Comparison of free software for audio

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This comparison of free software for audio lists notable free and open source software for use by sound engineers, audio producers, and those involved in sound recording and reproduction.



Database Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?mka


Amarok icon.svg Amarok Qt C++ MySQL YesYesUnstable GPL-2.0-or-later
Logo aTunes.png aTunes Swing Java YesYesYesYes GPL-2.0-or-later
Audacious-2.4-logo.svg Audacious GTK / Qt C no databaseYesYesyes BSD 2-Clause
Music-player-banshee.svg Banshee 2.6.2 GTK+ C# SQLite YesYesYes Not under development, archived. MIT
Clementine logo.svg Clementine Qt C++ SQLite3 YesYesYes GPL-3.0-or-later
Exailelogo many.svg Exaile GTK Python Pickle YesYesYes GPL-2.0-or-later
Guayadeque logo a.svg Guayadeque wxWidgets C++, C SQLite3 YesLinux(Gstreamer) GPL-3.0-or-later
Juk-icon.png JuK Qt C++ YesYesYesLinux(KDE) GPL-2.0-or-later
Miro icon.png Miro WebKit in


Python  ?YesYesYesDiscontinued GPL-2.0-or-later
Muine GTK# C# no databaseYescan use GStreamer and xine GPL-2.0-or-later
Nightingale-logo.png Nightingale XULRunner C++ SQLite?YesYesYesDiscontinued fork of Songbird, with Linux support GPL v2, MPL, BSD
Quodlibet logo.svg Quod Libet 4.3.0 GTK Python Pickle YesYesYesno GPL-2.0-or-later
Qmmp logo.svg qmmp Qt C++ no databaseYesYesYes GPL-2.0-or-later
RhythmboxLogo.png Rhythmbox GTK C YesYesnot GNU Data Access GPL-2.0-or-later
Sayonara Player Qt C++ YesYes GPL-3.0-or-later
Songbird Logo 2.0.0.png Songbird XULRunner C++ SQLite?UnofficialYesUnofficialYesAbandoned (Last release on February 4, 2013) GPL v2 with exceptions,

Android client closed source

Tomahawk Qt C++ SQLite YesYesYesAbandoned (Last release on April 15, 2015) GPL-3.0-or-later
XMMS logo.svg XMMS GTK+ C++ no databaseYesYesDiscontinued in 2007 GPL-2.0-or-later

Audio analysis

NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
BRP-PACU YesYesDual channel FFT tool for equalization of sound systems using the transfer function. GPL-2.0-or-later
Praat Paul Boersma and David Weenink of the University of AmsterdamYesYesYesA program for the analysis of speech in phonetics. GPL-2.0-or-later
Sonic Visualiser Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London YesYesYes GPL-2.0-or-later
WaveSurfer YesYesYes BSD-like


NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
FFmpeg Fabrice Bellard YesYesYesYesAudio & video. LGPL-2.1-or-later, GPL-2.0-or-later
fre:ac Robert KauschYesYesYesYesformerly BonkEnc GPL-2.0-or-later
Libav Libav teamYesYesYesYesAudio & video. LGPL-2.1-or-later, GPL-2.0-or-later
MPlayer YesYesYesYesAudio & video. GPL-2.0-or-later

DJ software

NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
Mixxx Mixxx Development TeamYesYesYesYes GPL-2.0-or-later
Xwax Mark HillsYesNoNoNo GPL-2.0-only

Distributions and other platforms

Various projects have formed to integrate the existing free software audio packages.

