Is there any VERY simple audio editing software for an amateur?
June 11, 2011 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a basic (and free) audio editing software program for Windows that is easier to use than Audacity?

I am doing trivia nights at local bars. I want to be able to cut 10-15 seconds out of several songs (up to about 30) and string the clips together to a new file which I can then burn to a cd. The challenge will be for the players to name each song (and write the names down) as they hear each snippet.

Looking through AskMe led me to this question, which recommended Audacity. I downloaded the program, but was quickly overwhelmed with its complexity - I'm not a recording engineer and didn't really want to have to invest too much learning time for what will probably only be a three or four-off project.

I'm running Windows XP and use iTunes to play music files.

Is there a simple way to do what I am thinking about, or will I need to teach myself more about audio mixing?
posted by Curious Artificer to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Audacity just looks daunting. What you need to do:
1. Open all the audio files you want to use. Audacity can have many, many files open at once.
2. Do "File -> New" to create a new project
3. Go back to one of your songs, and select the bit you want. Do "Edit -> Copy"
4. Go back to you blank project. Do "Edit -> Paste", then hit K (or "Edit -> Move Cursor -> to Track End" to move the cursor ready for the next segment.
5. Repeat from 3 until done.

You can then save the track.

If you want to get clever, you can put silence between the tracks (do "Generate -> Silence ...", and you want less than the default 30 seconds. Don't forget to hit K to move the cursor to the end each time). If you want to get really clever, you can add fade-ins/fade-outs by selecting a bit of the track, and doing "Effect -> Fade in" or "Effect -> Fade out."
posted by scruss at 2:18 PM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

(oh, and it's okay - and actually recommended - to run the 1.3 Beta version of Audacity. Version 1.2 maybe be very stable, but it's also very old.)
posted by scruss at 2:22 PM on June 11, 2011

Response by poster: scruss, now that I open raw .mp3 files (and not the files from my iTunes library) I see what you mean. I may be able to do this after all!

Do I have to convert the files from iTunes (and amazon) before I can use them in Audacity?
posted by Curious Artificer at 2:38 PM on June 11, 2011

Nope, Audacity imports MP3 and M4A files just fine.
posted by scruss at 2:46 PM on June 11, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks!
posted by Curious Artificer at 3:11 PM on June 11, 2011

One more note: (at least on OS X,) Audacity likes to save files in its own project file format which CD burning software may or may not like. I'd recommend using "File > export" to save in .wav format which is the standard for CD audio.
posted by p3t3 at 4:17 PM on June 11, 2011

Also, Apple's Quicktime Player (there's a Windows version AFAIK) could accomplish this too. Open mp3 file, "edit > trim," slide the trim markers to desired selection, then "file > save as."

But it's really the same amount of steps as Audacity, and you have a better view of the waveform in Audacity too. With Audacity, it's just a matter of not being intimidated by all the extra menus/functions (that you won't be using anyways).
posted by p3t3 at 4:34 PM on June 11, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, I have successfully built an .mp3 file consisting of snippets from four "Novelty or Comedy Songs" and am getting ready to put together a full 30-song version. Will email the results on request.
posted by Curious Artificer at 5:18 PM on June 11, 2011

Yeah, as p3t3 says, make sure you use Export.
posted by scruss at 8:07 PM on June 11, 2011

Try Wavepad. It is free and a LOT easier and faster than Audacity, as you don't have to convert an mp3 file to Audacity's own format before you can edit it. I love this - it is definitely my go-to mp3 editor now ...
posted by Susurration at 11:17 PM on June 11, 2011

Wavepad's not free (it's without charge for non-commercial use for OS X only, and the OP's on XP), plus you don't ever have to save your Audacity files as a project if you don't want to. Audacity projects store a whole bunch more data (undo levels, track split points, detailed metadata and notes) than regular audio files do, too.
posted by scruss at 9:31 AM on June 12, 2011

Response by poster: I'm going to say this is resolved, because it turns out I can in fact do what I wanted to with Audacity - I just needed a little instruction to get started. (I even figured out how to build a string of a few clips and then reverse the whole thing - that should drive a few people crazy trying to identify the songs!)

Thanks for all the help!
posted by Curious Artificer at 10:17 AM on June 12, 2011

Scruss - I have been using the noncommercial version of Wavepad on Windows XP for editing mp3 files to use in my class - it works fine for that!
posted by Susurration at 11:29 AM on June 12, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, it now looks like the thing that initially spooked me about Audacity - that when I tried to import a file directly from my iTunes library, I couldn't do anything with it at all - may be because I downloaded the 1.2 version instead of the 1.3. Having edumacated myself greatly in the past 36 hours, I now see in the Audacity wiki that the 1.2 versions do not directly import .mp4 files. I will accordingly take scruss' advice and upgrade to the 1.3 release.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:26 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

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