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"Cuéntame algo" -- Recording Procedures: Using Audacity

Explains how to download Audacity and the LAME encoder to record and create an MP3 file

Settings and controls

The Audacity consoleYou will see that the Audacity console is easy to use, with large controls near the top to Record (red button in the middle), Play (green button), Pause (blue vertical bars), and Stop (yellow square).

You don't need to change any of the console settings to get a good result. But as you learn more about how to use Audacity, you will discover tweaks that you can use to further optimize your recordings.

It is very easy to edit what you've recorded by highlighting a chunk of audio that you want to change. When you click the Play button, you'll hear only your selection. You then click on the right or left edge, nudge the boundaries of your selected audio, and then play it again.

Once you've isolated the right bit of sound, you can make all types of changes. It is very similar to making changes with a selected text in a Word document. The Delete Key cuts out the selection you want to get rid of. By dragging and dropping your selected audio, it will move it to another place in the recording. You can use an Effect (from the top menu bar) to alter the sound of your selection. If you aren't a fan of what you've created, you can eliminate a recorded track entirely by clicking the leftmost X near the track's volume and balance controls.

Be aware that the 'Save' function will save your work as an Audacity Project File, which only Audacity can open. To have a sound file playable by the Cuéntame Algo device, you will export your recording as an MP3.

To prepare for doing so, first go to Edit >> Properties...  Select the tab labeled File FormatsSetting the ID tags There, under MP3 Export Setup set the Bit Rate to 40.  You'll only need to do this once. It is crucial that you lower the Bit Rate: if you don't, the size of your finished file will be too large to easily email.

When you are satisfied with your recording, save it as an MP3: File >> Export as MP3...  Give your file a short name that will identify it unmistakably with the book or story you've recorded (e.g., Los zapaticos de rosa could be zapaticos.mp3).  

Next will appear a popup, as seen at right, where you will fill in six fields as shown: Title, with the book's title; Artist, with the book's author; Album, with 'Cuéntame algo'; Year, with the year of your recording, Genre, with 'Speech,' Comments, with your name (or 'Anonymous' if you wish to remain that way).

Be sure to save at least a couple local copies of your file, ideally on different devices or drives, for safekeeping, and email a copy to Dr. Slack at slack@kutztown.edu


How-to video

This 4:15 video clip gives a good introduction to Audacity.  To see it in a new browser window, click anywhere on the video except on a Play button (doing that will play the small-screen version right here).