Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Making selections, part of Learning Audacity (2012).
At this point we've seen how to record and import audio files into an Audacity project, but rarely will you record something that you're 100% happy with. You may hear unwanted sounds or maybe you flubbed a line of dialog that you immediately restated and you need to edit out the bad version. If you're working with an imported audio file you might only want to use a portion of it in your project and discard the rest. Whatever the case, in this chapter we'll be going over some basic editing techniques you will need to become proficient at in order to mold your project into what you want. I am going to keep working on my podcast project that I started in the previous chapter.
If you have access to the Exercise Files, you can open the saved version and work along with me. The most fundamental editing concept to understand is one that you probably already know from working with word processors. Just like when you want to change the font or color or some text in a word processor you have to first select that text that you what to change. When working with audio in audacity, and pretty much all other audio editing applications for that matter, you have to first select the section of audio that you want edit. I have already covered a bit of this previously, but let's review and expand on what we've seen. To make a selection you need the Selection Tool, which is the default tool when you open Audacity.
Let's solo the first track. Soloing a track mutes all the other tracks so you don't have to hear them while working on the Solo track. You can solo multiple tracks too. For example, I can solo the second track so I can hear it is well and now I just want to hear the music track underneath. Alternately, I could unsolo those and just mute the music track. It's exact same result and it's up to you to decide whether it's more efficient to just mute a single track or solo several tracks. Let's listen. (audio playing) So again, if I want to make a change to any part of that waveform I need to select the part that I want to change.
For instance, maybe I made a mistake in this week there is no coverage on 3D animation courses. So I want to get that part of the audio out of there. I need to find the part of the waveform where I say 3D animation, select it, and then delete it. So I think it was around here. So I am just going to click and play back from there. (audio playing) So there is right there, and this is going to be a relatively easy edit, because I have a decent pause on either side of the phrase. I am going to get my zoom tool just to zoom in on that part of the wave from so we can see it a little better, and I'll get my Selection Tool again.
So there are a couple of ways to make the selection. I can just drag with the Selection Tool, and remember, when you have a selection made, hitting Play will only play that selection so you can hear if you captured it all. (audio playing) Now if you need to adjust your selection, you can hold Shift and click inside or outside the selection to add or remove from the selection. So if I wanted it to be a little bit tighter, I could hold down Shift on my keyboard and click within the selection like so, on both sides. Or if I needed to expand that a bit, just click on the outside.
Alternately, you can place your cursor over the very edge of the selection until you get this pointing finger and then click-and-drag in or out. That works on both sides. Now there may be times when you may find it more useful to create your selection while listening. Maybe you're listening to a long stretch of audio and you want to make sure that you marked the beginning of the selection point and the end while you're listening. Audacity lets you use the left and right bracket keys on your keyboard to mark the beginning and end points of a selection. I am just going to click to deselect what I have so far, and I'm going to scroll over a bit so we can roll back, and I'll let this play now and when I reach the point where I want to start the selection I'll hit the left bracket on my keyboard, and when I reach to the end of the selection I'll hit the right bracket.
(audio playing) Now you're probably not going to land exactly at the beginning and end point you want, but this lets you get close while listening, and you can always readjust afterwards. If I wanted to drag this in a little bit more I could do so. Now with my selection made I can hit the Delete key and that section of audio has now been deleted from this track. Let's hear how it sounds now. (audio playing) All right, that doesn't sound too bad.
I do think the pause in here is kind of long so I am just going to select a little bit more in here, delete that, and let's listen again. (audio playing) So that sounds much better to me. Again, make your selection before you make your edit. Now you can select across tracks, so if you wanted to remove or edit an entire selection of your project, just click-and-drag down through all the tracks you want to alter with the Selection Tool. Now one annoyance I have with this behavior is that once your cursor touches a track, you can't drag back up to deselect that track.
So if I really only wanted to select the first two tracks, but I accidentally touched the third one I'd have to click out to deselect everything, then click-and-drag down again. I also want to point out the Selection toolbar at the bottom of the window. Here you can see exactly where your selection starts and stops in terms of hours, minutes, and seconds. You can also toggle between the End and Length Selection as well. End shows you the timecode where the selection ends and Length displays the actual length of the selection. You can also type in a specific value here as well, so if you wanted a perfect 10-second selection, you could just click in here, type in 10, and let me just zoom out here and you can see I now have 10-second selection.
It goes from the 15 second mark to the 25 second mark. You can also adjust the values that are displayed here by clicking the Menus. As you can there is a wide selection of display modes here. You might find it useful, for example, to select hours, minutes, seconds, and hundredths of a second. That might allow you to be a little bit more precise with your selections. So there you have an overview of some basic selection techniques that you should be familiar with in order to perform edits in Audacity.
- Creating a new project
- Adding tracks
- Recording two tracks simultaneously
- Making selections
- Splitting clips
- Automating volume
- Adding sound effects
- Using compression
- Inserting silence
- Exporting your project
Skill Level Beginner
Q: Why don't the instructions for downloading the LAME MP3 encoder work?
A: Use the new homepage for Audacity, http://audacityteam.org/, rather than the sourceforge address shown in the course.
Q: This course was updated on 08/14/2015. What changed?
A: The author updated the "Downloading and installing Audacity" videos for Mac and Windows, and added a new video on the LAME MP3 encoder.