Adobe Audition vs. Audacity

September 16, 2013

3 minute read

Quick note: _Comparing paid software with free software is bad. But if you’re looking into using Audition and have been using Audacity for a long time for editing, say, podcast episodes, like myself, then you might appreciate this article.

Audacity is an open source audio editing program that I’ve been using for the past year for recording and editing episodes of the Created Listening podcast. During that year I’ve come up with a lot of little annoyances with it, which include the following:

  • Stops responding a lot. When I’m zooming in or out, applying effects, or exporting, Audacity tends to stop responding a lot. It’s crashed a few times during those freezeups so it’s a source of panic for me, like oh god is Audacity going to crash and lose something again? noooo. Fortunately though, it hasn’t actually lost a recording session during those (very few) crashes, but the unresponsiveness is annoying.
  • Doesn’t save originals after editing + save. When I’m editing a project, I can apply all sorts of changes and undo them, but once I hit save, I’ve lost the original version, which is really needed in case I make a mistake like cutting out too much or applying the wrong compression settings to the track. Which brings us to the next small annoyance:
  • Effects are applied directly to the recording. If you apply an effect, do some more editing, and then decide later you want to remove it, you have to undo everything you did up until you applied that effect, and pray to God you didn’t hit save after you applied that effect.

Adobe Audition doesn’t have any of those issues. It’s very responsive, it saves the originals, and while looks don’t matter that much, it’s a lot sexier than Audacity. You can apply effects directly to recordings, but you are much better off just setting up effects in the Effects rack so you can easily turn them on or off without affecting the original files.

However, I did run into some problems with exporting in Audition. I export most of my work into VBR MP3 files to save space so it’s easier to upload and play them online, but unfortunately, Adobe Audition doesn’t save the correct time format. So a 40 minute audio clip may show up as an hour long or more in audio players, which is bad. But it’s actually not really Audition’s fault, I spent some time googling the issue and the issue is with the proprietary encoder Audition uses.

It’s funny how LAME, an open source MP3 encoder that Audacity uses, does a much better job at encoding VBR MP3 files (like saving the correct time) while Fraunhofer’s own encoder used in Audition (Fraunhofer owns the rights to the MP3 format) utterly fails to save the correct time in VBR MP3 files.

Fortunately, there’s a workaround - but you need to download a third-party utility to fix the time information on these faulty MP3s. It works, though, and it’s called VBRFix.

I don’t like having to use it to fix something Adobe should have fixed themselves, and apparently this has been happening since at least CS6, possibly earlier. But, I’d rather not go back to Audacity, so I can live with this issue I guess.

Bottom line: Audition > Audacity

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