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Audacity and Sherlock Holmes July 31, 2014

Having performed the major edits on my Sherlock Holmes audio track via a series of splits and joins, it was time to refine the work. The month was now April and I had already invested upwards of six hours, succeeding only in recording three chapters of “A Scandal in Bohemia” and editing out a few of the more unacceptable mistakes from the first.

At this point, I had begun to hit my stride and was, at minimum, capable of recognizing the wave patterns which indicated that I had taken a breath mid-sentence. These, I removed with ease, giving the audio a flow which sounded distinctly more professional than the original recording. But producing a track of the quality I wanted to present to my fiancé would require a bit more work.

Up to this point, my skills with Audacity had been rather basic. I was able to record, split, and join tracks. (If you’d like to learn how to get started with Audacity and use these features, click here.) That, however, was about the extent of my knowledge. Next, I needed to determine the best way to eliminate the background noise produced by the 27 gallon aquarium in my “recording studio”. To learn the art, I turned to YouTube and a rather informative tutorial by Phil Chenevert which can be viewed by clicking here.

Pulling up all three tracks, I highlighted a section of the track containing only the background noise I wished to delete. Selecting “Noise Removal” from the “Effect” drop down menu, I pressed “Get Noise Profile.” Then, highlighting the entire recorded track, I repeated the procedure, this time adjusting the bars and previewing the result until I heard the silence I was seeking. I clicked “OK” and the hum of my filtration system disappeared.

The removal of this base-line sound also went a long way towards the removal of the limited “clipping” evident in my tracks. (“Clipping” is a term used to refer to audio waves which extend beyond the peak recording volume. Such waves can contribute to sound distortion and, in some cases, actually cause damage to audio equipment. Clipping can be controlled by monitoring the volume of your voice as you record and, most unintentional clips can be removed by clicking Audacity’s “Effect” menu and selecting “Clip Fix” from the dropdown.) Applying “Click Removal” (also available on the dropdown under the “Effect” menu) went a bit farther towards cleaning up the tracks and I now had the smooth sounding audio that I was after.

It was time to begin the final stage of editing: removing the tiny bits of vocal track which were hard to split and remove when in normal view. Magnifying the tracks gave me a better view of the waves (and the beginning and ending of each vocalization) as I played through the recording. I carefully selected the portions I intended to remove and was left with what was quite a fine string of audio, ready to be exported as MP3’s and burned onto a disk for my fiancé’s listening pleasure.

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