Audacity is a free and open source alternative to programs like Adobe Audition and Garage Band. For a lot of budding podcasters and content creators, it’s the tool most commonly recommended for audio recording and editing. While Audacity has quite a lot of functionality in the editing realm, there are a few improvements that would really help push this program further.
While writing this I’m sure the obvious comment would be that if something is free, what place does anyone have complaining about it? My point in this article is simply to outline a few key points that, in my opinion, have been keeping this application from being a cornerstone example of open source triumph. Audacity could very well be one of those examples of the open source community creating something better than their expensive corporate counterparts.
Keep Multi-Track Recording a Priority
Recording from multiple sources at once is exactly why many content creators opt to spend the big bucks on programs like Adobe Audition, Pro Tools, and more. The one thing these big-budget programs have that Audacity really doesn’t here is the ability to record audio from multiple sources at the same time without requiring the user to have a multi-track mixer and/or input device. If I had to choose between buying an input device and supported microphones and dropping roughly the same amount of scratch on a piece of software that allows me to do the same thing with standard USB devices, I’m going to opt for the software.
Give Up the Clunky Interface
For some reason, many open source programs have an unappealing default interface. Buttons are big and clunky, and the toolbar looks crowded and confusing. Even a seasoned professional can have a hard time figuring out exactly what the various knobs and sliders littering the top of the window are there for. Expensive programs look worthwhile to the average consumer because they have an interface that is polished and appealing. Some of the clunk can be stowed away in menus with little to no negative effect on user experience.
Include Publishing Tools
Another suggestion would be scripting in a publishing option that sends a recording out as a podcast. Currently, you have to use a separate program such as PodOMatic to smoothly convert raw audio in to a published podcast. If Audacity had this function integrated in to its core, it would instantly become a much more powerful alternative to the majority of similar programs. Garage Band isn’t just popular because it’s included with new Mac systems. It became extremely powerful partly because it makes publishing a podcast very easy.
While I understand that these issues are likely resolved by add-ons and plug-ins the open source community have put together, integrating these changes in to the base program would make it a much more viable alternative. If there is one thing the open source community really needs it’s that one killer app that does what it does better than the competition in the eyes of everyday users.