A Beginner's Resource Guide to Audacity, a Free DAW

For nearly a century after its invention, high-quality audio recording and editing remained the exclusive territory of professionals who were well-trained, and well-funded. With the advent of personal computers, and the increases in processing speed, recording, editing, and mixing to a digital medium has moved withing reach of anyone with a personal computer.

This did not happen over night. For years after personal computers developed the power to perform the mathematical functions required to process real-time, high-quality audio, the hardware and software necessary to do so remained proprietary and expensive. Time tends to reduce the cost of computing hardware, and during the 1990s, analog-to-digital (A/D) converters became inexpensive enough for several major manufacturers to begin offering audio interfaces what were within a price range that amateur recordists could afford. These interfaces however, still required the use of complex recording software that was either expensive, or tethered to the use of a specific manufacturer's hardware. This led to a number of compromises, and to more than a few users simply giving up. Enter the open source movement.

Open source software is (generally) developed by groups of people who work together from anywhere in the world. These collaborators combine their skillsets to develop software that can be beneficial to the public, and typically remains free of charge to the end users. From such a collaboration came Audacity.

Audacity is a multi-track digital audio recording, editing, and mixing program (also known as a digital audio workstation, or DAW) that has brought these tasks into the mainstream by offering the power to perform them to anyone who wants to learn. Audacity is free to download, and was developed to be accessible to beginners. Because of this, it has become a tool of choice for podcasters, students, journalists, educators, and musicians. Educators in particular have found Audacity to be a great resource, because it is available for free and accessible through any computer with an internet connection. It is also reasonably lightweight in terms of system resources, and so can run on older or less expensive computers.

The power of Audacity is constantly growing. Because of it's open-source nature, anyone is free to examine the program's code, and offer suggestions for its improvement. The most recent version of Audacity can be found at Sourceforge, an open-source community which has become home to many such projects:

The following are tutorials which have been assembled by people from various background with the purpose of helping newcomers learn how to use Audacity. Whether you want to put together an old-time radio drama, share the latest news, or create an audio lecture series, there is help available:



Digital Audio