Video Production

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

Learn how to do pretty much everything in Audacity with this comprehensive, easy to follow guide

Audacity is a fantastic free audio editing software. Even though it’s free it still has a strong set of features and tools that rival any commercial audio software, and 3rd party plugin support. You can use Audacity for many audio tasks such as recording, editing, mixing, file conversion, effects and much more. It’s a great tool for audio producers, podcasters, vloggers, video producers and anyone else who works with sound. It’s lightweight and can run on the oldest of machines.

We put together this guide covering Audacity’s key features so you can get stuck in and start producing high quality professional audio for your content. You can download Audacity for free at their website.

→ Download the ERA Bundle and your best audio will sound even better, in seconds

How to add tracks in Audacity

To create a new track in Audacity, click the “Tracks” tab at the top of the screen, then “Add New”, then choose from Mono, Stereo, Label, or Time. Mono track’s have one audio file, Stereo has two, one left, one right. Label and time tracks are useful for the organisation of your project. 

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to zoom in on Audacity

There are a couple of different ways to use Audacity’s zoom functions to get a better view of your audio. 

You can access zoom controls in the view menu on the top bar. View > Zoom

Alternatively clicking the magnifying glass button activates zoom mode, where Left Click zooms in, and Right Click Zooms out. Zoom Mode can also be activated by pressing the F4 key.

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide
How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to move audio in Audacity

Use the time shift tool to move audio clips around the timeline. Use the select tool first to highlight the area to move. Activate the Time Shift tool by pressing F5 or clicking the button. Now when you click and drag the clip, it will be moved. You may need to split or trim clips before moving.

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to split audio in Audacity

To split audio clips in Audacity, select the section of the audio clip you want to split, and from the top menu go Edit > Clip Boundaries > Split. You can now move the separated sections using the Time Shift tool (F5).

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to trim audio in Audacity

To trim an audio clip in Audacity, highlight the unwanted sections of audio and press Backspace, or in the menu Edit > Delete. This will remove the highlighted section from the timeline. Cmd/Ctrl + T will also trim the ends off around your selection. If you make a mistake, you can always press cmd/ctrl+Z to undo. 

How to extend audio in Audacity

You can easily extend audio in Audacity by duplicating the sections you want to extend. Highlight the Audio Clip, then click Edit > Duplicate. This will create a copy of the audio clip after the original one. 

How to loop in Audacity

To Loop in Audacity, highlight the audio you want to play back looped, then click Transport > Playing > Looped Play. Now the highlighted section will play on repeat. This can also be activated with the shortcut Shift + Space. This can be a useful shortcut when editing audio. 

How to increase volume in Audacity

To increase the volume of an audio track, use the gain control on the panel. Moving the slider control to the right will increase volume, moving it left will decrease it. The Audacity mixer allows for +/- 36dB of gain control per track. Make sure it isn’t too loud and distorting, this will be indicated by red overload on the meters. 

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to fade in audio in Audacity

Understanding Audacity’s fade tools can make a big improvement to the professionalism of your audio. To apply a fade in, highlight the start of your audio clip, then click Effect > Fade In. This will automatically create a fade so the volume increases gradually. You can also try Effect > Adjustable Fade for more control over timing and volume. Use fading to make smooth transitions between audio clips, and minimise any unwanted overlapping.

How to fade out audio in Audacity

If you want a nice fade out at the end of your audio, just highlight the end section of the audio clip, and click Effect > Fade out, a downward volume fade will be placed. Try Effect > Adjustable Fade for more precise control.

How to record in Audacity

To record audio in Audacity, first you need to correctly set up your audio device and drivers. Make sure your Audio Interface and Microphone are plugged in correctly. In the Audio device settings you should be able to select the correct audio source. You can click the meter to start monitoring, which will give you a visual display over your audio levels. 

Select the track you want the audio to be recorded to, then once you are ready to record, simply hit the circular red button. Your audio will be recorded and you will be able to see the waveform being written in real time. When you are ready to stop recording, just click the stop button.

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to save Audacity files 

To save your Audacity files, navigate to the file panel from the top menu.

File > Save Project > Save Project As

“Save Project As” will create a new instance of the project file, this is useful for creating backups and different versions.

“Save” will overwrite the last save with the current version of your project. You will be able to load your Audacity files by locating them in Finder or Windows Explorer. Save can also be activated with the shortcut Ctrl + S

How to export Audacity

When you are ready to export and share your Audacity projects audio, navigate to the export menu.

File > Export > Export as Format….

Choose the export format that is relevant for your project. In short, MP3s are lower quality, but use less memory than WAVs and other uncompressed formats, which sound better at the cost of using more hard drive space.

You will then be prompted with choosing the file name and location, along with other options over quality settings. When you are happy with the settings, click Save and your final audio file will be exported. You can then share this via Email, cloud storage etc. 

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

Install Plug-ins

How to install Audacity plugins 

Audacity can host many different types of third party plugins, meaning you can download more powerful and advanced audio effects to use within Audacity. 

