Most computer users are spending much more time these days viewing and creating multimedia content. According to comScore, 85.6 percent of online Americans (178 million people) watched video online in June 2011, and they spent an average of 16.8 hours each watching those videos during the month. In addition, Nielsen reports that the number of people watching video on their smartphones and tablets has increased 41 percent since last year.
But it isn’t just video viewing that’s growing—more people are also using their PCs and mobile devices to listen to music. Earlier this year, Steve Jobs announced that 200 million people have iTunes accounts.
In keeping with this trend, the open source community has created dozens of projects to help you create, find, edit, organize and manage your audio and video files. Here are 60 of the best open source tools that can replace commercial audio/video software.
As always, if we’ve missed some that you think should be on the list, feel free to add them to the comments section below.
1. Blender Replaces: AutoDesk Maya Suitable for professionals, Blender is a free open source 3D content creation suite. It includes tools for 3D modeling, shading, animation, rendering and compositing. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
2. Art of Illusion Replaces: AutoDesk Maya This 3D modeling and rendering software isn’t as full-featured as Maya (or Blender), but it’s capabilities are robust enough for beginners and amateurs. The interface is fairly easy to use and it has good online documentation, including some tutorials. Operating System: OS Independent.
3. K-3D Replaces: AutoDesk Maya Another 3D modeling and animation option, K-3D claims it “excels at polygonal modeling, and includes basic tools for NURBS, patches, curves and animation.” Like Art of Illusion, it’s suitable for amateurs. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
4. Pencil Replaces: ToonBoom SoftwarePencil lets you create traditional 2D animations using your computer. It’s best for home users and hobbyists who love the look of the old-school cartoons. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
5. Songbird Replaces: iTunes This open source iTunes alternative lets you play audio files, manage your music collection and sync across PCs, Macs and Android-based smartphones and tablets. It also features an integrated music store from 7digital, concert notices and ticket purchase, and links to photos, videos and other related information on the Web. Operating System: Windows, OS X, Android.
6. Amarok Replaces: iTunes KDE’s audio player and manager integrates with a number of Web services, including last.fm, Ampache, Magnatune, MP3tunes, EchnoNest and others. Other unique features include dynamic playlists, bookmarking and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
7. Aqualung Replaces: iTunes Aqualung’s claim to fame is “gap-free” playback of consecutive audio tracks—which is particularly nice when listening to concert recordings. It plays CDs, podcasts, audio streams and most types of audio files. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
8. aTunes Replaces: iTunes This Java-based application plays CDs and audio files, helps organize your music and rips audio CDs. The interface is fairly basic, but it includes features like karaoke playback, shuffle, repeat, tag editing, playlists, and more. Operating System: OS Independent.
9. Jajuk Replaces: iTunes Aimed at users with large music collections, this powerful audio playback and management tool has been called “the most powerful jukebox out there” by critics. You can download it or using right from the Web interface. Operating System: OS Independent.
10. Jukes Replaces: iTunes Now more than a decade old, Jukes was designed for people who liked to keep their CD collections on their hard drive—back when that was an unusual thing. The interface is basic, but easy to use. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
11. CoolPlayer Replaces: Windows Media Player Because of its lightweight size, CoolPlayer offers “blazing fast” performance. Although it does offer some playlist capabilities, this is really just an audio player, not a full audio collection manager. Operating System: Windows.
12. Zinf Replaces: Windows Media Player Another playback only app, Zinf describes itself as “a simple, but powerful audio player.” It supports most types of audio file,s as well as streaming audio, and it integrates with MusicBrainz. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
13. Moosic Replaces: iTunes If you prefer your software without a GUI, Moosic might be right for you. It’s a simple, client-server jukebox program that runs from the command line. Operating System: Linux/Unix.