AVLinux Linux distribution various
dyne:bolic Linux distribution various
Musix GNU+Linux Linux distribution various
Planet CCRMA set of packages (in RPM format)
Ubuntu Studio Linux distribution various

Modular systems

NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
Integra Live Birmingham Conservatoire NoYesNoYes GPL-2.0-or-later
Libvisual YesYesYesYes LGPL-2.1-or-later
VisualAp YesYesYes GPL


NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
LilyPond Han-Wen Nienhuys and Jan NieuwenhuizenYesYesYesYesa music engraving program GPL-3.0-or-later
MuseScore Werner SchweerYesYesYes Various BSDs [1] Yesa WYSIWYG scorewriter with midi playback and audio exportv4: GPL-3.0-only
v0-3: GPL-2.0-only
with font exception, Proprietary (mobile app and online service)
Impro-Visor Bob KellerYesYesYesYes lead sheet notation, jazz improvisation, auto-accompaniment GPL-2.0-or-later

Programming languages

Many computer music programming languages are implemented in free software. See also the comparison of audio synthesis environments.

NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
Csound Csound community, Barry Vercoe YesYesNo?Yes LGPL-2.1-or-later
ChucK Ge Wang, Perry CookYesYesNo?Yes GPL-2.0-or-later (Mac, Linux, Windows versions)

Proprietary (iOS version)

Nyquist Computer Music Project at Carnegie Mellon University, Roger B. DannenbergYesYesYesYes
Pure Data Pd Community, Miller Puckette YesYesYesYes BSD-3-Clause
Sonic Pi Sam AaronYesYes?YesMIIT
SuperCollider SuperCollider community, James McCartneyYesYesYes?Yes GPL-3.0-or-later
TidalCycles Alex McLean et alYesYesYesYes GPL-3.0-or-later

Radio broadcasting

See also streaming below.

NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
Airtime (software) Sourcefabric YesNo?NoSuccessor to Campcaster
From 2.5.2: AGPL-3.0-only
1.6 to 2.5.1: GPL-3.0-only
Campcaster Sourcefabric YesNo?No GPL-2.0-or-later
OpenBroadcaster OpenBroadcaster YesNoYesNo AGPL-3.0-or-later

Recording and editing

The following packages are digital audio editors.

NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?GUI toolkitNoteLicense
Ardour Paul Davis YesYesYesYesGTK+multi-track audio recorder and editor GPL-2.0-or-later
Audacity Dominic MazzoniYesYesYesYeswxWidgetsmulti-track audio recorder and editor GPL-2.0-or-later, CC BY 3.0 (documentation)
Ecasound YesYesYesYes limited support through Cygwin command lineaudio recorder GPL-2.0-or-later
Gnome Wave Cleaner Jeff WeltyYesNoNoGTK+audio editor GPL-2.0-or-later
Jokosher Jokosher communityYesNoYesGTK+ GPL-2.0-only with exception
LMMS Tobias DoerffelYesYes as of 0.4.0 with Qt4YesQtmulti-track audio editor intended as a replacement for Cubase-like software (DAW) GPL-2.0-or-later
MusE YesNoNoQt MIDI sequencer GPL-2.0-or-later
Qtractor YesNoNoQtA non-destructive multi-track audio and MIDI Workstation (DAW) GPL-2.0-or-later
Rosegarden Chris CannamYesNoNoQtMIDI sequencer and multi-track recorder GPL-2.0-or-later
SoX YesYesYesYescommand-linemulti-track audio editor/processor LGPL-2.1-or-later,


Sweep Conrad ParkerYesNoYesNo GPL-2.0-or-later
Traverso DAW Remon SijrierYesYesYesmulti-track audio recorder and editor GPL
WaveSurfer Centre for Speech Technology at KTH YesYesYesYesTk BSD-like


NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
FluidSynth YesYesYesYes SoundFont player/renderer LGPL-2.1-or-later
TiMidity++ YesYesYesYes GPL-2.0-or-later
Yoshimi Alan CalvertYesNoYes Various BSDsNoForked from ZynAddSubFX in 2009 GPL-2.0-or-later
ZynAddSubFX Paul NascaYesYesYesYes GPL-2.0-or-later
WildMIDI Yes ? ? ?Some alternative to TiMidityPlayer: GPL-3.0-or-later
Library: LGPL-3.0-or-later


These programs are for use with streaming audio.

NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
Firefly Media Server YesYesYesstreams music to DAAP clients like iTunes and Rhythmbox GPL-2.0-or-later
Icecast YesYesYesa broadcast server, serves audio signals to clients over the HTTP protocol GPL-2.0-only
VLC media player YesYesYesYesmedia and server programs for video and audio streamingVLC: GPL-2.0-or-later
libVLC: LGPL-2.1-or-later


NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA)Yesthe sound card driver and management system in the Linux kernel GPL-2.0-or-later
aRts Yesan audio programming API and sound server for general desktop, no longer in development GPL
DSSI Yesa plugin architecture for software synthesizers LGPL-2.1-or-later
GStreamer YesYesYesYesa graph-based multimedia framework LGPL-2.1-or-later
JACK Audio Connection Kit (JACK)JACK Team, Paul Davis YesYes (JACK OS X)Yes (jackdmp)a sound server for integration of general and low-latency pro audio applications, including timebase transport GPL-2.0-or-later
Linux Audio Developers Simple Plugin API (LADSPA)Yesa plugin architecture for digital signal processing LGPL-2.1-or-later
Open Sound System YesYesa sound card management and driver system for Unix operating systems BSD-2-Clause
Proprietary (formerly)
PipeWire Wim TaymansYesYes (FreeBSD)a media daemon, unifying JACK Audio Connection Kit, PulseAudio, and GStreamer MIT License
PortAudio & PortMidi Ross BencinaYesYesYesa cross-platform, open-source C language library for real-time audio & midi I/O MIT License
PulseAudio YesYesYes (Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD)Yesa sound server for general desktop and multihost LAN applications LGPL-2.1-or-later
sndio YesNoYes (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD)No sound and MIDI server ISC


These music sequencer programs allow users to arrange notes (pitch-shifted sound samples) on a timeline: see tracker (music software).

NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
MilkyTracker YesYesYesYesAlso runs on various other platforms including Windows Mobile, PlayStation and AmigaOS 4. GPL-3.0-or-later
MilkyPlay: BSD-3-Clause
OpenMPT Olivier LapicqueNoNoNoYesReleased as free software in 2004 BSD-3-Clause (since OpenMPT / GPL-2.0-or-later, partly public domain
SoundTracker YesNoYesNo Fast Tracker clone GPL-2.0-or-later
SunVox Alexander ZolotovYesYesYesYesAlso runs on Windows CE. Proprietary (Music Creation Studio)
BSD-3-Clause (Engine)


NameCreator Linux? macOS? Unix? Windows?NoteLicense
Gnaural YesYesYesYes Binaural beat and pink noise generator GPL-2.0-or-later
Hydrogen YesYesPartialPartialan advanced drum machine GPL-2.0-or-later
libsndfile YesYesYesYeslibrary for reading and writing many sound formats LGPL-2.1-or-later
EasyEffects Wellington WallaceYesNoYesNoEffects processing for applications using PipeWire sound server GPL-3.0-or-later

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vorbis</span> Royalty-free lossy audio encoding format

Vorbis is a free and open-source software project headed by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The project produces an audio coding format and software reference encoder/decoder (codec) for lossy audio compression. Vorbis is most commonly used in conjunction with the Ogg container format and it is therefore often referred to as Ogg Vorbis.

Helix DNA is a project to produce computer software that can play audio and video media in various formats and aid in producing such media. It is intended as a largely free and open-source digital media framework that runs on numerous operating systems and processors and was started by RealNetworks which contributed much of the code. The Helix Community is an open collaborative effort to develop and extend the Helix DNA platform.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">FLAC</span> Lossless digital audio coding format

FLAC is an audio coding format for lossless compression of digital audio, developed by the Xiph.Org Foundation, and is also the name of the free software project producing the FLAC tools, the reference software package that includes a codec implementation. Digital audio compressed by FLAC's algorithm can typically be reduced to between 50 and 70 percent of its original size and decompresses to an identical copy of the original audio data.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Digital audio workstation</span> Computer system used for editing and creating music and audio

