Audacity? Sounds like work, or, works like sound

Looking at Jane Hart’s list of top tools for learning, I thought I’d try the Audacity sound editor / recorder.

(I didn’t have any pressing need, but I did have a little free time.)

I tried two or three experiments at once: setting up Audacity, using a page on my personal wiki as a kind of digital journal (instead of scribbling in the spiral notebook I use to track software experiments), and making a few recordings.

Lots of stops and starts, naturally, but in a couple of hours the other night, I was able to record a voice track and also record streaming music (like the sound track off a YouTube clip).

As with many things technical, there’s stuff I can’t quite figure out. And I had to do some hunting — at first I couldn’t get Audacity to make the switch between recording off a microphone and recording from the stream. I downloaded a few new drivers, I fiddled with my computer’s sound setup as instructed by the Audacity wiki.

It helps, I think, to expect that you’re not going to get it right the first time. Of course, it also helps (if your ego’s not too easily bruised) to think that 13-year-olds all over the country are managing to do this.

I think I probably did more adjusting than I needed to — I may not have understood that SigmaTel (which I think is the name of the sound card or chip) might have been a valid choice all along, which means I downloaded or tinkered more than I needed to.

So what? Well, this morning, I thought I’d try another experiment. Here’s what I wanted to do:

  • Record a voice track
  • Record a music track from a streaming source
  • Combine those things into a single file
  • Post them here on the whiteboard

In reality, I had four voice tracks — each “edit” ended up on a separate track (I haven’t figured out if that’s a requirement, or just ignorance on my part). The thing is, I started at about 9, and by 10 *, I was listening to this one-megabyte mp3 file:


* Of that hour, about 30 minutes went to picking out the tune, which means I was getting the melodic cart before the mp3 horse. Nothing new there.

Okay, now I have to find an mp3 player to work here within the blog; right now, if you click the link, you get to download the mp3.

Late-evening tech update: I installed the WordPress Audio Player plugin, but didn’t have the files in the right folders. That’s fixed, and you should have a control to let you play the file. Feel free, if you like experiments.

The tune in the clip is Bright Side, by Heavy Mellow, from their Acoustic Abstracts album; it’s used under a CC by-nc-sa license.

2 thoughts on “Audacity? Sounds like work, or, works like sound

  1. Hi Dave,

    Got a kick out of your post and experiment, as I’m a computer teacher :-) Congrads on your first Audacity – one could say it was audacious of you to try ;-) (Okay, I promise, no more emoticons!)

    Thanks, as well, for the link to the Top 100 Tools for Learning for 2008. I’ve shared the link with faculty and students at school, and am willing to bet that more students are familiar with more of the tools than are teachers. There are a number of tools with which I am not familiar, and am looking forward to sampling them. Have always felt that one of my roles is to simply keep everyone (myself included!) apprised of “what’s out there”, and this link sure helps make that possible and easy!


  2. Laurie, Jane Hart has an excellent list, and keeps it updated with contributions and comments from all over.

    What I was most interested to learn was how simple it was to capture the audio off a website. I also thought my own voice was pretty clear, considering the relatively inexpensive headset I use.

    We’ll see what the next experiment might be.

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