1. Make sure the LP is clean, then place it on the turntable and turn on the power. The speed setting must be correct for the LP you are about to play (78, 33, or 45), and the Reverse Motor should be off (unless you want to record something backwards).
2. Open Audacity by clicking on its icon in the Dock at the bottom of the screen. A blank grey Audacity window will open, with the complete array of tools and meters at the top:
3. In order to listen to the LP through the computer’s speakers and set the recording levels before recording, either use the drop down menu (the black triangle inside the box) next to the microphone Input symbol and select “Monitor input” or click on the meters in the upper right hand corner:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Turn off cell phone when recording, as the frequency of cellular phones receiving incoming calls (and placing outgoing calls) will interfere with your recording and show up as noise on the screen and in the signal that goes to the G5 hard drive. Microlab computer users on the other side of the wall receiving or making cell phone calls will also interfere with this process, so be sure to monitor the recording as it proceeds.
4. Setting levels for recording: The default Input level on Audacity is adequate, but don’t be afraid to boost the level towards the + end:
Begin LP playback on turntable, and monitor the red level indicators. The red level indicators should peak around -6 at the loudest moments, and can even get near 0 without distorting. The higher the Input signal level is during recording, the less audible the noise will be when an end user turns up the volume during playback.
5. Recording to the G5: Begin LP playback, then press Record button onscreen:
As recording occurs, the audio will be visible as blue waveforms filling the Audacity window:
There are two channels, L and R, due to the Audio I/O setting for Recording being Stereo under Audacity Preferences. This can be changed to one channel for Mono recording if desired.
When the song or selection is done, press the Stop button onscreen:
The sound will stop, even if the turntable is still playing.
6. Editing the audio: To see the entire track, either select “Fit in Window” from the View menu or click on the “Fit project in window” button onscreen:
The default tool is the Selection tool. The silence at the beginning and ending of the track should be eliminated. Do this by clicking and dragging to select the “dead air.” Selected audio will look like this:
Once you have a segment selected, you can either press the Delete key or click on the Cut button onscreen:
7. Saving/Exporting audio: DO NOT SAVE THE PROJECT IN AUDACITY. Audacity projects use up a lot of memory. Instead of saving the project, go to the File menu and select “Export as MP3.” This dialog will launch:
Give the track a short file name indicating composer or performer and title, and if it is to be used for streaming audio for Course Reserve listening, be sure to use lowercase letters and no spaces. Once you name the file, you will be prompted to add ID3 tags for full title and artist. You may choose to add or edit this information later in iTunes, but it is easily added in the following dialog:
Once the mp3 file is exported to the Music folder, you can play it back in iTunes, or import it back into Audacity for further editing. To continue recording in Audacity, select “New” from the File menu to open a new window for a new track. The track you have already recorded can be closed without saving changes, as long as you have already exported it as an mp3.
Audacity will “unexpectedly quit” on occasion, but this is not uncommon for freeware applications. Audacity Help should be sufficient to answer any questions about Toolbars and Menus, etc. Audacity also provides a Documentation and Support site online: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/
Advanced Editing: Eliminating “Pops” and “Clicks” from Recordings
A turntable’s stylus will generate surface noise from many LPs during the recording process, no matter how well they are cleaned prior to playback. These noises are most commonly heard as “pops” and “clicks,” and are easily seen as transient spikes in an audio waveform. Here is an example of two pops visible in the left channel of a stereo recording:
It is possible to eliminate, or at least reduce, these pops without compromising the integrity of the track. This is done in a few steps with Audacity’s Draw Tool.
1. Locate the pop or click on the waveform with the cursor and click on it. Then, in order to get a closer look at the offending noise, begin zooming in by clicking on the Zoom Tool button:
Zoom in until the pop is clearly visible (~7 clicks):
In order to eliminate this pop, you will need to redraw the waveform and make it level.
2. Click and drag over the spike to select the segment of the wave to level, and then use the Zoom Tool again until the waveform shows the blue dots representing the individual sound samples (~4 more clicks):
3. Select the Draw Tool: This will turn your cursor into a pencil, with which you can click and drag in a straight horizontal line from the point just before the spike begins to the point where it ends to level the waveform. The wave does not need to be perfectly level to eliminate the pop, so don’t obsess about making it match the other channel or making it “perfect.” This will do:
If you’re unhappy with your editing, you can always select Undo from the Edit menu, or click on the Undo button:
4. Once the waveform has been redrawn, change your Draw Tool cursor back to the Selection Tool:
Return the view to where it is divided into one-second increments by clicking on the Zoom Out button (~11 clicks):
Or, to see the entire track at one time, click on the Fit project in window button:
Check your editing by playing back the segment you have redrawn right away, or wait until you are done editing the entire track to listen to your work.
5. Repeat the editing process for the rest of the track wherever you hear (and see) “pops” and “clicks” while listening (and looking). Export as mp3 when finished.