Audio production involves using tools such as reverberators and equalizers to transform audio into a state ready for release. While these tools are widely available to musicians who are not expert audio engineers, existing interfaces can be frustrating for newcomers, as their interfaces are parameterized in terms of low-level signal manipulations that may not be intuitive to non-experts. We present Audealize, an interface that bridges the gap between low-level parameters of existing audio production tools and programmatic goals (e.g., "make my guitar sound 'underwater"'). Users modify the audio by selecting descriptive terms in a word-map built from a crowdsourced vocabulary of word labels for audio effects. We perform the first user study comparing a word-map interface to traditional audio production interfaces. A study on a population of 432 non-experts found they favored the crowdsourced word-map over traditional interfaces. Absolute performance measures show those using the word-map interface produced results that equaled or exceeded results using traditional interfaces. This indicates language, in concert with a meaningful word-map visualization, is an effective interaction paradigm for audio production by non-experts. Audealize is an example of a general design approach that can apply to other domains and can be accessed at http://audealize.appspot.com.
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