The Linux Soundfile Editor Roundup

Whether you're making nifty sounds for desktop events or recording a whole album, you'll need one of these featureful sound apps.
WaveSurfer 1.5.7

Kâre Sjölander and Jonas Beskow have developed WaveSurfer to function best in the context of speech research, a domain covering a variety of audio-related disciplines. WaveSurfer is a perfectly useful general-purpose soundfile editor, but its special strengths reside in its tools for analyzing, editing and visualizing the spoken word.

WaveSurfer is written in the popular Tcl/Tk scripting language and widget toolkit, providing the motivated user complete access to the program's internals. Sound processing in WaveSurfer is handled by the SNACK audio functions library, also written by Kâre Sjölander. SNACK itself may be extended by user-defined plugins written in C/C++.

Figure 11 illustrates a simple use of WaveSurfer in speech analysis and representation. The main panel displays the region highlighted in the complete waveform, and the label display indicates the sound's phonemes. The label track is only one example of WaveSurfer's speech-oriented amenities. Others include spectrographic displays, pitch curve extraction and support for a variety of soundfile and transcription formats.

Figure 11. WaveSurfer

GLAME 1.0.1

GLAME's developers have implemented an unusual design philosophy in their editor. GLAME (GNU/Linux Audio MEchanics) supplies the expected palette of tools for audio editing, but it also includes a powerful synthesis and processing environment called the filternetwork. A filternetwork provides a canvas on which icons representing synthesis primitives are patched together to create a processing or synthesis chain. Current primitives include oscillators, envelope generators, filters, I/O modules and LADSPA plugins. Once a synthesis network has been designed, it can be run to produce real-time audio or output to a file for further processing (in GLAME, of course). Right-clicking on the waveform display pops up a menu that includes the Apply Custom item. By selecting this item, you can apply your filternetwork to the active soundfile, suggesting some interesting processing possibilities.

Figure 12 illustrates a simple example. The selection in the waveform display has been processed by a filternetwork composed of a gain control, a LADSPA delay plugin and a flanger. The track modules are included as the default I/O ports, representing the original input and the processed audio output.

Figure 12. GLAME

LAoE 0.6.03beta

Olivier Gäumann's Layer-based Audio Editor (LAoE) offers yet another unique design philosophy. An editing session in LAoE consists of building a stack of soundfiles and then opening the desired editing and processing tools for application upon one or more of the layers (soundfiles) in the stack. At first it felt like a rather strange way to work, but after comprehending the program's organization, I began to enjoy its layout and developed a fast work mode with it.

LAoE receives extra points for originality by providing direct editing in its spectral display. A user-defined brush is used to paint over areas for FFT filtering, and the filter itself can be adjusted for finer resolution. Most of this article's editors offer spectral displays, but only LAoE permits direct spectral editing.

LAoE also is the only Java-based editor reviewed here. I've installed Sun's JDK 1.4 on my 800MHz machine, not exactly a fast machine by today's standards, but LAoE's interface was quick and responsive throughout.

Figure 13. LAoE

GNUsound 0.6.1

Pascal Haakmat's GNUsound is modest in appearance but rich in content. Once again we have a full complement of the basic editing tools, LADSPA plugin support and some special tools for marking, selecting and viewing soundfiles. GNUsound also adopts the concept of tracks, that is, you can designate a number of files for mixdown in a process similar to the mixing process in a multitrack recorder.

Another neat aspect of GNUsound is its implementation of envelopes for effects processing. One of two user-defined envelopes may be selected as control curves for an associated processing parameter, giving a more dynamic contour to your effects processing.

Although GNUsound is intended for use in the GNOME environment, I had no trouble building it under a Planet CCRMA Red Hat 9.0 system and using it in the BlackBox window manager.

Figure 14. GNUsound


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wave editor for Acer Aspire One on Linux OS

Driggs's picture

I have an Acer Aspire One running on Linux. How can install a wave editor in it?

Thank you.

Re: The Linux Soundfile Editor Roundup

kevinc's picture

Would you be willing to make your Snd customization file(s),
or part of that at least? It's very intriguing, and would
make my introduction to Snd much more pleasant. Thanks...

Re: The Linux Soundfile Editor Roundup

kevinc's picture

Would you be willing to make your Snd customization file(s)
available, or part of that at least? It's
very intriguing, and would make my introduction to Snd much
more pleasant. Thanks...

(next time maybe I'll proofread a bit better, sigh)

Re: The Linux Soundfile Editor Roundup

Anonymous's picture

Realy nice article, but I hoped you will Ardour, which I use for multitrack recording.

Re: The Linux Soundfile Editor Roundup

Anonymous's picture

Cool article, which even presented some editors not so widly known. I had never heard of LAoE, for example. Ah, well, Java.

One correction: KWave does load files that are bigger than RAM, but does so very slowly and you need to play with the memory settings inside its menus.

OTOH my Sweep does not load files larger than memory, but I'm using 0.8.1 still. Great to hear, that Sweep now lifts its limits.

Frank Barknecht

Re: Nice Article

Anonymous's picture

Very nice article, this kind of topic should be appearing more on linux journal. Linux audio scene is a little behind the win but it is very good !!
Congrats for the article and nice presentation of each program.
I really liked the screenshots !!


MIDI Sequence

Anonymous's picture


Are there any linux midi sequencer packages for linux that support Motu Midi USB interfaces... like fastlane... midi express.. etc..