Audacity - Hints and tips thread.

Have wanted to do this for a while, not just to put Replay through it's paces, but also because we are always recommending Audacity as a free recording tool, yet it can be a bit of an intimidating beast. I use it on a daily basis and have done for years, and STILL find it a bit intimidating, and would like to learn from others.

So.. anyone can show their Hints and Tips in here, record it in whatever format you can, but helps if they are very focused, and we can see the software being used.

I'll start off with "How to save time when moving around a sound file".

30 Replies
Jackie Van Nice

@Bruce - Nice thread idea and tips!

@Nick - Great sample! The blanket-over-the-head method makes me laugh because I used to do that. The indignities we suffer for better sound quality. Someday and somehow I'm going to get a full-on professional sound booth. Then I'll have a nice quiet place to put a blanket over my head.

Steve Flowers

I've done the blanket thing too, Jackie! And recording in the car. Both work pretty well. Got tired of that and decided to put together a small booth in my basement. Built a frame out of PVC pipes and hung moving blankets with inexpensive curtain rings. It's big enough to stand in and collapses down easily. It's not pretty but it gets the job done. Ended up spending a little under $100.

Jackie Van Nice

Nice solution! Maybe you're getting added sound protection because it's a basement, too? No basements here in the marshy lowcountry. Too alligator-adjacent, I guess. So I'm always using zen practices of patience to allow the bird/lawnmower/car/truck/plane/neighbor/dog/air conditioning/radio/horn/leaf blower to simply go away. I've never heard of the car-recording approach before.

Bruce Graham, a very quick look at Noise Reduction, Trimming and Inserting Silence into tracks. These 3 functions will allow you to take a recording you have made, "tidy it", and potentially make it sound a LOT more professional.

Please note, there is LOADS that you could say about Noise Reduction, however, this is the basics, and frankly I have used them very successfully for years in order to create a v/o that works for 99% of what clients have asked me for.

Once again - just have a "play around", and raise your confidence.

Job Dittmer

I'll leave my tip without a video demo since it really doesn't need one.

We developed a consistent naming convention that we use when recording voice over with Audacity.  We use a 3 digit number of the slide and then a letter to designate a variant.  For example - slide 3, second version of audio would be 003b.mp3

When we moved from Articulate Presenter to Storyline we updated the naming convention to include the section and the slide number.  Like this - section 2 slide 3 would be 02-003b.mp3.

We keep all the audio for the project in an audio folder.  Inside the audio folder is an archive folder.  Any old audio gets moved into that archive folder and since we use the letters to keep track of versions we never run into a filename conflict.  I've been asked why I don't erase the old versions instead of archiving them.  Hard drive space is cheap, especially considering how many times an old version of audio has helped me to answer a question about the history of development of a course!

Steve Flowers

That's a great tip, Job. I've used quite a few different naming schemes and have settled on a similar setup to yours. Since I rarely have more than 9 accessible sections to a course or lesson, I'll typically stick to a single digit, followed by double digits for the screen separated by a dash (1-01.) For layers, 1-01a, 1-01b, etc.. If I create my SL scenes in the right order, these correspond with the structure in Storyline. 

This leads to an Audacity tip. This is a feature I first started using in Sound Forge over a decade ago. In SoundForge, this is called something like Export Region. It's pretty fantastic as it lets you apply labels / regions to a track and export those regions from a single file to named files in a single batch. If you need to reprocess audio, you can open up the main file and add compression, eq or other treatment to your clean master file and re-batch output. 

In Audacity:

  • Place the cursor where you want to drop a region start and select Tracks > Add Label at Selection
  • Name the region with the file name and continue to add regions with the Add Label at Selection command.
  • When finished, pick File > Export Multiple. You'll get a few options and when finished, a bunch of files cropped by named region to the location of your choice. 

Just as with Sound Forge, this'll let you go back into your master source and make adjustments across the file. If you need to make a global change or adjustment, it's much easier to do with a contiguous track than with a bunch of exported files.

Enna Ayub

Daniel Brigham said:

Closets also work well (small space, easily stuff with pillows, etc.) You all would laugh if you saw the space I recorded in.

I can relate to that . . . at where I worked before, the recording room is a small storeroom, the walls plastered with king size comforters. Then when we moved to a new space, even smaller. A small laundry bag with a mic in it. To record, insert head into the laundry bag and record.

Audacity is a fantastic free tool, but the space where you record matters. if you can, rent a studio, if can't, use the above methods. Somehow we managed to get the crisp studio-like sound.

Cromerty York

Hi - As usual some great tips and tricks here. I used the labeling/export multiple function for the first time yesterday. One ten minute piece of finished work had to be split into 47 separate MP3 files, which would normally would have added a good hour to the project. Using that tip, I could complete it in seconds....then the client came back and said, "Actually, we'd like it in WAV". NO PROBLEM!!

My noise reduction tip would not to insert silences as the quiet can sometimes be a bit abrupt, but to instead use the Noise Gate feature. It's essentially the same thing, but you can control it better, and a very slight noise seems to be better (to my ear). Noise Gate is one of the Nyquist add-on features which you can install over Audacity.

Happy editing!

Greg Smith

Daniel Brigham said:

Closets also work well (small space, easily stuff with pillows, etc.) You all would laugh if you saw the space I recorded in.

I used to sit in a conference room with a blanket over me and the mike and then upgraded to a luxurious cardboard box with Styrofoam glued to the inside. Good times...

These are great tips everyone, thanks for contributing! 

Bruce Graham

Cromerty York said:


Noise Gate is one of the Nyquist add-on features which you can install over Audacity.

Thanks Cromerty.

Could you possibly explain exactly what this is, means, and how to do it?

I (for one...) have seen the Nyquist options, but would not know what to do with one if it slapped me in the face!

If you have any ScreenCam options, a demo of how to do this would be good. I appreciate that silence can be stark sometimes, so a noise-gating demo would be very useful.