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Audacity: Recording Audio

Audacity, Version: 3.1.3. Be aware that different versions of Audacity will vary in appearance and functionality.



The first recording in a project will create a new track. Each track has its own set of controls.

To record:
  1. If using an external microphone, plug it into the computer.
  2. From the Device Toolbar, select the microphone input drop-down menu and select the correct input.
    • Note: If the mic doesn’t appear on the list, make sure it’s plugged in and restart Audacity. If it still doesn’t appear, check the computer’s sound settings. Restart the computer if problems continue, and if the microphone can’t be recognized, there may be something wrong with the device hardware.

  3. Click within the Recording Meter, which is noted with “Click to Start Monitoring.” This will enable monitoring of the microphone volume.
  4. Test the recording levels by speaking at the volume you intend to use. If the recording level needs to be adjusted to be louder or quieter, use the recording volume slider from the Device Toolbar. Aim for levels between -12 and -6db (see the Ideal Audio Levels section).
  5. When ready, press the Record button, which is marked with a red circle, in the Play Controls (“Record”). The recording will be written to the track in real-time.

  6. To end recording, press the Stop button in the Play Controls, which is marked with a square.

  7. Export the recording as an audio file in order to save an original, unedited version of it.
    1. Navigate to File > Export > Export Audio. A new window will appear.
    2. Enter a name for the file and select a storage location.
    3. Select an option in the “Save as type” drop-down (MP3 or WAV is recommended).
    4. Click “Save.”
To add additional tracks to a project, navigate to Tracks > Add New, and select Mono or Stereo.

Ideal Audio Levels

Use the Meters to monitor audio volume levels for recording and playback. The ideal level range is between -12 and -6 db. Audio too far below that range will be too quiet; audio above that range may be too loud. Ensuring audio falls in that range will create even audio levels. The goal is to create consistency in volume so that listeners don’t have to adjust to hear the project.

The level should never hit the top, or 0 decibels. This is referred to as “peaking.” When an audio level peaks, it is so loud that the waveform becomes distorted and the quality suffers as a result. Peaking is indicated in the Meters by the color red; if your audio peaks, make adjustments to the recording or track volume level, explained further in corresponding sections.

Audio Recording Tips

  • Use headphones to help isolate your audio.
  • Turn off/silence irrelevant devices (cell phones, iPads, etc).
  • Close out of unnecessary web browser tabs to avoid any unwanted noises.
  • Choose a quiet, carpeted location with minimal echo.
  • If working in a group with one microphone, situate quieter speakers closer to the mic.
  • Try to speak at an even volume.
  • Avoid fidgeting/shuffling/repositioning as these cause sounds that will be picked up.



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Keywords:Audacity, workshop, software, production, guide, editing, audio, recording   Doc ID:86085
Owner:Misty B.Group:Pacific Lutheran University
Created:2018-09-27 12:08 PDTUpdated:2022-04-12 09:47 PDT
Sites:Pacific Lutheran University
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