Audacity is a user-friendly tool popularly used among podcasters to record and edit podcasts. The best thing about Audacity is that it is totally free and still offers a set of essential features.
It is available on Windows, Linux, and Mac, so you can use it on anything you have. Whether you are new to podcasting or have been doing it for years, this easy-to-use tool is a great choice for all.
This article explains how to set up Audacity and record, edit, and export your audio file in a few simple steps.
How to Setup Audacity
If you want to effectively use Audacity for your podcasts, you first need to download the software and then set it up according to your recording needs.
Here are the important settings you should keep in mind when setting up Audacity.
1. Make Toolbars Visible
When you open Audacity, there will be a set of toolbars like Transport Tools, Microphone Level Meter, Playback Level Meter, etc., at the top of the screen. Some users may not have it when they first open the software. In that case, click on the ‘View’ option and then choose ‘Toolbars.’
2. Customize Toolbars
You can customize your toolbars by clicking on ‘View’ and then ‘Toolbars.’ Now, check and uncheck tools from the dropdown menu according to your needs.
You can resize the toolbar through the ‘Drag Bar’ column. It’s located at the right end of each toolbar. You can also rearrange toolbars through the ‘Grabber’ column. You can find it at the left of each toolbar.
3. Audio Host
In the Audacity Device Toolbar, you will find different options, and one of these options is ‘Audio Host.’ It will be located to the left of the microphone icon. Choose ‘MME’ if you are a Windows user and select ‘Core Audio’ if you are a macOS user.
4. Recording Device
Select your microphone from the menu located at the right of the microphone.
5. Recording Channels
Click on the menu to the left of the speaker icon. Select ‘1 (Mono) Recording Channel’ if you are using one microphone. Select ‘2 (Stereo) Recording Channel’ if it is a two-person interview.
6. Playback Device
Here, select the device in which you want to play your audio while recording or editing it.
7. Test Your Microphone
After setting up Audacity, test your microphone to make sure it works how you want it to. For this, click on the ‘Click to Start Monitoring’ button present on the microphone meter in the menu bar.
Start speaking at a normal level. Move the Microphone Volume slider to ensure the meter does not register peaks higher than -12dB.
How to Record
When you start recording your podcast using more than 1 microphone, Audacity automatically creates one audio channel for each chosen recording channel. It helps in editing individual mics separately and ensuring the quality of sound. When exporting the audio, all the recording channels mix into stereo to create a final product.
To begin recording, press the ‘Record’ button. When you are done recording, click on the black ‘Stop’ button. Use Ctrl+S keys to save your audio.
When Recording Two Tracks
As mentioned earlier, select ‘2 (Stereo) Recording Channels’ when recording with two microphones. A single stereo file will record both channels simultaneously. Mic 1 will be on the left channel, and mic 2 will be on the right channel.
After recording, split your stereo file to produce two mono files of both inputs. To do this, click on the down arrow and then choose the ‘Split Stereo to Mono’ option from the dropdown menu.
You can also keep both channels in a stereo file during the editing process and then split the stereo once you are done with editing. It will help you better edit multiple tracks at a time.
When Recording Multiple Tracks
If you are using more than 2 mics, you will have to add more channels like channel 3, channel 4, and so on for each mic.
How to Edit Podcast Using Audacity
In addition to recording a podcast, Audacity can also help you edit audio. You can start editing your recording file right after completing the recording. You can drag and drop more audio files to use in your main recording as an intro, sound effect, etc.
You should remember that the edits you make during the editing process will be made on the original file. You will lose your original file after saving the edited file.
Now, let’s see which editing tasks Audacity can perform and how you can use the software the right way.
Import the audio file that you want to edit. For this, go to the ‘File’ option located at the top of the screen. Select ‘Import’ and then ‘Audio.’ Choose the file you want to edit. WAV or AIFF file formats are great in preserving sound quality.
Cut filler words or any other sound you want to remove from the recording. For this, click on the undesired audio part and drag your mouse to highlight it. Press your keyboard’s delete key to remove that part.
Remove Unwanted Background Noise
Background noises often appear as low waves on the waveform. Click on a low wave that you want to remove and then click the ‘Effect’ option located at the top. Select ‘Noise Reduction’ and now ‘Get Noise Profile.’
Go back and highlight the complete audio file. Click ‘Effects’ again and then ‘Noise Reduction.’ Adjust different settings like ‘Noise Reduction to 5, ‘Frequency Smooth’ to 1, and ‘Sensitivity’ to 0.5. Click ‘OK.’
Now play audio and see how much reduction in background noises has occurred. You may have to readjust the settings to get your desired results.
Fade In and Out
Fading in and out can make your podcast sound more professional. Highlight the podcast’s start where you want to add a fade-in effect. Select ‘Effect’ and then ‘Fade In.’ Now, highlight your podcast’s end and select ‘Effect’ again. Choose ‘Fade Out’ from the dropdown menu.
If your overall audio sounds too low, you can improve its volume by using Amplify feature. Highlight your whole audio and then go to ‘Effects.’ Now press ‘Amplify’ and keep moving the slider until you get your desired result. Click on the ‘Preview’ button to listen to the edited audio.
If your audio sounds too loud, you can reduce its volume using Normalize feature. For this, highlight your audio, go to ‘Effects’ and then select ‘Normalize.’ Enter amplitude value according to your needs. Press ‘Preview’ to see how much loudness has reduced.
Extreme dips and peaks can create a bad impression of your podcast and sound harsh to a listener’s ears. You can adjust their volume and make them sound good as the rest of the audio by using the Compression tool.
Highlight your audio. Go to the ‘Effects’ option and select ‘Compression.’ Keep adjusting ‘Noise Floor’ and ‘Threshold’ values until you get desired results.
Adding Clips, Music, and Other Effects
You can add soundtracks, intro clips, interview clips, and a lot more to your podcast to make it sound more professional.
Add Additional Files
To add music, intros, outros, etc., click on the ‘File’ and go to ‘Import.’ Choose ‘Audio’ and then select the file you want to add. Now, click on the time shift tool and drag your main audio so that it can start right after the intro music.
Repeat this process to add an outro file or any other audio to your main podcast file. Make sure you add a channel for each file so that you can manage all of them simultaneously. Use the time shift tool to move outro music or other sound effects to the end of the podcast or any other place.
Listen to your podcast after adding music and other files to see if their placement is correct or it needs rearrangement. Click on the ‘Play’ button to do that.
How to Export
After editing your podcast and getting the desired results, export your podcast as a single file. You can upload this file to your podcast host to share it with your audience. You should consider the WAV file format because it is well-known for maintaining sound quality.
Click on the ‘File’ button and go to ‘Export.’ Click ‘Export as WAV.’ Enter your file’s name and its destination on your computer. Once everything is done, click the ‘Save’ button. Make sure your computer does not go to sleep mode during file exportation. If you have a slow PC or your podcast file is very heavy, then this process can take a lot of time.
Summing It Up
Audacity is a cost-free tool that can help you transform your unprofessional podcast into a professional podcast in a few simple steps. You don’t need to be tech-savvy to know how to record, edit, and export a podcast using Audacity. No matter what your expertise level is, this easy-to-use tool is a good option for all.