Author Topic: Audacity Tutorial  (Read 42474 times)

Offline billythekidrock

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Audacity Tutorial
« on: June 08, 2008, 01:09:38 PM »

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.
Edit> Copy
Select where in the file you want to put the copy.
Edit> Paste

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.

Good Luck.

Offline tlbradford

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Re: Audacity Tutorial
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2008, 01:25:48 PM »
Very cool.  This should be copied over to the "Article" section if it isn't there already.
Dreams are forever on the mind, realization in the hands.

Offline DeKuma

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Re: Audacity Tutorial
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2008, 01:33:16 PM »
Damn near need to be a sound engineer to work through all that!  Great work and write-up Billy!
Can I just buy the sound files already fixed from you? :chuckle:
- Scott

Offline billythekidrock

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Re: Audacity Tutorial
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2008, 04:37:22 PM »
Thanks guys.

tlbradford - I will work on putting it in the Articles section.

DeKuma - It is really not that hard. Only as hard as you want to make it.

Offline DeKuma

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Re: Audacity Tutorial
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2008, 04:40:09 PM »
I am sure I could work through it.  But, then again, I am an Electrical Engineer in aerospace, so that tells you right away I am dumb as a rock.

So here it is, over month later and I have spent the last two evenings playing with this.  I think I have the hang of it a little bit.  Made my first sequence of calls today.  I created a "loop" of fawn distress that is a total of 13 minutes with various silence durations.  Sounds okay.  I have still not figured out changing the pitch, but working on it.  I can see, however, that I will never get the true sounds I think I want unless I get some hand calls and make them myself or get Billy to do it for me.

Thanks for your help last night BTKR.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2008, 05:32:55 PM by DeKuma »
- Scott

Offline DeKuma

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Re: Audacity Tutorial
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2008, 08:22:18 PM »
I officially am hooked on this software and sounds now.  I have been creating different sequences all nught and my family is ready disown me if I do not stop all the sqwauking from the computer room!!

Thanks again, Billy.  I am having a blast, even if my sounds suck!
- Scott

Offline littletoes

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Re: Audacity Tutorial
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2008, 11:08:26 AM »
A headset is keeping me out of trouble most of the time! ;)
"The People of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." - Abraham Lincoln

Offline billythekidrock

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Re: Audacity Tutorial
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2009, 09:49:33 PM »
Just got a question on noise removal so I thought I would write up how I do it. This will not work in every situation but it is a fast effective solution for what I need.

Down and dirty hiss removal.

Here is what I do.
After opening or recording a sound file you may notice small sound waves or hear an audible hiss.

I select a small portion of "noise" but nothing that I want to keep.

Then on the menu bar click Effect and then Noise Removal.
In the popup click "Get Noise Profile".
Then click Edit and Select All.
Click Effect and Noise Removal again. This time click Preview or Remove Noise.

If needed you can adjust the slider level to remove more or less noise.

Offline bow4elk

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Re: Audacity Tutorial
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2009, 10:57:16 AM »
Darn, I thought this was the official "Audacity of Hope" tutorial...
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Offline Skycruiser

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Re: Audacity Tutorial
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2010, 06:11:11 PM »
Thanks for the great tutorial. I had a heck of a time trying to figure this out for myself.


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