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I am starting audio production after many years in software development. I have produced some audio for video in Final Cut Pro and now I want to go to the next level. After I finish the project, I may want to change some settings, which is cumbersome in FCPX (if I want to increase sound adjustment from 10 dB to 11 dB, I need to select them by hand and adjust, instead of doing "find-and-replace" of 10 dB to 11dB). Also, the size of the Final Cut Pro project is quite large.

I am looking for an audio editor where the project file is plain text, which I understand to be an edit decision list (EDL). My goals are:

  • to separate heavy digital assets from the light edit decision list
  • to put the edit decision list into a version control system like Git and GitHub
  • to automate some parts of editing, e.g. find-and-replace on pauses and dB levels
  • to use standard audio production techniques: noise gate, noise removal, frequency spectrum adjustment, limiter, compressor, and depulsive filter (removing the pop's in the plosives B and P)

Ideally, the editor would be open source and work on macOS, but I'm open to anything.

I understand that Audacity does all of these except the plain-text part, which means that any edits are destructive, so "version-control" works by saving the project each time.

Three examples outside of audio production are AviSynth, whose Edit Decision Lists are very a few KB of text; OpenSCAD in 3D modelling, which generates STL files from plain-text files that are two orders of magnitude smaller; Inkscape, which reads and writes plain-text SVG files.

Does such a tool exist?

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You can script Audacity from an external python script (with the output file being separate from the input file so as to provide non-destructive editing) with the scripts being plain text, python, files.

There is a huge selection of Audio processing and production software in the Python work some of which may provide what you need. A curated list can be found in the python wiki.

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  • I like the ability to batch-process files, e.g. applying a compressor-limiter of segments of a file. I presume this is a more advanced solution; my idea was an entry-level program where I could work on the audio in real time and see the edit decision list in plain text at the same time. – miguelmorin Sep 4 at 18:45
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    @miguelmorin - it is worth noting that an Audacity project file (*.aup) is plain text (in an XML format) and that Audacity edits are non-destructive as long as you do not export the file over the original. – Steve Barnes Sep 5 at 9:28
  • Yes, I confirm that Audacity files are plain text. The digital assets are saved at <project name>_data/eff/d1b/eff1b038.au and I can't immediately see the relation to the source files. I've had trouble scripting Audacity and noise reduction is not available from scripting. – miguelmorin Sep 6 at 10:21

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