Audio Recorders and Editors
14. Audacity Replaces: Sonar X1, , Sony ACID Audacity offers everything most amateur musicians and producers will need to get started recording and editing their own audio tracks. Its capabilities include pitch change, tempo change, spectrogram node, noise removal, import and export of various file types, unlimited undo and a library of built-in effects, like echo, phaser, wahwah, reverse, and others. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
15. Frinika Replaces: Sonar X1, , Sony ACIDIn addition to recording and editing your music, Frinika also helps you make music with a built-in synthesizer and midi support. The website includes a number of screenshots and demos so that you can see it in action. Operating System: OS Independent.
Audio Ripping and Conversion
16. CDex Replaces: Exact Audio Copy, Audio Convertor Studio Downloaded more than 40 million times, CDex is an incredibly popular CD ripper. Key features include direct recording of multiple tracks, CD-Text support, advanced jitter correction, audio signal normalization and more. Operating System: Windows.
17. Free:ac Replaces: Exact Audio Copy, Audio Convertor Studio Formerly known as “BonkEnc,” Free:ac makes it easy to rip CDs so that you can store and listen to them on your desktop, MP3 player or other mobile device. It can convert files to and from MP3, MP4/M4A, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC, WAV and Bonk formats. Operating System: Windows.
18. MMConvert Replaces: Exact Audio Copy, Audio Convertor Studio The “MM” in this app’s name stands for “multi-media” and accordingly, it converts both audio and video among various file formats. You can use it from the command line or with a GUI. Operating System: Windows.
Audio Mixing/DJ Tools
19. Mixxx Replaces: Traktor Scratch, Scratch Live Mixxx’s advanced mixing engine gives professional DJs all the tools they need, like hot cues, looping controls and high-fidelity EQs. It also supports MIDI and vinyl controller input for DJs who are used to a traditional turntable/mixer setup. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
20. Mixere Replaces: Traktor Scratch, Scratch Live Designed for live performance, Mixere’s feature set includes dynamic audio looping, auto-triggering, fully automated sliders, gradual mute/solo operations, crossfading and unlimited undo. Operating System: Windows.
21. InfraRecorder Replaces: Nero Burning ROM, Roxio Creator This CD and DVD burner creates audio, data or mixed mode discs. It can record disc images and it supports a wide variety of audio file formats. Operating System: Windows.
22. Cdrtools Replaces: Nero Burning ROM, Roxio Creator Cdrtools includes nine different open source tools for recording, reading and verifying CDs, DVDs and BluRay discs. Note that these are command line tools and do not come with a GUI. Operating System: Linux.
File Sharing Clients
23. eMule/eMule Plus Replaces: BearShare, Kazaa, One of the most popular projects on SourceForge, this client for the eDonkey and Kad networks gets more than a million downloads a week. It calls itself “one of the biggest and most reliable peer-to-peer file sharing clients around the world.” Operating System: Windows.
24. BitTorrent Replaces: BearShare, Kazaa, Boasting “powerful features and a world of content,” BitTorrent lets users download multimedia files from a wide variety of torrent sites. The website includes plenty of help for those who are new to file sharing. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
25. Ares P2P Replaces: BearShare, Kazaa Ares supports BitTorrent and ShoutCast, as well as the Ares peer-to-peer network. It includes a built-in player, a library organizer, chat rooms and more. Operating System: Windows.
26. Shareaza P2P Replaces: BearShare, Kazaa, Shareza humbly calls itself “most luxurious and sophisticated file sharing system you’ll find.” It supports four separate P2P networks: eDonkey2000, Gnutella, BitTorrent and Gnutella2, and it offers previews, chat, user comments and ratings. Operating System: Windows.
27. BitTornado Replaces: BearShare, Kazaa, BitTornado offers a slightly different interface for accessing P2P networks via the BitTorrent protocol. The latest version adds encryption capabilities for security. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
28. ABC (Yet Another BitTorrent Client) Replaces: BearShare, Kazaa, Based on BitTornado (which in turn is based on BitTorrent), ABC offers multiple downloads in a single window, super-seed mode, prioritized queuing system and other features. Note that this client hasn’t been updated in several years, but you can still download the latest version. Operating System: Windows.
