I’ve been using Audacity for 16 years now, and it’s an amazing program. Version 2.0.5 always did a great job for me, so I never saw the need to upgrade it, but I finally decided to upgrade a few months ago and installed version 3.1.3. I feel like getting 9 years worth of changes all at once gives me a slightly different perspective on how things have changed over the years, so I thought I’d give my thoughts.
Wave Colour - This is a handy feature for categorising tracks, which is especially useful when you have a lot of them.
The speed adjust slider now works on the fly, which is fun to play around with.
The echo effect now remembers your last-used settings when you load up the program, which it didn’t before. This is a nice little time-saver.
The solo function has been reworked and now provides less functionality. Before, you could use it to isolate a single track, or 2 tracks, or 3 - however many you wanted. It would leave your mute settings on other tracks unaffected. Now, it can only be used to isolate a single track. The old solo could do that, but also more, so its functionality is reduced. The new solo also discards all of your mute information on other tracks, so if you ever click it, all muting information on other tracks is lost and you have to go through and re-mute other tracks. Hard to see the benefit here, and solo is now largely unusable as a result.
Pause/Stop buttons no longer work in other windows. If you have 10 Audacity windows open, you have to go and find the specific one that’s playing so you can stop it. Previously, you could press pause or stop in any window to do so. This is cumbersome, and I don’t see the benefit when this function was already implemented.
The volume slider is now ‘logarithmic’ (not sure if that’s the right word). It used to be linear, but now nearly all of the volume control is in the last 10%. This basically means you have much less control (and different slider positions are less comparable), and I struggle to see the benefit.
The record function now defaults to the end of a track, so you have to hold shift to make it record at the start of a track (which can be annoying while holding an instrument or microphone). It’s much more common (for me at least) to want to record at the start of a file than at the end of another track, so why not have it default to the start? You could switch it so shift records at the end.
You can no longer use the cursor to move to the start of a track, because the cursor turns into double arrows and if you move it, it will shorten the track. You can click slightly to the side, but that’s not where you want it. You can click on the bar at the top of each track, but that selects the whole track, when you just want to move the cursor to its start. This is a very routine and common thing to do, so I don’t see the benefit here.
After using the zoom tool, the next thing you want to do is nearly always to use the selection tool. It used to default back to it for you, but now you have to change it back yourself, which means unecessary extra clicks.
Extra mouse clicks are now required in the File menu to re-save an existing project. I don’t see the benefit of this, when the undo function exists for any rare mistakes. It used to be a single click.
The Amplify tool used to know that if you don’t select anything, you just want to amplify all. Now, it won’t do anything, so you have to select all. That’s unecessary extra clicks when you obviously just want to amplify everything.
There may of course be solutions to some of the things I’ve mentioned above (I’m still not totally familiar with 3.1.3), so please let me know if that’s the case. On balance though, it feels like 3.1.3 is less intuitive than 2.0.5, and I haven’t yet encountered any new features which outweigh that, so I’ll probably go back to using 2.0.5. It would be nice though if you could consider returning some of these old features in future versions.
And so did everything else, which caused a lot of cries for help from inexperienced users. For example, press the Del key with no selection and everything would be deleted. The assumption that the user wants everything selected when nothing is selected was frequently counterproductive, though the option is still available in preferences for those that really want it. See “Select all audio, if selection required” https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/tracks_behaviors_preferences.html
Great, thanks both, it’s interesting to see the reasoning behind some of these changes and great that they can be changed in preferences. I’ve done that now and I’ll give 3.1.3 another try.
I don’t know why you’d want to remove zoom though (unless the ability to zoom in with Ctrl would still be there), as it’s very useful. I sometimes zoom all the way down to single ‘blips’ of time or whatever they are, although in testing that just now in 3.1.3 I see you can no longer select with that level of detail as you could in 2.0.5, which is a shame).
Actually I’ve just realised the reason I couldn’t select individual samples was because I had the unit of time set to milliseconds instead of samples. Now that I’ve switched it to samples, I can select them individually at max zoom in 3.1.3 as in 2.0.5.
I use looping in conjunction with tempo changes to learn complex guitar riffs from recorded songs. The new looping feature makes that process far too complicated. My preference would be to simply have a looped-play button alongside the normal play button - so the process would be select a section, change the tempo, and then hit the loop-play button. Now, every time I alter the selection, I have to remember to click another button (“set loop to selection”), and then hit play. If shorten or lengthen the selected section, the loop-selection doesn’t track those changes. Same is true I change the tempo again (on the same selected section) the loop-selection doesn’t track those changes (although the non-loop selection does) so I have to once again hit the “set loop to selection” button.
I realize my use of Audacity might be limited, but its hard to understand what benefit there is the new looping function.
I agree. We have a person who reads/records Greek text, so I have a series of selections of English words which embrace a few Greek words (up to 100 Greek words in one case), where I need to loop and rehearse the pronunciation, tone, pitch, timing, stress etc until my voice matches the speakers, then I re-record from my memory and move on to the next chunk to loop.
I can make the 3.1.3 looping work, but it is an extra few steps that seem to complicate the process. Only a hurdle though; not an Obstacle. What would I do without Audacity?
Steve and ChrisGreaves - I actually regressed to 2.4.2 and am mostly happy again. There are a couple other oddities about 3.x that also slowed my work flow, and nothing really that improved it. I was glad to find the legacy versions still available; I worry that the Audacity team is “fixing” thing and over-engineering/thinking what is a very simple elegant tool.
Can someone please tell me another way to achieve isolated zoom without the now removed Zoom Tool? I edit music where maintaining strict timing and phrasing is very import. Using versions up to 3.1.3 I would find beginning and end points (e.g., measure, phrase) based on timing (e.g., specific beat), then select that segment. Next to find an appropriate location to make a cut or insert I’d use the Zoom Tool to zoom in on segments inside and outside the selected section without loosing my selection (e.g., go figure – artists sing across measure and phrase boundaries; keeping in or out a crescendo). Once an appropriate location is found, in the ‘Selection Toolbar’ I’d change the start location in the ‘Start and End of Selection’ that would merely shift my selection while keeping the exact length of my exact selection intact.
Under 3.2.1 I’ve tried Zoom In, scroll left/right, Zoom to Selection (Ctrl+E), repeat, repeat; using labels, etc. all of which are so time consuming that I’m considering reverting back to 3.1.3.