Audacity basics

Nick Geidner
Sep 27, 2016 · 4 min read

Here are the very basics for using Audacity to cut an audio news story. Before you use this tutorial, you should have listened to all your audio, written a script and recorded your narration.

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The first step is downloading Audacity. You can do it from this website. It is free and easy to install. When you initially open Audacity it should look like the above image. Next you need to import your audio and cut everything together. I will be using two Audacity windows to do this: one for all raw audio and one for the final project. [ed. note: there are numerous ways to organize your workflow and anyway that works for you is fine]

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The next step is importing your audio.

To import the raw audio, select File > Import > Audio. You will then see a browser window, where you will choose the files you want to bring in. Once you bring in all your audio, go to your script and find the first soundbite. You will now select the soundbite from the raw audio using the selection tool.

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Selected audio

Once the soundbite is selected, copy and paste it to the second Audacity window (where your final cut will go).

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First soundbite copied to new timeline.

Now I have my audio story started. All I need to do is go through the rest of the script finding and copying the rest of the soundbites and narration over. Once I have everything together, I might notice a soundbite out of place. All that I need to do is select the “time shift tool” and move the bites around to where I want them.

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As bonus, you might want to lay some nat sound under the interview audio. In that case, you would need reduce the audio of the bed track (i.e., the sound under the interview. This is simple. All you do is paste the bed audio on a separate track under the main audio and then use the envelope tool to reduce the audio levels for the bed audio.

UPDATE: Moving from Audacity to Headliner

Once you are done with your audio package, you will need to export it as an MP3, so it can be brought into Headliner. Choose File > Export > Export as MP3.

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Once you select that a dialog box will pop up. You can just stick with the default settings.

Now that you have the MP3, you can go to Headliner. The app is free, but you have to sign up for an account. Once you sign up, you’ll be taken to the main page, where you will select “Audiogram Wizard.”

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From there you will follow the steps:

  1. Add your audio.
  2. Select the audio you want to include (for this assignment choose all of it).
  3. Choose the aspect ration (for this assignment it doesn’t matter, but you would choose based on where you want the content to go: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc).
  4. Format your audiogram. You can add a background picture, text, and mess with the style of the waveform.
  5. Choose create project.
  6. Then…assuming everything looks good…export your project.

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