You never know when you’ll need to chop audio or upload it on the fly. For example, a laptop theft last month had me jumping from loaner machines to public PCs until I secured a suitable replacement. Web-based and low-profile apps prove their worth in such situations and I want to list a few of my favorite finds here.
Audacity is the old steady when you don’t have GarageBand and you need a free audio editor. It has the backing of an enthusiastic open-source community, which keeps it regularly updated. It’s also popular with the public radio crowd as its simplicity is great for editing interviews (as opposed to remixing music). However, you must download and install it as well as download the LAME codec for the ability to export to mp3 format. This is a simple process, but a significant barrier if your current machine doesn’t offer you install privileges.
That’s where Myna comes in. Part of the Aviary suite, Myna is a fully web-based audio editing tool. The features are robust and include nice editing touches like fades, control points and effects. Aviary as whole offers a community for sharing creations publicly and connecting with friends on the site. This video gives an excellent overview:
Indaba Music also offers an online audio editor, but the site’s strength is its fixation on community. The vision is to enable musicians to collaborate on music from afar. In this Colbert interview, Indaba’s co-founder shares an example of producing music with a friend and then bringing in vocals from a singer in Nigeria. The same scenario could easily be applied to journalism.
Indaba allows the user to create a Session and invite other users. Session members can then upload audio tracks to that session (adding audio via phone call is another interesting feature). When the user opens the web-based audio editor, all the tracks from that session are automatically added to the track list. Session members then see file and editing updates on their dashboard or they can subscribe to session updates via RSS. This has a lot of potential for journalists working remotely on a radio or podcasting project. Of note, is the 100mb limit for free accounts. This may not go far when dealing with long interviews. An upgrade to a 500mb account is $50/year, while unlimited storage is $250/year. Another note, the editor is java-based and in Chrome and on Mac, one must open the session file manually in Java.
Finally, I want to offer mp3cut as the ultra-simple tool for crude audio chopping in a hurry. It’s advertised as a platform for cutting clips from songs for ringtones, but could easily be used to reduce the file size of large interview when one only has one clip to worry about and only wants a small part of that clip.
If you have other free and easily-accessed audio tools, please share them in the comments.