Creating and Editing Music Files with Audacity

Audacity is an audio recording software that allows you to record and edit audio from any number of sources.

There are many possibilities at your disposal. Audacity can be downloaded here.

  • Have students record themselves speaking.
  • Read-aloud portions of a book to stream on the web.
  • Record live music from an online radio station.
  • Convert cassettes to cd.

Audacity Recording

Input Source

Begin by making sure that you are recording from your intended input source. This option is made in the white-combo box shown below.

Microphone – Records input from the microphone jack.
Analog Mix – Records input from the Line-In jack.
“What U Hear” or Stereo Mix – Records output from the computer.


Secondly, make sure that the volume controls are set high enough and not muted. The Audacity volume controls should be set the same as above.

Next, right-click on the computer’s audio icon in the lower right-hand corner. It looks like this: 

Click on Recording Devices, then double-click Microphone.
Click on the Levels tab, and make sure Boost is set to +20db.
Click on the Playback tab and double-click on Speakers.
Under the Levels tab, make sure the volume is all the way up and not muted.


You are ready to begin recording. As soon as you click on the Record button you will see this panel appear:

Your recording is a blue wave pattern and should look relatively similar to that of the above. Any smaller and your volume is set too low or there is a problem with your input device. Any larger and your recording will come out cacophonous, turn down the volume.


Edit your recording using the tools shown on the left side.

The Zoom tool will become very important as you try to deal with short, specific portions or larger ones. Left-click to zoom in, right click to zoom out.

Use the Selection tool to highlight portions for deletion, copying, cutting, or pasting. Use the Timeshift tool to move the tracks left or right along the time bar.

Saving / Exporting

There are multiple options to saving and finalizing the final product.

Save Project:

This option will create an Audacity file and a folder containing the project data. This form of saving retains all of the work you have done in Audacity, keeps tracks separated, and does not compress the quality. A playable file is not created. If a simple audio file, not intended for editing, is desired, do not save your file as a project.

Export as WAV:

This option will take all of the tracks and merge them into a single, stereo WAV audio file.

Export As MP3:

This option will take all of the tracks and merge them into a single, stereo MP3 audio file. Once you have named the file and choose a location to save, this window will appear:

The information entered into this window will be attached to the MP3 file as an ID3 tag. With the proper device this information will be accessible when the file is played. Click ‘OK’ and your file will be created.

Setting-Up MP3 Encoding

Audacity does not come with an MP3 encoder. To have the ability to export your final product as an MP3 file you will need to download the proper dll files.

If you attempt to export as MP3 and do not have the files needed to encode properly setup, you will receive this Error message:

  • Step 1: First download the proper files:
    • Audacity 2.1.1 (or current version).  The Windows and Mac OSX files can be found here.
    • Lame 3.99.3 (or current version). The Windows and Mac OSX files can be found here.
  • Step 2: Run the exe or dmg file to install Audacity first.
  • Step 3: Run the exe or dmg file to install Lame For Audacity to your computer.
  • Step 4: Create your MP3 file. Once you have set-up Audacity with the Lame encoder you will not have to do it again, unless you reinstall/update at a later time.
February, 2014