Shifting audio pitch and speed

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The beautifully named Lorelei Coutts Luxton, has the soul of a dancer and the mind of a curious Mac user. She writes:

I am a dance teacher and need some recommendations on Mac-compatible, music editing software programs. It must be extremely user-friendly (I’m a non-geek) and allow me to slow down or speed up the pitch and tempo of a track, edit the length of a track, and insert vocal narration between tracks. Any suggestions would be welcome—the simpler to use, the better!

You can go one of a couple of ways on this one. If you want the best sound quality in an easy-to-use package, I’d suggest grabbing a copy of Roni Music’s $45 Amazing Slow Downer. Available as a Universal application, its name pretty well describes what it does. Feed the program an audio CD or audio file and then adjust the pitch and/or speed. When you adjust the Speed slider only, the track’s tempo changes without the pitch changing. Likewise, you can adjust only the Pitch slider to change the pitch without changing the tempo. Or you can adjust both. You can also set the start and stop points of your track and even loop the track if you like.

Once you’ve modified the music to your liking you can save and export it as an AIFF, MP3, QuickTime, or AAC file. Once exported, import your tracks into GarageBand (which you likely have), array them in a sequence, and record narration between them.

Another avenue is to use Hairer Software’s $40 Amadeus Pro. This is a full-featured audio editing application that includes a Change Pitch and Speed command in its Effects menu. The results of this effect aren’t as polished as what you get in Amazing Slow Downer—audio artifacts are far more apparent when you moderately-to-radically change pitch and speed. But you can do it all within Amadeus Pro—not only change the pitch and speed of your tracks, but also sequence them and add narration between. No GarageBand necessary.

You could obtain even better results from pro-level applications. Programs such as Logic, Digital Performer, and Peak do some amazing things with pitch- and speed shifting, but they don’t meet your demand for ease of use and they’re anything but inexpensive.

And speaking of inexpensive, for those about to create a comment that contains the phrase “But what about Audacity !?”

Free is good. Free and convoluted and occasionally unreliable isn’t.

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