Audacity as a mastering tool

Hello there, I do a lot of audio mastering under Windoze, currently using commercial software (boo). But as someone who uses nearly all open source in his day job, including Ubuntu as my OS, I’m always interested in moving in the direction of open software. So I’m sure you’ve heard of all of these feature requests before, but I’d like to add what I think it would take for me to consider Audacity as my primary mastering platform.

First of all, kudos on version 1.3 … the native VST support is a huge step forward! Congratulations on a great upgrade.

Okay here are my suggestions:

  1. In-line audio effects. I’m sure you get this request a lot. But it is essential for mastering. I need to be able to stack up several VST effects at the same time, and I need to be able to tweak the knobs on any/all of them, at the same time, while the audio is playing. For example, see how Wavelab or Sonar handle effects, where there is a chain you can attach to each track, and you can see and tweak settings on as many of them at the same time as you want. I can’t overemphasize how important this feature is; it’s by far the #1 thing I think Audacity needs to push it over the top as a pro audio tool.

  2. The spectrum analysis tool is outstanding, the best I’ve seen of any audio tool I’ve used. It is wonderful for finding the frequencies that are overused in a track. But it can only analyze a limited amount of audio at a time, like 20 seconds. I desperately would like to be able to analyze the entire file, so it can give me a starting point for where I should do surgical eq. This would give Audacity a serious edge as a mastering tool. This item transferred to the Wiki Pending Feature Requests section for triage by developers - tascertain whether this is doable - technically or resource-wise. Waxcylinder 6Oct09

  3. Better metering. The meters in Audacity are good, but not great. Ideally I’d like to see meters with much higher resolution, with at least twice as much screen real estate, preferably even more. I need enough resolution to be able to easily tell whether a signal is peaking at -80 dB or at -90 dB, seriously to that level. If I could stack VST plugins like I suggested in #1 I could get away with a VST metering plugin but it would better for the host to show it to me.

  4. High resolution sample rate conversion and word length conversion, with dither. Also crucial for mastering. I need to be able to bounce the entire project down to a single WAV file, applying all effects, and at the end of the entire chain doing a sample rate down-conversion (e.g. from 96KHz down to 44.1KHz) as well as a word length reduction (24 bit down to 16 bit), with a pro quality dither algorithm. A VST plugin cannot do the job; the host has to be able to do this, and do it after all other processing.

These are the major things I’d need. But I can’t emphasize enough the importance of #1. I can work around the other three using external programs if I had to, but there’s no way to work around #1. Audacity is a great program, with a ton of promise, and I can’t wait to see what y’all do with it!

Thanks for all the hard work!


You’re right, this is one of the top three (now =2nd with your vote) most requested feature requests - one of the reasons is that it may not happen is that it would require fairly massive processing power - more than Audacity already demands, and current Audacity is a fairly resource-hungry application. I have added your vote to the FR list on the Audacity Wiki:

You can drag the meter bars around and resize them. This functionality is not very well documented, so I’m not surprised you didn’t realize that you could do this. You’re right, IMHO the default meter size is pathetically inadequate - I have mine stretched across the whole work window/screen

AFAIK Aduacity should be able to do this for you already (but I’m no expert on these matters). I certainly have my Audacity installations set at 32-bit floating 44.1kHz and use Audacity to downsample on export to 16-bit PCM 44.1kHz. Audacity also offers you control over the dithering shaping that you require - this can be set via Edit > Preferences


This item transferred to the Wiki Pending Feature Requests section for triage by developers - to ascertain whether this is doable - technically or resource-wise. Waxcylinder 6Oct09

If you upgrade to 1.3.9, Spectrum now supports analysing up to 237.8 seconds of audio (that change was brought in for 1.3.8). It does take time for the spectrum to display if you choose a length like that, such that we will probably have to put a progress dialogue on it. So, this will not be added to Feature Requests…