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While reading some of the questions about transcribing music here. I have come across these software tools that allow to slow down music and manipulate it freely. I think this is very interesting stuff and would like to dedicate this thread to make a kind of listing of the existing software with a description of what they can do.

It would probably be best to limit the answers to one program per answer and make the thread a community wiki. I think this can be a useful reference for when similar questions about transcriptions will come up again.

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locked by Dom Dec 17 '15 at 23:06

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19 Answers 19

up vote 29 down vote accepted

A free alternative to Transcribe, which allows you to do tons of other things too like removing vocals, is Audacity.

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Transcribe helps you slow down the tempo whilst retaining the pitch. It also has other useful features for transcribing, such as placing bookmarks for sections, measures, and beats, and an equalizer for isolating instruments.

It can also show which tones are being played, which works OK with some tweaking of the filters.

Another important feature is that it's easy to loop sections.

Free for 30 days.

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One of the great features of Transcribe: you can select a section of audio and it will display a keyboard with a graph of how much each pitch is present in the sound. This is especially helpful for working out complex jazz chord voicings if you're trying to transcribe a big band piece. – andyvn22 Apr 28 '11 at 0:30
    
Huge +1 for Transcribe. I have tried them all and Transcribe is the winner. It is built to do one thing, so if you seriously want to get into transcribing, get it. Used it for all the transcriptions on my blog. Some of the others mentioned will work, sure, but they don't offer some of the same ease-of-use and dedicated features that Transcribe has. And it is actively developed by a musician. – Basso Ridiculoso Aug 7 '11 at 21:30
    
There's probably nothing in Transcribe! that you haven't already got in your audio editor and DAW programs. Heck, even Windows Media Player offers half-speed playback! But Transcribe! puts all the features you need for transcribing in one place. Highly recommended. – Laurence Payne Jan 1 '15 at 16:10

Capo (only for Mac) is visually appealing and wonderfully easy to use. In addition to slowing music down without affecting pitch, it also uses frequency analysis to make educated guesses at the notes being played, which can speed up the transcription process tremendously.

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I found it to be totally useless for its stated purpose. Transcribe is far better. – Rein Henrichs Apr 29 '11 at 5:15

VLAN VLC media player is a very powerful and free software for playing music. You can slow down the playing speed by decreasing the speed value at the button of the VLC media player's interface.

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useful shortcuts: [ and ] to slow down and speed up; = for normal speed. – Mechanical snail Aug 19 '12 at 23:01

If you have an Android Phone, a nice app is AudioSpeedChanger, you can speed up or slow down any song in your library.

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Vox is a great, lightweight media player for OS X (0.3. beta just released with Lion support!), which also offers effects to your music output, like slowing down/speeding up without distorting pitch. Oh yeah, and it's free.

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On Linux, you can use PlayItSlowly, which works with videos too.

Here is how it looks:

playitslowly running on Ubuntu 12.04

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There are a few apps for iPhone/iPad on the Apple App Store. Sound quality and ease-of-use varies. This one is good: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speed-o-sound-slow-down-music/id669219687?mt=8

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The Windows Media Player that comes with Windows can do this, at least for some media types like MP3's.

While a MP3 is playing, right click on the window, select "Enhancements"; one of the enhancements dialogs is play speed which can be varied between 0.5 and above 2.0.

There are also shortcut keys for slow, normal and fast speed: Ctrl-S, Ctrl-N and Ctrl-F.

So, there is no need to install additional software if you have a Windows PC; control over playback speed is "right under your nose".

That being said, it does not use a great algorithm for slowing down, but it will get the job done for deciphering a fast passage of notes.

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On my iphone, I use "TempoSlow" which works very nicely.

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Look at Phrase Trainer it has all that and is an awesome all around player:

enter image description here

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Why is this downvoted? It seems to fit the criteria. – Nathanael Farley Jul 13 '14 at 20:46

You can use http://www.tunetranscriber.com to do this from your web browser without installing anything. Even works with some youtube videos.

Screenshot

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For another fully featured commercial option for OS-X and for iPhone and iPad, check out Anytune.

Anytune (on the Mac) is in the Mac App Store, and has a 30 day free trial available for download from the vendor's site.

Anytune (for iOS) is available in a free version (with IAP) as well as a more fully featured version called Anytune Pro+.

It's a terrific app for transcription as well as for playing along with your songs. Lots of features - almost too many which can sometimes make the UI a bit overwhelming. Still it's impressive how much functionality can be squeezed into an iPhone app and it isn't too difficult to learn how it works.

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I have used the Amazing Slow Downer for transcription. The mobile version for iOS and Android works great for looping short sections of a song, and it’s easy to step through the song one bar or phrase at a time. There are also EQ settings that help to bring different instruments out of the mix. The desktop version offers more options and flexibility, but the mobile application is a much better value – you get everything important for transcription for $15 versus $50 for the desktop version.

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WinAmp with PaceMaker plugin is a very simple solution.

Arrow seeking and ZXCVB key map of WinAmp make it extremely fast and easy to transcribe songs without using the mouse.

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If you have any decent DAW, it should have functionality similar to what you describe. Take the audio you want to transcribe, put it an audio track, and configure the track so that when you change the project tempo, the audio file speeds up or slows down accordingly.

One nice benefit of this is that you can write your transcription directly in the DAW, play both the original and your transcription back simultaneously, and see whether they match up.

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I've recently released a product called Musician's Practice Edge

It is Windows only for the moment.

MPE does video and audio slowdown. After 7-day free trial it goes into audio-only mode - which is free forever. In this mode you can still play back sound from videos, you just can't see them.

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This was flagged as spam but does seem to answer the question (and you've disclosed your affiliation), so I've just trimmed out the less-relevant portion. – Matthew Read Sep 14 '15 at 14:41
    
my apologies - I'm new to the forum and hadn't properly appreciated the rules – Jonathan Cook Sep 15 '15 at 19:48

My situation may be unique, but valid - for those using iOS/OS X devices primarily and who usually listen to DRM'd/streamed music...

There are a few good ones.

Years ago I used Transcribe!. It was powerful and only ran on the desktop, but was available on Windows, OS X and Linux. Great interface, probably the best "sound" when slowing down and had great controls. Plain and simple, took an audio file, and modified the playback. Nice keyboard overlay for those tricky overtones or chords where you can't get it quite right.

Then I started looking at apps.

At first it was AudioStretch on iOS. But in all honesty I only used the Lite version (free). It worked well when I had DRM-free music on my phone or tablet, but since Apple Music came, and I drank the kool-aid; I've found many apps don't want to play the DRM'd streamed music anymore.

Except one I've found. It's called iLift and there's two versions of it. There's a standalone app that does all the speed/pitch loop changes you normally see in transcription applications; however it also has a version called iLift:Play that utilizes iOS's built-in music app to slow down up to 80%, loop, etc. (standard transcription techniques, but nothing advanced) and it can do it on DRM'd music since it's really just utilizing iTunes' advanced features.

If there's something more difficult I need to transcribe, I usually remove the DRM somehow and open it in a more advanced application.

In general, most applications out there (desktop or mobile) will do everything you need with a great sound quality and ease-of-use, especially if your music collection is more traditional with your own non-DRM'd songs available digitally.

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protected by Dom Sep 14 '15 at 12:49

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