How to Set Up and Use Audacity

How to Set Up and Use Audacity

So, you wanna use Audacity? Good choice. It’s one of the better open-source audio editing and recording suites, and it’s completely free. We’ll be teaching you how to get and utilize Audacity to get the audio quality you need.

Recommended Size: None! (You can use Audacity right out of the gate.)

What You Need

  • Audacity (duh)
  • A microphone

Step One: Getting Audacity

You can get Audacity for free. It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, so OS or system requirements shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Audacity does NOT come with FFMPeg, so if you need your files in an MP3 format, you’ll need to download LAME for Audacity.
  • Install Audacity like any other program. It’s that simple. 

Step Two: Using Audacity

ThumbnailAlright, so, here’s the meat of it; actually using the program. The handy screenshot is labeled by number so you can see what everything important is:

  1. Project Rate: This is IMPORTANT. If you’re using multiple audio files, including video with audio or outside audio files, MAKE SURE THESE ARE ALL THE SAME. If you don’t they won’t properly sync up.
  2. Microphone: Make sure you’ve selected the right microphone, or you’ll just end up with static or lower quality.
  3. Microphone Level: You can change your microphone’s volume level from inside Audacity.
  4. Record: No explanation needed. You hit this button, and it starts recording!
  5. Stop: Again, no explanation needed. This stops everything. Recording, playback, you name it.
  6. Speaker: You can choose which speakers Audacity uses for playback.
  7. Speaker Level: This is just your computer’s volume control, but inside the program.
  8. Microphone Monitor: This’ll show you your active levels as you record. Red means you’re close to maxing out your mic.
  9. Playback Monitor: This’ll show you the levels while playing back.
  10. Selection Tool: This is your bread and butter with Audacity. You can highlight sections of audio and copy, paste, delete, or add effects.
  11. Envelope Tool: Not often used, but it lets you alter the maximum amplitude for a section of audio.
  12. Draw Tool: This is more of an expert tool, used to alter individual samples on a miniscule scale. I’ve never used it, you’ll probably never use it.
  13. Zoom Tool: Click to zoom in, right click to zoom out.
  14. Time Shift Tool: Move a track backwards and forwards along the timeline. Useful for syncing multiple tracks.
  15. Multi-Tool Mode: It’s confusing, and it uses every tool at once. Don’t bother with it.
  16. Generate: Generate different noises within a selected snippet of audio, or for a length of time. Make tones, chirps, noise, or dial tones, but the biggest boon of this tab is the ability to generate silence, so you can mute out snippets without worrying about messing up sync by deleting.
  17. Effects: These are the fun bits! Here’s where you can alter pitch, equalize, reverse, add reverb, and all the other filters that alter your audio.
  18. File: While you may be tempted to hit “Save”, that saves the PROJECT file. You’ll need to hit “Export” to save it as an actual audio file.
  19. Time Frame: These tell you the start and end times of whatever you’ve selected; or if you’d like, the length between the start and end of the selection instead.

Learn More:

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