Exploring Audacity

This week I’m attempting to turn my PC and my headset into an audio mixer, in order to create powerful, unique podcasts.  I want to liven up my online presence, and I hope to be able to pass this knowledge onto students. I did my undergraduate degree in theatre, and 20 years ago mixing audio meant splicing tape together, reel to reel and pressing start.  Now every home computer can become an audio mixer.

Audacity is the free Web 2.0 audio mixer for PC users.  Mac users use Garageband. Kristin Fontichiaro (2008), my podcast guru, and author of Podcasting at School suggests Audacity because it is free, open-source software that is also flexible in its compatibility with multiple platforms (p.20). My school is a PC school, and I’d like to make sure that we can provide the equipment for all students to try podcasting.  Too often, I have seen poor assignments come through my library where the students are cutting and pasting images and other media from the internet without acknowledging these sources.  With the wealth of royalty-free resources available, these avenues simply need to be modelled and taught, as I intend to do by leading with this podcast example.

So of course I’m putting lots of pressure on myself to create something magical for my first podcast.  I’ve chosen to try to do a radio play from the creative commons, to use royalty-free music and sound effects and to see if that can all jive with Audacity.  Other than my home computer, Audacity and other internet-based resources, I’ve got a $95 headset complete with a microphone and earphones.

Here is a complete find: http://www.freesound.org  This is a free, open-source library of sound effects and royalty-free music.

For my radio show I need: thunder, door, cross-country skis on snow, avalanche, wind,  ice cracking, splashing, clock striking 5 o’clock, etc.  There are 4 characters plus the announcer.  I have to say it is a lot of fun.  So far, here is a four track recording of the intro.

The Voice of Death


Five Simple Audio Projects. (2007, April). Music Education Technology, 5(2), 10.  Retrieved November 9, 2011, from ProQuest Education Journals. (Document ID: 1276681151).

Fontichiaro, K. (2008). Podcasting at school. Westport, CN: Libraries Unlimited.


Leave a Comment

  1. Nice intro! Very dark, dramatic, and the style of your mic makes it sound like you’re in a dark room telling the story (or did you process that?).

    I suggest two very important things:

    Make sure you use the 1.3.13 beta version of Audacity. It’s far more stable and has more improved features and functionality.
    Listen to my how-to podcast about podcasting and using Audacity to help you learn more about this exciting new field you’re entering. You can even share my podcast with your students!

    Good luck with Audacity and your new talents! Please let me know if you need any help.


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