This workshop is a quick introduction to working with digital audio. It uses the free, open-source Audacity software. Digital audio software like Audacity shows sound as a waveform, which is a visual representation of the audio over time. Sound can be edited in much the same way that words are edited in a word processing program – i.e. by copying, cutting, and pasting, as well as modifying the sound (e.g. EQ or changing volume) which is similar to styling text.
- Install the MP3 library so you can export in MP3 format
- Optionally, install a set of LADSPA plug-ins for making sound effects (under optional downloads)
- Launch Audacity
- Download sounds for intro to sound
For this workshop, set the recording settings: AUDACITY>PREFERENCES>DEVICES>RECORDING>
- DEVICE: Built-in Microphone
- CHANNELS: 1 (Mono)
Make use of the Audacity help system
- HELP>QUICK HELP
Recording & Playback
Record a short sequence of you saying “One, Two, Three… One, Two, Three…”
To play back audio, use the green play button, or hit the spacebar. Hold the shift key down when pressing the green button to play back in a continuous loop.
A waveform is a visual representation of sound, where time moves from left to right, and loudness (amplitude) is represented as height.
You can cut, copy, and paste the waveform just as you would in a word-processing application.
Do the following kinds of edits
- Cut to trim the start and end of an audio clip, then use the Trim tool to do the same
- Copy and paste
- Add silence
- Normalize audio level
- Fade-in / Fade-out from the effect menu EFFECT>Fade In EFFECT>Fade Out
Controlling level with the Envelope Tool
You can change the loudness of the sound as time progress by using the envelope tool. Use it to change the volume of the entire track, or set different points in time, and use the tool to change the volume up or down over time.
Working with Multiple Tracks
To create a mix of several different sounds, you can create multiple tracks in Audacity. Each track will contain a different sound, and you can control where in time each sound plays, and what the volume relationships are between the multiple tracks.
- Use TRACKS>ADD NEW>AUDIO TRACK to create a new, empty track OR Record a new track
- The TRACK MENU
- Use the Time Shift Tool to move audio left and right in time to match up with another track
- Use mute and solo
- Use track volume and pan
- Auto Duck
- EQ – Change the tone of the sound – e.g. bass, mid, treble
- Pitch change – Change the pitch of a selection without changing the length of the sound
- Tempo change – Change the length of a selection without changing the pitch of the sound
- Reverb – Add the on the characteristics of a room to your sound
Outputing final audio
- Sample Rate & Sample Format (Bit Depth)
- Stereo/Mono and file size
- Using left and right channel panning creatively
- Audio formats: .wav, .aiff, .mp3