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Aviary launches impressive audio editor, Myna

New Flash-based multitrack editor is actually more approachable than GarageBand.

Aviary is great at making advanced Web-based artists' tools that I haven't a hope of being able to fully use. Case in point, the new audio editor, Myna, that joins the company's suite of graphics tools like the Phoenix image editor and the Raven vector editor.

I have dabbled a bit in GarageBand and I do some of my own podcast production work, so I get the concept in Myna, although I'm far from skilled at editing audio. The app is a multitrack audio editor, and for a Web-based app it's freakishly capable. It's easy and fast to pop clips and loops into tracks, drag them around, apply standard effects and fades, and then mix the whole thing down so you can download it as one file.

Myna comes with a library of riffs from Quantum Tracks that can be used noncommercially, and a few sound effects from other sources. You can upload your clips to the service as well, and record directly from your computer. However, Aviary co-founder Michael Galpert warns that there are limits: You can only lay in 10 tracks, and total playing time has to be under five minutes. Galpert says this is due to limitations in Flash, but that Aviary may find ways around them in the future. The technology comes from Digimix, which Aviary acquired earlier this year.

Just because I can, doesn't mean I should be editing music. But Myna does make it easy. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

Myna is a "hobbyist's tool now," Galpert admits, but he also says there are pro-level features coming in future releases. I found GarageBand more capable, but Myna is more approachable.

I was surprised to see Aviary get into the audio-tool business after creating its first five apps, which are for handling graphics. But Galpert says, "an artist is an artist," and he wants to make tools that let creative people work across media, or to create remixes.

Myna is a free app. It's impressive and it's a ton of fun. It might even be useful.

Aviary won the Webware 100 Technical Achievement award in 2009.

Correction 11:45 a.m. PDT: This story incorrectly described the licensing terms of the content from Quantum Tracks. The riffs are for noncommercial use.