When joining two audio files together, I would like to be sure that the resulting file retains the characteristics of the original files of which it is comprised. Specifically, I’m concerned that, as a result of certain preference settings (e.g., Import/Export), I may accidentally alter the characteristics of the resulting file in some way. To clarify a bit, I’m not concerned about altering the original files, as I am choosing the Copy option when importing them to join them, though I’m still concerned that, during import, I may alter the characteristics of the copied files to be joined such that they are not identical to the original files.
Is this a case in which I’ll want to determine the characteristics of the original files so that I can set up certain preferences in the Recording, Quality, and Import/Export (and other?) preference panes prior to importing, joining, and then exporting? (I am not well-versed in things audio and am intimidated by the various options in the preference panes.) If so, what is the most straightforward way to determine the characteristics of the original files, and how can that information guide me in terms of what preferences to set?
the resulting file retains the characteristics of the original files of which it is comprised.
You want a WAV editor, not Audacity. Audacity converts all incoming work to a very high quality internal sound format, edits, and then converts again during export. There is no guaranteed relationship between in and out.
Everyone gets a bit daunted by the complex terminology of a new subject, and audio is particularly complex. What you, as a novice, have to accept is that those who wrote the software knew what they were doing and have set it up to do a good job for almost everybody. And for those who aren’t happy with those results, they have provided lots of “knobs and sliders” to twiddle so that they can try and improve even further on already excellent sound.
At the end of the day, the only meaningful test of audio is: “What does it sound like?”. I suggest you go with the defaults and see what it sounds like to you. If you don’t like the result, then come back with specific questions and you’ll find folks here who are ready to hold your hand through the most complex of problems.
Thanks, Koz! That makes sense and it sounds like exactly what I’m looking for. Can you recommend a free WAV editor for Mac OSX 10.4.11?
I did do a preliminary search on “wav editor free mac,” and one answer in a resulting page of a related forum was to use iMovie, which I already have as a packaged application (and which I’ve never before had a reason to use). What do you think? (And, of course, Audacity was cited by the vast majority of the users of that forum as the go-to application. )
…What you, as a novice, have to accept is that those who wrote the software knew what they were doing and have set it up to do a good job for almost everybody. And for those who aren’t happy with those results, they have provided lots of “knobs and sliders” to twiddle so that they can try and improve even further on already excellent sound.
Thanks for your response. Good point, and I absolutely accept and appreciate the time, effort, and expertise behind the development and maintenance of Audacity, especially - as you point out - the effort to accommodate all levels of users. My feelings of intimidation reflect my current level of knowledge (or dearth thereof), not the presentation or workings of the application.
At the end of the day, the only meaningful test of audio is: “What does it sound like?”…
…I suggest you go with the defaults and see what it sounds like to you.
I have made changes to the settings over time and no longer know what the default settings are. Is there a way to reset the settings to the “original factory settings”?
If you don’t like the result, then come back with specific questions and you’ll find folks here who are ready to hold your hand through the most complex of problems.
To make the resulting exported file identical to the imported files (assuming all you are doing is joining two or more files together, not mixing them):
Go to Preferences, the Quality section, and set the Default Sample Rate and Default Sample Format to be the same as the files you are importing.
In that same Preferences section, under High Quality Conversion, set Dither to None.
Assuming you do not apply any effects but simply join to files end-to-end then export, you should get what you are asking for.
With Audacity’s default settings (32-bit floating point format, Shaped high-quality dither), it will:
a) import WAV and AIF files as 32-bit floating point, which involves a conversion from their (usual) 16-bit integer formats - there is no loss in this conversion.
b) apply dither on export, which will make tiny changes to the data but which will most likely be inaudible.
Bill, as a follow up to my last “Thanks!” reply to you,…
As you suggested, I set the Default Sample Format in Preferences > Quality to match the sample format of the files to be joined, which in this case is 24-bit. I did this before importing the files. But when I imported the files, I noticed that for each track, in the information to the left of the sound wave displays of the tracks, it states “32-bit float.”
So, using the downward triangle just to the right of the names of the files in the sound wave displays, do I want to choose “Set Sample Format > 24-bit PCM” for each track before joining them (or, alternatively, for the final joined track prior to exporting)? Btw, I don’t know if it matters, but the original files are “hi res unlimited” 96kHz 24-bit WAV files. They are downloaded files, access provided as a bonus as part of a box set.
The important part here is to set the Sample Rate to the same as the files you are importing.
The Sample Format may be safely left at 32-bit float (default) and generally should be left at 32-bit float.
Turning off dither is not normally recommended except for the case that you describe. If you are only making simple cut/paste type edits then dither may be switched off to avoid adding dither unnecessarily.
To edit these completely losslessly you will need to export in the same format. Note that some programs may not be able to handle this format correctly. Note also that if you make an audio CD from these files the format will be converted to 16 bit 44.1 kHz.
To export as 96kHz 24-bit WAV, ensure that the “Project Rate” is set to 96000 Hz (bottom left corner of the main Audacity window).
File menu > Export
Select “Other uncompressed files”
Click on the “Options” button.
Select “WAV (Microsoft)” as the “header” and “Signed 24 bit PCM” as the “Encoding”.
Thank you for both of your helpful responses. Between your suggestions and those of others in this thread, I believe that all bases have been covered and that I’ll be able to import/cut/paste/export with confidence, knowing that I’ll be preserving the characteristics of the original files.