Now I’m just speaking from experience when I say that being in the music business is expensive. If you purchase all your studio equipment first, there’s still recording software you need to worry about, and vice versa. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to spending money on software. That alternative’s name is Audacity.
I understand that in order to record any sort of audio using a specific software that needs to be downloaded, it requires a computer of some sort, so this article is meant for those who meet that requirement.
In this article I’m going to provide simple step-by-step instructions on how to properly record audio within the free audio recording program, Audacity.
I chose this topic for those who are involved in producing podcasts, musicians who are working on rough drafts that they want to display to the world, or artists out there who simply want to record audio and get some new content out there.
Basic Software Functionality
Depending upon yourself, you may first notice a series of square or circular buttons (depending on the version you are using) on the top left-hand corner of the window. These buttons represent actions you can take within a recording session. You can press the play, record, pause, stop, and skip to start or end buttons. These are basic functions of recording audio within the program which sit above the large empty gray space where your audio tracks will go.
Underneath the main buttons you’ll see four different drop-down menu sections. You’ll see the audio host, recording device, recording channels, and playback device options.
Down at the very bottom left of the window you’ll see the project rate at 44100Hz. This allows you to set the project rate for your song, podcast, etc. which affects the quality and file size of your project.
In the top right corner next to the skip to end button, you’ll find the letters “L” and “R” with a meter next to it. This meter controls your headphones or speaker’s output volume which can be adjusted after you finish recording a section and you notice the audio being too loud or quiet.
Directly to the right of that is another meter that looks almost identical except that this one is for the microphone input. This functions similarly, although it can reduce distortion or any bad sounding vocals once adjusted correctly.
Jumping right into recording, you may need to troubleshoot with your microphone connection. In my past experiences, along with other audio engineers, I’ve had trouble recording audio since the program was not recognizing my mic input. All it took was for me to close and reopen the program. It’s a minor hiccup most likely, and if you don’t experience this you can ignore this paragraph.
Make sure you have the correct mic selected to record from and the correct speakers for playback before you begin.
Press the red circle to record and you should see your sound frequencies appear as you speak into your connected microphone. From that point you have a variety of actions you can take, but if you wanted to simply add an audio track by selecting the “Tracks” drop-down menu (if you have the newer version) and selecting “Add new”.
Mixing In Audacity
Making your audio sound good is a little tricky in Audacity in my opinion. Yes there are basic and necessary plug-ins included with this free software, for example there’s a compressor, an equalizer, reverb, a limiter, and so on.
There’s actually a nice long list of plug-ins under the “Effect” menu at your disposal; just make sure to use only what you’re knowledgeable of. The last thing you want is a high pass filter on your podcast audio from trying to figure out what it even is.
The mixing process is a lot less intuitive than in other programs, so I would suggest referring back to previous Home Studio Nation blog posts about the basics of compression and EQ.
Nice! You have your properly recorded and mixed down audio for your song, podcast, voice over, etc. and are ready to export. The exporting process is very simple to perform so you can be ready to share your content with your fans.
In the top left-hand corner of the Audacity window, you’ll see the “File” drop-down menu. Click it and then click “export” to then see your file options for exporting audio. Select the one that suits your situation the best. I usually use .wav files if I want the full quality of my session despite the file size which is pretty large.
Have The Audacity To Create
I know there’s a lot of tricks to learn until you get the hang of creating some amazing content with Audacity, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. Especially since you can’t beat the sweet price of… free.
If you want more details on the specifics of the program and more in depth capabilities, you can visit the official Audacity website. I hope I’ve been of some help to those who sought after it and I’d love to hear from you all. If you have any questions or contributions to the discussion, be sure to leave them below and I’d be more than happy to help you out.