29. DC++ Replaces: BearShare, Kazaa, A good option for P2P newbies, DC++ provides an interface to connect to the Direct Connect/Advanced Direct Connect network. It’s been downloaded more than 50 million times, and the site includes a lot of tutorials and other documentation for new users. Operating System: Windows.
30. ANts P2P Replaces: BearShare, Kazaa, For P2P users who are concerned about security, ANts encrypts all files as they are transmitted and routes data through several intermediate nodes in order to protect the privacy of the uploader and the downloader. The website includes multiple tutorials for those who are new to anonymous file-sharing. Operating System: OS Independent.
31. Mute Replaces: BearShare, Kazaa, Similar to ANts, Mute is an anonymous P2P client. The interface is very basic, but the website provides a lot of good documentation, including understandable explanations of how anonymous file-sharing works. Operating System: OS Independent.
32. VLC Media Player Replaces: Windows Media Player One of the most popular open source multimedia players, VLC plays nearly all types of audio and video files. It offers a user-friendly GUI and fast performance, and it can often play damaged files. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, others.
33. Miro Replaces: Windows Media Player Miro makes it easy to sync the audio and video files on your PC with your iPad or an Android device. In addition to playing and converting most multimedia file types, Miro also offers torrent downloading and a music and app store. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iPad.
34. Banshee Replaces: Windows Media Player Another mobile-friendly option, Banshee syncs with smartphones and tablets and integrates with the Amazon MP3 store. Other key features include smart shuffle, automatic cover art, smart playlists, queuing and a podcast guide. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS.
35. UMPlayer Replaces: Windows Media Player Short for “Universal Media Player,” UMPlayer claims to “play everything.” Key features include built-in codecs, playback for damaged files, a YouTube player/recorder, skinnable interface, subtitles search and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
36. Mplayer Replaces: Windows Media Player Winner of numerous awards, Mplayer plays an impressively long list of multimedia file types. It installs without a GUI by default, but several front-ends are available. In addition, other developers have created versions for Windows and Mac. Operating system: Linux.
37. XBMC Media Center Replaces: Windows Media Player Designed for home theater PCs (HTPCs), XBMC supports most types of remote controls, so it’s easy to use while sitting on the couch. It plays most audio and video file types, including CDs and DVDs, and it automatically organizes your multimedia content. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
38. MediaPortal Replaces: Windows Media Player Like XBMC, Media Portal helps turn your PC into a home theater PC (HTPC). It plays CDs and DVDs, records TV like a DVR, supports remote controls and offers a huge library of plug-ins that can extend its capabilities further. Operating System: Windows.
39. Media Player Classic Home Cinema Replaces: Windows Media Player This app looks a lot like Windows Media Player, and it’s very lightweight while still offering a lot of features. Notable capabilities include playback and recording of television, remote control for Android smartphones and support for most audio, video and image file types. Operating System: Windows.
40. xine Replaces: Windows Media Player This media player is very fast, extensible and skinnable, and it supports most video file types. Work on a Windows version is underway. Operating System: OS X, Linux.
Multimedia Library Management
41. Data Crow Replaces: MediaMan If you’re the extremely organized type, you’ll love Data Crow. It helps you organize all of your content—CDs, DVDs, books, electronic files—and even includes a loan registration feature so that you can keep track of which friends borrowed your stuff. Operating System: OS Independent.
42. DrumTrack Replaces: DrumCore Turn your keyboard into a drum machine with DrumCore. Key features include adjustable volume for each drum hit, randomization of drum hits/volume (to make it sound more like a human is playing), and MIDI import and export. Operating System: Windows.
