An Introduction to Audacity

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As a DJ in Second Life you may come across certain tracks that need a little editing, or you may want to try your hand at mashing up a few songs. Audacity is an open source (free to download and use), audio recorder and editor that will allow you to carry out such tasks and much more.

For anyone new to Audacity, here is an introduction to some of its most useful features which should give you the essentials to do the tasks you want. Click on each image to view them full size.


 To record audio with Audacity follow these steps:

1/ Make sure your microphone is plugged into your computer.

2/ In the drop down list highlighted in red above, select the location your mic is plugged into.

3/ Click the red button, highlighted in blue to start recording.

4/ Press the stop button to finish recording, (next to the play button)

5/ Hit the play button to listen to what you've recorded. You will also see a graphical representation of the audio below the menu buttons.

6/ If you don't like what you've recorded select Edit > Undo (Ctrl Z) and start again.

Import Audio

To import a pre-recorded audio or a music track select File > Import > Audio. The audio track will have a graphical representation as above. You can also play, stop, forward, and return to the beginning by using the top left buttons.

Export Audio

Audio files can be imported and exported to Audacity as WAV, AIFF, AU, FLAC and Ogg Vorbis files. However if you want to export audio as MP3 files you will need to install a lame MP3 encoder.

Installing the MP3 Encoder

1/ Go to the Lame download page and select the Lame v3.99.3 for Windows.exe link to download it onto your computer.

2/ Go to where you downloaded the Lame file and double click it to begin set up.

3/ Follow the onscreen instructions for installing Lame for Audacity, and do not change the folder the file will install to.

You should now be able to import and export MP3 files, which is pretty much essential for Second Life DJs wanting to use Audacity.

To export your file from Audacity:

1/ Select File > Export (Ctrl+Shift+E).  See image above.

2/ In the window that opens navigate to where you want to save the file.

3/ Name the file then click Save.

4/ A window similar to the above will appear allowing you to add information about the audio file. Leave this blank if you prefer. After you have added any information click the OK button, and your audio file will be saved.


Once a track has been imported into Audacity, there are numerous affects that can be applied, either to the entire track or to a section.

Select Part Of a Track 

To select part of a track, hold down the left mouse button and drag your cursor over the section you want to work with. The selected section will have a dark grey background (see above image).

To apply an effect, naturally enough select Effect from the menu and a drop down list will appear. Going into all these effects would take far too long for this tutorial, so experimenting is the best way to find how each effect works, and which you may prefer to use. So long as you export the audio file with a different name after making any changes to it then no harm will be done by applying effects.

Possibly one of the most useful effects for Second Life DJs is Amplify. Often poor quality tracks can seem very quiet when played in-world. Using Amplify can remedy this, although if too much amplification is applied then the track may suffer from clipping. A certain amount of trial and error is needed, which is true of all the effects.


When editing part of a track it can be helpful to zoom in to the audio wave for precise selection. To do this select View > Zoom In (Ctrl+1). The other zoom options are:

View > Zoom Normal (Ctrl+2)
View > Zoom Out (Ctrl+3)

Add New Track

Audacity allows you to add a new track. If you have a stereo track already open then you'll only be able to add more stereo tracks. The track will be empty but the usefulness of this should become clearer when some of the other functions are described.

To add a new track select Tracks > Add New > Stereo Track

Generate Silence

Once you have added a new track you can select part of it and add silence:

1/ Hold down the left mouse button and  drag your cursor over part of the empty track you want to add silence to.

2/ Select Generate > Silence.

 Cut And Pasting

 The image above shows an audio file, an empty track and a second audio file that has been imported. If the play button is pressed both audio tracks will be heard simultaneously, but we can get the second track to start playing at a different time by cutting and pasting it to the end of the silence in the empty track.

1/ Hold down the left mouse button and select all of the second audio file.

2/ Click the scissors icon highlighted in red above to cut the track.

3/ Place the cursor at the end of the silence then hit the button highlighted in green to paste the cut track.

If after pasting the track you find the silence is too long, you can select part of it and remove a section by then hitting delete on your keyboard. From the above few features it will be clear how tracks can be mixed, and how different audio files can be timed to play together.

Where both tracks overlap, the overlap on the longer track can be selected and then either removed or made quieter by using the Amplify effect (useful for voice overs).

Muting Tracks

If you have more than one track imported into Audacity you can listen to one track by muting the others. Hit the Mute buttons for the tracks you want silent, highlighted in blue.

If there are multiple tracks loaded and you want to listen to just one then hit the Solo button of the track you want to hear, highlighted in brown.

This just about covers the essentials to get you up and running with Audacity, and hopefully provides  enough information to enable you to edit audio files, mix them and create voice overs. This tutorial along with a little exploring of its features should make you an Audacity expert in no time.

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