The Best Free DAW is Back in Audacity 3.0!


Sean McCauley

| Posted:

March 23, 2021

Audacity 3’s new features make the world’s best free DAW better than ever! So we’re going to go over them for you. If you’ve never used the free Audacity DAW before, then there’s never been a better time to introduce yourself.

We talked about it in our piece on cutting a rap mixtape for free, and also in the one on making a YouTube studio at home. All you really need to know, though, is that you can edit, tweak, overhaul, or create music for free right on your computer with it.

The Audacity Team, themselves, call it a:

“Free, open source, cross-platform audio software. Audacity is an easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux and other operating systems, developed by a group of volunteers as open source.”

It’s more than just that, though. It’s also the most successful free, open-source software in the world today with over 108 million downloads since 2015. It’s been developed over 21 years!

So now that the new kids know what it is, let’s talk about what it’s become in Audacity Ver. 3.0.0!

(Already hip? Got a single to drop? Get the best distribution at the best price without a subscription right here from Octiive now).

Linux Audacity. You can make it look like FL or Pro Tools, or Ableton.

Audacity 3.0 is a free DAW for producing hip-hop, EDM, and more!

Audacity takes a back seat to paid (or stolen) DAW software for some artists because people say it’s harder to use than Ableton, ProTools, or FL Studio. But quickly comparing screenshots shows them to all be very similar. See the below image and you'll agree right away.

Regardless, many professionals use Audacity over paid products for lots of reasons, including its lightning speed and lightweight memory use, as well as functionality far surpassing what nearly everyone can possibly find use for.

And since we’re into making music ourselves and distributing music for as little cash as possible (nine bucks per single) we’re pretty interested in it, especially with Audacity 3’s new features.

Clockwise from upper-left, Audacity, ProTools, Ableton, FL Studio

But in Audacity 3 — the first complete new version since ver. 2 dropped nine years ago! — there’s even more for audiophiles and sound engineers to geek out on.

The most helpful of Audacity 3.0’s new features for veterans will probably be the new labeling feature. Audacity Team describe it as: 

“a tool which can useful to label the different songs or sections (or silences) in a long recording, such as the tracks from an LP or cassette.”

So let’s say you rip a vinyl record to digital. Now you have two long recordings, Side A and Side B, right? Throw these into Label Sounds and it’ll add labels to each track for you. All you gotta do is change the names to track titles and you’re done.

You can decide how many decibels count as silence and how many count as legitimate sound, too. That means you could take a live recording and and highlight all instances below what’s easily heard in a single step. Then you could decide to amplify those areas or simply throw them out. Pretty great stuff.

Audacity 3.0's new feature, "Label Sounds"

Audacity 3.0 new features include macro export/import!

Audacity 3 new features include the importing and exporting of macros! Sounds Geeky! WTH is that!? 

Well, it’s maybe the coolest thing in this list because now you’ll be able to go to Audacity Reddit threads (or wherever) and get free macros to use in your DAW. If you’re a power user, people will be hungry to check your own macros, too.

What’s a macro? A macro is a key you press to do a set of instructions. You can see in the below image a set of examples, such as performing a certain fade out, normalizing a section’s volume by a certain amount, or even just exporting a file to MP4. But the possibilities are really endless. How far can you take macro building? Ridiculous extremes. Ridiculous. Extremes.

And with the new Audacity 3, they’ve added macro comments, so you don’t have to wonder what the heck you intended your macro to do when you made it.

Audacity 3 new features include trading macros with other producers!

The new Audacity version uses its own file type now!

The new Audacity version finally does away with the group of files it created for each new project. Previously, you’d start a new song and it would make a few files for it which all needed to be kept in the same file directory or else the project wouldn’t open. That was a pain because if you had lots of tracks being created at once, it could be very difficult to not lose a file.

That sucked.

With Audacity 3, the program creates one, solitary file with an .AUP3 extension. AUP3 stands for Audacity Unitary Project [Version] 3.

What do you have to do for your old projects, though? Nothing. Just open them in Audacity 3.0, and it will repack the files into a nice, neat little .AUP3 for you once and for all. That’s a huge one-up over mainstream programs like FL Studio, which doesn’t pack up your samples (!), Ableton, which saves individual projects in folders of folders or “sets,” and Pro Tools, which is so convoluted their website actually shouts DO NOT MANUALLY MOVE THESE FILES!

So what may seem like no big deal is actually far superior to the competition, especially since you don’t even have to pay for it.

Audacity Ver. 3.0.0 is str8 fya and there’s no reason not to try it.

Point being, Audacity 3 is a killer program and anyone making independent music owes it to themselves to give it a shot. Audacity Team isn’t selling anything. At all. Ever. So there are no ads, no pop-ups, no registrations, no subscriptions, and frankly no BS to get in the way of your music career.

Can you imagine how nice it would be to be able to send yourself an .AUP3 file, go to another artist’s house, install Audacity on their Windows, MacOS or Linux machine and open up your project to show them there? The freedom is huge!

That’s all we’ve got to say about it except, you may as well get it here. You’re welcome.

Oh, and thanks, Audacity Team! You make music free, and we love you for it.