Editing vocals recorded on iPhone
September 28, 2016 11:10 AM   Subscribe

I've been playing with recording songs or reading my poems as voice memos on my iPhone 5 (iOS 10) lately. I want to clean the audio up before I share it in any capacity. I have a PC running Windows 8.1. I'm hoping to learn the basics of things to specifically do in Audacity or another free program. I cannot afford software or recording equipment, and I have no previous knowledge of sound editing. For a sample here is a PJ Harvey cover I recorded today.
posted by mermaidcafe to Technology (3 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I just googled 'audacity tutorial vocals' and found TONS of youtube videos going over it. I was going to recommend one of the home recording forums/sites I'd gone to back when I was teaching myself, but I think that's overkill for your particular situation/equipment. You'll want to look into stuff like dynamic range compression, EQ, maybe some reverb, and probably a noise gate to get rid of background stuff where silence should be.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:31 AM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's two parts to this, I think: editing, and cleaning up.

For editing, Audacity is worth a try if 'free' is really the most important part, but editing as in chopping up and moving bits of audio around isn't that easy to do. I'm not a big fan, and it's not exactly easy to use, but for free, you might find you get on OK.

I'd give Reaper a try: it's got a free trial (which never really expires - it just takes longer and longer to start up but never actually disables any functionality). It's a "proper" audio workstation in the way Audacity isn't, and while it has its quirks (especially compared to things like Logic/Pro Tools/Cubase - although they also have their own quirks) for my money the workflow is more natural and easy to understand.

Cleaning up audio is a tricky one, though - you're probably better trying to learn how to get a better recording out of your phone - making sure your mic technique is really consistent, the room is quiet, you don't sing/talk so loud that the recording distorts, that sort of thing - and then doing minimal editing (EQ, compression, gating, but not much more than that) to tidy it up. "Cleaning up" is a difficult (and expensive) task and it's nearly always better to get a better recording in the first place - and that doesn't necessarily mean fancy gear, but learning how to get the best quality out of what you've got.
posted by parm at 11:40 AM on September 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

Audacity isn't exactly user-friendly but there should be plenty of tutorials for it.

A couple alternatives... haven't tried these myself but they look promising:

- Wavosaur (Windows app)
- Twisted Wave (Web app, free version has a limit of 5 minutes of mono, which sounds like it'd still work for you)

Also I second possibly looking into Reaper. It's not exactly an audio editor, but it might be better for experimenting with post-processing. Not free, but fully-functional-with-minor-nags, so "free". (Watch out: Rabbit hole.)

Also also, you may be better off using a mic (even a cheap one) with your PC instead. I say "may" because the iPhone has noise cancellation and a normal mic does not. Would be a less awkward workflow though, and using a DAW like Reaper you could have live monitoring for EQ, compression, etc. This is possible even without a fancy recording interface.
posted by neckro23 at 1:53 PM on September 28, 2016

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