Recording voice for 2-day workshop

My computer is Windows 7 and I downloaded from .exe installer version 2.0.3

I will be recording voice (a workshop speaker) on my laptop for a 2-day workshop and have already figured out how to record and export it to a file on my hard drive. I will be using the file to listen to and I may email it to others.

I need guidance:

  1. Should I be exporting the file at every break, i.e. is there a file size limit with Audacity that I need to be concerned about?
  2. At each break, what file format should I export to–MP3 or WAV?
  3. Should I record in mono to create a smaller file?
  4. What should I be asking that I don’t know to ask?

Thanks so much!!!

  1. Mono.

Yes. If you know the performance is only going to be one microphone, Mono is a good thing. Much more efficient and in the event you have to deliver a stereo show, you can make a stereo show with the same thing on both channels easily.

  1. MP3

Never do original production in MP3. It’s a compressed format and always damages the performance sound and you can’t stop it. You can deliver in whatever you want, but the originals should always be clear, perfect, uncompressed – and copies saved someplace safe.

  1. Breaks

If you have the time, then I would say export to WAV whenever possible. It’s faster to prepare an Audacity Project ahead of time and Save instead of Export, but that’s up for discussion. When you reach the end of the performance, make copies of all your work on Something Else like a thumb drive. There are steps you need to take to back up an Audacity Project, but that can work, too.

  1. What Else?

Have you done live recording before? You seem to be taking steps to eliminate the gremlins as much as possible, but there’s no substitute for performing an actual capture and go through the steps.

Audacity Management is reasonably straightforward. Don’t go by all the postings of gloom and doom. Remember, we get the concentrated horror from the whole planet earth. That’s not typical. More as I think of it.

Live recording is a lot more difficult than people think. There was a posting right before yours where somebody asked what settings in Audacity should be made to eliminate background noise. Nice try. You have to put the microphone in the right place. Full Stop. You usually can’t help in post production, either. Once you produce a distorted or noisy show, you’re stuck. The video people have a joke of applying the “Reshoot Filter.” Take the microphone back out and shoot it right this time.

So most of your attention should be to the actual capture. Is there is a podium microphone? Is the performer your performer? Are they performing just for you? Live captures of a lecture are very difficult. Describe that part in as much detail as you can.


Before I scare you to death, if you’re the only person likely to listen to these recordings, you can do whatever you want. I always approach shows with the idea that they’re going to go to an audience of millions. Because many of them do. Koz

One more. There is a limit to the size of a WAV file. You can’t record for weeks and then save a WAV. I don’t remember what the upper limit is. It’s 2 or 4 GB which is substantial but not forever. Koz

Someone will correct me, but I get around 100MB for 200 minutes in mono, so I don’t think you’re likely to run out.

Do you have good headphones? Good recordists listen to the show in progress. Nothing like getting to the end of the two day show and produce tons of hum and distortion because of a broken cable.


Thank you Koz!! I will review all of your notes on Saturday and will be back at you for any clarification I need. Again, a big thank you! What a quick response :smiley: June

Hi Koz:

Okay, I have changed the recording format to Mono. The microphone is built-in to my laptop and is the microphone that is part of the webcam. I’ve done a test run and the mic seems fine for my needs. I’m just recording this for my use so that I can study the material that will be presented. So I’m hoping that I’ll be able to set my laptop a few feet away from the speaker, who will not be using a microphone.

I have a few more questions:

  1. If I save the file in Audacity, can I later export it as a WAV? How exactly do I save the file in Audacity since it sounds like it is faster and the preferred way?

  2. I have figured out how to export the recording to a WAV since that is the ultimate format you think I should use, but if I have say a 2-hr file, will it take some time to export it, possibly more time than I would have during a workshop break?

  3. It looks like I can back up the WAV or Audacity file by just dragging and dropping it to my stick. Correct?

Thanks again.


Yes. File > Save Project. I believe the recommendation is to start a show and save it right away with little or no actual sound in it. Saving is very rapid after that. I think you can even use the hot keys to make it even faster yet. On my machines, Command-S. Yours will be different.

You need to know that a Project is more brittle than a standard sound file, so if you have time at the end of each major capture, File > Export > Microsoft WAV.

“Microsoft WAV” is magic. It’s perfect quality and fully supported on all three major computer types. You can send Steve and me (Linux/Mac) WAV copies of your show and we will both be able to open it.

An Audacity Project isn’t a single thing. It’s an AUP text file with instructions how to use all the little pieces and fragments inside the _DATA folder to put your show back together again. Those two must travel together and be in the same folder for the show to open.

The main production difference between Saving a Project and Exporting a WAV is the Project saves the environment as well as the show and all the tracks, clips, etc. etc (except UNDO). The WAV file is just a sound file. If you didn’t much care about the efficiency, you could put a WAV file on your iPod and listen in the park. Projects only open in Audacity.

If you were in the middle of an extensive, painful, time-consuming production and you had to go to bed because you kept falling face-forward on the keyboard, then Saving a Project is the way to go. If you leave the computer running, you will be able to use the UNDO as well. There is no way to save UNDO after Audacity closes.

Exporting the WAV is just us being paranoid. If you do want to listen on your iPod in the park, opening either the WAV or the Project and Exporting as MP3 is totally recommended.

MP3 is for the end user. NOT a production format.


More common mistakes. If you have the opportunity, Save several different Projects. Don’t just keep piling up more and more show into one Project.

Do Not use punctuation marks in filenames. Upper and lower case letters, numbers, underscore, and dash are the only unconditionally safe characters. Do Not put dates in your filename. Today is not 4/29/13, it’s 20130429, or 2013-04-29. There’s actually a time and date standard that says that. I’m not making that up.


Got it. Thanks so much! June

An exported 16-bit mono WAV at 44100 Hz sample rate takes 5 MB per minute. So 200 minutes is about 1000 MB (about 1 GB). The limit for WAV is 4 GB but you should not go above 2 GB for WAV because older media players or older versions of Windows will not support WAV files greater than 2 GB.

The Manual has some information about file sizes: .


Dear Koz:

Just to let you know that the recording turned out great. Thanks again.