A new version of the free audio editor Audacity has been announced. A beta version is available, but it is not considered stable yet.
The software is popular with musicians and podcasters looking for a free, open source audio editing environment. Several features will be especially interesting for podcasters, including FTP uploading, transcription tools and batch processing.
- Collapse/Expand Tracks – every track has an upward-pointing triangle at the bottom of the label area on the left side of the track. Click it once to collapse the track to a very small size, and click it again to expand it back to its previous size.
- Multiple clips per track – in Audacity 1.3, you can split a single track into multiple clips. You can move these clips around between different tracks, making it easy to construct complex compositions out of hundreds of smaller audio samples.
- Selection Bar – In Audacity 1.2, the current selection is contained in a status bar at the bottom of the window. In Audacity 1.3, this is replaced by a fully functional Selection Bar, which displays and controls the current selection (your choice of Start and End, or Start and Length), and the current audio position. The selection bar is fully editable – just click in any field and type to change the current selection precisely. In addition, many formatting options allow you to view times in different units, such as samples, CD frames, or NTSC video frames.
- Improved Label Tracks – Label Tracks are much improved, with support for overlapping labels, and support for modifying both the left and right edge of the label region just by clicking and dragging.
- QuickTime and Audio Units on Mac OS X – Audacity can now import any audio file supported by Apple’s QuickTime technology. This includes .MOV and .MP4 (AAC) files. Encrypted audio files (such as those from the iTunes Music Store) cannot be imported directly into Audacity – Apple does not allow this to be done easily because it would be too easy to circumvent the encryption this way.
- Better performance with large projects – 1.3 now uses a hierarchical directory structure that results in better performance on large projects (tens of hours worth of audio across many tracks)
- Project integrity check on open – When you open an Audacity project in version 1.3, it checks to make sure that all data files are present.
- Transcription toolbar – A new toolbar for creating transcriptions of speech in Label Tracks. Includes features that enable you to change the playback speed, create labels automatically based on onsets, and more. To enable this feature, go to the Interface tab of the Preferences.
- Upload via FTP – Audacity 1.3 has an experimental new dialog for uploading files to a server via FTP. Currently it is just a simple FTP client; in the future we will integrate this feature into Audacity more so you can publish a project directly to a site as a Podcast, for example.
- Batch / CleanSpeech – Audacity has a new feature that allows you to process a bunch of files, for example normalizing and converting to MP3. The CleanSpeech mode provides a simplified interface for some standard adjustments typically made on speech recordings. You can access these features in the Batch tab of the Preferences dialog.
- Cut lines – When this feature is enabled (in the Interface tab of the Preferences), cutting audio in the middle of a clip does not remove it permanently – at any time in the future, just click on the cut line to restore it.
The Audacity site warns that “Audacity 1.3 is an unstable, beta version of Audacity. Users who want a completely stable, finished program should be using Audacity 1.2. Audacity 1.3 has hundreds of new features, but some features may be incomplete or confusing, it is more likely to crash, and you are more likely to lose data.”
Both versions are available for download at the Audacity site.