Posted in Analog Girl vs. The Technology Monster

Analog Girl vs. Audacity

Last week, I revealed my life-long battle with technology and reviewed program called Powtoon. In the review, I briefly mentioned an audio editing software called Audacity. Now it’s time for Audacity to get the same treatment.

Analog Girl Theme made with Incredribox–Review Coming!

What is Audacity?

Audacity is a computer software program for recording and mixing audio files. I was introduced to it when getting my first masters degree. I was conducting a research project for which I needed to record interviews, and my teacher recommended Audacity as a good software for dealing with audio recordings. As I recall, I didn’t really end up using it for the research project, but did find use for it later on, while recording practice CDs for performance poetry. I also used it with students, for a unit in which we put together a radio show. So before I completely give away my verdict, let’s dive in

Pros:

  • It’s free and open source.
  • As I recall, it’s pretty intuitive. It didn’t take long for me to feel like I knew what I was doing, and I would be pretty confident teaching others about it. Keep in mind, of course, that I wasn’t doing a lot of fancy with it.
  • That being said, you can do fancy things with it. For example, running an audio clip backwards.
The lullaby from Pan’s Labyrinth… played backwards.
  • You can do whatever the audio equivalent of zooming in is, to cut out a fraction of a second of background noise and clean up your sound.
  • You can layer multiple recordings (this may seem obvious, but it’s refreshing after Powtoon.)
  • It’s got a great name. Seriously, what name could be better for recording software?

Cons:

  • It’s hard to keep track of where you are in a recording, but I’m not really sure how to fix that.
  • It’s more or less only available as software to download to your computer.
  • It can be a time-suck. Seriously, editing the radio show (which was mostly pulling out background noise) probably took me a couple of hours. I said in the Powtoon review that I figure this is part and parcel of audio and video editing. Fortunately with Audacity you don’t experience lag time or loading screens in which the program has to catch up with you. All the time you take is actual time spent using the program.

Classroom Applications:

As I said before, I used this to help my students create a radio show. The class broke into pairs, and wrote an recorded their own section of the radio show individually–we had a couple of news anchors, a weather report, an interview, and commercials. I put each separate track into Audacity and tied them together, as well as cutting out background noise, so we ended with a full, smooth radio show, and the students could listen back to themselves. If I could swing it, I think it might be interesting to teach the program to my higher level students, and in the future, they could edit such a program themselves. Obviously, it would work well for any kind of A/V project, but I think any time you need to be doing audio recording, it’s worth looking into.

Final Verdict: Audacity Wins!

I highly recommend Audacity. Between the ease of use and the price, it’s definitely worth trying out. Even if you don’t use it for your classroom, you may find other uses. As I said before, I use Audacity to record and create practice tracks when preparing for a poetry performance. I have a friend who uses it to record choir rehearsals, so they can listen back and practice things. There’s plenty of possibilities.

Have you ever used Audacity? Have you used it in your classroom? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Author:

I am a poet, linguist, and ESL teacher who loves to play games.

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