OcenAudio: The Best Free Voiceover Software You’ve Never Heard Of

Usually, when someone is looking for a free software package for Vocieover work, people tend to recommend Audacity. And, for good reason, Audacity is a mature and well-supported opensource project. It gives you access to a wide array of tools. And, it runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux Operating Systems.

No tool is perfect. Typical complaints about Audacity include it’s “Wonky” Interface, an ineffective method of previewing effects, and how slow it seems to get while editing larger files.

If those complaints resonate with you, you may want to try out OcenAudio. They leverage the powerful, cross-platform Qt Framework and extended it with their own audio-focused Ocen Framework. In doing so, they have built a really solid product.

OcenAudio is maintained by a very talented team of Brazilian engineers at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’s free to download. And, it adresses the Audacity issues listed above. I find it to be both a nimble and a capable editor.

If you test drive OcenAudio next to TwistedWave, you will be struck with the similarities, not only in looks but also in  performance. There are a few differences:

  • OcenAudio uses VST plugins (TwistedWave uses both VST and AU plugins).
  • OcenAudio does not have an Effect Stack (TwistedWave) or an Audio Chain (Audacity) function.
  • OcenAudio (and Audacity) can find zero-crossings if you hit a key command while TwistedWave has a preference to do that automatically.

Beyond those differences, OcenAudio and TwistedWave seem to be twins separated at birth (both children of CoolEdit maybe?).

Both OcenAudio and TwistedWave were not designed to be multi-track editors. Both products work around this limitation in the same way. They let you paste one track into another (a quick way to add background sounds or clean room tone into your voiceover).

Since the voiceover community doesn’t seem to know about this software, I decided to ask their development team a few questions (some techno-geeky and some audio-geeky):

1. What license is OcenAudio released under?
The current version of ocenaudio fits better as a Donationware. It is a non-cost and fully operational software. Ocenaudio can be used for commercial interest (music production and performance for example), but cannot be sold by third parties.

2. Will there always be a free version?
We are evaluating the feasibility of creating a pro version of ocenaudio (paid version) with extra features, but we will keep a free version available with the current available features.

3. Are there plans to implement non-destructive editing?
We don’t have plans to implement this feature in the current editor. In the future, we will evaluate the implementation of this feature in a new application and perhaps bring this feature to this editor.

4. Why did you choose the Qt Framework?
We evaluated some frameworks for cross-platform implementation and Qt has shown the best trade-off between features and native look-and-feel.

5. What features are you working on right now?
Unfortunately ocenaudio can’t be our primary job, and right now we are working on bug fixes and some minor requested features.

6. How do you say OcenAudio? (O-sen-Audio? O-ken-Audio?)
In english, “ocen” could be pronounced like “oh-sen”.

7. What does the name mean?
Ok. This is a long history. But in a short way, the name OCEN comes from reversing the nickname of the first developer: Neco.

8. Where did the icon come from?
We are not sure about that. The icon started to be used in the first version of ocenaudio (which never has been officially published) and it continues to be used it in the current version.

9. What is the best way for people to get technical support?
The best way to get support is writing us on the ocenaudio feedback page.

10. Any plans to implement AU or LADSPA plugins?
Yes. We do have plans, but we don’t have time to do that now.

11. Are the UI similarities to TwistedWave intentional?
Absolutely no! The first version of ocenaudio was inspired in the original CoolEdit UI. Then the current version, take elements from this first version and try to modernize them.

12. Are there plans to implement a pre-roll before recording?
Yes. But the problem is the same: time to work on.

13. What MP3 encoder are you using?
The current version ocenaudio uses lame encoder.

14. Is there written documentation available?
There are some sketches written in portuguese. We also have plans to translate it to english, but it takes a lot of time.

If you decide to try OcenAudio, let me know what you think.

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18 Replies to “OcenAudio: The Best Free Voiceover Software You’ve Never Heard Of”

  1. I love this software but the results from mp3 export are significantly worse than using audacity with the same settings. I need to use 32kbps mono and the output sounds much worse.

    1. I agree Mike. I tend to use it on lossless (WAV, FLAC, ALAC) files during editing. When it comes to rendering MP3s, I tend to use tools like Audio Converter. OcenAudio integrates well with my DAW as an external editor for quick edits. I also tend to use it when I am editing/mastering audiobooks recorded by others (in that case, I typically get FLAC or WAV files).

  2. Meh. Created at University but closed-source. How academic of them! (/sarcasm)

    I strongly prefer to use tools that are open-source. I will, grudgingly, use non-libre software when pressed. But I don’t really want to. Audacity does work fine for my needs, so I will take a pass on this.

    I am not against donating monies… and they do ask! But I think I would spend on an open-source project way before I would fund some closed-source mystery box project. Opening your project seems much more user-friendly to me. Consider from the interview, “Unfortunately ocenaudio can’t be our primary job, and right now we are working on bug fixes and some minor requested features.” So they don’t have much time to work on this? Would making donations have any effect on this situation, really?

