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Digital Audio: Recording Live with a Microphone using Audacity


Preparing to Recordimage
1. Start Audacity. It is a sound tool that is located in your "Multimedia" directory on your desktop.

Your desktop should look similar to this:


2. Make sure that your microphone is plugged into the correct "mic in" port on the sound card located at the back of your computer.

3. Make sure that the "Select" box has been checked and the volume slider is up to about 3/4 at minimum, in the Window's Recording Control window (this is NOT the slider that pops up when you click once on the icon located in your system tray on the lower right hand corner of your desktop). If you are not sure, then refer back to the Windows Control section of this web site for detailed instructions on selecting it. It will look similar to this:


4. If you are using a microphone that has an on/off switch on it, make sure it is switched to the "on" position.

5. In the Audacity main window, select Edit>Preferences. Next, select the Quality tab. Since this page is for recording with a microphone, for the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to assume that you will just be recording voice. In the Quality tab window choose 11025 KHz. Leave the Default Sample Format set to 16 Bit. Bit depths and bit rate settings will be discussed more later.


6. When done with the settings, click the Ok button to close the Audacity Preferences window.



7. To begin recording, click on the round red Record button on the control toolbar located at the top of the Audacity window.


Recording Tip: Watch the "sound intensity" meter at the top of the window while you are recording. Try to keep the fluctuating "red" level from "banging" the side of this meter box area too much. If it does, you will need to re-record your sample with the microphone a little further back from the source of the sound or reduce the input slider volume.


8. When you are finished recording, click on the Stop button on the control toolbar.



Listening to the File

9. To test (hear) your file, make sure that you have some headphones or speakers set up and plugged into the correct port (spkr out) on your computer's sound card (located at the back of the computer). You also may need to adjust the Windows "Volume" slider, by clicking once on the sound icon image in the lower right corner of your desktop and adjusting. (Some headphones/speakers also have their own volume controls to adjust as well).

10. When ready to listen, click the cursor once, at the beginning of the "blue" sound clip (wave), and then click the Play button on the control toolbar.

Note: You can start the playback of a sound file, from any position along the sound wave. Just click the cursor at the point you want to start listening from. Also, you may want to here only a certain "portion" of your sound clip. Do this by highlighting the portion of the sound wave you wish to hear and then clicking the play button.


Saving Audacity Project Files

11. By selecting Save Project As from the File menu, Audacity will save everything in the window into an Audacity-specific format so that you can save and quickly continue your work later. An Audacity project consists of a project file, ending in ".aup", and a project data folder, ending in "_data". For example, if you name your project "Composition", then Audacity will create a file called "Composition.aup" and a folder called Composition_data. Audacity project files are not meant to be shared with other programs; use one of the Export commands such as WAV or MP3 when you are finished editing a file.

Be sure to use a descriptive name and save your Audacity project file somewhere where you can locate it at a later date. It is a good idea to save your Audacity project to your H: drive.


Exporting Audio Files

12. If you have decided that this is a "keeper" (you are satisfied with it), then you are now ready to export the file in a format geared towards your target application and/or audience. For this tutorial, the file will be exported to the MP3 format.

  1. Click File > Export as MP3…
  2. Choose a destination and short name for the file. Be sure to remember where you saved your exported sound file to so you can find it later.
  3. Click OK. If desired, you can enter meta-data information about the file.


You should now be able to open your newly created MP3 file with your favorite media player or insert it into PowerPoint, video, or other multimedia project.

This page last modified March 13, 2007

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