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AudacityTipsandTricksforPodcasters

CommonChallengesinPodcastRecording PopsandClicks
Sometimesaudiorecordingscontainpopsorclickscausedbyatoohardp,t,orksound,byalittle toomuchsalivaasawordissaid,orbythemicrophonerecordingasoundincorrectly.Foratruly professionalpodcast,wemaywanttogetridofanymajorinstancesofthesepopsandclicks.

Solutions
FindZeroCrossingsbeforedeletingtheselection. ClickRemoval Amplification

Um,YouKnow,Pauses,andOtherJunk
Letsfaceit.Wedontalwaysarticulatethewaywedlike,especiallywhenwerenotusingascript.We maywanttoeditoutwords,phrases,fillerwordssuchasumorerorlike,pauses,ornonconstant backgroundsounds(e.g.,therustlingofpagesasascriptpageisturnedorthenoiseofanitemdropped onthefloor).However,editingcancauseitsownproblems;forinstance,theeditingcanintroducepops andclicks.

Solutions
FindZeroCrossingsbeforedeletingselection Amplification

AmbientNoise
Recordingsintendedforpodcastswillcontainbackgroundnoiseunlesstheyarerecordedinadead room(asoundproofroominarecordingstudiowherethesubjectoftherecordingsits,surroundedby paddingthatsealshimorherofffromalloutsidesound).Evenwhencareistakentoeliminatevoices, music,rustlingofpapers,andothereasilynoticedbackgroundnoise,ambientnoisewilllikelycomefrom anairconditioner,acomputerfan,orothersourceofconstant,lowvolumenoise.Nonormalroomis evertrulysilent.

Solutions
NoiseReduction

DifferencesinSoundfromChangesinLocation,Equipment,orSubject
Eachrecordingroomorotherrecordinglocationwilllikelysoundabitdifferentfromothersbecauseof differencesinhowsoundreverberatesinthespace,andanychangeinrecordingequipmentmaycause soundstobepickedupdifferently.Asaresult,podcastsrecordedinmultiplelocationsorwithmultiple typesofrecordersmayexhibitsomeinconsistencyinambientsoundandinvolume.Inaddition,certain speakerstalklouderthanothers,andthisvariablecanleadtodifferencesinrecordingvolumewhena podcastcontainsmultipleparticipants.

Solutions
Normalization Amplification

MultipleRecordingsand/orMusicFilestoInterweaveTogether
Maybeyourpodcastisastory,withmultiplecharactervoicesconnectedbyanarrator,andeachactor recordedhisorherpartseparatelyfromtheothers.Maybeyouareputtingtogetherinterviewswith multipleguests.Maybeyoujustwanttousestingersorbackgroundmusicfiles,andyouwanttocontrol thefadingorvolumeofthesesoundsinrelationtoothervoices.Youcanoftenimaginecomplexusesof audio,andimplementingwhatyouimaginecanbeachallenge.

Solutions
TimeShifttool FadeIn/FadeOuteffects Envelopetool Splittingtracks QuickMix Generatingsilence

Solutions ZeroCrossings
Soundsaremadeupofwaves,andeverysoundfileisrepresentedinthecomputerasawaveform. Whenaportionofasoundisselectedwiththemouse,thebeginningandendoftheselectiondont always(andinfact,usuallywont)lineupwithapointwherethiswavecrossesthehorizontalmidline dividingthecrestsandtroughs.Thus,aselection(veryzoomedin)mightlooklikethis:

Whentheselectionisdeleted,theresultingwaveformthushasanirregulardropfromthecrestonthe lefttothetroughontheright(orviceversa),likethis:

Whenthesoundisplayed,thisirregulardropissometimesheardasapoporclick.Apoporclickcan alsooccurwhenaneffectisappliedtotheselection,whentheselectioniscutandpasted,whenthe selectionisreplacedbysilence,andsoon.Fortunately,thereisaneasysolution.Wheneverapieceofa waveformisselected,chooseFindZeroCrossingsfromtheEditmenuinAudacitybeforetakingany actionontheselection.Thiswillmovetheselectionbothrightandlefttothenearestpointwherethe waveformcrossesthezeroline,likethis:

Then,whentheselectionisdeleted(forexample),theirregulardropseenaboveisomitted,asshown below:

ClickRemoval
Audacityalsoprovidesasimple,firstpassmethodtoremoveclicksandpopsfromaudiofiles.Select ClickRemovalfromtheEffectmenuinAudacity.Selectthedesiredthresholdandmaximumspike widthasdescribedonthedialogbox,andtheclicktheRemoveClicksbutton.Keepinmindthatthe greaterthesensitivityyouselect,thebettertheprogramwillremovepopsandclicks;however,the distortionofthedesiredaudiowillbegreater,aswell.ThePreviewbuttonontheClickandPop Removaldialogboxmayhelpyoutofindanacceptablelevelofsensitivityfortheparticularfileyouare workingwith,butsometimesdeterminingthelevelisamatteroftrialanderror,requiringmultiple Undooperations.Sinceeachfilemayrequireaslightlydifferentsettingforoptimalresults,ifyour projectcontainsmultiplefiles,makesurethatyoudothisprocedureforonlyonetrackorfileatatime.

