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Using Audacity For Voice Overs

For the longest of time, people have used Audacity for some of the most mundane of tasks, such as converting from one file type to another. However, in this rising age of YouTube and digital stars being born every minute, it’s worth mentioning that tools like Audacity can produce some really high-quality edits to existing audio. Join Timlah through this very simple tutorial on what you can do on Audacity which makes it a very powerful audio editing tool.

Those of you who know what I do are aware of our YouTube channel. I play on games like Stonekeep and Dungeon Keeper for hours on end, talking endlessly through them. I let people know my initial thoughts and opinions on the games, as well as voicing any frustrations and even anything I find particularly fun and enjoyable about them. Ultimately, as a YouTube Let’s Player, I intend to do more series and what not. But the meat of this article doesn’t come in the form of my channel – It’s all about you, the passionate vocalist. The person who wants to get in front of a microphone and talk to the world; or just talk to a few of your mates on your very own exclusive podcast.

Audacity_Logo_With_Name

Regardless of your reasoning for wanting to use Audacity, there are many applications this tool is particularly useful for. I use Audacity to record my voice, as well as to make changes when I need to. These are a few hints n tips from me, as I’ve used Audacity solidly for the past few years and I’ve never struggled with the tool. The first part of it all though, is for you to make yourself an audio file that you’re not afraid to play around with. If you really don’t want to record one for yourself, but would like to play along, well okay, I’ll give you a recording of my voice, free of charge, to literally do whatever you want to with. Feel free to splice it and play it backwards, make me say things I never actually said and hey, put it in one of those pretty old school Sparta Remixes. You know the ones.

Click Here For A Sample Audio File

Once you’ve got yourself a file, be it one of your own or the sample file above, let’s boot into Audacity and let’s see what we can do with it. If you follow along with this tutorial, you’ll make the above sample sound a lot better, but a lot of the uses can be applied to any audio file that needs it. So, let’s begin with…

Removing Humming/Background Noise

One of the most irritating sounds to come across in any audio file, is the sound of the air and the building around you. Humming, static, or background noise in general, can be really discomforting to not just listeners, but to yourself when you listen back to your file. You begin to think your home, or even worse, your microphone is possessed and you don’t want the devil coming after you… Or maybe you do and you’d just like to expel it from existence. No matter what, background noise and humming is incredibly annoying and the easiest way to get rid of it is to simply silence it.

 

Simple click and drag on the track where you want to select.

Simple click and drag on the track where you want to select.

When you’ve got an area that unnecessary noise is in, when you shouldn’t be talking for instance, then just select the areas you want to silence, then click Generate > Silence. It really is as simple as that to remove background noise. So whether it’s a dog barking in the background, or it’s a squeaky chair, you can now remove it. Marvellous. That’s it, job do- wait, what? You want to remove noise that’s in with you talking? Now you’re onto some crazy talk my friend, but let me give you a few clues about this.

You can’t quite do what you think you can do… You can’t quite remove all of the noise… But you certainly can address it. This is done with the Noise Removal tool. This takes a bit more effort, but you need to create a “noise profile”, which generally is best with the background noise you want associated with your voice. So let’s say you want the background to be nice and quiet… Select some of that lovely silenced area we spoke about before, then click Effects > Noise Removal. You’ll get this prompt appear, the Noise Removal prompt. On here, click the Get Noise Profile button and let it get its profile. Once this has been done, press Ctrl + A on your keyboard, or select your whole audio file and then click Effect > Noise Removal > OK.

The Noise Removal tool is very simple to use!

The Noise Removal tool is very simple to use!

For the long and short of what this does, it sort of applies the noise profile to the rest of the audio. If it notices a bit of humming in the background, it’ll remove it. If it notices some static, say goodbye to it. It’s not the best way to remove things, but it certainly will get rid of a good 90% of the issues you’ll have with your audio. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to address any other issues with your audio. I often will run this through once and then I’ll immediately export.

Mono To Stereo

Want to make your sounds in stereo, but you’re recording in mono? There’s probably a really simple reason for it. When you go to do your recording, if you’re working Mono, you’ll need to make 2 copies of the same track: a left and a right track. You’ll then compress them into one track and that’ll make your stereo soundtrack.

 

These two tracks represent the left and right audio channels

These two tracks represent the left and right audio channels

Want to know how to do this incredibly fast? Great, just do this:

  1. Highlight your track and press Ctrl + D. This is the Duplicate function, which can be found under Edit > Duplicate.
  2. Click the downwards triangle next to the words “Audio Track” on your original track (On the left hand side, above where you can change the volume of that track).
    1. Click Left Channel.
  3. Click the downwards triangle next to the words “Audio Track” on your duplicated track.
    1. Click Right Channel.
  4. You’ve made your track stereo!

Now, this is a very simplified way of doing it. When you export your file, it’ll be a stereo track, but it’s best to understand how this works. If you’re using the file provided above, then just follow Step 2 and the bullet point within. You’ll then hear the audio only on the left channel, I.E the left ear. Now, this can be used to really do some great effects with your audio, but for most people, they want to hear in stereo. It’s rare you’ll have a use to make audio mono, but if you find a use, just the same as above, but remember left and right channels are effectively two separate mono channels.

Popping, Clicking and General Quality

This is a common issue in audio and there’s only really one proper way to deal with it: Get yourself a pop filter. They cost approximately £5 for a good generic one and they’ll help your recordings by a lot. For the sake of a fiver, it really is worth investing. Of course, that’s not all you should invest in. You really should invest in a good microphone and I’d highly recommend a condenser microphone. I personally am using this lovely microphone and the audio quality is incredibly sharp. If you want a comparison of my new microphone from my old one, please check out the old one here and the new one here.

Do you have any tips for people using Audacity that you’d like to share? Should I go into more detail on a future article? Do you think Audacity is the best program for the job for people recording their voices for YouTube/Podcasts? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or leave us a comment on our Facebook, Twitter or Reddit pages.

5 responses

  1. Considering the overall theme of our recent conversations, I can’t help but feel this post is directed at me :P

    Like

    July 4, 2016 at 8:12 am

    • Nope: it’s one I had planned a long time ago… But the conversations certainly spurred it on. Hope there’s something useful here :)

      Liked by 1 person

      July 4, 2016 at 8:29 am

      • Yep in fact I did the noise reduction part on one of the files I sent ye. Though I may have gone overboard in taking out some frequencies

        Liked by 1 person

        July 4, 2016 at 5:43 pm

  2. Will_GSRR

    I recently downloaded a noise gate plugin for audacity, that seems like it could be really useful. I haven’t fully figured out how to use it to it’s maximum effect, but it’s pretty good for cutting out back ground noise. I find with the noise removal tool it can at times make you sound little like a robot, but that’s generally if you apply it too much.
    Whilst I find audacity really easy to use, I still think it’s fairly difficult to master and knowing what all the minute details, numbers, sliders etc… actually do cam be a little confusing. But trial and error usually works!

    Nice tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 4, 2016 at 8:37 am

    • Hmm… Perhaps I could do a follow up article on this one. I think I know what mostly every slider does (Playing with other audio software was a bit of childhood fun for me :P)

      I will check out noise gate and see what uses it has. Might cover some other plug-ins too.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 4, 2016 at 8:44 am

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