Audacity is powerful, free software you can use to record and edit audio.
Once you learn a few simple steps for using Audacity you can start creating podcasts, MP3 downloads, audio CD programs and more. Here is what you need to know.
You will need:
- Audacity (1.3 Beta)
- A script or notes on what you’re going to talk about.
Step 1: Install Audacity
Audacity is available for free download. Just go to http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/ and download the version for your operating system. There are both Windows and Mac versions available.
Step 2: Install the MP3 Encoder
If you want to save audio files in MP3 format (and you will) you need to install the LAME MP3 encoder. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds. Just go to the LAME MP3 page and follow the simple instructions.
Step 3: Open Audacity
After installing, you will probably have an Audacity icon on your desktop. If not it should be in your list of programs. Click (or double click) the icon or select it from your program list.
Step 4: Make Your Recording
Once Audacity is running, all you have to do is click the round red button in the tool bar to start the recording. Start recording, wait a few seconds (silently count to three) then start speaking. Leave a few seconds of silence at the end of the recording, too. This makes it easier to do editing, such as adding music or an intro.
Always test before making your final recording. Start recording, speak for a minute or so, then stop. Listen to see if you need to adjust the volume levels or eliminate background noises you didn’t notice in “real life,” but are obvious on the recording.
Once you are done recording, click the square button to stop.
Your recording will have a wave form that looks something like this. The horizontal line that goes all the way across the screen is the background noise. Ideally, this should be very thin. (The thicker it is, the more background noise or hiss you have on the recording.)
The groups of short blue spikes are your voice, and the tall thin spike and the short bit to the right are clicks.
Step 5: Listen To The Recording
To listen to what you recorded, just press the green arrow button in the tool bar. If it doesn’t start to play immediately, you may need to place your cursor at the beginning of the clip and then press the play button. Another way to move to the beginning of the clip is to click on the button with the two arrows pointing left.
Step 6: Save Your Recording
Always save a copy of your original audio file before you start to edit. That way, if you make a mistake when editing you always have the original to go back to.
To save your original audio file, use the Save Project option in the File menu. This will save your recording as an Audacity project with an .au extension.
Step 7: Edit The Recording
As you record, you may pick up clicks and other sounds that you do not want in the final recording. For instance, the clicks heard at the end of the audio came from me moving the mic on my headset. Or you may want to cut out some of the “ums” and “uhs” or other mistakes. You do not need to keep redoing the recording until it is perfect. You can simply take out the unwanted audio with the editing tools available in Audacity.
To edit, you may need to zoom in to the section to see it clearly. Use the zoom in the tool bar or you can find the short cut keys by clicking on the view tab at the top.
After you zoom in, highlight the section you’d like to remove and use the cut or silence button to remove this section. The cut tool is usually the best choice.
Step 8: Save The Edited File
After you have finished editing, save a copy of the edited file. Give it a new name so you do not overwrite the original recording file.
You can also export the file as a WAV or MP3 at this time. Burn a WAV file to a CD and you can play it in most CD players, as well as computers. MP3s can be played in computers and some CD players. (Many new CD players will play MP3 files.) MP3 files are smaller, so MP3 is the better format if you are going to put your audio files on the Internet.
To save your recording as an MP3 or WAV file:
- Click the Export option in the File menu.
- Select the type of file (WAV or MP3).
- Name your audio. Do not put spaces in the file name.
- Fill in the metadata (e.g., your name, the title, date, etc.) if you wish.
- Click ok.
And you’re done! Your audio file can be burned to CD or uploaded to the web.
Note: It is always a good idea to listen to the file to make sure there were no glitches when converting or saving the file.