New User Just Wishing to Narrate

I am very non-technical and am just trying to make a recording with my voice where I give some meditation techniques. I worked on it last night for a while and have a few questions.

  1. I know each time you click stop and start again it starts a new track. Is it better to do it this way rather than to hit pause and just stay in the same track?
    Does that make it easier for editing out pauses or other possible issue? I did see instructions for later combining tracks but wasn’t sure as a new person if I’m better off just using the pause button and being silent first few seconds after I hit record versus trying to figure out how to add in subsequent tracks later.

  2. Should I be using the default setting stereo? Should there be an adjustment in volume? It sounded good to me when I replayed it.

  3. Ultimately I will want to export as an mp3 file. Will the quality be significantly different when that is done? Thank you for any help!


  1. It’s probably easier editing later if you keep everything on one track. You don’t have to use Pause. You can Stop completely and Append Record at any time with Shift-R. That will put your new dialog right at the end of the old every time. You can also press Control-M during the dialog to place a label at the joining point so you can find it easier later.

  2. My own very personal preference is to shoot everything in stereo only because I know my client is expecting that. Shooting a single voice in mono is very economical with little or no sacrifice except possibly surprise at the end when you supply something not expected.

2a) There are two ways to tell if your volume levels are right, the bouncing sound meters and the blue waves. This is a perfectly recorded show.

The blue wave peaks occur around the 0.5 marks (up and down) and the bouncing sound meters peak around -6.

You should make the sound meters bigger by clicking on the right-hand edge and dragging to the right. They’re pretty important if you’re going to perform for a client.

You can, within reason, get this approximate presentation in post production with Effect > Amplify: New Peak -1.

  1. You need to examine your goal to determine the compression. MP3 sound damage goes all the way from almost zero to very significant honking and bubbling. What is the job? Here stereo/mono matters. A mono show will sound better at a given compression than stereo.

You are warned that MP3 is an end product - final destination like your iPod or other personal music player. You can’t back up and do further production with an MP3 voice.

Your product should be saved as perfect quality WAV for your own use and archiving. You can make anything from that, but you can’t reverse MP3 damage.

This again goes back to the client. Many clients will not accept MP3 for delivery because they plan to apply their own compression and the voice will fall apart quickly.


A note on backups. You should not record for multiple hours before saving your work.

Audacity will not save a sound file. Audacity saves Projects. Projects save individual tracks, positions, editing points and general presentation, but they’re not sound files. You can Export a WAV (or MP3) file. Those are actual sound files and they will play anywhere, but you lose all the Audacity edit tools and positions.

Audacity will not save UNDO.

Don’t keep saving new work on top of old. Keep advancing the filenames and Save As: rather than Save:

Voice 12Noon
Voice 1PM
Voice 2PM

I’ve been known to use the ISO date and time

If you keep saving new work on top of old (one single filename for three days), the first time the computer makes a mistake, the show is garbage and you have to reshoot the voice from the beginning.