Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

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Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by yellowtriumph » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:07 pm

As per my previous thread on signal levels I have now purchased a Behringer 802 audio mixer to control the audio levels from my old Akai tape recorder going to a Behringer digitiser. This now appears to be working well and has sorted out my signal level issues.

So now I am experimenting. My personal project is to digitise quite a few old tape recordings from the 70's with a view to transferring them to some sort of playback device for easy high quality listening in the future. Eventually I would like to 'stream' the recordings from my iMac to my apple compatible devices around the home. But, I'm also considering uploading them to youtube for others to enjoy.

My quandary now is - what format do I save the complete audio files after I have cleaned them up and edited out any spurious bits etc? I guess I want maximum flexibility in the future as I don't want to repeat this project again, and naturally I would like the highest technical quality too. Are these demands mutually exclusive I ask myself. I have little knowledge of audio formats so will need holding by the hand for the initial testing and experimentation phase anyway.

I'm sort of assuming I need to save the final edited audio packages in the best audio quality I can and then transcode them to whatever playing 'device' I select - and this is likely to be different devices.

Any thoughts and advice welcome.
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Re: Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:23 pm

One item many people walk around is backups. Always be able to point to two separate storage devices containing your work. The original tapes can be one of those. So don't automatically throw the tapes in the bin.

WAV (Microsoft) at CD quality (44100, 16-bit, Stereo) is a good storage format. It's uncompressed, "Perfect" Quality and it's supported on all three computer platforms. Just don't go over about 3 hours in one go.

MP3 is a delivery format. You can convert the WAV work to MP3 just before you copy it to your Portable Music Device or an on-line service. One very significant problem with MP3 is the quality sinks when you start editing it. That's not a problem with WAV.

I think it's FLAC that combines gentle compression and very good if not excellent quality in large files. But. Have you ever heard of FLAC? I hadn't, either, and as far as I know Audacity is the only program I have which will open them. So that can limit their usefulness.

Koz
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Re: Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by Trebor » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:30 pm

yellowtriumph wrote: I'm also considering uploading them to youtube for others to enjoy.

There are websites which host Audio, rather than Video, e.g.SoundCloud.

http://download.cnet.com/guides/best-soundcloud-alternatives/
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Re: Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by billw58 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:23 am

To start with, save in an uncompressed format such as WAV or AIF, or a lossless compression format such as FLAC. [FLAC is lossless. That is different from "gentle" compression].

Now you can make MP3 files in whatever bit rate you need depending on how you are delivering them.

-- Bill
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Re: Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:05 am

in whatever bit rate you need depending on how you are delivering them.

Which brings us to asking you who your audience is. Who is it?

It's super important to know if you are going to expect them to edit your work. That's very different from sliding a track into a music player for a day at the beach.

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Re: Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by yellowtriumph » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:09 pm

Many thanks for the informative replies that has given me some food for thought.

So - what is the source material? Generally they are off-air radio recordings of FM stereo broadcasts in the 70's. Some have been recorded at 7.5ips, some at a lowly 1.7/8 its. There is nothing about the material within the recordings that is valuable in cultural or monetary terms but to me, and maybe others, there is some pleasure to be had from listening to these recording as they were originally broadcast. I firmly expect the original broadcaster would not have copies, and, I doubt they would be interested in getting hold of them either. From the sample I have made to date I would say the material varies in length from 30mins up to a maximum of 2 hours.

My intention is to transfer them to a digital file that has maximum quality so that I can listen to them at home in 'top whack' quality, but perhaps upload then to youtube for others to listen to. I would not imagine anyone would be looking to download any material (from youtube for example) to edit any of it as each 'piece' would be complete.

Long term storage? I am happy enough to keep hard drive copies of the recordings in the 'top whack' quality and of course to hold duplicates of those files elsewhere. Once I have completed the project I do not intend to keep either the tapes or the tape deck. the deck is working fine and my intention would be to pass it on (for a suitable charitable donation) to another enthusiast who would be able to make good use of it - I am a member of a suitable forum where I can do that. Why not keep the tapes? - part of the purpose of this project is to make space!

