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Audacity: Recording Audio

Audacity, Version: 2.3.2. Be aware that different versions of Audacity will vary in appearance and functionality. Full Guide: View/Download



Every time a new recording is started, a new track is added to the Timeline. Each track has its own set of controls.

To record a new track:
  1. If using an external microphone, plug it into the computer.
  2. From the Device Toolbar, select the drop-down next for the microphone icon and select the correct input.
    • Note: If the mic doesn’t appear on the list, make sure its 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 recording levels.
  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 red circle button in the Play Controls (“Record”) to begin recording. A new track will be added to the Timeline and a waveform will be created in real-time.

  6. To end the recording, press the yellow square button in the Play Controls (“Stop”).

  7. Export the recording as an MP3 in order to save an original, unedited version of it.
    1. Navigate to File > Export Audio.
    2. From the new window, name the recording, locate the project folder created during New Project Setup, and select MP3 from the Format drop-down menu.
    3. Click “Save.” If the recording can't be exported as an MP3, an MP3 encoder may need to be installed (see [Link for document 86096 is unavailable at this time.]  for instructions).
  8. Import the MP3 of the recording back into Audacity to begin editing (see Audacity: Editing Audio for editing instructions).

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:2020-07-08 13:52 PDT
Sites:Pacific Lutheran University
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