NoiseReduction
Noisereductionworksbyreducingoreliminatingsoundsthatmatchfrequenciesdefinedinasampleof whatsilence(oronlyconstantambientnoise)soundslikeintheparticularfile.Desirablesoundsinthese frequencieswillalsobereducedoreliminated,soifnoisereductionisoverdone,theaudiomaysound

tinny,robotic,orotherwisedistorted(kindofliketalkingintoafan).Also,noisereductionisprimarily designedtoremoveconstantsounds,suchasthesoundcomingfromanairconditionerorcomputer fan;itisfarlesseffectiveatremovingsoundssuchasrustlingpapers,backgroundvoices,etc. Therearetwostepstousingnoisereduction.First,selectafewsecondsofthefileinwhichthereis nothingbuttheambientnoiseintheroom(computerfansorwhatever).Then,chooseNoiseRemoval fromtheEffectmenuinAudacity,andclicktheGetNoiseProfilebuttononthedialogbox.Next,select thefiles,orsectionofafile,towhichyouwanttoapplynoisereduction,andfindthezerocrossingsfor theselection(asdescribedabove,inZeroCrossings).Finally,chooseNoiseRemovalfromtheEffect menuinAudacityagain,selecthowmuchnoisereductiontoapplywiththeslideronthedialogbox,and clicktheRemoveNoisebutton.AswithClickRemoval,thePreviewbuttononthedialogboxmay helpyouidentifyaproperlevelofnoisereductiontouseontheparticularfile,butsometimes identifyingtheproperlevelisamatteroftrialanderror.Performnoisereductionononlyonetrackor fileatatime.

Normalization
Normalizationisawaytoapplyaconsistentvolumelevelacrossfiles.Itensuresthatthewaveformof thenormalizedfileiscenteredonthezeroline,andthatthemaximum(volumeofthefileis3dB.Itis usefultoapplynormalizationtoallofyourtracksbeforebeginningtomixyourpodcast.Tonormalize atrack,selecttheentiretrackandchooseNormalizefromtheEffectmenuinAudacity.Makesure bothcheckboxesonthedialogboxarechecked,andclicktheOKbutton. Anothertoolthatisusefulinnormalizationisdynamicrangecompression(seeCompressorunderthe EffectmenuinAudacity).Dynamicrangecompressionreducestheamountofvolumedifference betweentheloudestandquietestpointsintheselection,preventingthelargedifferencesillustrated below:

Amplification
TheAmplifyeffectcanbeusedtoincreaseorreducethevolumeoftheselectedtrackorsectionofa track.Amplificationcanbeusedtoachieveamoreconsistentvolumelevel,toreduceoverlyemphasized sounds(forexample,P,T,S)thatcauseaspikeinvolumeorundesiredsoundsthatcantbecompletely

removed.Obviously,itsprimarypurposeistoincreaseorreducethevolumeofanyrecording,evena consistentrecordings,todesiredlevels. Toincreaseorreducevolume,selectthedesiredtrackorsectionoftrack,findthezerocrossingsforthe selection,andthenchooseAmplifyfromtheEffectsmenuinAudacity.Typeinthedecibelsbywhich youwanttoincrease(positivenumber)ordecrease(negativenumber)thevolumeoftheselection.This istheamountbywhich,nottowhich,theselectionvolumewillbeadjusted.Incrementsof3decibels workwellasastartingpointforexperimentation.MakesurethattheAllowClippingcheckboxisNOT checked.Thispreventstheselectionfrombeingamplifiedsohighthatthetopofanypieceofthe waveformischoppedoff,whichwouldleadtohighdistortion.ThenclicktheOKbutton. Amplificationamplifiesallthesoundintheselection,includingbackgroundnoise,andcanleadtosome distortion.Also,whenreducingvolume,bearinmindthatamplificationcannotundothedistorting effectsofanyclippingthathappenedatthetimeofrecordingbecauseofincorrectmicrophonegain,so makesurethatmicrophonegainisnotsettoohigh.Aswithalloftheseeffects,useamplification judiciously.FrequentlyusethePreviewbuttononthedialogbox,plusahealthydoseoftrialanderror, tofindtheoptimumlevelofamplification.

TimeShiftTool
TheTimeShifttoolallowsyoutodragthecontentsofatracktoanypointintimeontheproject timeline.Thistoolisfoundinthetoolpalettetotheleftoftheplaybackcontrolsandlookslikethis: ClickontheTimeShifttool,thenclickanddragthedesiredtracktotheproperlocationonthetimeline.

FadeIn/FadeOut
Youmaywanttofadeinoroutcertaintracksinyourpodcast,particularlyifyouareusingstingersor musictosignalthebeginningandendofportionsofthepodcast.TouseFadeIn/FadeOut,selectthe lengthofthetrackoverwhichyouwantthefadingtooccur.Findthezerocrossings.Then,selecteither FadeInorFadeOutfromtheEffectsmenuinAudacity,whichwillresultinthevolumeofthe selectionfadingtoorfromcompletesilence.Tofadeatracktoorfromalowervolume,usethe Envelopetool.