    How can I be motivated to contribute money on a project that is perhaps mostly dormant? Maybe if they were willing to open it up, they might find some developers in the community who might really like to help.

    People like me are far more interested in donating to open projects, if only because of our great appreciation for the contribution to the public good. Oh well. It’s fine…. they can do as they wish. They can keep their source codes. And their binaries.

    1. While I understand your point, Tim, you haven’t assessed the product on its abilities, only its license. My primary DAW is Reaper. It’s closed sourced, shareware, with an infinitely log trial (with polite nag screen). Based upon your comment, I am guessing that you would never look at a tool like Reaper.

      For quick edits, I chose OcenAudio over Audacity because using the two side-by-side, the performance difference was noticeable. If you’re an open source purist, and you need more than Audacity, you only have one choice: Ardour. As a professional who uses these tools everyday to get paid work done, I need to assess tools based upon their ability first. Only after that, can I consider their philosophy.

      In fact, I chose Reaper because I do support their philosophy. I think programmers should be compensated for their work whenever possible. Reaper does share some content with the community but not its core code. I am okay with that. I find it more important that they allow the infinite trial time, that they have 2 licenses (you choose which one based upon an honor system since they both have the same features). They update the product often (I could go on).

      If you ever do try OcenAudio, I would be interested in your thoughts about its functionality.

  3. Thank you Steven. Ocen Audio saved the day during a session. Audacity was crashing consistently. I downloaded Ocen, installed it an was recording in minutes. No popping clicking or hassel. Just smooth connection to my Focusrite. Again thank you for posting this.

  4. It is a great tool and its interface, but where is the documentation? Tools such as reducing voice, Noice reduction?. I agree with Tim
    This tool would be better if open source.
    Open source communities has the time you need to improve this tool

    1. Here’s the link! http://www.ocenaudio.com/donate
      Documentation takes time and resources. I donate to every free project that I use. So, if you enjoy the tool, support the tool. If you prefer another free tool, be sure to donate to them at least once a year, or your favorite free tool might go away.

  5. I see you wrote this in spring of 2014, so you must have been comparing with Audacity 2.0.5 or 6. I also watched Dan Lenard.

    Much has advanced in Audacity since then.

    In 2.1.0 Audacity got its spectral editing effects — which do something like what Audition’s auto-heal does, and that was the big advantage in Audition’s favor for Dan.

    In 2.1.1 Audacity got a scrubbing feature, which was the major feature lacking in it, for Dan.

    Latest version is 2.1.2 and 2.1.3 is in the works, with more improvements for convenient scrubbing.

    There have also been some changes for previewing of effects, and certain of them can play in realtime.

    I wonder too, Steve, how your comparisons of performance would hold up with the latest versions of Audacity and Ocenaudio.

    If I had to make a wild guess about what slowed down editing of large files, it might be Audacity’s undo and redo, and its background auto-save for crash recovery, which have also seen some improvements. Are these things that Ocenaudio does at all? Try force-quits of each and restarts and see how they compare.

    1. Spot on Paul. It seems that Audacity and Ocenaudio are evolving in different directions. Audacity is a more advanced editor, where Ocenaudio is adding features like a pre-roll on recording. Also, Audacity is a multi-track editor, where Ocenaudio is a single track editor (like TwistedWave). Ocenaudio is a simpler tool, and probably always will be.

  6. So interesting to me. Audacity user for eons. Just upgraded to 2.1.3. For me (on a mac), this latest V seems painfully slow. It’s been 2 days. I’m getting repeated Bug Reports. I’ve NEVER had a bug report appear on my screen in the history of home computers. Unless I’m doing something incorrectly, it shuts me down .. there goes my work, never to be seen or heard from again (Doesnt return as Recovered). Moreover, I never completely grasped the .au and .eu auto-save. There are literally more than 20k of these files on my hard drive. Yes individual files. the endless process of frantic last-minute searches for large files to migrate to the external drive before the beachball of death starts its rotation. Im very comfy with Audacity and i LOVE Paul’s De-Clicker. Its fantastic and free. But Im going to try Neco’s software namesake for numerous reasons: curiosity, UI, your review, reader comments, but mostly bc its kinda like getting married when your 18 … a few yrs down the road … you’ve only ever know one thing … you thought it was the best bc you knew no different … but now, you see a lot of other neat stuff out there you wouldnt mind trying … im gonna sew my software oats! i’ll come back & comment. thanks for the tip. About to hit send … scrolled up … thats Paul of Paul’s De-Clicker/AudacityTeam. Xlnt tool! The Best!

    1. Liz,

      I am sorry to hear about your difficulties with version 2.1.3. I am not aware that such problems are typical. I don’t encounter this and I do most of my development on a MacBook.

      From where did you download Audacity? I hope the fault isn’t in malware. Follow the links from http://www.audacityteam.org to get it from a trusted site.

      I suggest you seek help at the official audacity forum: http://forum.audacityteam.org/viewforum.php?f=47

      Or you can write to feedback@audacityteam.org.

      Be sure to mention what your operating system version is.

      Paul Licameli

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