Audacity Audio Recording Software

Audacity audio recording software is probably the most popular free recording program available. The free part is good news to those of us that don't have extra dollars to spend on fancy software. There are things that set Audacity apart from commercial software, but there are a few ways in which it is simply a good free tool.

I use it regularly for quick and simple editing tasks. It's quick, easy, and efficient. But for my regular recording projects, it just doesn't have the feature set that I need.

However, Audacity audio recording is a good way to get started learning about home recording.

What does it do?

Audacity is a light weight computer recording software program. It allows you to learn more about digital recording before investing money in a more full featured program. That's what I recommend you do - try it out so you know more about recording when you shop for a better program.

Caveat - if you bought some audio equipment that came bundled with some software, you will probably be better off using that. Why? Audacity is lean and mean. It doesn't have the best user interface, and it doesn't include as many capabilities as better software.

Not that a free product bundled with some gear is going to be very much better, but it may have some of the features of a higher version of software. Audacity audio recording software has what it has.

What it does - multi-track recording that is not the easiest to figure out, but it is multi-track. It also has a solid bank of effects, ranging from compression and EQ to time compressing and spectral effects.

Speeding Up Podcasts

I like to listen to podcasts, and I don't like to waste time. A good speaker will talk slow enough so that the words are clearly intelligible and so that he can keep a clear stream of words. I can listen faster than this, so I like to speed them up. My phone will only speed them up to 1.5 speed, but Audacity will speed them up to whatever speed I want. About 2.1 is where I like it, and it's a snap to do. Here's how:
  • First, load the file into Audacity. It may have to convert it from mp3 into the Audacity format. 
  • Then select the entire audio (use command-A, or control-A on Windows) 
  • Now go to the "Effect" menu and select "Sliding Time Scale/Pitch Shift" 
  • On the top two boxes, type the percentage to speed up. Careful, typing 100% will speed it up BY 100%, to a total of 200% of the original. This is the step where I type in 110%. 
  • Remember to type the same number into the second box. Else you will get a sliding scale. 
  • Click OK, let it process, then export the file. 

Multi-Track Recording

Each time you hit record, the Audacity audio recording software starts a new track. Watch to make sure you click where you want to start recording. You can cut portions out, but be careful or it will fill in the empty space by pulling the subsequent material back.

When you record to a new track, it will play back the old track while you are recording the new one. This is what multi-track recording is. It allows you to overlay another track of something new onto what already was recorded. You could record a guitar first, then vocals, then a saxophone. Or you could record the melody, then harmony parts.

With multi-track recording, the sky's the limit!

Plan to allow time to figure out how Audacity does multi-track recording. That's the main problem I have with it.

How to get it 

Downloading Audacity is simple. Go here, and download the appropriate Mac or Windows version.

Other Options 

I keep saying that Audacity doesn't offer what I like it to. So what does?

Well, I happen to like Digital Performer. I got started with it, and haven't gone back. 

The other big one to look at is ProTools. It is the big one around, the one that all the pros use. Well, the popular one, anyway. A lot of people use other things or they wouldn't produce things like Digital Performer.

There are others too: Steinburg CubasePropellerhead Reason, for starters.

Have any questions? Head on over to Computer Recording Questions and check out what others have already asked. Audacity audio recording is covered there. If you don't see anything there, please fill out the form and ask yours.

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About the Author Lee Weaver

Lee started his career in recording with an auspicious goal - record tracks of his own voice singing in harmony. As a hobby project, it didn't have the funding to go to a studio and pay for someone to do it for him. Like many of you, he pulled himself up by the bootstraps to learn the art of recording.

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