Open source software is a wonderful thing as it breeds invention and creativity. There’s a no more better example than Audacity.
For those of you who have never heard of Audacity, it is a free open source program which enables you to record audio files and then edit them, convert them into various file formats (such as MP3 and WAV) and generally allows you to have your own little audio recording studio on your PC.
Winner of the “SourceForge Community Choice Awards 2007 ” (Multimedia Category), it now has two beta versions in existence as well as the stable official version which I am currently using. So this is very much a piece of software that is being upgraded and improved all the time.
It is especially ideal for those who make podcasts or if you want to make an audio message for your website. I sometimes volunteer for a website project called Librivox which produces audio books of copyright-expired books (basically the audio version of Project Gutenberg) and virtually everyone on the Librivox project (at least as far as I could see) uses Audacity to record their book chapters.
If you want to do something simple such as recording an audio file, then that is very easy. Just plug in your headset and microphone combo, press the record button and away you go. But if you want to get into more in-depth stuff then that requires a bit more studying. For example, I heard that you can use Audacity to record from streaming internet radio stations & convert your records and cassettes into MP3 format. These are two things I would love to do but as yet I haven’t been able to work out how to do it.
Audacity can also be used to edit an existing sound file. For example, once you have recorded your voice, you can then remove background noise, splice audio together, delete sections you don’t need or even change the speed of a recording! This is amazing, considering that the software is free and open source.
For people that work with audio on a regular basis but can’t afford to splash out for professional equipment, Audacity makes a very nice alternative. Now anybody can make their own podcasts and radio stations!