16 Audacity sound editing basics for journalism students

If you are new to Audacity’s sound editing software, here are 16 basic things you need to know.

If you are installing Audacity on your personal computer, follow steps 1 to 3. If you are using the computers in Bozorth 134, then skip to item 4. 

1. Install Audacity on your personal computer

2. Install the LAME .mp3 encoder so you can create .mp3s of your sound project

NOTE: You only have to do this once, the first time you set it up and use it.

Follow these installation instructions for your computer (Mac or PC)

Watch a video clip showing how to install LAME .mp3 encoder

3. Set your preferences. 

Note: You only have to do this once.

Audacity > Preferences

Click Quality tab

Set Default Sample Rate: 41000Hz

Set Default Sample Format: 32-bit

Click Libraries tab

MP3 Library click Locate and put in the location of your mp3 encoder that you downloaded in step 2 above.

Watch a video clip showing how to set your preferences

4. Learn your Audacity workspace

AudWorkspace

Watch a video clip overview of the Audacity workspace

5. In order to do anything with an audio file, you must hit STOP button. If you press PAUSE, it will not let you edit it.

6. Import audio files

File > Import > Audio

Then click on the file you want to bring into Audacity.

Watch a video clip of how to import an audio file

7. Select sections of audio to edit

Choose the Selection tool. selectiontool

Now click the left mouse button anywhere inside of an audio track, and click and drag to the other edge of your selection, and release.

Watch a video clip of how to select a section of audio

8. Split Delete

This allows you to select a section of sound you want to get rid of without shifting the following audio over.

Select the section using the Selection tool selectiontool

Then Edit > Remove Audio or Labels > Split Delete

Watch a video clip of how to use split delete

9. Duplicate

This allows you to copy a section that you want to keep and create a duplicate of it on another track.

Highlight a section of audio using the Selector tool selectiontool

Then Edit > Duplicate

Watch a video clip of how to duplicate a section of a clip

10. Moving Clips

Highlight a section you want to move using the Selector tool selectiontool

Then click on the Time Shift tool timeshifttool

Then click on the clip and drag it to the left or right. This is called time-shifting because you are changing the time at which that audio will be heard.

Watch a video clip of how to move a clip

11. Split and Move

This allows you to split a clip so you can move one section independently.

Highlight a section you want to move using the Selector tool selectiontool

Then Edit > Clip Boundaries > Split

Then click on the Time Shift tool timeshifttool

Then click on the clip and drag it to the left or right.

12. Zoom in and out

Select the Zoom tool tools_zoom_basic7

You have several options:

  • Left-click zooms in one step
  • Shift-click or right-click zooms out one step
  • Middle button zooms in or out to Audacity’s default zoom level of about one inch per second

Watch a video clip of how to zoom in and out

13. Adjust volume of clip or fade in/out

Select the Envelope tool envelope

A thick blue border will appear at the top and bottom of the waveform.

Put cursor on the blue border at the top. Click and hold it and drag the blue line down to lower the volume. Drag it up to raise the volume. The smaller the waveform, the quieter it will sound.

envelope4

To fade volume in and out, you can create multiple points on the blue border by clicking on it. Then move just a section up and down.

Watch a video clip of how adjust the volume

14. Mix multiple tracks into one single track

You can physically mix multiple selected tracks using the Tracks > Mix and Render. The original tracks are replaced by a single Audacity track that combines the audio from the original tracks.

15. Noise removal

You can get rid of an unwanted noise in the background (like a hum or buzz.)

Click on the Selection Tool selectiontool

Highlight a section of your audio that only contains has that unwanted noise. It can only be a few seconds long.

Effect > Noise Removal

Click on Get Noise Profile button

Then select all of the audio track from which you want to remove noise.

Effect > Noise Removal > OK

Watch a video clip of how to remove a background noise

16. Export as .mp3

File > Export

Format: mp3

OK

Watch a video clip of how to export your Audacity file as .mp3

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About Nick DiUlio

My name is Nick DiUlio, a freelance writer and editor from New Jersey. I have been passionate about the craft of writing since I was old enough to spell, and this love has led to a successful career in journalism and creative nonfiction. As a freelancer, I have covered a wide range of topics and personalities, as my published work has focused on everything from profiles of artists and important political figures to hard-news stories with both national and local appeal; from restaurant and beverage reviews to tips on fashion and finance; from health and wellness pieces to celebrity Q&A’s. My work has appeared in several local, regional and national publications—both in print and online—including Philadelphia Magazine, Slate.com, Miller-McCune, New Jersey Monthly, Eating Well, and Delaware Today. Additionally, I am the South Jersey Bureau Chief for New Jersey Monthly and an adjunct journalism professor at Rowan University. To be sure, the broadness of my body of work seems only to be matched by my boundless interest in almost every subject imaginable (except Warren Zevon). Check out some of my most recently published work here.
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One Response to 16 Audacity sound editing basics for journalism students

  1. Pingback: Step-by-Step Audio: From your device to your WordPress.com blog | Southern Accents

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