Audacity is a free, cross-platform tool for recording and editing audio on a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. It’s a powerful that you can use for music, radio, or podcast production, among other things. But you can also use it to make a high-quality recording of your own voice using a laptop or desktop computer.
You can even do this while using other software such as Zoom – for example, as a podcast producer, I often ask guests to use Audacity to record their own voices while we’re participating in a Zoom call. This allows me to communicate with the guest over the internet, while they make a high quality recording of their voice on their own computer without any of the glitchy audio you sometimes hear on internet calls.
A bit of advice: always wear headphones while recording, as this will allow you to hear yourself and notice any problems with the recording. It will also prevent the microphone from picking up sound from the speakers and adding echo or distortion to your recording.
If you have a USB microphone, you should plug that in before starting Audacity. And if you don’t have a USB microphone, a headset that plugs into a USB or headphone jack will probably sound better than your laptop’s built-in speaker.
You should also close any other applications running on your computer that may make noise or use your computer’s system resources while you’re recording. And it’s generally a good idea to mute your phone so that you’re not interrupted by chimes during a recording session.
You can download Audacity for free from the AudacityTeam.org/Download page, and once you’ve done that, follow the steps in the video below to set up the program, record your voice, and save your recording so that you can save it for later, edit it, or send it to the person who asked you to make that recording. There’s also a transcript of the video below.
Click to read a transcript of this video
In this video I’ll walk you through the steps of using Audacity to make a voice recording.
First, download and install the latest version of Audacity from the AudacityTeam.org website.
Next, if you have a USB microphone, now is the time to plug it into your computer. I’d strongly recommend using headphones as well.
Now, you can open Audacity — and you should see a screen that looks like this — with recording and playback buttons in the upper right corner.
If you’re using your computer’s default microphone, all you have to do to start a recording is hit the big red record icon. But you may notice that nothing seems to be happening — that’s because Audacity did not automatically detect the microphone I’m using.
So let’s stop the recording by hitting the black square STOP button, hit the X button to get rid of this track, and adjust our audio input settings from this drop-down menu.
We can also choose mono or stereo from the next drop-down, and change our audio playback device from the one next to that — so you can make sure you can hear yourself while you record. This is important so you’ll notice any unexpected noises that may occur if you bump the mic stand or a dog barks. You can always stop speaking for a moment and then start again.
Now that I’ve selected the correct mic, let’s start another recording.
When I talk, you can see the volume meters moving at the top of the screen, and the peaks and valleys of the WAV file show up as I speak.
It’s worth pointing out that if you’re using a laptop with a built-in microphone, you may accidentally be recording from the built-in mic rather than the higher-quality USB microphone. So it’s a good idea to tap the mic and see if you can hear it in your headphones. If not, tap the laptop mic and see if you can hear that.
You can always stop the recording and start over again after adjusting the settings.
To stop the recording, hit the black square button.
And to save the recording, go to the File Menu, choose Export, and then select the file type.
WAV gives you the best audio quality, but long recordings will result in very large files, which may take up more space on your disk or be a hassle to send over the internet.
MP3 files are smaller and take up less space, and may be easier to send over the internet — but the audio quality is not as good.
So I recommend usin WAV whenever possible.
The default settings are decent, but higher quality
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