Audition vs Audacity - Pros and Cons

Updated: Jan 19




Here at BRAVA, we’ve had lots of you asking for 1-1 training and more information on the best editing software to use for VO. Whilst many use and are happy with Audacity, the industry standard software is Adobe Audition.


So we thought we’d write something about the pros and cons of using each. Our expert engineer and producer, Euan McAleece, gives us his pearls of wisdom below.


And of course, we heard what you asked for and we’re running an Adobe Audition Masterclass, starting on Tuesday January 11, 6-7pm: book a place here.


Digital Audio Workstations – DAW


Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) are software packages for recording, editing, mixing and mastering audio.


There are plenty of DAW to choose from such as Pro tools, Reaper, Logic, and Hindenburg but for this blog I will focus on two of the most popular DAWs for voice over work and podcasting: Audacity and Adobe Audition.





Basic differences: overview


1. Price

One of the biggest differences between Audacity and Adobe Audition is cost.


Adobe Audition

  • Not cheap! £19.97 Per Month - or £52.13 per month with Adobe Creative Cloud which also includes the very powerful Photoshop and Premier Pro (video editing) apps. (Audition and Premier Pro are designed to complement each other). Discounts for students

  • Very powerful

  • Intuitive UI

  • Needs a fairly powerful computer to run

  • Loads of tutorials

Audacity

  • Free

  • Open Source

  • A bit clunky and old fashioned looking (although recent upgrades have helped a lot)

  • Works on nearly all computers

  • Loads of tutorials


2. Design

Audition’s sleek design might be intimidating to a beginner. However, it has the backing of editing powerhouse Adobe, so you can expect more attention to detail than the free Audacity system.


Adobe Audition
Audacity

3. Getting started

Both are intuitive. For ease of use, Audacity is slightly better, but overall Audition is more stable and more powerful. but the steps to get there are not as direct:


Audacity is a simple-to-use, out-of-the box program: you’ll be able to start recording pretty much straight away.


With Audition, there are a few more steps until you can get to the same point to start recording. However, once you get there, the process is largely the same. Audition has many more hardware integration options with Audition, and is more flexible for assigning inputs, outputs, and busses.


4. Multitrack

As you record, you are bound to make mistakes. It is likely you will need to stop recording and start again. You will then have to mix the multiple tracks that are produced when you stop and start. How these tracks are mixed together is known as multitracking.


So, when you stop and start with Audacity, you automatically create a second track underneath the original. Audacity will also operate in the multitrack mode if you import an external audio file, like a music track or sound forge, into the project.


Audition can do the same thing, but not automatically. It will create one single track at a time until the Multitrack option is selected in the main toolbar. Adobe Audition also will not automatically add imported audio to the session. It will be in the Files window. The multitrack function is rather powerful and can allow for recording on multiple microphones at once. This is not something you can do in Audacity as easily.


This function is useful because you can merge multiple elements, including interviews, music, and more to create complex audio packages or complete programmes.


5. Mixing

This is the main consideration for most users when considering quality audio editing options. Overall, Audition excels at this, especially when working with multiple files. The multitrack editing tools from Audition allows for split, overlap, stretch, and shuffle editing options. The user interface is also more intuitive and simplifies moving these pieces around.


Two common phrases in editing circles are “destructive” and “non-destructive.” These refer to the direct or indirect edits being made on the source material and the after-effects. Destructive changes are irreversible and non-destructive changes are not made directly to source material. It is easy to reverse this if you mess up something in the audio or music editing process.


Audacity does provide the option to create file copies before editing, allowing you to save a copy of the source material before editing. However, Audacity typically results in more destructive editing mistakes when compared to Adobe Audition.


6. Effects and Processing

Both Audacity and Audition come with several excellent built-in effects and processing plug--ins and can be used with most third party VST plug ins.


These give the ability to manipulate, enhance, and repair audio.


Audition has more powerful stock effects and some excellent processing tools such as match loudness, which can be used to set loudness level for your final file before export.


7. File Organisation and Exporting Audio

In Audacity, the work is considered a “project” where Audition refers to it as a “session.” Either way, both have “Save” and “Save As” as you would find in most places. An Audacity project will save as an Audacity Project file (.aup) and create a folder with the data.


An Adobe Audition session save will create a distinct folder with materials. An Adobe Audition Session File (.sesx) will be saved here. Audition sessions do not take up as much memory or storage space as Audacity projects.


Exporting in Audition is simple. You select a bitrate, name the file, and mix it. Adobe Audition is particularly good for quality MP3 exports.


Exporting in Audition is simple.

Due to licensing, Audacity’s export process is not as straightforward: you have to download and install a second program, the LAME encoder, before exporting. This is partially due to the patent on the MP3, which was just dropped and therefore, might change future export options for Audacity.


In the meantime, the LAME encoder will help create the MP3 in much the same way as Audition. The LAME MP3 quality is sometimes questionable. Audition has the advantage of the powerful Fraunhofer encoder.


Conclusion

For many people (especially those just starting out on their VO journey), Audacity is an excellent option. There is some discussion of how long Audacity will remain as a free open-source platform, and it is worth exploring this if you intend to use this DAW long term.


However, there are many online resources and an active community you can turn to for help and many tutorials available and we cover Audacity in our Intro to VO courses here at BRAVA

I’d suggest if you learn to edit on Audacity it is not too much of a leap to Audition (or in fact any other DAW).


If you are looking for a very stable and powerful DAW that can handle every process and file you can throw at it, then I’d suggest Adobe Audition is worth investing in. The learning curve is a bit steeper but there are built-in tutorials and 24 hr customer support, as well as many community forums and – as with Audition – there a tonne of resources such as video tutorials are available online.


If you’d like to get started with some training on Adobe Audition, then join us at BRAVA for our Intro to Adobe Audition Masterclass – kicking off on Tuesday 11th January 2022.


More info & book here: https://bit.ly/3zp8YgI






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