Below is a summary of the workflow that I use to get my Audacity Projects (LP and tape transcriptions and material recorded off-air from FM radio) into iTunes as AAC files. There are many other ways to achieve the same ends, but this method has been working reliably and well for me for quite a while now.
- Record and edit the project in Audacity
- Label The tracks
- Export as a set of WAV files
- Add the WAV files into iTunes
- Use iTunes to edit the metadata for the album name and artist
- Use iTunes to make AAC copies (at your chosen bitrate) in the library from the WAV files
- Delete the WAV files from the library.
- Edit the metadata tags of the tracks/album
- Fetch the album artwork
- Optionally make a CD – and create cover & playlist
- And almost last, but not least - backup my updated iTunes library
- Delete the Audacity project file (.aup and folder) to release hard disk space
some more detail:
For step 1. I record and edit with Audacity set at 44.1kHz and 32-bit floating stereo (this gives me good headroom for any required editing).
For step 2. To facilitate correct ordering later I Label the tracks 01 <track_name_1>, 02 <track_name_2>, etc.). All the files for a particular album or show are placed in a specific named folder for that album/show.
For step 3. I down-sample on export to 44.1Khz 16-bit PCM stereo (part of the Red Book standard for CDs).
For Step 4. Add the WAV files to the iTunes library (using File > Add File to Library or File > Add Folder to Library. Note that they get added to the library as WAV files, with a bitrate of 1411 kbps, and are not converted in this step. I usually add the folder created in Step 2. Even though in my iTunes application I have the Import Settings ( Edit > Preferences > General > Import Settings ) set to Import Using AAC and with my preferred bitrate set via Custom – no conversion takes place as this only applies to importing from CD - If I add the WAV files direct to iTunes then they get added to the library as WAV files, with a bitrate of 1411 kbps.
For Step 5. One of the columns I always have showing in my iTunes library is Bitrate. Clicking on the Bitrate column header will re-order the display by bitrate (you need to have All Genres/Artists/Albums showing).
The WAV files should show up as a set at the top of the list (or bottom) - mine show at a bitrate of 1411 kbps. Alternatively you could activate the Kind column - whereby the imported files will show as WAV and similarly clicking on the Kind column header will produce a suitable ordering for you… Select all the WAV files and use iTunes’ metadata editor to enter the album name and the artist name so that I can easily find it in step 8. I suppose you could set this metadata prior to Audacity Export using Audacity’s metadata editor - it was easier in 1.2 than it has become in 1.3, which is why I now use iTunes rather than Audacity to manage the metadata).
For Step 6. From step 4 the WAV files should still be the only selected tunes at this stage, providing that you have done no further clicking – convert them to AAC by using Advanced > Create AAC version. Note carefully this makes a “copy” not a straight conversion (hence step 6 below).
For Step 7. The WAV files should still remain as the selected tunes - just take extreme care at this stage (the AACs are created but selection is not forced by iTunes) So then I just Delete the selected files using the Delete key - and send the files to my wastebasket (Note carefully that my iTunes is set to copy files in, NOT to reference external files - so the WAVs that are deleted are copies of the original source WAVs that iTunes made in my library in step 4. This is set in Edit > Preferences > Advanced with the “Copy tunes into iTunes folder when adding to library” tickbox.)
For Step 8. In order to edit the metadata for Song Name etc - the album is easy to locate as I have already edited the Album tag in Step 5 above.
For Step 9. Grab the album artwork - either directly via iTunes if the album is recognized the CDDB - or by grabbing it from Amazon/Wikipedia/wherever - and add the artwork to the album.
For Step 10. If I burn a CD from the WAV files then I use iTunes to print CD covers with track-list and album cover.
For Step 11.. This is a critical step – as I have no desire to lose the valuable fruits of my labours. I maintain two separate 1TB disks. On each disk I place a complete set of the WAV files I have created in their album/show named folders – with the album folders sorted by genre and placed in “Genre folders”. Each disk also contains two generations of backup of my iTunes libraries - (I actually don’t do this library backup after every update - but I do try to do it at least every couple of weeks so I have a roll-back point)..
For Step 12. After the backups are made I can then safely release space on my onboard hard drive by deleting the Audacity project files and the originally exported WAV files which remain there.
Yes it’s a bit of work - but worth the effort IMHO
Actually there is an alternative method I sometimes use when transcribing a vinyl album. I usually make a CD of these from the set of WAV files, retaining the original ordering of course. I then load this CD into my PC - if I am lucky the Gracenote CDDB database will “recognize” the CD and supply all the necessary metadata for me (otherwise I edit the metadata tags and submit them to Gracenote). Then I can simply rip the CD into my iTunes library in the same way as I would do with a commercially produced CD.