What is the difference between Audacity and a DAW like Reaper?
As many of you may know, for some odd reason people think that I hate Audacity. That is not correct at all. I think that Audacity has a place in the audio industry for adding songs to a playlist, burning your own CDs or making recordings for volunteer organizations like LibriVox, however, it has no place in the professional recording industry for several reasons. If you do not understand the terms and phrases I will be using, don't worry, just highlight the phrase, right mouse click and choose "search google". If you decide to use Audacity for Narration work, I highly recommend you go to their official forum, and read through the 249 topics and 4,755 reply's for yourself, as to why their members are having a very hard time meeting the requirements for the ACX, while using Audacity.
1. An audio editor typically directly changes the audio file you are working on. It actually cuts pieces out, changes the wave-forms, and makes permanent changes to the files it is working with. That is why you must use the "Save File As" feature, every time you make an edit using Audacity. NEVER MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR ORIGINAL AUDIO FILE! If you do and decide you want to revert back to the original file, you will be unable to do so. If you have 30 mins to an hour invested in your recording, you just lost that time.
A DAW edits non-destructively. It keeps track of the edits you make and lets you tweak those edits over and over, while keeping the original source audio intact. Non-destructive editing is a form of audio, video or image editing where the original content is not modified in the course of editing, instead the edits are specified and modified by specialized software. Each time the edited audio, video, or image is rendered, played back, or accessed, it is reconstructed from the original source and the specified editing steps. Although this process is more computationally intensive than directly modifying the original content, changing the edits themselves can be almost instantaneous, and it prevents further generation loss as the audio, video, or image is edited. One of the best features of Reaper is its CPU usage. It is extremely low and that makes it easy to use with older computers. Audacity is considered a CPU hog and has been know to freeze up when used on older computers.
2. An audio editor typically applies effects destructively, and not in real time or on the fly. So you have to select some audio, apply effects to it, wait for the effect to be applied, listen to that section of audio and if you do not like the way it sounds, you must click the undo button and repeat that same process. This is very time consuming as well as frustrating when you export the whole file, only to listen to a part that was destroyed and you have to repeat the whole process again, starting with the original audio file.
A DAW lets you turn on and preview effects in real time, you can adjust parameters as you are listening. This is a critical step when you are processing to pass the ACX requirements. A DAW typically has dozens of effects, and can accept hundreds of new ones in the form of VST or RTAS plug-ins formats. Plug-Ins are simply small programs, that emulate analog gear like Compressors, EQ, Limiters, Reverbs and Tape Machines. Reaper has more then enough stock plug-ins to get the job done for narration as well as mixing and mastering any style of music that you may work with.
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Audacity® is free, open source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. Audacity is not considered a DAW. The biggest concern I have with this program is that it can not use the ASIO file. This means that you must go through your operating systems sound card to record your audio. At this time I still can not achieve multi-track recording with this software.
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