Friday, July 31, 2009

Cool Tool: Audacity

Hey all, just wanted to share a Cool Tool that I found a while ago called Audacity. I first heard about this program through CTEP at one of our corps days and was instantly intrigued. It's a free, open source piece of software that allows you to record, mix and alter sound files. It's also fairly easy to use and can create .wav and .mp3 files with ease.

At first I thought that I could only use Audacity to alter music that I had downloaded on my computer or files that I recorded with a mike. This was fine, as it allowed me to have fun adding comments to audio files or switching songs into different keys. It's also been a great tool at work for my Kids' Computer Club, modifying the tykes voices so they sound like adults or letting them change their favorite songs into slow-mo or chipmunk speed. You can also do more practical things like remove noise from recorded audio or change the tempo of a file so that it will fit better along with a presentation that you've been working on.

Today, however, I came across the following video tutorial that tells you how to use Audacity to record streaming audio without relying on a mike and external speakers, thereby preserving the original sound quality. This is huge for me, as I only have 2 microphones at work (counting my laptop's internal mike) and finding audio files on which I can have the kids experiment has been a struggle. Now I can just have them look up a song on YouTube and record it directly into Audacity!

Here's the tutorial; it will also tell you how to install Audacity and get the additional program that it requires to save its files into readable ones.

And here's another useful set of tutorials that I managed to find.

*Second Edit*
At least for me there were some technical problems with getting Audacity to record streaming audio files (stupid Vista!). To fix this, go to this link and follow the directions. You'll have to switch recording apparati using the Edit-> Preferences in Audacity, but it shouldn't be too much of a bother. Also, make sure that your computer's sound is turned up when you record, as it affects how loud your Audacity recording is (though you can alter the input amplification from your recording device in Audacity/alter the amplification after the fact as well).

I hope that this was useful; I'll try and do more posts about useful free tools that I've found in the future. Until next time...

"We often feel sad in the presence of music without words; and often more than that in the presence of music without music."
- More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927

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