This short article is aimed at beginners in digital audio.
Free Audio Editing Software
Professional audio recording is reliant on a number of factors. Generally speaking it comes down to the quality of the software / equipment and your sound engineering skills.
Audacity is freely available as open source software for audio recording and editing. As a professional sound engineer I would not use it to produce work for my clients, however, I think it is ideal for achieving good quality audio recording and production for the home / small business DIY podcaster / videocaster.
The software is available at https://www.audacityteam.org/download. There is also a plugin pack that is worth the download and the lame encoder for creating mp3 formats.
Installing the software was very quick and painless on my machine. Upon opening the program, it is very easy to use and has a nice simple layout. Clicking the record button in the transport bar at the top of the screen starts it recording instantly. Providing your microphone / soundcard is setup correctly you should have no problem getting many takes recorded.
Audio Recording / Editing
The test was recorded on my Zoom H4 digital audio recorder and imported to audacity for editing. The import went very smoothly. I did the recording remotely and although the record function in audacity is very good, the quality will be dependant on your sound card. In this case, I knew the sound card on my office machine would give an inferior result and I did not want the built in soundcard influencing the quality of the audacity test.
The audio seemed quite low once imported which is quite usual for digital recording.
Removal of unwanted sections
Removing unwanted sections of audio is really easy. Hover over the area you want to remove with your cursor, left click and drag to highlight the area you wish to remove and click delete. This deletes the section and closes the gap.
The normalize function makes the recording as loud as possible without causing a clip (distortion). To use this, simply select the area you wish to normalize by pressing Ctrl+A for the whole track or use the mouse to select a portion of the track.
Once you have highlighted the area, go the effect menu and select the normalize function. Applying the default setting will do the trick. When you play it back it should sound much louder.
Equalisation or EQ alters the tonal qualities of the audio to make it sound clearer. From the effect menu, select the Equalization option. Start with a flat line and by clicking on the line you can create a node that you can drag in all directions. Use nodes to reduce the bass at below 100Hz and boost the high frequencies around 5000Hz. This should make the audio sound clearer and brighter. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the EQ setting, it is not an exact science.
Audio compression is a widely used process by radio stations to make their output seem as loud as possible. Without getting too technical, it basically brings the quietest points in the audio closer to the loudest points that gives an overall perceived loudness. Again, this is in the effect menu, under compressor. For the purpose of the demonstration I have used the default settings, however, you can experiment with the settings.
Here is the before and after comparison in mp3
Audio after editing
If you have any related comments or questions please feel free to leave a comment. I will be open to the possibility of producing additional screencasts about Audacity / audio recording and production.
- Zoom H4 Audio recorder – Read My Review >
- AKG C1000s Microphone
High quality royalty free background music, audio editing services and podcast recording / production at Media Music Now