Podcasting with Audacity

When we use the term podcasting we are often just referring to an audio project rather than a proper podcast which would imply a series of syndicated audio recordings. In either case the process of planning and creating the audio files is the same. We just won’t go into the process of syndication in this post.

Getting Started
Planning ahead is critical. Focus on the content and the story you are going to tell. Give yourself enough time to re-record segments if the audio quality isn’t as good as it should be. Continually solicit feedback and revise if necessary. Editing will take MUCH longer than you think and technology problems happen so don’t leave things until the last minute.

Equipment Considerations
What will you use to record your audio? Do you have a decent microphone? Will you just use your phone, computer, or a digital voice recorder from the circulation desk? Whatever you decide, test it out and listen to an example through good speakers (use a classroom if necessary) not just your phone/earbuds. Make sure you are happy with the quality before doing all your recording.

Microphone options you can check out at the circulation desk on Level A of the library:

  • Yeti USB microphone – best option – good quality and can record 2+ people simultaneously
  • USB headset with mic – good quality but one speaker at a time
  • Lapel mic – best option for use with a phone or digital voice recorder, uses a standard headphone jack, but be very careful with rubbing on clothes or hair

Production Concerns

  • Consider recording in one of the practice rooms in Austin Arts (Rooms 107 and 108) These are great options to give you a quiet place to record. Avoid public spaces or any rooms with loud background noise.
  • You can also use the Story Lab rooms LITC 122 and 124. These rooms have multiple mics set up and an installed computer. They can be reserved 24/7 at: http://libcal.trincoll.edu/allspaces
  • Make sure your audio levels are even throughout the recording. Test your levels before recording.
  • Record all audio using the same microphone AND in the same location if possible. Otherwise even if the levels are consistent the audio quality will vary.
  • Record a few seconds of background room noise to use for noise reduction.
  • Provide an into and an outro.
  • Add (non copyrighted) music or other sound effects to add interest and sound professional.
  • Tell a story and engage your audience.
  • Consider having multiple speakers using a conversational style.

Using Audacity

Audacity is a free, open source, cross platform audio editing tool. There are many resources and videos on how to use Audacity online so we won’t go into detail here but the following basics will get you started.

Recording your audio

Make sure you have selected your microphone. You don’t want to use the computer’s built in microphone by mistake if you have connected a better quality one. Always click the level meter to monitor background noise and levels before you start. While monitoring the levels speak in a normal voice and make sure the level meter doesn’t go into the red area. You want it to be as high as it can without getting into the yellow/red zone. Adjust the microphone input level and/or the gain on your mic to achieve the proper levels.

Basic Editing

  • Split clips into separate sections by clicking where you want to cut then under the edit menu choose Clip Boundaries then Split.
  • When you have multiple tracks use the time shift tool to move the sections around the time line.
  • When you have background music use the envelope tool to fade the music in and out.
  • While listening to tracks as you edit you can mute individual tracks or use the Solo button to listen to one track at a time.
  • Use the Amplify tool under the Effects menu if you want to raise or lower the level of a selection or an entire track.
  • If you have some consistent background noise such as HVAC hum you can try to remove it using the Noise Reduction tool under the Effect menu. Select a few seconds of just the background noise, then click “Get Noise Profile” from the Noise Reduction window. Then go back into the Noise Reduction window and click OK to apply the suggested settings or change the values manually first.
  • You can add other files into your project by using Import from the File menu  or  by just dragging them into your project window.

File Management

When you save an Audacity project you will see a file with your project name and the .aup extension as well as a folder with the same name with “_data” appended to it. If you want to move your project to another location you must copy both of these items together. The folder contains all your assets while the .aup file just contains the information on how they are being used. If you copy one without the other they will be useless.

Resources for Free Music and Sound Effects

The STA Program Can Help

If you have questions:

  • Stop in at the STA desk M-F 9-5
  • Make an appointment at http://tinyurl.com/trinstas
  • Email sta-help@trincoll.edu
  • Call us at 860-297-2589

David Tatem