80 Open Source Replacements for Audio-Video Tools

Download open source music and video players, editors, conversion tools and more.
Posted September 18, 2012

Cynthia Harvey

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Multimedia creation and consumption continue to be among the most common uses for PCs and mobile devices. Consider: According to recent research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 46 percent of U.S. Internet users have posted original videos or photos online. Seventy-one percent of online Americans have used a video sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo.

Recording industry trade association IFPI reports that more than half of record company revenues from the U.S. come from digital music, and those digital music revenues continue to grow every year. Global Industry Analysts forecasts that mobile entertainment, including video and music, will be a $67.6 billion industry by 2018.

In light of the massive amounts of time and money computer users spend creating and consuming multimedia content, we've updated our list of open source replacements for popular audio and video tools. While some commercial audio and video software can cost hundreds of dollars, open source software often offers very similar--or even better--capabilities for free.

Before we get to the list, it's worth noting that when we highlight an application as a "replacement" for another program, we aren't saying that they necessarily have all of the same features. Instead, we're saying that the two applications perform similar kinds of tasks, and if you're considering a closed-source option in one of these categories, you might also want to consider the open source alternatives we've listed.

As always, if you'd like to call our attention to other noteworthy open source software, please do so in the comments section below.


1. Blender

Replaces: AutoDesk Maya

This professional-caliber 3D content creation suite includes tools for modeling, shading, animation, rendering and compositing. Check out the gallery of movies, videos and stills on this site. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

2. Art of Illusion

Replaces: AutoDesk Maya

While not as full-featured as Blender or Maya, Art of Illusion offers basic 3D modeling and editing tools for amateur hobbyists. The interface is intuitive, and a number of tutorials are available. Operating System: OS Independent.

3. K-3D

Replaces: AutoDesk Maya

Another tool that's best suited for hobbyists, K-3D claims it "excels at polygonal modeling." Like Blender, K-3D also offers a gallery of still and animated art. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

4. Pencil

Replaces: ToonBoom Software

If you'd like to try your hand at old-school hand-drawn animation, give Pencil a try. It offers an easy-to-use interface, and it supports both bitmap and vector graphics. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

5. Synfig Studio

Replaces: ToonBoom Software

This 2D animation tool aims to make it possible to create professional-quality animation with fewer people and resources. It supports both vector and bitmap artwork. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Audio Players

6. Songbird

Replaces: iTunes

More than just an audio player, Songbird positions itself as a way to discover music effortlessly with recommendations based on your interests and your Facebook friends' likes. It offers Web, desktop and Android versions, with an iPhone version on the way. Operating System: Windows, OS X, Android.

7. Amarok

Replaces: iTunes

Amarok's claim to fame is its integration with multiple Web services, including Last.fm, Ampache, Magnatunes, MP3tunes, Echo Nest, Jamendo and others. It can also import your iTunes database, including your statistics and ratings. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS.

8. Aqualung

Replaces: iTunes

This app plays most kinds of audio files, including audio CDs, internet radio streams and podcasts. Other features include gap-free playback of consecutive tracks, multiple playlists, multiple skins and support for numerous input and output file types. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

9. aTunes

Replaces: iTunes

Java-based aTunes is both an audio player and a file manager. The interface is very basic, but it does provide contextual information like song lyrics, artist information and related YouTube videos. Operating System: OS Independent.

10. Audacious

Replaces: iTunes

Audacious offers excellent audio playback without consuming too many system resources. Features include a drag-and-drop interface, search capabilities, a graphical equalizer and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

11. Jajuk

Replaces: iTunes

Critics have called Jajuk "the most powerful jukebox out there." It's a full-featured music player designed for those with large or scattered music collections, and it's available as a download or as a Web app. Operating System: OS Independent.

12. Jukes

Replaces: iTunes

First released in 1998 as "Put Up Your Jukes," this older audio player was "created for the serious music lover." It offers an easy-to-use interface that works well with large music libraries. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

13. Rhythmbox

Replaces: Windows Media Player, iTunes

This Linux audio player for the Gnome desktop offers excellent media management capabilities inspired by iTunes. It plays most audio formats, transfers music to and from other devices, plays Internet radio, displays album art and lyrics, and more. Operating System: Linux.

14. CoolPlayer

Replaces: Windows Media Player

This "blazing fast" audio player offers a lightweight size, although it does lack some of the more advanced features of some similar apps. Multiple skins and plug-ins are available. Operating System: Windows.

15. Zinf

Replaces: Windows Media Player

Like CoolPlayer, Zinf offers a basic feature set for playing audio files on Windows systems. It plays audio CDs, MP3, Ogg/Vorbis, WAV and streaming formats. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

16. Moosic

Replaces: iTunes

For those who prefer the command line to a GUI, Moosic is a very simple client-server audio player. It supports MP3, Ogg, MIDI, MOD and WAV files by default, or you can configure it to play other file types. Operating System: Linux/Unix.

17. DeaDBeeF

Replaces: Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, QuickTime

The self-proclaimed "Ultimate Music Player For GNU/Linux," DeaDBeeF can play mp3, ogg vorbis, flac, ape, wv, wav, m4a, mpc, tta, CD audio and many other formats. Features include a drag-and-drop interface, support for multiple playlists, 18-band graphical equalizer, album art integration, optional command line controls, gapless playback and more. Operating System: Linux, Unix.

Audio Recorders and Editors

18. Ardour

Replaces: Sonar X1, Adobe Audition, Sony ACID

Suitable for use by professionals, Ardour offers highly advanced audio recording, mixing and non-linear editing capabilities. Key features include unlimited tracks, unlimited undo, 32-bit floating point audio path, sample accurate automation, more than 200 plug-ins and much more. Operating System: Linux, OS X.

19. Audacity

Replaces: Sonar X1, Adobe Audition, Sony ACID

While it isn't as full-featured as the commercial audio recording tools above, Audacity offers an impressive set of capabilities suitable for garage bands and hobbyists who are just getting started. It records live audio, converts among various file formats, allows users to edit sounds together in various ways and much more. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

20. Frinika

Replaces: Sonar X1, Adobe Audition, Sony ACID

Like Audacity, Frinika offers music recording and editing features suitable for amateur musicians. Key features include sequencer, midi support, soft synthesizers, audio recorder and piano roll/tracker/notation editing. Operating System: OS Independent.

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