thanks to the open-source development community, there's an exceptional, free audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. It's called Audacity, and if you've never tried it, you're in for a treat, especially now that Audacity's newest beta release (1.3.8) has hit the Web, as noted by OStatic's Lisa Hoover.

I've used Audacity to create ringtones for my (former) Blackberry (but also possible with the iPhone). Dave Rosenberg also use it for recording and editing our podcasts. (Remember those?)

You can also use it to convert analog (tapes, records, 8-tracks, whatever) into digital recordings, or speed up a recording of your voice to Alvin and the Chipmunk-esque speeds.

Whatever you fancy. It's free. It's open source. It works really, really well.

As of the 1.3.8 beta, it works even better. I've been dabbling with it since the release and can report that, as advertised, Audacity has fixed a series of bugs, making it more resilient, but has also added a slew of nice features, including:

  • Faster equalization and noise removal; improved truncate silence and click Track.
  • Plot spectrum now analyzes up to 237.8 seconds of audio, with separate windows for each project and improved display; new preferences for spectrograms.
  • New "mixer board" view with per-track VU meters.
  • More compact preferences window with easier-to-use keyboard tab and new toolbars shortcuts.
  • Ability to record more than 16 channels (hardware/drivers permitting).

And more. This version is the easiest yet. At times in past versions Audacity was unnecessarily complex, in my opinion. But Beta 1.3.8 removes some of the gadgetry to focus on an powerful but easier experience.

While Audacity is free (as in $0.00 and as in freedom), you can donate to the development team, or you can wear your Audacity heart on your sleeve, with all purchases at the Audacity Store subsidizing the cost of development.

Or use it for free and just tell your friends about it. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.