The Linux Soundfile Editor Roundup
A soundfile editor is the audio worker's essential utility for performing various editing operations to massage and finesse recorded sound. Some of these operations are analogous to those of a text editor, such as cut/copy/paste actions, while others are unique to editing audio data.
This article takes you on a whirlwind tour of soundfile editors for Linux. You don't need to know anything special about digital audio or DSP theory, and if you'd like to try any of these programs, all you need on your machine is a working sound system. But, before taking the tour, let's consider what a typical soundfile editor does and how it's typically used.
Editing audio is best accomplished with a graphical interface. By representing audio data visually, it is simple to locate those parts of the sound that require attention, such as gaps and amplitude spikes. This ability to find quickly where an operation is needed speeds up the editing process. Regions can be marked or selected accurately, and zoom routines let users enlarge or diminish their view of a file at any given point, making it possible to perform large-scale and sample-accurate edits easily and quickly.
A well-designed soundfile editor should include at least these basic operations and capabilities:
Compress/expand time scale.
Sample rate conversion.
Display in different time formats.
Display multiple views of file.
Display multiple files simultaneously.
Independent X/Y axis control.
Find maximum sample value.
Display amplitude envelope in various representations (db, peak, RMS).
Edit pitch and amplitude envelopes.
Print out display of samples.
As we shall see, the editors profiled in this article meet most of these baseline criteria, often adding unique functions and routines.
Table 1 presents a further set of features, most but not all Linux-specific, and outlines how the editors presented here accommodate them.
Table 1. Soundfile Editor Features
|Snd||y||y||y||Motif, GTK ||disk||GPL|
 Can be compiled without graphics.  Works with ALSA's OSS/Free emulation.  Free for noncommercial use, freely distributable.  Free for unrestricted use, freely distributable.
Now, let's consider some possible uses for a soundfile editor. The following list is by no means a complete summary, it merely indicates how I typically employ an editor in my own work:
Trimming excess silence from recordings.
Cutting large files into smaller pieces.
Adding effects such as reverb, chorus and flanging.
Slowing playback speed without changing pitch.
Removing cracks and pops from recordings.
Converting sample rate.
Converting file format.
Equalizing or filtering the sound to make it brighter or give it more bass.
Using the editor as a music and sound composition tool.
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.
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