The logo for Audacity.

Audacity is an open-source audio editor and track mixer available for download online. The most current version was created by a team of developers and Dominic Mazzoni, who released the prototype in 2000 and now works for Google. Mazzoni remains the major editor and contributor to Audacity.

Audacity v. Garageband

The above debate is one presented to many Mac users hoping to do any music editing on their computers. The question is this: which is superior, Audacity or Garageband?

As with all such conflicts, each side has their ups and downs. There is no consensus as to which is "better," which is of course a subjective issue, but there are many given factors that everyone agrees on. One: Garageband is infinitely more technical and sophisticated than Audacity, with considerably more options for making music, but it can often be aggravating or frustrating, like a labyrinth. One on the side of Audacity, however, exporting created files from Garageband can be nothing short of a hassle. Audacity is much more proficient in that area; it really is as simple as clicking a few buttons. A clear advantage thåt Garageband has over Audacity is the use of MIDI receptors, which allow the user to play music by typing on the keyboard, through use of software instruments. Audacity has no such function.

The bottom line is Audacity is simpler, but Garageband has more options. So if you're more attentive to details, the suggestion is Garageband. If it's difficult for you to work with something as convoluted as GarageBand, use Audacity.

Student Use

The primary use of Audacity in the classroom is by students, often for a music class. Audacity is of growing use and assignment by teachers, and students are happy to use it. Most of the time, when confronted with either choice, they will choose Garageband because of its visual desirability, in which Audacity is lacking.

Many times, students will use Audacity on their own for projects as a method of conveying their own thoughts or to significantly alter their own voice for presentation. This is where Audacity shows its true merit; rather than just music, Audacity can be used to modify any audio file, to reorganize it into something completely different, if need be.

Our teacher provided an example of this. One year, her students used Audacity to manipulate Nixon's Watergate speech, adding and merging their own voice. The end result was what seemed to be an interview with Richard Nixon, using what they'd filtered from the Watergate speech, converse to the Obama campaign song Yes We Can, by Will.i.am.

Additionally, as students will often require audio files either in addition to or as a main project, they will then need Audacity to convert the file into the requisite form.

Music method teachers will also find Audacity most useful in their class. Audacity is useful for the breakdown and study of the mechanics of music, or to research the evolution of digital music creation. It's also useful in an actual music practice class, to write and play music manually.
Numerous students in our own class used Audacity as an alternative to Garageband during our music project, simply because they preferred it.

Teacher Use

As previously stated, the teachers who will get copious use out of Audacity will be teachers of musical study classes. Audacity provides venue for a large amount of projects with great variance between them, though Garageband does as well, and this just circles back around to the Audacity v. Garageband debate.
As I've mentioned, a great use for teachers of all kinds is the edition of audio files already in existence, which is one of Audacity's most prominent features. Many teachers today use song or audio presentations to make impressions on students, or to start lessons. If there are occasional glitches or hiccups in the audio file, the best mechanic is Audacity. This is an area in which Audacity surpasses Garageband completely.

My Reflection

Amazingly, after working with Garageband and all its cantankerousness, I somehow find Audacity more confusing than Garageband. Perhaps my brain is warped, but while Garageband does have endless hallways of options, if you already know what you're looking for in that hallway then it's not too hard to find.
Audacity is a little colder, if you ask me. You can record your voice on it. Yes, bravo. But aside from Audacity being fairly outdated technology, I can't see anything it can do that Garageband can't.


-"Audacity: About Audacity." Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder. 05 June 2009 <http://audacity.sourceforge.net/about/>.

-"Audacity Forum • View topic - Audacity v Garageband." Audacity Team. 05 June 2009 <http://audacityteam.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=2888>.

-"Audacity." Teachers and Computers. 05 June 2009 <http://teachersandcomputers.blogspot.com/2009/01/audacity.html>.