Audacity Editing Certificate Program

Lesson 4: Capturing, Reducing Noise, and Enhancing Audio


Welcome to Lesson 4 of our Audacity training series! In this session, we will dive into the practical skills needed to enhance your audio projects. You’ll learn how to remove unwanted background noise and apply effects to enhance your recordings. By mastering these techniques, you’ll be able to produce cleaner, more professional-sounding audio content.

Step 1: WATCH: Noise Reduction & Remove Background Noise

Watch the video and follow along.

Step 2: WATCH: Remove Silence and Improve Audio

Watch the video and follow along.

Step 3: Review Aftersight Recording and Performance Policies and Guidelines

Hint: You will be tested on these!

Review and Reference

Basic Operations

  • Recording: Click the Record button (red circle) to start capturing audio. Click Stop (yellow square) to end the recording session.
  • Playback: Press the Play button (green triangle) to listen to your audio. Use the Pause button to halt and resume playback.
    • Example: Listen to the playback of your reading to ensure no words were missed or mispronounced.
  • Selection Tool: The primary tool for selecting portions of the audio waveform for editing.

Effects and Filters

  • Amplify: Adjust the volume as needed for consistency, especially if some parts of the recording are softer than others. Increase the volume of softer-spoken sections without affecting the entire track to maintain an even audio level throughout. Found under Effects > Amplify.
  • Noise Reduction: Use this to remove background hiss or hum
    1. Select a portion of the audio containing only the noise to create a noise profile (Effects > Noise Reduction > Get Noise Profile).
    2. Select the entire track or the section to clean, then apply the Noise Reduction effect to remove the background noise.
    3. Example: If recording at home leads to ambient noise, apply Noise Reduction to clean up the audio.

Advanced Tools

  • Time Shift Tool: Move tracks or segments of audio back and forth in time to align with other parts of the session. This is useful for editing pauses or mistakes out of the final recording.
  • Truncate Silence: Shorten lengthy pauses automatically, keeping the narrative engaging and paced correctly.

Exporting and Saving

  • Exporting Audio: File > Export allows you to save your project. Remember, all Aftersight files must be .mp3, 192 kbps, and mono.
  • Saving Projects: Save the Audacity project (File > Save Project) to retain all track information and edits for later modification.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Utilize keyboard shortcuts to streamline editing processes, like quickly zooming in on a waveform for detailed editing or starting/stopping recordings efficiently.

Action PC Shortcuts Mac Shortcuts
Save Ctrl + S ⌘ + S
Zoom in Ctrl + 1 ⌘ + 1
Zoom normal Ctrl + 2 ⌘ + 2
Zoom out Ctrl + 3 ⌘ + 3
Zoom to selection Ctrl + E ⌘ + E
Fit in window Ctrl + F ⌘ + F
Go to selection start Ctrl + [ ⌘ + [
Go to the selection end Ctrl + ] ⌘ + ]
Undo Ctrl + Z ⌘ + Z
Redo Ctrl + Y ⌘ + Shift + Z
Cut Ctrl + X ⌘ + X
Delete Delete Delete or Backspace
Copy Ctrl + C ⌘ + C
Paste Ctrl + V ⌘ + V
Select all Ctrl + A ⌘ + A
Move cursor to track start J J
Move cursor to track end K K
Play or stop Spacebar Spacebar
Pause P P
Skip to start Home Home or ⌘ + Left Arrow
Skip to end End End or ⌘ + Right Arrow
Record R R
Append record Shift + R Shift + R
Selection tool F1 F1

Aftersight Specific Review and Reference Guide

Recording Audio: Aftersight Standards

  • Quality and Timeliness: Our listeners rely on us for quality, accurate audio information. Failing to meet these standards might lead to retraining or dismissal.
  • Audio Requirements:
    • Format and Quality: Record in 192 kbps Mp3, Constant Bit Rate (CBR), and 44.1kHz (44100 Hz) in mono.
    • Consistency: Ensure sound and formatting consistency across recordings.
    • Cleanliness: Recordings must be free from background noise, popping, buzzing, etc.
    • Timeliness: Adhere to specified deadlines.
    • Naming: Use your program code for the filename as specified upon assignment.

Common Audio Issues and Tips

  • Artifacts and Distortion: Avoid excessive noise reduction and ensure proper microphone settings. Maintain a -12dB peak to prevent clipping and ensure consistent audio levels.
  • Microphone Placement: Position the microphone correctly to capture clear audio, avoiding too quiet or distorted sound.
  • Avoid Clipping and Distortion: Speak at an appropriate distance from the microphone and adjust mic volume to prevent audio peaks.
  • Room Ambience: Minimize echo by optimizing your recording environment with sound-dampening materials.

Reading and Presentation Requirements

  • Authenticity and Clarity: Read content verbatim, maintaining the original material’s integrity. Focus on clear, understandable speech.
  • Handling Mistakes: Verbalize corrections during recording or edit them out responsibly and professionally.
  • Sensitive Language: Read sensitive content as written, maintaining news integrity. Use disclaimers or verbal cues if necessary.

Key Takeaways and Final Notes

  • Recording Right from the Start: The best method to ensure high-quality audio is to record it correctly in the first instance. A solid pre-production setup, including proper microphone placement, room preparation, and sound checks, is crucial and superior to relying on post-production editing to correct recording errors.
  • Monitor Levels: Ensure audio levels are green to yellow during recording; red indicates clipping (distortion). While recording, keep an eye on the level meter; adjust the microphone or recording volume to stay within the optimal range.
  • Regular Saving: Save progress frequently to avoid losing edits and recordings.
  • Avoid Over-Editing
    • Minimal Editing Philosophy: Focus on making necessary edits only, such as removing significant pauses, errors, or background noises, without altering the natural flow of the reading. Example: If a sentence is read correctly but with a slight pause, consider whether the pause affects the listening experience before editing it out.
  • Conservative Application of Effects
    • Appropriate Effects Application:  Typically, the only effects you should be using for Aftersight work is noise reduction and mild equalization. No reverb, echo, or other effects that can distract from the content.
    • Example: Use equalization sparingly to improve voice clarity without making it sound unnatural or processed.
  • Always listen back. After applying an edit, play it back to check for any issues or anomalies in the audio. This practice helps catch mistakes, ensure consistency, and verify that the edits are improving the overall quality of the audio without introducing distractions.

Congratulations on completing the coursework! You are now approaching the final test and demo file submission, which are crucial steps toward earning your Aftersight Editing Certificate. Your performance on these assessments will demonstrate your ability to apply what you’ve learned in real-world editing scenarios. Please allow us a couple of weeks to thoroughly review your demo. Based on your test scores and the quality of your demo, we will determine if you are ready to edit your own files. Look out for an email from us regarding your certification status. Good luck!

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