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Comparison of free software for audio

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Title: Comparison of free software for audio  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Sweep (software), Audio editing software, Ardour (software), Free audio software, Jokosher
Collection: Free Audio Software, Free Software Lists and Comparisons
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Comparison of free software for audio

This list of free software for audio lists notable free and open source software for use by sound engineers, audio producers, and those involved in sound recording and reproduction.


  • Audio analysis 1
  • Converters 2
  • DJ Software 3
  • Modular systems 4
  • Platforms 5
  • Players 6
  • Programming languages 7
  • Radio broadcasting 8
  • Recording and editing 9
  • Softsynths 10
  • Streaming 11
  • Technologies 12
  • Trackers 13
  • Other 14
  • See also 15

Audio analysis

Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note Licence
BRP-PACU Yes Yes Dual channel FFT tool for equalization of sound systems using the transfer function. GPL
Praat Paul Boersma and David Weenink of the University of Amsterdam Yes Yes Yes A program for the analysis of speech in phonetics. GPL
Sonic Visualiser Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London Yes Yes Yes GPL
WaveSurfer Yes Yes Yes Permissive free software


Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note License
FFmpeg Libav team Yes Yes Yes Yes Audio & video. GPL or LGPL
fre:ac Robert Kausch Yes Yes No Yes formerly BonkEnc GPL
Libav Fabrice Bellard Yes Yes Yes Yes Audio & video. GPL or LGPL
MPlayer Yes Yes Yes Yes Audio & video. GPL

DJ Software

Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note License
Mixxx Mixxx Development Team Yes Yes Yes Yes GPL
Xwax Mark Hills Yes No No No GPL

Modular systems

Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note License
aRts Yes Yes Yes Yes GPL
Integra Live Birmingham Conservatoire No Yes No Yes GPL
Libvisual Yes Yes Yes Yes LGPL
SynFactory No No No Yes GPL
VisualAp Yes Yes Yes GPL


Various projects have formed to integrate the existing free software audio packages.

Name Creator Description Note License
64 Studio Linux distribution
AVLinux Linux distribution various
dyne:bolic Linux distribution various
Musix GNU+Linux Linux distribution various
Planet CCRMA set of packages (in RPM format)
Ubuntu Studio Linux distribution various


Logo Component GUI Programming
Database Description
Amarok Amarok Qt C++ MySQL
aTunes aTunes Java
Aqualung Aqualung GTK+ C no database
Audacious Audacious GTK+ C no database
Banshee Banshee GTK+ C# SQLite
Beep Media Player GTK+ C no database
Clementine Clementine Qt C++ SQLite3
Exaile Exaile GTK+ Python Pickle (Python) Linux / Windows / OS X
Guayadeque Guayadeque wxWidgets C++, C wxSQLite3
Juk JuK Qt C++
Miro Miro WebKit in GTK+/Cocoa Python ?
Muine Mono C# no database can use GStreamer and xine
Nightingale Nightingale XULRunner C++ SQLite? fork of Songbird, with Linux support
Quod Libet Quod Libet GTK+ Python Pickle (Python) Linux / Windows / OS X.
qmmp qmmp Qt C++ no database
Rhythmbox Rhythmbox GTK+ C not GNU Data Access
Songbird Songbird XULRunner C++ SQLite? support for Linux was dropped
Tomahawk Tomahawk Qt C++ SQLite
XMMS GTK+ C++ no database

Programming languages

Many computer music programming languages are implemented in free software. See also the comparison of audio synthesis environments.

Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note License
Csound Csound community, Barry Vercoe Yes Yes No? Yes LGPL
ChucK Ge Wang, Perry Cook Yes Yes No? Yes GPL
Nyquist Computer Music Project at Carnegie Mellon University, Roger B. Dannenberg Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pure Data Pd Community, Miller Puckette Yes Yes Yes Yes BSD-like
SuperCollider SuperCollider community, James McCartney Yes Yes Yes? Yes GPL

Radio broadcasting

See also streaming below.

Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note
Airtime Sourcefabric Yes No No Successor to Campcaster
Campcaster Sourcefabric Yes No No
OpenBroadcaster OpenBroadcaster Yes No No

Recording and editing

The following packages are digital audio editors.

Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note
Ardour Paul Davis Yes Yes Yes No multi-track audio recorder
Audacity Dominic Mazzoni Yes Yes Yes Yes multi-track audio recorder
Ecasound Yes Yes Yes Yes limited support through Cygwin audio recorder
Gnome Wave Cleaner Jeff Welty Yes No No audio editor
Jokosher Jokosher community Yes No Yes multi-track audio editor
LMMS Tobias Doerffel Yes Yes as of 0.4.0 with Qt4 Yes Free cross-platform alternative to commercial programs like FL Studio®, which allow you to produce music with your computer.

Intended as a replacement for Cubase-like software (DAW)

MusE Yes No No MIDI sequencer
Qtractor Yes No No A non-destructive multi-track audio and MIDI Workstation (DAW)
Rosegarden Yes No No MIDI sequencer and multi-track recorder
SoX Yes Yes Yes Yes command-line multi-track audio editor/processor
Sweep Conrad Parker Yes No Yes No
Traverso DAW Remon Sijrier Yes Yes Yes multi-track audio recorder and editor
WaveSurfer Centre for Speech Technology at KTH Yes Yes Yes Yes


Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note License
FluidSynth Yes Yes Yes Yes SoundFont player / renderer LGPL
TiMidity++ Yes Yes Yes Yes GPL
Yoshimi Alan Calvert Yes No No Forked from ZynAddSubFX in 2009 GPL
ZynAddSubFX Paul Nasca Yes Yes Yes OS X version is limited GPL


These programs are for use with streaming audio.

Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note
Firefly Media Server Yes Yes Yes streams music to DAAP clients like iTunes and Rhythmbox
Icecast Yes Yes Yes a broadcast server, serves audio signals to clients over the HTTP protocol
PeerCast Yes Yes Yes a peercasting tool
VideoLAN Yes Yes Yes Yes media and server programs for video and audio streaming


Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note
Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) Yes a sound card management system in the Linux kernel
DSSI Yes a plugin architecture for software synthesizers
GStreamer Yes Yes Yes Yes a graph-based multimedia framework
JACK Audio Connection Kit (JACK) JACK Team, Paul Davis Yes Yes (JACK OS X) Yes (jackdmp) a sound server
Linux Audio Developers Simple Plugin API (LADSPA) Yes a plugin architecture for digital signal processing
Open Sound System Yes Yes a standard interface for making and capturing sound in Unix operating systems
PulseAudio Yes Yes Yes(Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD) Yes a sound server


These music sequencer programs allow users to arrange notes (pitch-shifted sound samples) on a timeline: see tracker (music software).

Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note
MilkyTracker Yes Yes Yes Yes Also runs on various other platforms including but not limited to Windows Mobile, PlayStation and AmigaOS 4.
OpenMPT Olivier Lapicque No No No Yes released as free software in 2004
Psycle No No No Yes a tracker combined with modular capabilities
SoundTracker Yes No Yes No Fast Tracker clone


Name Creator Linux? OS X? Unix? Windows? Note
Gnaural Yes Yes Yes Yes Binaural beat and pink noise generator
GNU LilyPond Han-Wen Nienhuys and Jan Nieuwenhuizen Yes Yes Yes Yes a music engraving program
MuseScore Werner Schweer Yes Yes Yes a WYSIWYG scorewriter with midi playback and audio export
Hydrogen Yes Yes Partial Partial an advanced drum machine
Impro-Visor Bob Keller Yes Yes Yes Yes lead sheet notation, jazz improvisation, auto-accompaniment
Levelator The Conversations Network Yes Yes No Yes Tool that uses a compressor, normalizer and limiter to normalize volume levels in audio recordings of public talks.
libsndfile Yes Yes Yes Yes library for reading and writing many sound formats

See also

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