Audacity is an excellent free alternative to anybody who is looking to do simple edits or record their voice in no time. GarageBand or Audition are great products to use if you want something more complex done to your audio, but you will have to pay to use those software products. Despite Audacity being free, there are a ton of great options for the everyday audio editor and it has even become a preferred editing tool for many podcasters who need simple, clean, and quick editing work done.
To begin, it's best that you have Audacity already downloaded. Here is a quick link to their download (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/) page. Once done, do a quick audio test using your preferred microphone. If you have more than one microphone, it's recommended that you go into properties and name your devices accordingly to prevent you using the wrong microphone to interview people and to save you any confusion in the future. We will show you just how to do that in just a moment.
The buttons to record are pretty straight forward. You can press the record button and then pause button if you plan on using the same track later on. If you press record and then click the stop button, then it tells the program you're completely done with your first audio track. You notice that if you were to click the record button again, there will be a brand new audio track and you may even pick up some of the first track's audio recording if you're not wearing headphones.
If you don't want to have two different audio tracks on the same playback time, it's easy to move a track in to its desired time slot. All you have to do is click the TimeShift Tool located to the right of the red record button. It's the icon with two black arrows sticking out in opposite directions. See below image for a clearer idea:
This Timeshift tool can detect where the end of your first recording is, so that you can perfectly align the two recordings together without skipping a beat.
Now referring to the above image, if you click the Selection Tool; the capital I shaped icon on the left hand side, you can also decide where you want your second recording to start. If your first recording is 6 seconds long for example, take your mouse and click anywhere in the light gray area of Audacity. For this example, let's say around the 7 second mark. Once done, you'll see a black line where you just clicked. When you press record, that's where your second audio recording will begin.
Recording Sounds From The Computer
Some podcasters would like the ability to record sounds coming from their computer instead of their microphone. Obviously, if you use your microphone to record sound coming directly from the speakers, you will lose an enormous amount of quality in that recording and it simply won't sound great. This process can sometimes take people a couple of hours to figure out, but lucky for you we're going to get it done within a couple of minutes.
Looking at your computer's toolbar, click on the little speaker icon located on the far right hand side near your time clock. You should see your sound levels and a blue text link that says Mixer, click on it and then click on the System Sounds icon. This should lead you to a popup window.
If you do not see this speaker icon and it's not in the hidden icon section, then go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > and then click the Sound option. This will take you directly to the popup window.
Once this window appears, you should see four tabs. Playback, Recording, Sounds, Communications. Click on the recording tab and look for the Stereo Mix option. If you do not see it, then right click in the box and check the “Show Disabled Devices” and the “Show Disconnected Devices” options. There you should be able to see the Stereo Mix option. Enable it and restart Audacity.
Since you're here, it'll be a good time to name the various microphones you might have to something more memorable. All you have to do is right click your desired microphone, click Properties and then type in a name into the input box.
When Audacity has started back up, go to your microphone drop down, located in the near center of your Audacity toolbar, and click the 'Stereo Mix' option. This option will now help you record sounds generated from the computer and not from speaker-to-microphone.
The Audacity team have already written a great tutorial on how to record sound from your computer using a Mac. Click here (http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/tutorial_recording_computer_playback_on_mac.html) to follow along.
When you're recording over tracks, it's important to wear headphones so that the microphone doesn't pick up any playback from your original recordings. This is also an important tip to keep in mind during Skype interviews. In fact, wearing headphones is the best way to make your audio sound crystal clear and professional.
Audacity is great for simple touches and little edits here and there. They have made such a great tool for quick editing off the bat that it's almost troublesome opening up heavier products like Audition and GarageBand to do simple work.
You can find these editing tools on the upper right hand side. Make sure you have the Selection Tool selected before you begin trying to use these icons or else it simply won't work. Drag your mouse and select sections of your recorded audio that you wish to delete, then once the pieces are highlighted, click the scissor button to remove the excess or Ctrl+X. You can also take the same highlighted audio and click the copy button or Ctrl+C. Respectively, you can select elsewhere on the audio track and click the paste button or Ctrl+V.
If you just like one section of your audio, then you can highlight it and click the Trim audio button or Ctrl+T, which will remove all the non-highlighted parts of that audio. The opposite is true with the Silence button. When you highlight a section with heavy audio, the Silence button or Ctrl+L will automatically remove it and replace it with a single line. There are Undo and Redo buttons right after the Silence button, however you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z to Undo and Ctrl+Y to Redo.
We hope this quick introduction to Audacity has been helpful. Remember, it's best to save your audio files in WAV format. However, WAV can take up a lot of space. An alternative to this and to save you some hard drive space is to save your files in .mp3 format. When you export your audio file out of Audacity. Select 'Save as Type: Mp3 Flies' and then click on Options on the right hand corner. This will bring up a MP3 Export Setup popup window where you can set the quality. 320 kbps is the maximum that it can go, so select that and continue on to saving your file the way you would normally.
See you next time,