Audio Book track editing


I am trying to find out if Audacity is the right app for what I want to do.

I have several audio books, and the chapters always break at odd and unproductive places. is there a way I can merge all the tracks, and then create my own tracks, based on where I want/need the breaks to be?

Thank you.

Yes you can do that with Audacity, though I’d recommend doing it in a slightly different way. Working with extremely long tracks is quite hard on the computer, so I’d recommend working in sections. I’d suggest a workflow something like this (I’m assuming that you want your files as MP3):

  1. Put a copy of all of the original files in one folder (safer to work with copies)
  2. Create an empty folder for the new files.

3.Import Chapters 1 and 2.
4. Use the Time Shift Tool to move chapter 2 to the end of Chapter 1 (drag it along and up onto the same track).
5. Select from the start of the track to where you want the new first file to end.
6. “File menu > Export > Export Selected Audio”. Set the required format settings (for example, "MP3, Constant, 128 kbps) and export into the new folder that you created in step 2.
7. “Edit menu > Delete” to delete the selected audio from the project.

  1. If there’s enough audio remaining to select the next (new) chapter, repeat steps 5 to 7. If not, import Chapter 3, and then repeat steps 4 to 7.

and so on.

Thank you!

What I want to do is not necessarily join tracks 1 and 2…

The breaks in all the audiobooks are at illogical places (probably by design, who knows?).

Here’s one example:

The book starts with chapter one, but the actual track ends 2 minutes into chapter two.
The second track, already with two minutes of chapter one at the beginning of the track, ends mid-way through the book’s chapter 3.
And so on.

What I’d love to do is just put all the breaks at the end of the books’s actual chapters, whether they are short or long.

I have a couple of audiobooks on CD the track markers were also in screwy (random?) locations. I made MP3s with one sub-chapter per file.

It’s been a couple of years so I don’t remember all of the details but the chapters weren’t “announced” in the recording and I didn’t have the printed book so I found the table of contents online and tried to figure out where the chapters started.

I broke it to sub-chapters of probably about 10 minutes depending on where the breaks seemed logical.

To make sorting & sequencing easier I used a number prefix for the file name so the first section of chapter one was in the style of "1-1 Sally Meets Johnny" or maybe “1A Sally Meets Johnny”. I don’t remember what I did for the next section but maybe “1-2 Johnny Meets Sally (continued)”. And I used the ID3 track number tags so the player software can also sequence the track that way. (Those track numbers don’t correspond to the chapter numbers because there are more files than chapters.)

…By the time I was done I pretty-much had the book memorized! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: That’s how it is with audio (or video) editing. It’s time consuming and you end-up listening to the whole thing (in parts) multiple times.

I guess a simplified version of what I’m asking is (and I’m a first time Audacity user, by the way, hence the newbie question):

can i just combine all the tracks into one track, then go back to the beginning and go through book, putting breaks where they should be (most of these books are business books, not novels – so i’m often wanting to go back only a few seconds or minutes to quickly review a concept that was just just discusses. As it is now, if I click to go back, it may take me 5 or 10 minutes backwards, to a point where the narrator is talking about something completely different). I want to chop up the audio into smaller segments that make sense, based on a certain topic – and then title them, so I can later just go back to the specific two-minute section to re-fresh on what the narrator is discussing there.

Is that do-able in Audacity?

The simplest (though not necessarily “best”) way to do what you want (note that this requires a lot of free disk space, and if it’s a long book then you may find that Audacity becomes a bit sluggish):

  1. Launch Audacity 2.4.2
  2. “File menu > Import > Audio” and import all of the audiobook files
  3. If necessary, click and drag the panel on the left end of the track to move tracks up/down so that the files are in the correct order - first chapter at the top, down to last chapter at the bottom.
  4. “Tracks menu > Align Tracks > Align End to End”
  5. If necessary, use the Time Shift Tool to drag the audio segments left / right so that playback flows naturally from one chapter to the next. (You may need to zoom in / out while doing this:
  6. “Ctrl + A” (select All)
  7. “Tracks menu > Mix > Mix and Render”. This will mix down all of the tracks into one long track
  8. Add labels where you want the new files to start, and then use “Export Multiple” - see here for details: