Audacity is a popular free audio recording and editing application. You can download it for free at SourceForge. After downloading and installing Audacity you will be able to record, edit and save audio files. However, if you intend to save your files in the .mp3 format you will need to install an encoder called Lame Encoder. Instructions for installing the Lame Encoder are in the Lame Encoder Set Up section below.
Recording Audio Files
Before you begin recording be sure your microphone is connected securely and records properly. To connect the microphone you will want to look for a connection on your computer that looks similar to the image on the right.
Once you have the mic connected the next thing you want to do is open up Audacity. To do this go to the Start Menu and choose Audacity from the programs menu. Once Audacity has started you will see a screen that looks like this
From here you can simply start to record. It is as easy as hitting the record button and speaking into your mic. As you speak you will see the play head moving across the screen and the sounds of your recording being populated in the screen. So your screen will begin to look like this
Once you have created your sound file you can edit the file if you need to. There is one main tools in Audacity and it is very easy to use. The selection tool
allows you to manipulate your sound file and get rid of the giggles and other mistakes with out much effort. By clicking and dragging the cursor you can highlight the area that you want to delete.
Editing Audio Files
Now that you have the area selected simply go to the edit menu, and choose delete
This will take the selected area out of your sound project. There are other options in the edit menu that you may want to use. Cut and copy work as they do in Microsoft Word, allowing you to move or add to you project. If you choose edit>trim you will clear everything but the sound you have selected. This can be handy if you have dead air before or after your main composition.
Saving Audio Files
Once you have your recording set up as you would like it you are ready to export your project into a format that people can listen to.
Audacity saves each project into its own file format, but it allows you to export the file as a standard mp3 file if you download the LAME MP3 encoder when you initially download Audacity.
To convert a file to an mp3 simply go to file>Export as mp3
At this point you will be asked what you want to call the file and where you want to save it. Once you have done this if you haven't installed the Lame Encoder you will see the following error message.
So now it is time to unzip the LAME Encoder file and set up Audacity to encode mp3s.
Lame Encoder Set Up
First you will want to download the LAME Encoder for you computer if you haven't already. Next you will want to unzip the file if you are using a Windows operating system. If you are using a Macinosh operating system you will want to unzip the file using StuffIt.
Once you have unzipped the folder on a PC you will want to move the to a place where you won't accidentally delete it. For example I put my Lame files in C:\Program Files\Audacity\Plug-Ins which is the location of the rest of the files for the Audacity program. Now when you see the warning about locating the lame_enc.dll you will simply need to navigate to the location of the file. Which in my example is C:\Program Files\Audacity\Plug-Ins\lame-3.96.1.
On a Macintosh you will unzip the folder then move the LameLib file
into the Audacity plug-ins folder. To access this folder you will want to open your Applications folder and navigate to the Audacity folder. In the Audacity folder there is a folder labeled plug-ins, simply move the LameLib file into this folder and you will be ready to convert your Audcaity projects into mp3s.
Now you should be able to save your file as an mp3. The next window that you will see is a window that has a place where you can enter information describing the .mp3 file in the form of an ID3 tag. ID3 tags inform media players (i.e. - Windows Media Player or iTunes) about the file and help categorize them by artist, album, genre, etc.
Simply fill in the information about your podcast. Keep in mind this information will show up in other peoples media players. So being consistent in using these tags is helpful.
Now you should have an mp3 file of your podcast. Go ahead and open it in your media player and listen to it once more before uploading it to the web.