EnvelopeTool
TheEnvelopetoolisusedtoincreaseordecreasethevolumeofatrackgradually(unliketheAmplify effect)andwithoutgoingtoorfromzerovolume(unlikeFadeInandFadeOut).Oneexampleofwhere theEnvelopetoolmightbeusedistohavemusicplayingandthentofadethatmusictoalowervolume forfewsecondsasaspeakerbeginstospeak,thenkeepthevolumelowerbutstillaudiblewhilethe speakerisspeaking,andthengraduallybringthevolumeofthemusicbacktoitsoriginallevelasthe speakerisendingherremarks. TheEnvelopetoolisfoundinthetoolpalettetotheleftoftheplaybackcontrolsandlookslikethis:

AfterclickingtheEnvelopetool,clickthedesiredtrackatthepointwhereyouwantthevolumechange tobegin.Therewillbeasmallhandleonthetopandbottomedgesofthetrackatthispoint.Holdthe mousebuttondownanddragupordownwhileoveroneofthesehandlestoincreaseorreducethe volumeofthetrack(indicatedbytheamplitude,orheight,ofthewaveform).Addingmultiplesuch pointsonthetrackallowsforcomplexshapingofthevolume.Forexamplefadingfromfullvolumetoa lowervolumethenbacktofullvolumeagainrequiresfoursuchpointsorhandles.Illustratedbeloware twoofthosehandles,usedtolowerthevolumeofmusicasaspeakerbeginstotalk.

SplittingTracks
Sometimesyoumaywanttotakewhatisononetrackandsplititintomultipletracks,toallowthe piecestobemovedindependentlyonthetimelinewiththeTimeShifttool.Oneexamplemightbea recordingofastoryusingmultiplevoices,whereeachactorrecordedhisorherpartsseparatelyfrom theothers,andthesepartsareimportedasonetrackbutmustbebrokenupandinterwovenwiththe partsofotheractors.Tosplitatrack,selectthesectionofthetrackthatyouwanttosplitoutandfind thezerocrossings.ThenchooseSplitfromtheEditmenu.Theselectedsectionoftrackwillbemoved toanewtrack,andreplacedbysilenceintheoriginaltrack.

QuickMix
QuickMixistheoppositeofsplittingatrack.Itallowsyoutocombinethecontentsofmultipletracks intoonetrack.Forexample,theillustrationbelowshowsthreetracks:

AndthefollowingillustrationshowsthefirstandthirdtrackscombinedwithQuickMix:

Noticethatthepositionofeachtrackonthetimelineismaintainedinthecombinedtrack.Ifnecessary, silenceisgeneratedbetweentheclipsonthecombinedtrack. Itispossibletocombinetracksthatoverlapeachotheronthetimeline,butoncethisisdone,the overlappingsectionswillNOTbeabletobeseparated,astheywillbecomepartofacombined waveform.Dothisonlywithextremecaution. QuickMixisagreatwaytokeepthenumberoftracksyouareworkingwithmanageablebycombining tracksoncetheneedforthemtobeseparatehaspassed.TouseQuickMix,selectthedesiredtracksby clickingonthetrackinformationareatotheleftofeachtrack(indicatedbytheredarrowinthe illustrationabove).HolddowntheShiftkeywhileselectingthesecondandsubsequenttracks.Then chooseQuickMixfromtheProjectmenu.

GeneratingSilence
Onewaytomovesectionsofaudioonatrackfurtherapartisbysplittingthetrackintotwo,andthen usingtheTimeShifttool.Anotheristogeneratesilencetolengthenthespacebetweenthetwo sections.Togeneratesilence,putthecursoronthetimelineatthepointwhereyouwantthesilenceto appear,thenchooseSilencefromtheGeneratemenuinAudacity.Typeinthelengthofthesilence youwanttogenerate,andclicktheGenerateSilencebutton.

ProactivelyAddressingChallenges
Becausemostoftheaboveeffects,suchasamplificationandnoisereduction,havebothlimitsonwhat theycanachieveandpossibleundesirablesideeffects,itisimportanttoproactivelyaddresschallenges

youcananticipate.Forexample,useapopfilterorwindscreenbetweenyourmouthandthe microphonetoreducetheincidenceofpopsandclicks.Popfiltersareinexpensive,butifneeded,apop filtercanevenbeconstructedfromabenthangerandapieceofnylonstockings. Makesurethatgainsonmicrophones,anddistancesbetweenmicrophonesandtherecordingsubject, aresetproperlysoastominimizetheneedforamplification.Asmuchaspossible,eliminateundesirable backgroundnoise,especiallynoisesuchasothervoices,paperrustling,etc.,fromtherecording environment.Useascriptwhenpossibletoavoidundesiredpausesandmeaninglessfillerwordslike um,er,andlike.Completelyfinishreadingfromonepageofthescriptbeforeturningthepage andbeginningtoreadagain.Thismakestherustlingofthepagesmucheasiertoeditoutthanifpages arerustlingwhileyouarestilltalking.