Step 1: Import and/or Record Audio
- Podcasts always sound better with intro, outro, and sometimes background and transitional music, but you want to make sure that you're using music legally. There are a few sites that let you download royalty-free music and sounds for free or with attribution (see the Find Sound tab).
- To import an audio file, go to File/Project>Import>Audio, and find the file that you want to edit or click and drag the music file into the Audacity window. Types of files you can import to Audacity include MP3, WAV, and AIFF (see Audacity's documentation on files that can be imported). There is an optional download on the Audacity site that supports additional file types
- Once imported, you will see the audio file as waves
- Record: starts recording audio from the program. The track will begin wherever the cursor is (so make sure to click “Skip to Start” if you want the newly recorded audio to be at the beginning).
- Pause: stops the recording temporarily. Just because the recording has stopped, does not mean it is saved. If you want the clip to start from where you’ve paused it, you must hit the pause button again. The play button will either start it from the beginning or start it from where you selected.
- Stop: stops the recording. This must be done before saving or applying effects.
- Checking/Changing Preferences: Edit > Preferences. Make sure playback and recording devices are set.
Some Recording Tips
- Prevent noise in your recordings by thinking about your recording space. Turn off lights, refrigerators, furnace/air conditioners, cell phones, etc. during recording. Avoid locations near traffic, noisy dorm halls, etc. Hanging blankets on the walls or recording in a wall-to-wall carpeted room helps dampen a live room.
- Record at least 5 seconds of silence before you begin recording voices. This will enable you to insert pauses during the editing phase. Not all silences are the same, so make certain you have a run of silence taken on the same day and from the same room in which you record.
- Record the voice/source as loud as possible into the microphone (microphone is best closest to the source). Beware of clipping, though.
- If the speaker makes a mistake while recording, have them pause and start the entire sentence over (by starting at the beginning of the sentence you ensure proper inflection in the speaker's voice). You can always edit out the mistake later.
- When editing in Audacity, save your work often!
Glossary of Terms
Digital audio:"audio that has been converted into a series of ones and zeros that can be understood by a computer. Digitized sound is easier to reproduce and manipulate without loss in quality than analog."
Sampling rate:"number of times per second the program converting analog to digital 'listens' to the analog signal." Typical baseline sample rate is 44.1KHz, though higher rates are becoming more common (48KHz, 96KHz, and 192KHz).
Bit depth:"level of detail at which a computer samples analog audio to create digital audio." 16-bit is considered standard for CDs; 24-bit sampling is more common and 32 bit float is good for better quality.
Bit rate:"number of kilobits per second of data in your audio file." Determines the size and quality of the resulting MP3. The standard bitrate is 128 kbps (take up about 1 Mb per 1 minute of sound), but 256 kbps is becoming more common (e.g. iTunes Plus).
Gain: amount of increase in audio signal strength, often expressed in dB