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing and producing audio files. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software program on a laptop, to an integrated stand-alone unit, all the way to a highly complex configuration of numerous components controlled by a central computer. Regardless of configuration, modern DAWs have a central interface that allows the user to alter and mix multiple recordings and tracks into a final produced piece.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rhythmbox</span> Free and open source audio player

Rhythmbox is a free and open-source audio player software, tag editor and music organizer for digital audio files on Linux and Unix-like systems.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Airtime (software)</span>

Airtime is a radio management application for remote broadcast automation, and program exchange between radio stations. Airtime was developed and released as free and open-source software, subject to the requirements of the GNU General Public License until it was changed to GNU Affero General Public License.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sound Juicer</span> CD ripper

Sound Juicer is the official CD ripper program of GNOME. It is based on GTK, GStreamer, and libburnia for reading and writing optical discs. It can extract audio tracks from optical audio discs and convert them into audio files that a personal computer or digital audio player can play. It supports ripping to any audio codec supported by a GStreamer plugin, such as Opus, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC and uncompressed PCM formats. Versions after 2.12 implement CD playing capability. Last versions produce lossy formats with default GStreamer settings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MusikCube</span>

musikcube is a free and open-source cross-platform, terminal-based audio player software and streaming server.

FAAC or Freeware Advanced Audio Coder is a software project which includes the AAC encoder FAAC and decoder FAAD2. It supports MPEG-2 AAC as well as MPEG-4 AAC. It supports several MPEG-4 Audio object types, file formats, multichannel and gapless encoding/decoding and MP4 metadata tags. The encoder and decoder is compatible with standard-compliant audio applications using one or more of these object types and facilities. It also supports Digital Radio Mondiale.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Avidemux</span> Free and open-source transcoding and video editing software

Avidemux is a free and open-source software application for non-linear video editing and transcoding multimedia files. The developers intend it as "a simple tool for simple video processing tasks" and to allow users "to do elementary things in a very straightforward way". It is written in C++ and uses Qt for its graphical user interface, and FFmpeg for its multimedia functions. Starting with version 2.4, Avidemux also offers a command-line interface, and since version 2.6, the original GTK port has not been maintained and is now discontinued.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">PulseAudio</span> Sound server for Unix-like operating systems

PulseAudio is a network-capable sound server program distributed via the project. It runs mainly on Linux, various BSD distributions such as FreeBSD and OpenBSD, macOS, as well as Illumos distributions and the Solaris operating system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LMMS</span> Free software digital audio workstation

LMMS is a digital audio workstation application program. It allows music to be produced by arranging samples, synthesizing sounds, entering notes via mouse or by playing on a MIDI keyboard, and combining the features of trackers and sequencers. It is free and open source software, written in Qt and released under GPL-2.0-or-later.

FluidSynth, formerly named iiwusynth, is a free open source software synthesizer which converts MIDI note data into an audio signal using SoundFont technology without need for a SoundFont-compatible soundcard. FluidSynth can act as a virtual MIDI device, able to receive MIDI data from any program and transform it into audio on-the-fly. It can also read in SMF (.mid) files directly. On the output side, it can send audio data directly to an audio device for playback, or to a Raw or Wave file. It can also convert a SMF file directly to an audio file in faster-than-real-time. The combination of these features gives FluidSynth the following major use cases:

This outline is an overview of software and a topical guide in list form.

The following comparison of audio players compares general and technical information for a number of software media player programs. For the purpose of this comparison, "audio players" are defined as any media player explicitly designed to play audio files, with limited or no support for video playback. Multi-media players designed for video playback, which can also play music, are included under comparison of video player software.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">OBS Studio</span> Screen recording and streaming app

OBS Studio is a free, open-source, and cross-platform screencasting and streaming app. It is available for Windows, macOS, Linux distributions, and BSD. The OBS Project raises funds on the platforms Open Collective and Patreon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">GNOME SoundConverter</span>

GNOME SoundConverter is an unofficial GNOME-based free and open-source transcoder for digital audio files. It uses GStreamer for input and output files. It has multi threaded design and can also extract the audio from video files.


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