Tutorial: Basic Editing with Audacity

Audacity is a free, cross-platform application for recording and mixing. You can use it to record vocals, instruments and other sounds, mix them up into something useful and then create a music file to share. In this tutorial, we’ll take you through some of the basic editing and give you a few pointers on how to get started doing them yourself. Download Audacity and let’s get started.

DOWNLOAD AUDACITY

Navigate to http://www.audacityteam.org/download/ and click “Download Audacity.” Select your operating system (Mac, Windows, GNU/Linux) and download the Audacity Installer. Once downloaded, open the installer and follow the directions on the screen. After this, open Audacity and get started.

OPEN YOUR RECORDING WITH AUDACITY

After recording your audio yourself, or working with a Student Technology Liaison, you will have a .aup file. Double click that file to open your track with Audacity.

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REDUCE BACKGROUND NOISE

Step 1: Select an area where there’s no talking, just background noise.

Step 2: Go up to “Effect.” Click “Noise Reduction.”

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-49-46-amStep 3: Click “Get Noise Profile.” Select the entire recording.

Step 4: Repeat Step 2 and 3

Step 5: Click “OK”

The background noise should be eliminated.

ADJUST THE AMPLITUDE

If your recording is not as loud as you’d like it to be correct it by using the Normalize effect.

Step 1: Choose Edit > Select > All (or use CTRL + A) to select all of the track.

  • With default Tracks Preferences, you may not need this step – all the audio in the project is selected if you choose an effect without first selecting any audio.

Step 2: Choose Effect > Normalize….

  1. Accept (for now) the default choices in the Normalize dialog and click the OK button
  2. The volume is normalized to -1 dB, so leaving a little headroom below the maximum possible 0 dB level.
  3. Note that Normalize defaults to retaining the existing balance between stereo channels. However basic consumer-level equipment can often record with channels unbalanced. To correct unwanted volume differences between left and right, check “Normalize stereo channels independently”.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-49-57-amExtraneous noises in the recording can cause Normalize to create unwanted changes in the stereo balance, or prevent recordings being made as loud as they can be. Extraneous noises should be edited with Click Removal, Repair or Amplify before the Normalize step. Also see our tips for reducing noise in the recording chain

DELETE UNWANTED AREAS

There are likely some bits at the beginning and end that you don’t need – between the time you clicked the Record button and the time you starting talking or playing, and between the time you stopped talking or playing and the time you clicked the Stop button.

To delete a section of audio in Audacity, you can simply select the sections with your mouse:

Step 1: Click once on the beginning of the section you want to remove

Step 2: Hold down the mouse button to drag your mouse over the section.

Step 3: Let go of the mouse button when you’re at the end of the Audacity section you want to delete.

Step 4: Push the Delete key to remove it.

You’ll end up with your new Audacity audio file, with the section you’ve selected completely removed from it.

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Step 1: Choose File > Save Project, then choose a name for your project and a place to save it.

  • You have now saved an Audacity Project to disk. The project file (ending in .aup) can only be opened by Audacity. You can come back to the project and make changes to it later. For example you could do more editing, record more audio, or apply other effects.

Step 2: To listen to your performance in other audio software or open it in a video editing software (such as iTunes, Windows Media Player, WeVideo, etc.) or to burn it to CD, choose File > Export and choose your file format.

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