When it comes to audio recording, Mac users have the best of both worlds. First, we have a stable OS with multiple recording input and output options, Second, we have Garageband, which brings high quality digital audio recording, editing, and mixing to every Mac.
It’s difficult to compete against free, but that’s what the open source Audacity app does. Free audio recording, editing, mixing, much like it was back in 1999.
Audacity records audio using your Mac’s built-in Core Audio functionality. You can edit sound waves with typical cut, copy, and paste, plus, mix different tracks together, even apply a variety of audio effects to a track or a section of an audio track.
There’s a built-in amplitude envelope editor, and effects for bass boost, noise removal and a variety of standard plug-ins. Audacity can record and play and import and export WAV, AIFF, and MP3 files (and a few others, including the highly touted and dubiously useful, Ogg Vorbis). There’s an equalizer, normalizer, and even a vocal remover. You can even change the speed or pitch of a recording.
The anemic interface is right out of the Mac OS from the last century. In other words, bland and sterile functionality. But it’s functionality that works.
While Audacity isn’t much to look at, it’s fully functional, open source (as in free speech) and runs on Mac, Windows PCs, even Linux PCs such as Ubuntu.
Through the years I’ve collected a few dozen Mac audio recording, editing, and mixing apps, and Audacity comes and goes in the collection (depending on how crash happy it is with the latest Mac OS X).
While functionality is good, Audacity suffers due to Apple’s built-in Garageband. Compare the two and you’ll see a significant difference. Audacity is good for quick recording and editing. Garageband is built for music and multiple track recording and playback.
Garageband doesn’t handle all the same audio file formats as Audacity and is better tuned to the needs of amateur recording artists. Audacity is a good entry-level editor for any Mac user or podcast wannabe on a budget.