In 2000 Roger Dannenberg and Dominic Mazzoni released Audacity, a free audio editor and recorder that is open-source and relatively easy-to-use. By 2002, millions of people were using the program. Today, Audacity remains a popular tool used by many to create content. The program’s development team of volunteers had started out as two, but has now grown to dozens of contributors from all over the world. At first glance, it may seem like any other editing software; however, Audacity’s team has also encouraged public participation in both the use and development of the program.
One of the most significant things about this program is that it is free and pretty accessible. This is especially important to a general public who might not have strong backgrounds in using this type of software. Musicians, podcasters, educators, and other groups can find Audacity a useful tool and one that is easy to grasp.
How To Get Audacity
Users with Windows, Mac, GNU/Linux are able to download Audacity; however, this is not the only option. Because Audacity is open-source, it also makes its source code available to any users looking to build the program themselves. In addition to these methods, anyone uncomfortable with either of these options can also get a copy of this software on a CD. Audacity also offers different versions of the software that have been translated into multiple languages. It is evident that Audacity’s developers have put a lot of thought into the accessibility of this program, which helps it in reaching a broader audience.
What Does It Do?
Whether it be editing a podcast, making music, or recording a lesson for students, Audacity includes a number of features to help users create their content. They can record audio right to the program, or upload it. Users can do some basic edits to the clip such as reducing its length, cutting out certain parts of it, changing its pitch, or altering its volume. There are also special effects available like filters to change the way a clip sounds. If users want to upload their own effects, there is also an option to do that. Audacity’s features have resulted in a relatively basic, but flexible, resource that can be used in many different ways.
For anyone just getting started with Audacity, the good news is that there are many tutorials on YouTube, and a community of helpful users willing to answer any of your questions on Audacity’s forum. Because Audacity has been around for about eighteen years now, it benefits from an active foundation of users, some of whom I’m sure have been using the software since the beginning. This has made the forum not only a space to answer questions, but to also exchange ideas. There is a section of the forum page dedicated to “special interest groups.” These groups include educators, musicians, podcasters, and those using the software to create audiobooks. This has made Audacity a more interactive resource than expected.
How Can This Benefit Digital History?
The most beneficial thing about Audacity is that it is free and relatively easy-to-use. It isn’t too hard to understand, and even when users are having a difficult time, there are plenty of resources available to help them. Because of this, I see Audacity as a useful tool for those of us working in digital and public history. For example, let’s say a small, nonprofit neighborhood historical society wants to collect oral histories from its community. They probably do not have the money available to hire professionals to do this, or to purchase expensive equipment or editing software either. They will need to record and edit these histories themselves, and they can do this for free with Audacity. Having access to programs like this can help groups with audio-based projects, regardless of their funding.
Audacity is a program with a long history that still continues to benefit the general public it was made for. The software’s developers wanted to make a resource that could be used by just about anyone, and since 2000 they have achieved that goal.