Seems to me then that I am veering towards storing the 'source' final edited files in WAV format and then consider transcoding them to whatever format I need depending on the 'destination' - is that sounding sensible?

PS, although thinking about it further, given that HD space is not likely to be an issue I could store both formats? Or is that a silly suggestion?
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Re: Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:31 pm

Seems to me then that I am veering towards storing the 'source' final edited files in WAV format and then consider transcoding them to whatever format I need depending on the 'destination' - is that sounding sensible?

Perfectly. That's how I shoot and deliver work to a client.
although thinking about it further, given that HD space is not likely to be an issue I could store both formats? Or is that a silly suggestion?

No, that's perfectly rational, but just to be clear that's separate from the Second WAV copy. You can't do production editing on an MP3 without causing sound damage. There are editors which will do simple cuts without causing additional damage. The instant you want to do something as simple as changing volume, you're dead.

Picture one drive failing to mount (happened to me recently) or starting to make ticking sounds in the case of a mechanical drive. Shicka, shicka, shicka, shicka, followed by colorful military language.

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Re: Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by yellowtriumph » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:00 am

kozikowski wrote:
Seems to me then that I am veering towards storing the 'source' final edited files in WAV format and then consider transcoding them to whatever format I need depending on the 'destination' - is that sounding sensible?

Perfectly. That's how I shoot and deliver work to a client.
although thinking about it further, given that HD space is not likely to be an issue I could store both formats? Or is that a silly suggestion?

No, that's perfectly rational, but just to be clear that's separate from the Second WAV copy. You can't do production editing on an MP3 without causing sound damage. There are editors which will do simple cuts without causing additional damage. The instant you want to do something as simple as changing volume, you're dead.

Picture one drive failing to mount (happened to me recently) or starting to make ticking sounds in the case of a mechanical drive. Shicka, shicka, shicka, shicka, followed by colorful military language.

Koz


Thank you Koz. To be clear, and taking one radio show as an example, I would be intending to ingest the analogue recording material from my tape deck into Audacity using my Behringer digitiser, edit that recording down to its final playable state 'content-wise' using Audacity, and then save this edited version as both WAV and FLAC files on a single hard drive. Then copy these WAV and FLAC files to another separate physical disc for safety. Repeat for the next radio show. Transcode either the WAV to Flac files to a suitable file format depending on where I intend to listen to the material or indeed to upload to the www somewhere as required.

Edited to add, I appreciate from an initial reading of the Audacity software that I may have to do some jiggery pokery to be able to save the final edited files in the FLAC format, I will cross that bridge at a later stage - the first thing I have to do is find the time to start this entire project off - there are a lot of tapes to start work on!
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Re: Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by Trebor » Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:37 pm

yellowtriumph wrote:... what is the source material? Generally they are off-air radio recordings of FM stereo broadcasts in the 70's.

You may have problems putting that on YouTube or SoundCloud : they have automatic copyright-infringement detection, see ... https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2797370
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Re: Off and running, but what audio format to save in?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:25 am

save this edited version as both WAV and FLAC files on a single hard drive. Then copy these WAV and FLAC files to another separate physical disc for safety.

Oddly, I don't agree. People assume the more the merrier, but in backups, if you make them too complex, you stop doing them, or worse, miss versions and processes. The sweet spot between No Backups and Too Many Backups is two. Main and Protection Copy.

WAV and FLAC content is exactly the same and just wastes time, effort and drive space. Use WAV, full stop.

Making low quality copies for posting or other production is completely up to you. If one of those goes face-first in the mud, you can always make another from one of the two perfectly quality WAVs. Or, I think you addressed this up the thread, make a copy of the archive MP3 (for example) if you made archives of the MP3s.

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