Get Professional Sound on Your Recordings in Audacity

Audacity is a free audio recording and mixing program. I use it to make all of my podcasts, radio shows, and mixtapes. It’s an easy to use program and I thought I’d been getting the most out of it. I was wrong.

There are quite a few tutorial videos online from very diverse sources. I’ve watched a lot of them and even made a couple myself. But these videos, mine included, haven’t offered the best advice.

I’ve noticed that my recordings seem to be a little quiet in comparison to other files I listen to online. I didn’t know why this was happening and wasn’t sure what I could do about it.

Daddy J suggested I try using another program to hopefully get a more professional sound. I downloaded the one he suggested and I played around with it. But I didn’t like the layout of the screen and it wasn’t as intuitive as I had hoped.

The tips Daddy J gave me couldn’t be just for that harder to use program. There had to be some way for me to do what he was suggesting using the program that I already have and know how to use.

So, I once again took to YouTube and found this very helpful video from an experienced DJ.

I used his tips and my recordings sound some much better now.

Part of the problem was that when I started podcasting four years ago, our hosting service would only accept small MP3 files. Plus I just used Audacity the way it appeared when I first opened the program. As such, I wasn’t getting the most of out of program.

Here are the new tips I learned. . .

1) Float the meter toolbar and extend it. Keep it on the bottom of the screen and pay attention to it. (see above video)

2) Try to make the recording a consistent level. Use your ears when layering tracks on top of each other.

3) Export the draft version of the recording as a wave file.

4) Open a new Audacity project and import that draft wave file into it.

5) Next, play the quietest part of the recording and see where it peaks on the meter. (see above video)

6) Go to “effect,” select “hard limiter,” and set it to whatever that level was (i.e. -8.0 db)

7) Next, select the entire track. Go to “effect,” and “amplify” the track to -0.1 db

8) Now export the file as a wave for the best sound or as an MP3 to share it online.

9) Make sure you go to “options” set it to 320 kbps and set the “channel mode” to stereo. Don’t use “joint stereo” because the sound quality won’t be as good.

I never did all of the above steps before. My recordings now sound so much better. Listen to my older recordings and then listen to the stuff I released this year. Let me know if you notice a difference.

If you have any tips, tricks, or techniques you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.