Tuesday, May 27, 2014

There's an App for That – Audacity Audio Editor/Recorder

Sometimes I just don't have time sit and listen to a radio broadcast when it's broadcast, or even when it's held in archive for a week. So, if I come across a can’t-miss performance, I cue it up and record it with audacity. Yes, it's audacious to record online music broadcasts, but what I am talking about here is the software app called Audacity

The advantages of this app are it's free and fairly easy to use, as long as you're not trying to do anything too complex. The downside is that (at least with my limited knowledge of the software) it records absolutely every sound your computer makes. So if you get an email, connect/disconnect your smartphone, e-reader, or music player, or try to close a Word document without saving it first, it records all those little chimes, chirps, and beeps. (This can be slightly disconcerting during replay—especially in the car—when I check to see what email (hasn’t) come in! But hey, the software—and broadcast—is free!) I try to shut everything down and record stuff only when I plan to be away from my computer for an hour or so.

Once I've finished recording, I can convert the Audacity file to an mp3, save it in my music files, and drag it into my iTunes library for future playback. The program sometimes hangs up when preparing to convert a file, but I've found that if I wait patiently for a minute or so, the software sorts itself out. You can convert the whole file, or select a portion of the audio you want to convert. (I often have to do this because I don't hang around to shut the recorder off when the program ends, so I need to trim off an hour or so of silence…or news…or weather reports…or other music I have no interest in. Saving a selection from the file is also a good way to clip out the between-music chat, which can be annoying—particularly when it's in a language I don’t understand well!) 

I generally don't save the Audacity files as is, since they're fairly large, and I don't really have any use for them once they've been converted. The program converts files to other audio formats, and has many more sophisticated recording and editing capabilities, but  I haven't needed those yet. I've found this to be a good basic tool to "time-shift" my web radio broadcasts. 


  1. I like this tech Tuesday concept! I use audacity for editing things I've recorded, but I've never used it to do the actual recording - I didn't know it was possible to set it to record things on its own when one can't do it oneself. Useful.

    1. Thanks! Well, it's not totally automated; you actually have to be there to start the recording. At least I haven't figured out how to set a timer on it. But with archived stuff, I set up the recorder and the player. Start each one, then go do other stuff (set it and forget it) Sometimes I'll record late at night - set it up, then go to bed.

  2. I lost patience with Audacity as it seemed reluctant to save files in other formats ( could have been my lack of understanding! ) so I use this http://www.wondershare.com/video-dvd-software/audio-recorder-mac.html
    Free trial and cheap after that. Works treat with excellent quality.

    1. I will have to try that one out. I do think patience is a virtue with Audacity. Sometimes I have to just walk away while it thinks about converting!


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