In this post, I explain how to use Audacity, the sound editing software, in order to create a high-quality podcast.
Audacity is a free open-source program that allows you to record and edit audio, otherwise known as a digital audio editor. You simply download the software to your computer from this website. Because it is open-source, it can be used for commercial, educational, or business use. It is a crucial component in my process of creating a podcast.
Since Audacity is a program that has been around longer than most popular apps, there are lots of tutorials available. It is not as user-friendly as some similar free programs, such as Garage Band, but it has more than enough functionality for a simple linear audio file, like a podcast. And because it is open-source, there are constant updates and lots of contributors.
Audacity was originally made for a class project at Carnegie Mellon University by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenberg in 1999. It was released as open-source in 2000.
Since it is open-source, that means anyone can contribute to the code and help fix bugs. It is free for anyone to use, sell, edit, or reproduce. It was released this way because they believe software should all be free-use. It has also allowed Audacity to grow in popularity and get more collaboration. Because of this, many versions have been released with many different collaborators. Over the years, new appearance enhancements and features have been added to improve the user experience and increase sound quality.
According to OpenHub.net, Audacity has, “had 9,270 commits made by 114 contributors representing 602,520 lines of code... is mostly written in C++ with an average number of source code comments… took an estimated 160 years of effort (COCOMO model) starting with its first commit in January 2010 ending with its most recent commit 4 months ago.”
- Arturo “Buanzo” Busleiman, system administration
- James Crook, developer
- Roger Dannenberg, co-founder and developer
- Steve Daulton
- Greg Kozikowski, documentation and support
- Paul Licameli, developer
- Peter Sampson
- Bill Wharrie, documentation and support
Because it is open source, people are allowed to edit and resell Audacity under a different name, which has led to many different sound editing programs being released. Because it is available for free, it allows many people access to sound recording and editing, especially in education. That allows them to do recordings for presentations, podcasts, interviews, audiobooks, etc. Audacity is cited in many sound-related tutorials as the starting point for aspiring musicians, voice-over actors, radio broadcasters, and more.
- Recordings of other applications (i.e. Skype, Pandora, etc.)
- And more
Pros | Audacity Allows:
- Experimentation because users can use the undo button unlimited times.
- Moving from one type of platform to another (i.e. work on it on Mac at the library and PC at home).
- Full editing of all audio and parts of the audio.
- Use for people who otherwise may not have access to audio editing programs due to cost or due to older operating systems.
- If users are tech-savvy, they can contribute and edit the code to make fixes they deem necessary.
Cons | Audacity Is Limited By:
- No direct way to publish or share. It has to be exported and manually uploaded elsewhere.
- Having to download an external program (LAME) in order to export as an MP3 file.
- Having to start from scratch since there are no templates or available sounds.
- Harder to edit and combine multi-layers of audio. Not as user-friendly.
Overall, it seems like everyone is happy that it is free, open source program with many features. Most people see a downside in its lack of support, learning curve, and limitation to simple audio files. For it being free, it seems like you can’t go wrong, especially as a starting point. If you develop a need for more advanced software, then you can invest in some later on.