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Podcast Basics

This is a brief tutorial on creating an intro to a podcast using Audacity.

Podcast Basics Part 3: The Tools

Selection Tool

There are six different tools that you can use to manipulate your tracks. The selection tool, which looks like an I-beam, is the default tool. It allows you to select parts of the track.

Delete sections

Use the selection tool to select a section of a track and then hit the delete key to remove that section. If you delete a section in the middle of a track, the remaining following section will automatically move to start at the point where your deleted section began. To delete a middle section but keep the following section in the same place on the timeline, press ctrl+alt+k (cmd+alt+k on Macs). 

Cut Sections

To cut a section of the track so that you can move it somewhere else, you can click the scissor button or press ctrl+x. To cut a middle section but keep the following section in the same place on the timeline, press ctrl+alt+x (cmd+alt+x on Macs). 

Note: Depending on your settings in Audacity, the 'cut' option may work differently where it does not preserve the timing (as shown in the video).

Undo/Redo

To undo or redo any changes you make, press ctrl+Z.

Envelope Tool

The envelope tool, which looks like an hourglass with curved line intersecting it, gives you precise control over the levels of your track throughout the timeline. You can boost a quiet section and lower a different section with this one tool. You can create points to set the levels by clicking along the track and then moving them up or down to raise or lower that section. Sometimes you will need to expand the size of the track as it appears in the workspace in order to get the levels just right. To do this, simply click on the lower border of the track (or channel) and drag down. This resizing doesn't affect the audio in any way, it simply makes it easier for you to see and manipulate the tools.

Fading your background music

The envelope tool is perfect for controlling the level of my background music. When the podcast starts, I want to have the music at full volume. When I begin speaking, I want the music to fade to a lower level that can still be heard without overwhelming my voice.

Time Shift Tool

The time shift tool, which looks like a double arrow, allows you to move sections of your tracks to different points along the timeline.

Starting the intro

I will use the time shift tool to move my speaking part to begin as the music fades to a lower level. Simply click on the track and drag it to where you want it moved. You can visually line up the sound waves but will likely need to listen back and tweak this more than once to get it exactly right.

Timing the hiking sound

I will also use the time shift tool to line up the hiking clip to start at the point where I begin talking about hiking. I can then delete the end of the hiking track so that it ends when I stop talking about hiking.

Syncing the interview

The time shift tool is what I am going to use to sync the two interview tracks. I will first move them to be next to each other and then I'll shift one of them so that the vertical lines that signify the clap(s) will line up with each other. Once I have them lined up, I can delete the clap from both tracks.

In order to line them up, I will also want to delete the beginning of the interviewee's track because he hit record a few seconds before I did. However, this is optional: you can move a track so that the beginning portion overflows past the beginning of the project and you will not hear any of the part that doesn't show up in the project.

The Zoom Tool

I can change my view of the tracks to be able to see a section more closely or to be able to see the entirety of a long section at once by using the Zoom tool. For longer projects, you will likely use this tool dozens of times throughout the editing process.

I will use the Zoom tool to sync up the claps in the speakers' tracks. This will enable me to fine-tune the placement of those tracks so that the claps happen at exactly the same time.

Learn More

You can learn more about these and the other tools at Audacity's manual page about the Tools Toolbar.