In this post, we will primarily employ the software Audacity to edit audio clips for purposes of podcasting.


Online Resources
The Interface
Basic Editing
Importing Music or Another Track
Labeling at a Selection Point
Using Envelope Tool to Adjust Relative Volume
Ending and Beginning Track Smoothly
Checking For Clipping
Saving and Exporting
Mixing and Rendering Before You Export

Online Resources

Given are a few resources that will help you set up Audacity onto your laptops or PCs:

i. Audacity website (http://www.audacityteam.org): This has available links to downloading the Audacity software, the starting points you would need to start using the software and tutorials for using Audacity.

ii. File Conversion Tools: Often times you would use recordings from your phone or some other source which would have formats not compatible to be used with Audacity. Tools like Zamzar allow you to change your file formats to MP3 and more compatible files.

iii. Legal Music Downloads: Free Music Archive (url: http://freemusicarchive.org) is one source from where you can download music files onto your computer and import it later in Audacity to edit and use the way as needed.

The Interface

This is how Audacity would look when you start it first-

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.36.56 AM

As can be seen, the software window is divided into a few parts – the grey colored area is where tracks appear when you import/record them; at the top is the tool bar which comprises options for editing an audio file; right above the grey region is the timeline (given in seconds) that can help you keep a track of what sound comes at what point in time.

Basic Editing

These are the basic editing tools available in Audacity:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.51.16 AM

Here is the functions of the tools in the image above:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.52.45 AM

Another set of tools in the toolbar at the top is:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.55.49 AM

The functions of these tools are as follows:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.58.31 AM

Some important tools that come in handy while audio-editing:

i. Silence tool- This tool enables you to silence a selection that you make in your existing audio file on Audacity. It may be used to silence a sudden disruption like a cough or some unwanted part of your audio file.

ii. Cut Preview- Allows you to adjust “Cut Preview” length before or after selection.

Audacity -> Preferences -> Playback  or  Edit -> Preferences

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 12.15.36 PM

Importing Music or Another Track 

File -> Import -> Audio, and your audio will appear in the Audacity editing window like this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 12.19.32 PM

The following functions are available when you have imported multiple tracks and want to move between those for editing purposes:

i. Mute and Solo buttons: These buttons are given on the left-hand-side of all individual tracks and can be used to manage which tracks are playing at the time. For example – Clicking on the Solo button on one track makes ONLY that track play, no matter how many tracks are present in your editing window. However, if you have to play only two or more, you would have to Mute all tracks you do not wish to play.

ii. Splitting Stereo Track/Renaming Tracks/Changing Track Order

You can select a section of the audio that you would like to detach from the file, or move to some other place within the same file.

Edit -> Clip Boundaries -> Split — then use the “Time Shift” tool to move the clips around

Labeling at a Selection Point

You can mark sections in the background music where you want narration to start.

Selection Tool (select the point needed) -> Tracks -> Add Label at Selection

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 10.55.21 AM

Identify points. This creates guides that help you match up timing on your tracks.

Using Envelope Tool to Adjust Relative Volume

Utilize the Envelope tool to fade and adjust volume as necessary. You can make specific adjustments to track volume through control points, and can un-do when necessary.

The image below shows how you can contract waveforms by selecting control points.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.08.35 AM

Ending and Beginning Track Smoothly

This can be accomplished by using the Fade In/Fade Out options of Audacity. Use the select tool to select the portion of music or sounded effect to Fade in or Fade out.

Effect-> Fade In

Effect -> Fade Out

Checking for Clipping

Clipping refers to any spikes that may be occurring in the audio file due to any sound outputs that are beyond the amplifier’s maximum capability, that is, volume levels exceeding what the devices can handle. Such waveform distortions can be identified using audacity, and be corrected for.

Clippings are shown by red lines given in the image below. You should adjust the volume accordingly if this happens

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.37.18 AM

You can use View -> Show Clipping.

Saving and Exporting

Aup files are Audacity files, be sure to save the data file associated with it too, if you have not finalized your project yet. The Aup file will NOT open if you do not save the data folder too. The data folder and the original Aup file appear in your saved location like this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.56.09 AM

AudProj_data is the data folder and AudProj.aup is the Audacity work file.

File -> Export (to save as a MP3 file). When you save/Export as an MP3, Audacity will mix down and combine all your tracks into one file – this is essentially finalizing your project.

In order to be able to export as an MP3 file, you will need LAME encoder plugin installed for Audacity, otherwise that option will not appear.

Find the download link here – https://sourceforge.net/projects/lame/?source=directory

Mixing and Rendering Before You Export

This allows you to make last minute adjustments and check for clipping on your mix before you export.

Edit -> Select -> All —- Tracks -> Mix and Render —- View -> Show Clipping

If clipping occurs, you can go back, undo your Mix & Render, and make adjustments accordingly