Text-Audio Synchronization Question

I have a rather particular problem that could be fixed by synchronizing an audio file with a given text. Permit me to preface my explanation by saying that my knowledge of digital audio and the various tools that exist is essentially non-existence. That said, here’s my situation.

I have been using Audacity to archive in digital format a large number of opera recordings I have currently on vinyl and cassette. Each opera, of course, is several hours of dialogue and singing in a foreign language (mostly Italian or German). Leaving the digital versions as single tracks is not practical, and dividing them into arbitrary similarly sized tracks makes it impossible to find anything except by listening through from the beginning.

The solution that I have been using heretofore is to find the track listing for a digital recording of the same opera (say on Amazon) and then pull up the words to the opera, hit play on the recording, and, following along with the words, insert track divisions in my recording at the same places as those found in the commercial digital recording (tracks on opera recordings are almost always named by the lyrics that begin the track). This works, but is enormously time consuming, especially because I don’t actually speak Italian or German—so if I lose my place following the text by sound, I have to go back to my last stopping point and start over again.

So now the question: is there a utility I could use to synchronize the lyrics with the music, so I could identify where the track divisions should go without having to read the entire libretto and find each place by hand? I know this is possible, but I’m looking for something (if it exists) that is 1. free or dirt cheap and 2. not labor intensive to use (I already have that)—I need something where I can plug in the text, plug in the audio, and get a synchronization out the other end.

Audacity is a simple post-producton editing program that has limited interaction with the outside world. Most of the postings on the forum involve trying to make audacity record and play sound – and have trouble doing that.


I use a plug-in called [u]MiniLyrics[/u] ($25 USD). I use it with Winamp and it’s compatible with most media players.

There are two ways to store synchronized lyrics -

Probably the most universal is an [u]LRC file[/u]. It’s just a text file with a time code in front of each text-line. You can create it with a text editor, or there are programs (like MiniLyrics) that make it a bit easier to time-stamp a lyrics file. (It’s still very time consuming!)

Or, if you are using MP3 files or another format that supports [u]ID3 Tags[/u], there is an ID3 tag called “SYLT” that holds synchronized lyrics. Again, there is software for writing these, including and MiniLyrics.

The main reason that i chose MiniLyrics and happily paid money for it is because they have a good online database of LRC files. (They had lyrics for about half of my music library.) But, I doubt you’ll find your opera lyrics unless there are a few serious opera lovers using MiniLyrics to create LRC files and uploading to the database. :frowning:

A couple more ideas -
You could make a karaoke CD (“CD+G”) and play it with karaoke player software. (I’ve never done that so I can’t recommend any particular software).

You could make a DVD with subtitles. That would be more universal, since anyone with a DVD player (or DVD-player software on their computer) could use it. Since you don’t have opera video, you could have a blank-black video, a still image of the album cover, or a slide show. I use [u]DVD-Lab[/u] ($130 - $250 USD for the versions that do subtitles), but any DVD authoring program that can make subtitles will do.

Here’s a partial LRC file -

[ar:The Rolling Stones]
[ti:(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction]
[al:Out Of Our Heads]

[00:06.00](I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
[00:08.00]The Rolling Stones

[00:15.06]I can't get no satisfaction 
[00:22.21]I can't get no satisfaction 
[00:28.15]'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try 
[00:35.08]I can't get no, I can't get no