Earlier this week I gave Mac360 readers a quick look at two very good audio recording apps. Piezo is very cheap, remarkably easy to use, and records Mac audio with a click, but it is thin on features. Apple’s Logic Pro 9 is relatively inexpensive, rather complex for those new to audio recording, but actually capable of recording your next Grammy nominated song. Here’s a look at a free Mac audio recording app that’s actually feature rich, a bit more complicated to use than Piezo, and does a few things you can’t do with Apple’s Garageband.
The Audacity Of Free Audio Recording
It isn’t often you run into a free Mac app that does so much for so little. That’s Audacity, the open source audio recording and editing app.
Allow me the audacity of stating that Audacity is a full-featured audio recorder.
It can record whatever audio source you can plug into your Mac; everything from audio mixers, USB microphones, and whatever else gets your audio groove on.
Audacity gives you a boatload of features to rival some of what you can do in Garageband, and a few more.
For example, Audacity has a number of filters which make it good for converting tapes, records, CDs into digital audio. It can edit MP3, WAV, AIFF, even Ogg Vorbis audio files. The editor does a good job of cut, copy, splice, and mixing audio segments.
The interface isn’t something you’ll write home about (unless you’re complaining to your mom). It’s cluttered and clumsy.
Basic operation is simple enough. Click the big red Record button to begin recording. The control track is easy to use, but other options give Audacity a stiffer learning curve.
Undo is nearly unlimited which ensures that audio you’re editing or sweetening won’t get destroyed.
That said, it’s loaded with effects and filters, handles Apple’s Audio Unit and VST effects with ease, and exports a long list of audio file formats (AIFF, WAV, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, GSM, FLAC, MP2, M4A, AC3, AMR, WMA, and more).
It takes a single click to add a track (I don’t know how many you can add; appears to be constrained only by memory).
You can even change the pitch of an audio track. Audacity records up to 96khz and will record and edit 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit samples. There’s even a spectrogram mode to visualize audio frequencies.
Other than the decidedly 1999 interface, Audacity is a good audio tool with a strong list of features; far more than Piezo, less than Logic Pro or Garageband, but priced right. It’s free.