Audacity is free sound editor available on the web. It works well with wave and mp3 formats though you may need to download a file to export to mp3.
Do you have a CD or MP3 based caller but do not have remote capability for changing sounds? Want to create a long series with a silent start up so you can place your caller out away from your stand location? Tired of the same free sounds? Want to create your own loops? Change volume, tempo or pitch? If your caller is set up for it you can run stereo sounds out of individual speakers. These (and more) can all be done with very little knowledge in Audacity.
I will demonstrate how to use this free program to edit or enhance your own digital sounds (or those that are available online) in a way that gives you more calling options when it comes to sound educated animals. Now remember I am a hunter, not a record producer and I may not be technically correct but this process works well for me.
I have a distress sound that I would like to play when calling bears and coyotes but the sound file has some problems that I would like to fix first.
1. The loop is short.
2. There are “extra” sounds in the file like a chair creaking and breathing noises.
3. There is a potential for “clipping”.
There are also a few things that I would like to add to make the sound more enticing.
4. Ambient sound.
5. Coyote barks.
6. Pup Howls.
The first thing is to open Audacity. Then open your sound file through “file>open”.
Though they are numbered above, I will work on the most critical parts first. There is no sense in creating a longer loop (1) if the file has problems 2 & 3 so we will start with #2 first.
In this first screen capture you will notice a couple things.
Notice which tool is selected in the upper left corner. (A)
The file is approximately 40 seconds in length. (B)
This sound is in stereo to begin with. (C)
The volume levels are pretty high (D)
Small bits of “extra” sound at the beginning and end. (E)
I will now enlarge the work area by clicking on the + (F) so I can make a precise selection of unwanted sound. To remove my selection I just hit delete on my keyboard and the unwanted (selected) portion is gone.
There are also a couple of “grunt/breathing” type sounds made by the caller that I want to remove. I play the sound and I stop it when I hear the undesirable noise and again I click on the + (F) to enlarge the sound file on the workspace. I select and delete this whole breathing/grunt portion and then listen again to make sure it is a smooth transition to the rest of the sequence.
After removing the unwanted sounds I will work on the potential clipping issue (D).
I will slightly lower the Gain from 0 dB to –3 dB to help keep the sound from clipping. This is done on the left side of the sound file (G). I also changed tools (upper left A) and moved the sound to the right so I can insert some silence at the beginning.
Now to extend the length of the sound file. Select the – zoom (F) and zoom out.
Change back to the selection tool and select the whole (or portion) of the sound you want to copy.
Select where in the file you want to put the copy.
In the next screen shot you will notice a couple things.
The sound file is doubled (from the copy/paste) to over 1 minute in length.
There are new sounds added to the workspace. Both new sounds are 3 minutes in length and in stereo.
To import more sounds to this project.
Project> Import Audio
Now obviously I don’t need 3 minutes of barking so I selected 4 individual barks and deleted the rest. I also did the same with the pup howls.
This next screen shot shows my beginning placement of the sounds as well as a 5 second gap in the distress sound. To do this you click Generate> Silence and input the amount in seconds that you want.
Also notice that only the bottom sound (pup howl) is in color. There is a button marked “Solo” and when selected it allows you to hear only the sounds you want to hear during playback.
This next shot shows how I selected the second half of the distress sound and changed the pitch just a bit during the portion that plays during the pup howls. To do this simply click Effect> Change Pitch. You can then test and preview different modifications. Other effects include Amplify, Bass boost, Change Speed, Change Tempo, Fade in, Fade out and many more.
To finish and save your sound just click Save> Export as and select wav or mp3.
Now I have a sound that is much more then just a 30 second distress sound. Near the end of the distress sound I have some coyote barks that come in and play through the silence between distress, then the second series of distress starts with a different pitch as the barks stop and then while the distress still plays the pup howls start and carry on past the end of the distress.
This can be done with bird sounds like adding a hawk or owl screech to a crow series or simply add a couple of jays to a woodpecker distress to add realism.
Some other things that can be done before saving.
One the Drop menu on the left side of the individual stereo sounds you can select Split Stereo Track then delete one of the tracks by clicking on the X at the far left. Do this to two sounds and then select Make Stereo track and your individual sounds will play in stereo together.
Does a sound file need to be this complex to call predators? No, but sometimes you need an edge and plus it is fun to come up with new combinations.