Installing and using Audacity. A get you started guide.

Mooly

Administrator
Paid Member
2007-09-15 8:14 am
This post (thread) is just a simple guide to get beginners using Audacity up and running. I certainly haven't got all the answers to the finer points of this brilliant freeware recording suite but hopefully I can add some pointers on how to do the basic tasks.

So what is Audacity and what does it do ? Audacity allows you to record and capture audio on to your PC and to be able to produce files that can be burned to a CDR/RW or well known files such as MP3/WAV/FLAC etc. It also allows you to create various sound effects and test tones etc from its built in library of sounds.

So the first thing you need is Audacity itself which can obtained free from here. EDIT... currently Audacity is available from (copy and paste into browser)

audacityteam.org

Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder This is currently a non valid link (as of April 2015. Status may change)

That gives you the basic program.

Next you need to install two more packages that allow you to produce various common file types such as MP3 etc. So go back to the first link and scroll down to find these.

Plugins.JPG


That gives you everything needed to get started.

So lets make our first project, a test CD with a frequency sweep from 20 to 20kHz.

1) Open Audacity.

2) Click generate on the top line and select chirp from the drop down menu. That brings up the chirp generator options

3) Setting the options to produce a tone.
a) We want a sine wave
b) We set the start and end frequencies to whatever we wish such as 20 to 20000. If we left start and finish the same we get a constant tone. You can also select linear or logarithmic as the law.
c) We set the amplitude. 1 equals 0db and that is LOUD You will notice the amplitude can also be set to start and end at different values giving a rising or falling amplitude as the tone progresses.
d) Finally we set how long we wish the tone to last.

So you should end up with something like this.



Click OK to save the settings.

At the top left are the conventional symbols for play/record etc. If you select play you should hear your new test tone. Remember it will be loud

You can now use the file menu to save your project.
You can also create an MP3/WAV/FLAC etc file such that you can burn it to disc and make a CD.

To do this click file and select export. You can save your clip as a file type of your choosing by using the drop down menu. This is where those two small plug ins you installed at the start show up. If you didn't install those you won't get the MP3/WAV options. Click save to export the file to your chosen location.

Exporting_Files.JPG


You should now have an MP3 etc file of the test tone in a location of your choosing to use/upload/burn as you wish.

Your complete Audacity project can be saved to using the normal file options.

So hopefully that at least gets you started. You can continuosly edit and add to the project file for example by adding another test tone at the end of the first or adding a second track to run in parallel with the first. If you click the tracks option at the top you can add new to run a parallel track. Try it. Whichever track on the main screen you click is the track that is availale to work with.

Next up.... recording samples from an audio source or CD.
 

Mooly

Administrator
Paid Member
2007-09-15 8:14 am
So part 1 covers the basics of installing Audacity.

Next we will cover recording from an outside source and this is were it gets more PC specific. Hopefully this write up will give enough information to point you in the right direction.

1) Right click your speaker symbol in the notification area of your PC and select recording devices



2) Now right click a blank area in the window that appears and make sure you have "show disabled devices" ticked.

Show_Disabled_Devices.JPG


Now this is where it might get PC specific but I think generally you should see and select "stereo mix". I'm doing this on an Acer laptop.

With that option enabled (and you might need to turn off or disable the mic) you should see the stereo mix option appear in Audacity.



If you now (for example) have a you tube video etc playing and you open Audacity and click record then Audacity will record the audio content. You might need your PC volume on full for best results.

Some PC's have a line in (such as my Dell) and this too appears as an option in Audacity. This is where you need to play around and see what works for each specific case.
 
I used Audacity for a while to record vinyl albums (needle dropping or vinyl ripping, whichever term you prefer). Then I found out that on Windows machines, Audacity does not record at 24 bit depth. It looks like it does. The settings are there and they can be set to 24 bits, but due to a well known bug (in Portaudio), the settings are never really applied to the hardware. So what you end up with is a 16 bit file padded up with zeros to 24 bits. Unless you are looking for it, you will never know.
It works fine on Mac and Linux machines (they don't use portaudio). Also, files that are recorded correctly in 24 bits (using other SW) can be edited fine with Audacity. It handles the 24 bit files fine, it just won't enable the sound card or whatever you use to allow 24 recording.

Terry
 
I used Audacity for a while to record vinyl albums (needle dropping or vinyl ripping, whichever term you prefer). Then I found out that on Windows machines, Audacity does not record at 24 bit depth. It looks like it does. The settings are there and they can be set to 24 bits, but due to a well known bug (in Portaudio), the settings are never really applied to the hardware. So what you end up with is a 16 bit file padded up with zeros to 24 bits. Unless you are looking for it, you will never know.
It works fine on Mac and Linux machines (they don't use portaudio). Also, files that are recorded correctly in 24 bits (using other SW) can be edited fine with Audacity. It handles the 24 bit files fine, it just won't enable the sound card or whatever you use to allow 24 recording.

Terry

How would this bug affect FFT software like Arta and others for 24 bits?
 
This may be fixed in the latest releases of Audacity. I'm not sure since I haven't tried it, but the bug listed in the release notes for version 2.0.3
Release Notes 2.0.3 - Audacity Wiki
(Windows) Recording at 24-bit quality or higher isn't possible even with devices that support it due to current limitations in PortAudio.

Isn't listed anymore in 2.0.4 or 2.0.5
Release Notes 2.0.5 - Audacity Wiki

Instead they mention "Windows WASAPI".
Maybe that takes the place of the portaudio that was the cause of the issue. I can't tell for sure what version they made the change.

About WASAPI (Windows)

Terry
 

scott wurcer

Disabled Account
2004-01-26 3:03 pm
Belmont MA
Just a note, I disagree with the developers on RIAA equalization on amplitude only and not the phase. You definitely will not get the same result as an R/C RIAA network. Their comments that an allpass phase transition is never audible is not totally supported in the AES literature if one chose to do the research.
 
If you are interested in un-mastering your music collection using Audacity, a thread in an audio forum that discusses the process steps, what to look for, lessons learned, and a few example XML equalization files for some typical commercially available recordings
I went to many concerts in the 70s, where the bass player could have stayed at home. I'm not sure if it was the PA or filtering. It was only when disco and the DJ electronica came in that live sound had strong bass
 
If you are interested in un-mastering your music collection using Audacity, a thread in an audio forum that discusses the process steps, what to look for, lessons learned, and a few example XML equalization files for some typical commercially available recordings.

Excellent detective work there, thanks a lot :) I shall proceed with restoring my Dave Brubeck and see what results I get.