You may have heard my Initial Reactions, where I give my thoughts on an audio episode of Adventures in Odyssey while playing portions of the audio I’m commentating on and reviewing. Well, the way I edit those (ever since my Voice of Freedom, Part 2 Reaction) is mostly automated. In this post, I’ll give a tutorial on how you can record and edit your own commentaries!
1. Install Audacity
If you haven’t yet, you’ll have to install Audacity from http://audacityteam.org. Select the relevant operating system (while I’ll be showing how to do this in Windows 10, the whole process should be very similar in other versions of Windows, in macOS, and in most versions of Linux) and download the installer. Install as you would any other program downloaded from the internet.
2. Import Audio
Next, once you’ve got Audacity up and running, you’ll need to import the audio file you would like to commentate on. If you’re commentating on a video but only want to record your audio commentary, you can use a website like http://onlineconverter.com to convert your video source file to a WAV file that Audacity can read.
NOTE: Audacity can’t import all audio files out of the box, so you’ll find that you might need to convert your file to a WAV file. For my purposes, I try to use WAV files. However, I do have a plugin for Audacity which allows me to import other files like MP3s. That is, however, out of the scope of this tutorial.
To import audio, go to File > Import > Audio, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+I.
3. Recording Your Commentary
To record your commentary, you’ll have to add another track. To do this, go to Tracks > Add New > Stereo Track.
Next, select your desired microphone. If you plugged in your microphone after starting up Audacity, you’ll have to save your project and restart Audacity. To do this, simply hit Ctrl+S (Cmd+S on macOS) and then choose where you’d like to save your Audacity project file (.aup). Then open that file as you would any other file, and your microphone should show up in the dropdown menu.
The dropdown menu from which you need to select your microphone is highlighted in yellow in the image below:
Next, to go into the same editing mode as I’ll be using in this tutorial, select the “multi-tool” by pressing F6 or clicking the asterisk-like button highlighted in yellow in the screenshot below.
I like to move the track that I’ll be talking about ahead in the timeline a little to give myself a chance to talk before the episode starts playing. To do this, hover your mouse over one of the lighter-grey areas of the track you would like to move and hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard. For macOS users, again simply use Command in place of Ctrl. Then, while you’re holding down the Ctrl key, click down with your right mouse button and simply drag the audio along the timeline. If you move it forward one minute, you’ll have one minute of time to talk in the recording before your selected audio begins to play.
Here’s what it looks like for me, with my recorded audio underneath:
As you can see, I’ve moved the top track over about 30 seconds to give time for an introduction.
Now, all you have to do is click into your empty track and start recording! You can click the button with the red circle, or simply hit the “R” key on your keyboard to begin your recording!
a. Noise Reduction
Select a portion of your recording where you are not speaking, then go to Effect > Noise Reduction > Get Noise Profile.
Then, select the entirety of your recorded voice (not the file you’re commentating about) by double-clicking it. Go to Effect > Noise Reduction and this time click “OK”.
It should start applying the noise reduction and show a pop-up something like this:
b. Silence Audio
Before completing the next step, you’ll need to silence the track that you’re reacting to. To do this, select the entire track (not your voice track) by double-clicking on it and go to Effect > Amplify. Set the amplification to -35 dB. You can use another number that completely silences the track, but you’ll want to remember that number so that you can bring the volume back up after you perform step c.
c. Truncate Silences
To remove the parts of your commentary where you aren’t speaking, we’ll again use the effect menu. This time select everything (including your voice and the audio you’re reacting to) by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+A. Then, go to Effect > Truncate Silence.
You can play around with the numbers, but I’ve found I like to do something like this:
Click “OK” to apply the effect.
d. Bring the First Track’s Volume Back Up
Once again select the track containing the file you are reacting to. This time give it an amplification of +35 dB to bring the volume back up to what it was before we performed steps b and c. For my particular case, I like to only bring it up to around 30 so that it’s quieter than my own voice. You can choose an appropriate volume for your usage.
e. Finishing Touches
Next, we’re going to add an effect I like. It’s called “Auto Duck” and it automatically lowers the volume of one track when it detects input from a control track.
Make sure that your voice track is the bottom track. Then, select the whole top track and go to Effect > Auto Duck.
I like to just use the default settings, but you can play around with the numbers to find something that suits your usage:
Hit “OK”, and you’re almost done! The last finishing touch I like to do is to pan the top track to the left by 40%, and the bottom track to the right by 40%. This helps the listener to further distinguish your voice from the content you’re reviewing. You can do this by sliding the bottom slider to the left of each track to the preferred stereo location.
That’s about it! If there’s any part of your voice track that you want to cut out, you can simply select it with your mouse and press the backspace or delete key on your keyboard to cut it out. If you do want to cut any of your voice track out, make sure to cut out the relevant portion of the other track as well so that your audio stays synced up!
5. Exporting Your Commentary
First, save your Audacity project file. Then you can always go back and make changes.
To export, press Ctrl+Shift+E or go to File > Export and then choose your desired file format.
You can skip through the meta-data editing, as that’s too much to get into at this point. Just click “OK” on the pop-up window shown below.
Once it’s exported, you’re done! I’d be happy for any of you to share your projects in the comments below! If you’re interested in hearing my final product, the audio commentary that I showed myself editing in this tutorial is available here: Snow ‘Em Who’s Boss Reaction. Also, if you have any questions you can write them in the comments and I’ll try to help you out.