WaveSurfer: Free & Portable Audio Editor

If you’re looking for a powerful, open source, audio file editor, then Audacity is an elegant little tool that’s extremely popular, mainly due to its features (I think). However, if you don’t need all those features, and need something that’s a bit simpler, then you might wanna try “WaveSurfer”.

It’s a pretty good looking audio editor (plus an analyzer) that has a simple user friendly UI and is primarily optimized for speech audio tracks. And perhaps because of that, the audio format support is not as good as with Audacity. But still, it supports a reasonable amount of popular audio codecs and can be run multiple OS platforms such as in MS Windows, GNU/Linux and Mac OS X as well.

But most importantly; it is extremely portable. I mean, creating a portable app in both MS Windows and Mac OS X might not be that hard, as those OS platforms are proprietary in nature (OS X has few open-source libraries, I guess) and there aren’t any other OS distributions, “based on” them.

So one can create a portable app with somewhat ease, as the developers know what MS Windows/Mac OS X include by default. However, under GNU/Linux it can be a bit difficult, because various distributions ship different applications installed by default.

So if your application has few dependencies, then you cannot know for sure if those dependencies will be included in all the (or at lest in most of them) GNU/Linux distributions.


However, I tested “WaveSurfer” in both Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, (it comes as a single executable file!), and it ran in both platforms without any issues whatsoever (except for few minor glitches, more at the end of the article).

Few main features …

*. It has few built in presets such as: Demonstration, WaveForm, Spectrogram, Speech analysis and transcription file (supports reading and writing few transcription formats too) based presets such as HTK, IPA etc as well.

These presets can be used to get an in depth analysis, depending on your needs.


For instance, let’s say that you have a speech audio track, then you can choose “Speech analysis” to analyze and get a speech optimized editing session.

*. Supports few popular audio formats such as: WAV, Ogg Vorbis, MP3, Snd, Smp, au, Aiff, Raw audio files etc.

*. However, you cannot save files in the MP3 format though. So you’ll have to save the edited files in Wav format (or in few other supported file types) and re-encode it later. I don’t know why it doesn’t support MP3, perhaps it has something to do with MP3 being a proprietary codec or because it’s mainly a speech audio oriented editor.

*. A tool-bar with Copy/Cut/Paste, Zoom in/out, Undo and other usual playback buttons (Play/Pause, Stop, Stop, Record etc) are also there.

*. Few built in audio filters such as: Normalize, Fade, Amplify, Echo, Channel Mix, Reverse playback, Invert and Convert.


*. “Save selection” feature: For instance, while editing if you wanted to quickly save a selected region into a new file, then you can use this function for that.

*. After selecting an area, if you right click on it, you will be given few other additional options such as: add new “panels” (spectrum, waveform, data plot, power-plot etc), delete existing panels, access a “Properties” windows that lets you adjust a whole lot of others options etc.

*. Adjust brightness levels of Spectrum window and its colors.

*. You can also access its “Preferences” window that lets you change the shortcut keys, enable/disable page scrolling while playback, change default zoom levels … and few other tweaks as well.

If you want to try it out, then please visit this WaveSurfer project page. It holds packages for Windows, GNU/Linux (I ran it in Ubuntu 11.10 without any issues, might also work in other older versions too) and Mac OS X.

Running it in Ubuntu is pretty simple. Just download the appropriate package (the one named “… linux-i386.tgz”). Once the downloading completes, double click on the file. Extract it to somewhere (to your “Home” folder for instance) and double click on the extracted file (named”wavesurfer”), which should launch the program!.


One more thing (errrr ;-))

While saving the edited file into a new one, after entering the file name, please make sure to properly enter the extension manually. Otherwise, the file won’t be saved :/.

For instance, let’s say that you wanted to save an edited file in the WAV format. Then first, select “MS Wave Files …” under “Files of type” drop-down menu, and then under “File name” box, enter the desired name. But at the very end, make sure to put the “.wav” extension (if you’re saving it as a WAV file), as shown below, which should do the trick.


If you’re saving using an another format, then use the appropriate extension. That’s pretty much it.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

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