Thursday, January 3, 2008

Traverso Free Audio Recording/Editing Software - Simplicity = Virtue?

A week ago I wrote about Open Source Living, a site dedicated to cataloging open source/free software, and was really excited about their audio page. One particular program caught my eye, and I've finally had a chance to try it out.

Traverso is a multi-platform, multi-track audio recording and editing program that boasts a simple and clean user interface. It's still technically a Beta (I downloaded v.42), but it's fully functional. Best of all, it's totally free!

Right from installing, driver support is great with Traverso instantly picking up my 410, and setting up 2 stereo recording tracks for me to play with. I have to say the interface is a little off-putting at first. It's very stark. There are NO bells or whistles on installation. It does have support for skins (and I don't know how that would affect functionality), but I'll only be dealing with the default.

What's good about this minimalist approach?

Well, this program is tiny (about 35MB full install), and snappy. There was no lagging, stuttering, weird pauses, nuthin. It launches up and is ready to go. Recording and playback are accompanied with a very smooth screen slide , which is very pleasing to watch as you play through longer files. Simple. Clean.
This approach is also very low impact on the computer. Along with having a small install footprint, CPU and RAM use is also extremely low. I don't think I ever got above 5% CPU recording 2 Mono and 1 Stereo tracks, and Memory usage stayed between 15-20MB. Those are Audacity numbers for true multi-track recording (though Audacity does have better editing features). By comparison, to accomplish the same recording in Acid6Pro I'll hit 20% CPU usage and upwards of 90MB of RAM use. This is great news for people who haven't built bleeding edge quad core monster workstations. Add in very good exporting and burning. ogg/flac/mp3 support, unlimited undos, non-destructive editing, and it adds up to a pretty substantial package.

What didn't I like about Traverso?

Well not a lot. With such a stark interface, it can be a little frustrating digging through menus to get to the features you want to use. None of the keyboard commands are anything like any other DAW I've ever used, so be ready to hunt through right click menus when you start. Along with that note, the cursor is frustrating to use. I spent 5 minutes alone just trying to playback something I had recorded. The selection and playback cursors are different cursors, and to move the playback cursor you have to hit the shift key. This is a bad decision. I got myself into a little trouble trying to rapidly make some quick edits. I ended up hitting the shift key so quickly that Windows tried to enable sticky shift, which is a major pain.
Also I had a small bug where I couldn't see waveforms while recording, but I'm pretty sure that's a me thing.

All in all I'm VERY impressed with the functionality and stability of Traverso. If you need recording on the cheap (heck on the Free) this is an excellent DAW, and one you should totally check out. Using this program with Audacity, was very much like working between Soundforge and Acid. It's a great unofficial software suite, and you wont spend a penny!

Traverso can be downloaded for Mac or Windows.


Open Source Living: Audio Page


  1. Hi, and glad to see you like this software. The issue with the SHIFT key and placing the playhead is an important one, if you have suggestion how to change this, would be great!
    Note that it's possible to use any other key you like, if it's not allready in use of course :)

    Feedback in the traverso forum is highly appreciated, specially from people with a (semi) professional audio background who use the application for the first time:



  2. Sounds great!
    Checking out the forums now!

    My only "complaint" is sort of an ergonomic one.

    I think every other editing suite (video and audio) has agreed on the left click being your friend for placing cursors, so it just caught me by surprise having to go to the keyboard.

    Other than that, I was extremely impressed!

  3. Thank you for submitting your article to the Freeware World - Freeware Reviews Blog Carnival.
    Edition was published today:
    Have a good weekend!

  4. I have a snowflake microphone and it’s very nice. Heavier than I would’ve thought. It does require a sound box or something similar or else you sound echoey. voice over recording