Audacity is compatible with the following plugin types:

-Audio Unit (Mac)

-Nyquist 

-VST 

-LADSPA

-LV2 

-Vamp

Installation is different between Windows and Mac platforms. Usually when you download a plugin you will be given a .dll file, or similar. This is the file that you need to place in the relevant folder.

Depending on the file type, you may be able to import the plugin through the menu Effect > Add/ Remove Plugins.

Windows:

Most VST effect plug-ins are supported on Windows Audacity, including "shell" VST's that host multiple VST effects.

To install new VST effects, place them in the Audacity "Plug-Ins" folder: Users\\<username>\\AppData\\Roaming\\Audacity\\Plug-Ins

Mac:

To install new VST plug-ins, place them in Audacity's "Plug-Ins" folder at ~/Library/Application Support/Audacity/Plug-Ins. 

Warning: When using third party plugins, it's initially worth testing it in a different project to your main work, as there can be issues and bugs that may cause your Audacity project to become corrupted, so test it first!


How to record multiple tracks at once in Audacity

To record multiple tracks you will need an audio interface that has multiple inputs. In the audio recording device settings, you should be able to choose the number of inputs that are recorded based on the availability of your interface. Once this is set, when you click record, it will record all sources simultaneously to separate audio tracks. This is how you could record multiple separate voices or instruments from a bunch of microphones. 

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to normalize audio in Audacity

Use Audacity’s normalize tool to flatten out your audio levels instantly. 

Highlight the audio clips you want to normalize, then click Effect > Normalize. You can then set the normalization level and preview the change, before committing the effect.

Normalisation is the process of evening out volume levels, so if you have a quiet sound, you can use this to get it up to levell.

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to compress audio in Audacity

Audacity has a great compressor tool built in. Highlight the section of audio clip you want to compress, then click Effect > Compressor. In the compressor window you will have typical controls such as threshold, ratio, attack and release times. There is also an option for Make-up gain which will help make the levels consistent. There are controls for presents or previewing. When you are happy with the settings, press OK and the audio will be compressed. 

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to bass boost in Audacity

The easiest way to Bass Boost in Audacity is to use the Bass/Treble effect. Highlight the section of audio you want to boost the bass in, then use Effect > Bass and Treble. In the pop up window you will be able to change the balance between bass and treble. Move the bass slide to the right to increase the bass volume. 

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to change pitch in Audacity

Audacity has some great tools for pitch and time control. If you want to change the pitch of a sound without changing its length (duration), highlight your clip, then select Effect > Change Pitch. On the effect tool you will see controls for changing pitches by semitones, or a continuous Hz change. The effect can be previewed before rendering. When you are happy with the settings press OK to update the file. 

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to slow down audio in Audacity

To slow down audio in Audacity, use the Change Speed tool. Highlight the audio clip, then select Effect > Change Speed. You will see a few different ways of controlling the speed change, to slow things down, you want to use a multiplier of below 1.0x, or a  negative % change. You will be able to see the time difference of the resultant effect. Press OK to make changes.

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to clean up audio in Audacity

There are a few different tools in Audacity that can help you clean up audio. Use the delete tool to remove any unwanted noises like bumps or interruptions. You can use the spectrogram tools to manipulate the frequencies if there is undesired frequency content. 

Depending on what you are trying to clean, most tools are found in the Effect menu. Some key ones to check out: Auto-Duck, Click Removal, Graphic EQ, Repair, Clip Fix, Spectral Edit tools.

For some more powerful and easy to use clean up tools check out the Accusonus ERA Bundle. It comes with our Noise Remover, Voice Deepener, Voice AutoEQ, Voice Leveler, Reverb Remover, De-Esser, De-Clipper, Plosive Remover and Audio Clean-Up Assistant.

How to remove background noise in Audacity

Audacity has a noise reduction tool that can get rid of unwanted background noise. Highlight the audio you want to de-noise, then select Effect > Noise Reduction. First you will need to get your Noise Profile, this is how Audacity knows what noise to remove and what to keep. So loop a second of the background noise, then click Get Noise Profile. Once it is scanned, you can control the amount of noise reduction, sensitivity and frequency smoothing. Don’t forget to test it in preview before pressing ok!

Audacity’s noise reduction tool is quite basic, for more advanced, but easy to use denoiser, check out ERA noise remover

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide

How to make your voice sound better in Audacity

There are a few tools in Audacity that can help you improve the quality of your voice recordings. 

→ Download the ERA Bundle and your best audio will sound even better, in seconds

Usually you might use an Equaliser to remove any unwanted frequencies, some Noise Reduction tools to clean up the voice.. You can then begin to compress the vocal, and add a post-eq that boosts the Hz that you want. 

Audacity also has a Vocal Reduction and Isolation tool, which can automate some of this process by setting the relative balance of voice to noise. 

How To Use Audacity - The Ultimate Guide
December 08, 2020
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