How to Edit Your Sound Recording – How to Use Audio Software as a Musician

In the page “What Audio Software Can Do,” we talked about the options that software opens up for us. Among these options is editing sound files.

Say you recorded yourself singing a song you wrote. You devil, you! Don’t deny that you’re secretly hoping for a record deal. Anyway, you listen back to the recording. Everything sounds great except for about five seconds in the middle, during which you started coughing and disrupted the song.

Before the days of software, you couldn’t go back and edit this section out. (Really, you couldn’t have even recorded this song without the software.) But with the right program, now you can! Here’s how:

1. OPEN THE SOUND FILE

Select the file you need to edit from your computer’s documents. You’ll know it’s a sound file because of its format—it might have .wav or .mp3 at the end of the file name. Pull up the file using the editing software you’ve installed. For example, you can download a basic editor like Music Editor Free, or you can install a more professional one like Audacity or Adobe Audition.

In this program, the file will appear as literal waves on a graph. These waves represent the different sound waves that make up the file. They convey aspects such as amplitude and pitch. You can see how long the sound clip is on this graph.

Before you move on, get to know the interface of the sound editor. You have your basic buttons for stopping, playing, pausing, rewinding, fast-forwarding, etc. But you should also see options that allow you to view just the file’s pitch or amplitude and to do other actions, like muting. Take note of these features in case you need to use one of them.

2. SELECT THE SECTION YOU WANT TO EDIT

Once the file is open, search for and select the area you want to edit. (Search for the section that contains five seconds of coughing.) Once you find the area, highlight it by using the mouse to click and drag. You’ll notice on the graph that you can see how long this section is. Make sure you’ve only highlighted the section that has coughing.

3. THEN EDIT IT!

In this case, you just need to delete that section of five seconds. So click that option under the editing tab in the program. But in another scenario, you might not necessarily need to delete a part of the song. With editing software, you can also copy and paste a section, change the song’s speed, adjust its pitch, etc. You can also make a section of the song vibrate, fade in or out, or even echo! The options are endless.

4. DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR WORK—AND SAVE!

Before you save the updated file, listen back to your edits and make sure the song sounds like you want it. Once you’ve edited for perfection, save the file and enjoy your work of art.

As you start using audio software, you’ll become more familiar with it. Perhaps right now, all you know is how to highlight and delete a section of coughing. That’s great! Over time, you’ll become a pro and learn how to manipulate your sound clips in a variety of other ways. In the end, the beauty of editing software is that it allows you as many edits as you need to get the sound perfect.

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