Audio Recorder, Synthesizers, MIDI Software

By Xah Lee. Date:

This page is a basic introduction to major audio software and technologies that are free. For example, what are the major audio editing software, software synthesizers, midi player, music recorder, what are the major technology components for audio, etc. This page is useful if you need to record or create audio files, but is a beginner in the field. This page is written mostly for people with a technical background, e.g. scientists, engineers, computer programers. (i'm a professional computer programer and amateur mathematician)

Am looking for a software synth. My primary use will be to generate artificial sounds to create various beeps or sci-fi plasma gun for video games.

I've been dabbling with synthesizers since 1985. Owned about 6 music keyboards over the past 20 years. Studied music, music theory, playing piano, piano keyboard mechanisms, physics of music, tuning systems, midi technologies, music notation systems, music notation softwares, audio file fomats, etc. Though, i haven't been actively doing any sound related tasks or music since about 2000. I'm out of touch with the technologies.

The following are learning notes primarily for myself.

Some Technologies

SoundFont is a brandname tech that's basically a bank of sampled sounds.

Virtual Studio Technology (VST). A interface for integrating software audio synthesizer and effect plugins with audio editors and hard-disk recording systems. Used in many audio software.

Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA)

JACK Audio Connection Kit JACK (a recursive acronym which expands to JACK Audio Connection Kit) is a professional sound server daemon that provides real-time, low latency connections for both audio and MIDI data between applications that implement its API.

Audio Software

Audacity. A general digital audio editor. Mostly for recording sound, and editing, and save in several file formats.

Rosegarden Rosegarden is a free software digital audio workstation program developed for Linux with ALSA and QT4. It acts as an audio and MIDI sequencer, scorewriter and musical composition and editing tool. It is intended to be a free alternative to such applications as Cubase.

TiMidity, a software that plays midi files, and can also save the audio output as a file.

macaw Music synthesizer, sequencer, waves and sampler.

For a full list: Free audio software.

Software Synths

The following are mostly free ones.

FluidSynth. qsynth is a gui to FluidSynth.