How to use Audacity

Summary

  • Age: Any
  • Time: Ongoing
  • Skills: Computer Knowledge
  • Materials: Computer and ideally a microphone
  • Outcomes: Digitally combining, editing, and mixing audio tracks

Instructions

Instructions: 

  1. Go to https://www.audacityteam.org/, go to the download tab, and download the version of audacity for your operating system and technical requirements.
  2. First, try recording something as a test and playing around with it. Click the red record button and press stop when done. Once you have a recording, play it back using the toolbar. If you are unsure of what a particular button does, hover over it with your cursor
  3. Highlight part of the recording and try out different effects. If you don’t know what each does, just apply them and see what happens. You can always hit undo if you don’t like how one turned out. Also try clipping it, changing the speed, changing the volume and the stereo settings, etc. Most effects can only be applied while paused, but some can be changed while the audio is playing.
  4. Now import an audio file. Find the song you want on your computer and drag it to Audacity. You can’t drag directly from iTunes, instead right-click on the song and click show in finder (or equivalent if not on a mac). From here, drag the file into Audacity. Play around with the same effects as before. Try changing the volume and fading in and out to make the two audio files (your recording and the song) interact with each other.
  5. Make a new project and import the different audio tracks you want to combine, or start recording the tracks. Start with one, edit it how you want, then add the second and line it up with the first. Only add one track at a time so that you can make edits as you go. Adding labels to sections can make editing easier. This step will take a while since it requires a lot of manual work to line up everything.
  6. Once all of the tracks are imported and lined up, edit them together. Highlight a specific region on the bar at the top instead of within a track. Highlighting in this manner allows you to edit all of the tracks at the same time. You can adjust the volume, mute, and solo each track at specific sections.
  7. Once the song is imported, lined up, and edited, go to File->Export and choose the type of audio file you want it to become. Unless you have a reason not to, choose MP3. You can now share this MP3 file in the same way that you would share any other audio file.

Note: Audacity is meant to be used by people with a wide range of skills and experience recording audio. These instructions are only meant to provide a brief introduction, so they do not go in-depth about any of the specific features or effects. Audacity provides some help, and there are lots of online guides about using different features.