Audio Editing Basics (using Audacity) -

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Audacity is a free, open source audio editing application ... blocked. Make sure to look at the top of the page for a ... ETS @ PSCC - Audio Editing With Audacity 1 ...
Audio Editing Basics (using Audacity) Audacity is a free, open source audio editing application available for both the Mac and PC platforms. Audacity is a great tool for both recording and editing audio on your computer. In this tutorial we will discuss many of the program’s most popular features.

Download and install Audacity

1. If you don't already have Audacity and the mp3 encoder installed on your computer, you can download a free copy for Mac or PC from this site: http:// 2. Click on the Download Audacity 1.2.6 link (not the Beta link). Your browser should automatically start downloading the application. Depending on your browser and security settings, the download may be blocked. Make sure to look at the top of the page for a notice where you can allow the blocked download if you are using Internet Explorer. 3. Once downloaded, go ahead and install Audacity on your computer.

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Download the MP3 Encoder

Audacity needs another small piece of software in order to export your audio projects in MP3 format. This format offers an excellent quality/file size ratio, so we definitely want to make sure that we have that encoder. Head over to to grab the library. After downloading, follow these instructions for installing the library and making sure that Audacity is able to locate the necessary files.

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Audacity's Interface

1. Menu Bar - The menu bar is used to open, save, export, and apply effects. 2. Tool Bar - The six icons here represent tools used for editing audio tracks including select, zoom, and others. 3. Play Back Controls - Use these tools to play, pause, fast forward, and rewind. The red button is used to record audio. 4. Audio Track / Timeline - This area is used to edit the audio file.

Open Audacity and Save a Project Let's launch Audacity by going to Start > All Programs > Audacity (PC) or double-clicking on the desktop shortcut if you made one during the installation process. You should now see a screen similar to the example above - except that you will not have an audio track in the timeline quite yet. We'll get there soon thought! Let's go ahead and save out project file by clicking File > Save Project As and choosing the location of your choice.

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It's important to note that by doing this we are creating an Audacity Project. Projects files differ from audio files in some important ways. Project files are large because they contain all the data associated with the project. You can open a project file any time down the road and make additional edits or corrections. Project files are typically opened on the computer that originally created them, so they can't easily be shared. Once you have completed a project, you will export the project as an audio file typically in MP3 format. MP3 files are small files that are easily shared and listened to by others. They do not contain the project data, so you can't edit them without creating a new project. Audio files can be listened to on any computer that has the appropriate hardware/software installed.


You've been very patient so far - let's take a look at how to create your own recordings now! Make sure that your computer has either a built-in microphone or you have an external mic plugged in. Audacity will record any audio heard on your computer, so it's a good idea to close Outlook or any other program that may make notification sounds. Background noise can also be extremely distracting and computers pick up on sounds that we humans tend to ignore. For that reason, pay special attention to ticking clocks, fans, AC units, open windows, or fluorescent lighting that may be present when you record. If there's a way to eliminate those sounds, your final recording will be much better!

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When ready click on the red Record button and start talking! You can pause the recording at any time using the Pause button. When finished, click on the Stop button.


Let's load a sample audio file in order to get familiar with the playback controls. Click on Project > Import Audio to load a sample audio track. Press Play to begin listening to a track. Click Pause to temporarily stop playback and Pause again to resume a paused track.

Zooming In and Out

Watch it - Audacity makes it easy to zoom in and out in order to view different parts of your audio files. Select the Zoom icon in

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the toolbar (1), then left click on the wave to zoom in. Hold down the Shift key and left click to zoom back out. There are also some handy zoom tools just above the waveform editor for quickly zooming in and out. The first two icons are used for zooming in and out. The third icon allows you to fill the window with the currently selected waveform while the fourth gives you an easy way to fit the entire audio file into the window.

Selecting, Copying, and Pasting

Watch it - The select tool in Audacity is very similar to the select tool in your favorite word processing program. You can use the tool to select a portion of a track to play, cut selected audio from the file (i.e.. a cough in the middle of an interview), or copy audio from one part of the file and paste it to another.

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To get started, click on the Select tool (1). Then, left click and drag to select a part of the file to edit (2). You can preview your selection using the play button or by pressing the Space Bar. To Cut that portion of the file, choose Edit > Cut. To Copy that portion of the file, choose Edit > Copy. To paste that portion of the file to a new location, left click on another part of the file and choose Edit > Paste.

Applying Effects

Applying effects to your project is as easy as selecting the portion of the file you want to apply the effect to, then choosing the desired effect from the Effect menu bar item. Some useful effects include: Amplify: used for increasing the volume of a track or selection. ETS @ PSCC - Audio Editing With Audacity 7

Click Removal and Noise Removal: Excellent effects for cleaning up distracting ambient noise. Fade In and Fade Out: Used to give a professional quality to your project by fading between segments or tracks.

Add Tracks

Audacity allows you to include multiple tracks in your project. The audio from each track is essentially layered over each other, making it possible to include background audio or combine dialog between several people. You can create a new track by going to Project > New Audio Track or by importing an existing audio track (Project > Import Audio).

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Moving Tracks

You can move tracks using the Time Shift Tool. Select the tool, then click and drag the track that you'd like to move. This is useful when aligning sound effects or background music with other parts of the recording.

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Once you're ready to share your masterpiece, you will need to export the project as an MP3. This format is heavily compressed and is the universally accepted format that we use today. Click File > Export as MP3 and choose a destination to create your MP3. You will be asked for some Tag information which displays as the file is played on portable devices and desktop audio players. This is optional, but helps listeners organize and recognize your files more easily. If this is your first time exporting an MP3 on the computer that you're using, you will be prompted to locate the LAME MP3 encoder file that you downloaded earlier. Click Yes and navigate to that file. You will only have to do this step once!

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