43. Hydrogen Replaces: DrumCore Designed for professionals, Hydrogen calls itself “an advanced drum machine for GNU/Linux” (although it does also work on OS X and Windows). It boasts an attractive, user-friendly GUI, a pattern-based sequencer with up 192 ticks per pattern, a sample editor, time stretch and pitch functions, timeline with variable tempo and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
44. Linux MultiMedia Studio Replaces: FL Studio Suitable for amateur musicians and hobbyists, LMMS lets you use your PC to create musical tracks and then mix them together. Don’t let the “Linux” in the name fool you—it’s also available in a Windows version. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
46. MuseScore Replaces: FinaleThis app makes it easy to create beautiful sheet music. And it plays back your creations with an integrated sequencer and synthesizer. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Screen Video Capture
47. CamStudio Replaces: Camtasia Ideal for teachers and trainers, CamStudio records what you’re doing on your computer so that you can play it back as a video. It also records audio and includes some basic editing capabilities. Operating System: Windows.
48. Ampache Replaces: Real Helix, Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server, QuickTime Streaming Server Ampache is both a video/audio player and a streaming server. With it you can set up a multimedia server that will allow you to access your audio and video files from any Internet-connected device. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
49. VideoLAN Replaces: Real Helix, Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server, QuickTime Streaming Server This is the server-side solution that goes along with the VLC Media Player. It can stream all of the multimedia formats that VLC can read. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
50. AmpJuke Replaces: Real Helix, Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server, QuickTime Streaming Server This streaming server boasts easy operation and speed. It automatically fetches album covers, images and lyrics from various Web services, and it enables sharing of your favorites lists. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
51. kPlaylist Replaces: Real Helix, Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server, QuickTime Streaming Server Like the others in this category, kPlaylist lets you set up your own multimedia server so that you can listen or view your files over the Web and share them with your friends. Features include user authentication, Flash player support, randomizer function and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
52. Darwin Streaming Server Replaces: QuickTime Streaming Server Developed by Apple, this QuickTime alternative was the first ever open source RTP/RTSP streaming server. The code has not been updated in a while, but it is still available for download. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
53. Cinelerra Replaces: Adobe Premiere This “movie studio in a box” invites users to “unleash the 50,000 watt flamethrower of content creation in your UNIX box.” It offers many advanced compositing, editing and special effects features. Note that there is also a community version of the project at Cinelerra.org. Operating System: Linux.
54. OpenShot Video Editor Replaces: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Very popular with Linux users, OpenShot offers a simple, user-friendly interface, but doesn’t skimp on features. Check out the website for videos showing this software in action. Operating System: Linux.
55. Kdenlive Replaces: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Although primarily for home users, Kdenlive offers enough advanced features that its suitable for some professional projects. It’s extremely versatile and makes it very easy to edit your video projects. Operating System: Linux, OS X.
56. Avidemux Replaces: Adobe Premiere Best for amateurs, Avidemux offers basic cutting, filtering and encoding capabilities. It also offers some task automation capabilities. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, others.
57. VirtualDub Replaces: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Not as full-featured as the other apps on this list, VirtualDub primarily offers video capture and processing capabilities for AVI files. Operating System: Windows.
58. LiVES Replaces: “a href=”http://www.resolume.com/avenue/”>Resolume Avenue 3, AVMixer LiVES (short for “LiVES is a Video Editing System”) offers both non-linear editing and real-time editing capabilities for VJs. It’s a professional-quality tool with an intuitive interface and advanced special effects. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Video File Conversion
59. DVDx Replaces: Movavi Video Converter This powerful audio/video encoder can copy multimedia content to and from a wide variety of formats. It’s easy to use, and the website includes a number of tutorials for popular uses, like copying a DVD to DivX or QuickTime files. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
60. DVD Flick Replaces: Movavi Video Converter Not quite as full-featured as DVDx, DVD Flick focuses on allowing you to create DVDs from the videos on your PC. It supports more than 60 video codecs and 45 file formats. Operating System: Windows.