Record and Edit Audio Free with Audacity
  • Record and Edit Audio Free with Audacity

    The internet is full of free software and can be hard to find applications that are useful amongst all the rubble. Audacity is a genuine diamond in the rough, an exceptional audio recording and editing software.

    The program is even used by Speech-Language Pathologists to record and analyze variations in accents and voice disorders. It also has a number of other features and possibilities for other lines of work, including:

    Recording live audio.
    Converting tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
    Editing Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV, and AIFF sound files.
    Cutting, copying, splicing or mixing sounds together.
    Changing the speed or pitch of a recording.
    Removing static, hiss, hum, or other constant background noises.
    Quickly editing even large audio files.
    And more!

    Audacity is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux/Unix operating systems. To see if your computer will run Audacity, view the system requirements for WindowsMac, and Linux.

    Once you’ve determined that Audacity will run on your system, go to the download page to install Audacity. Be sure and click on your operating system to download the correct file. Follow the instructions provided for installing the program.

    After you’ve installed Audacity, you can try recording a file. Open audacity and hit the record button (the red circle). You will need a microphone to record your own voice. To stop recording, you can press pause (the two blue rectangles) or stop (the yellow square) but note that they work differently. If you press pause and then press record again, you will start recording right where you left off. But if you press stop, Audacity will create a new sound layer, and once you press record again it will start from the beginning. For example if I recorded myself whistling a tune and then pressed stop, and pressed record again and sang the tune, when I played it I would hear myself singing and whistling the tune at the same time. When you record the second layer, you can hear what’s playing in the first layer when you record.

    You can also use Audacity to edit audio files that were recorded by other means. Audacity can open most any type of audio file. M4P is a common file type that is an exception. If you want to open an M4P file you will need to convert it, which you can do in iTunes by following the instructions here.

    Once you’re finished with your file you will need to save it. If you might want to continue working on it in the future, you should save it as an Audacity file to keep the layers in tact. To do this, go to the File menu and choose Save Project. If you want to distribute the file, by burning it to a CD, emailing it to a friend, or putting it on your webpage, you will need to export it as a common type of file. Otherwise people will only be able to listen to it if they have Audacity.

    Here are the types of files that you can use to export your completed Audacity projects:

    Ogg Vorbis – A free and un-patented audio compression format used for storing and playing digital music, similar to the MP3. For more information, see the vorbis website. To export to this type of file, go to the File menu and select Export as Ogg Vorbis.
    MP3 – The standard for storing and playing digital music and other audio files. To export to an MP3 file you will first need to download and install the LAME MP3 encoder. Follow the instructions here. Be sure to download the correct version for your operating system. Once it is installed, export to MP3 in Audacity by going to the File menu and selecting Export as MP3.
    WAV – An audio format that uses raw or uncompressed audio and is ideal for creating audio CDs. To export to this type of file in Audacity, go to the File menu and chose Export to WAV.

    Want to do more with Audacity? The Audacity Wiki includes a page filled with tutorials for creating all sorts of projects with Audacity. Many off-site tutorials are included as well.