Audacity: Powerful Digital Recording

As more and more musicians are making names for themselves online, rather than through conventional methods, the development of software for home recording and sequencing has resulted in many options for the recording artist.

With a decent mic, amplifiers and effects processors, Audacity becomes a powerful tool for bands and soloists alike. With a mic set up and attached to the computer, pressing the Record button starts the process.

After the basic recording, a huge number of effects can be applied to the sound; from understated improvements like equalization or boosting the bass to the more overt reverb, wah and pitch/tempo changes.

Amplification and Bass Boost are tremendously useful when recording through a low-quality mic. While they won’t entirely make up for poor equipment, they can help bridge the gap between the actual sound and what the microphone managed to pick up. Using the Change Pitch effect does so without playing the audio faster or slower, and the Change Speed tool doesn’t affect pitch. The latter effect is also great for slowing down a performance for learning by ear or analysis.

Some of the tools are less than spectacular, especially the Noise Removal tool. After clicking it, the program will ask you to select an example of the undesired noise and how much of the noise should be filtered out. Moving the slider towards “More” can actually take a good deal of the song with it. It’s easier to simply keep the room as quiet as possible during recording and ignore this particular effect.

Recording additional tracks is as easy as recording the first, and the preceding tracks can be played through headphones during the new recording. Many users have complained of a slight delay and lack of synch when recording the second track, which may be the result of using an older, insufficient computer. Even if this occurs, the tracks can be synched manually.

The simplest way to “nudge” a track backwards (the delay puts it slightly ahead of the first track) is to zoom in and use the Time Shifter tool at the top left. The audio can be played back to check the synch, or matching up the visible beats in the waveforms of both tracks can work just as well.

RAW and WAV data can be imported into a project, making use with drum and synth software extremely easy.

To repeat a piece of audio several times (drum loops especially), the Repeat effect is very useful. However, with RAW data, the timing can grow farther off with several repetitions; it’s better, if more tedious, to manually position each instance of the clip.

No audio sequencer can begin to compare with Audacity when it comes to value. For free, recording, retouching and mixing full songs is fast and easy. It won’t bring the expensive programs to their knees, but it offers excellent features and accessibility for home recording.

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