There are times when we would love to get into an audio file just as we can go into an image file. A dent in the flow, a chorus that does not repeat enough times, an inflexion that you just don't like, or maybe you have a sample that you want to insert into an audio piece. Who knows. Anyway do you have the means?
Audacity is a program that lets you edit audio files by cutting, adding, mixing and applying all sorts of cool effects. It is a tad cheaper than Sony's Sound Forge and by that I mean it's free.
Loading a file will let you inspect its audio spectrum of both channels. The interface may seem cluttered at first, and although there are quite a lot of buttons out there, the icons are clear and the tool-tips are intuitive. The basics include copying, pasting, trimming and silencing sections of the audio. You can create new tracks by recording or adding existing audio files. These can be saved as a single unit after being mixed. Isn't that great?
Zooming into the track enables the use of the Draw tool. With this you can edit each individual sample. You may click and drag a single sample or you can draw along while Audacity rearranges the flow according to the described path. Unless you know what you're doing this tool is best left alone, although there might be instances where edits are required. For example, a clear sound distortion can be detected as a spike and be muted by sliding it down to its place. So essentially Draw can be used as an audio healing brush.
Splitting a long album into individual tracks is also very straightforward. Audacity allows you to export selections and save them into a variety of formats including MP3, Apple AIFF, FLAC and Atrac formats. When exporting you are prompted to fill in an ID tag (file metadata) which is especially useful for organizing album tracks. To make it easier, it allows you to save and load tag templates, so you'd only need to write in specific information to each track while the artist, album, year and other data will be automatically filled in.
When there is a lot of repetitive work, Chains can be used to automate some of it. For example if you want to normalize the sound to an entire album and then convert it into another file format, you set these actions as a chain and then apply the chain to multiple files.
Audacity also allows you to create label tracks. A label track sits along a regular audio track and marks specific sections or points along it. Labels can be named of course and can help you to organize and resume your work. There is also a big selection of audio effects that are applied on an entire track. From Phaser to Wahwah will probably find your preferred wacky effect. Furthermore, you can also include a basic tone or chirps.
- Label tracks
- Sound effects
- Sample editor
- Batch editing
- It needs a bit of getting used to
Audacity is probably the best budget choice for editing sound files. It works as a charm and has a lot of features. Recommended.