Pro Tools vs. Audacity

If all things were equal, and no effects or filters used, would you get a better recording with Pro Tools software than Audacity software?

Both programs are a complete slave to the machine running them. I regularly produce production master sound tracks from live performances with Audacity on all three computer platforms, Audition, and Cool Edit. What happens after capture is the Big Deal. Past producing a sound file (which actually is slightly different between the programs) the production tools are very different.


Short answer - no.
Slightly longer answer, if you are capturing the same data in any program, the data is still the same data. The raw recording quality is down to hardware.

Ok, that is what I thought. So, if you’re just recording, the quality of the recording will depend on your microphones, sound cards, and mixers. Audacity or Pro Tools will do an equal job of capturing the signals it gets from those devices.

“equal”? hmm… Audacity will do a better job on Linux (afaik Protools does not run on Linux).
Protools also has a higher hardware requirement (2 hard drives, specialised sound card, more RAM…)
The price difference will also have a big impact on the money you have to spend on your other gear (such as microphones, instruments…)
Also, I think that Protools can only save/export in 16 or 24 bit and not 32 bit.

Once you have the show captured, these two programs are quite different. Audacity is essentially a multitrack sound editor, and Protools is essentially a DAW.

What’s a DAW?

DAW = Digital Audio Workstation.
It’s like a fancy digital tape recorder with plug-ins and no tape (records to hard disk).

Can you elaborate on the difference between a multi track editor and a DAW? What are the implications to the user?

It’s not a clear cut answer. It’s a bit like asking what’s the difference between a “food processor” and a “blender”. A food processor normally has interchangeable blades and a blender normally has just one fixed blade, but what if you have a blender with interchangeable blades, or a food processor with just one blade?

Audio editors usually work with just one audio track at a time whereas DAWs are usually designed to work with multiple tracks simultaneously, however, Audacity is designed to be able to work with multiple tracks simultaneously. Modern DAWs usually do their processing in real time, so when you apply an effect, the audio data is not actually changed when you apply the effect, but will be processed on the fly when you play the audio, whereas an audio editor will usually apply the effect directly to the audio at the time that you apply the effect. DAWs are often more complicated than audio editors as they are often intended to be a comprehensive “environment” for working with audio, whereas audio editors are often less complicated and designed more as a “tool” than as an “environment”. DAWs often have greater computer requirements (sometimes requiring specialist hardware) than audio editors (Audacity has quite low requirements - little more than the standard requirements for the computer operating system).

Wikipedia describes a “digital audio editor” as: “a computer application for audio editing, i.e. manipulating digital audio. Digital audio editors are the main software component of a digital audio workstation.”

Wikipedia describes a “DAW” as: A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic system designed solely or primarily for recording, editing and playing back digital audio


I see that I never did thank you for this reply. It’s a good one and clear that it took you some effort.