Using Audacity


Audacity Interface

Audacity is a free sound editing tool for Windows or as technically known a Digital Audio Editor. It is great for making sound clips for import to Second Life. If you are doing voice, there are some basic tips one should know for handling voice. I’m no expert but I have learned a few things using it.

The program as well as a number of others, twenty-four actually, are listed here: 25 Free Digital Audio Editors. Audacity is the editor of choice for Second Life types. There are in-game classes by various groups.

When one records voice several things can go wrong. Some are easy to fix. One is background noise. Actually listen to the room you are recording in. High pitched computer fans, TV in the next room and other ambient sounds need to be quieted.

Next are issues with the computer and microphone. There are loads of help pages on the net for adjusting microphones and sound cards for recording. So, I’m skipping those. But even after all that is done you may see some problems when you record. We’ll do the fast easy fixes for those.

One problem is about either too much or too little volume. If you have to make an error, make it toward too little volume when recording. In the upper right of Audacity are level meters. The right most is for recording. The left of the two is for play back. You want to see the bars running over to the right side and just bumping the top. It is OK if the go over for short time, like half a second. More than that and you need to turn down the input volume of move away from the microphone.

Try a play back. Again the bars should just bump the right side. It is only a problem if the meter is staying in the red on play back.

Now remove the high peaks. You can get these when your breath hits the mic. So, try to keep the mic down at chin level or too the side. You can still get peaks even if you do it all correctly and that is OK. Select the entire sound clip by pressing Ctrl-A. Now select EFFECTS in the menu and click NORMALIZE in the drop down. A dialog open with 2 check boxes, i.e., Remove DC offset and Normalize maximum amplitude. You are unlikely to need Remove DC offset unless you are using a battery powered mic. However level it on and it will center the wave form. Normalize reduces the volume, which is ok because of where we are going.

Now in EFFECTS select CLICK REMOVAL. This is for removing sharp sounds, clicks. But the tool sees several things as clicks. There are Threshold and Max Spike settings. In general move the Max Spike right, more sensitive by ¼ to ½ inch. When you click OK you should see some of your peaks flatten out.

Now is the time to save your sound clip project. Do any playing with changes and effects now. Save the amplification to the very last. At the far left you can see a volume control just below the Mute and Solo buttons. Use that if you need more volume while working.

Last thing is we want the volume back that we gave up earlier in Normalize. In EFECTS select Amplify. When this opens it will have the maximum amount you can amplify without clipping the wave form. Clipping means distortion and loss of part of the sound information. Usually a bad thing but in some cases a good thing. If you plan to do more processing after this, avoid any clipping until you are done changing. Do any amplification with clipping last. If you need more volume and can tolerate some distortion, check the box Allow Clipping and increase the amount of amplification.

This will get you a clean sound clip with the max volume and best quality possible to import to SL.

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