For Friday this week, I thought I’d share one of my favorite freeware audio manipulation programs: Audacity.

Audacity is a great program for home sound manipulation. You can run all kinds of useful sound filtering and adjustment algorithms, and convert files between a number of different formats. It isn’t nearly as fully featured as commercial products used in the sound industry, but it doesn’t pretend to be. Plugin support for the product is fairly rudimentary, but it is there, and Audacity can be combined with the LAME MP3 library to support MP3 encoding.

The best use I’ve found for Audacity is in audio capture. My wife owns a large glut of cassette tapes. Over the years she has replaced a large number of her cassette collection with CDs or MP3 albums, but she also owns a large number of tapes that don’t exist in any other medium. Things like her harpsichord tape or the Scottish bagpipe band tape. This is where Audacity comes in. By hooking an old boom-box up to the sound input port of my computer I can play a tape and use audacity to capture the input. Once I’ve captured the entire side of the tape into one, long audio-steam I can then run the noise filter over the entire track to remove the base hiss of the audio tape and then save the individual tracks as MP3s. It takes a little bit of practice to get the hang of it because you have to adjust both the computer side gain of the signal as well as the output volume of the boom-box, but once you’ve got that down the method produces very good results.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

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