Students will create a multi-track, stereo sound file while learning the Audacity interface elements.




This tutorial is intended to provide students with a basic knowledge of sound design. It encompasses basic Mac OS functions with the integration of Audacity’s tools & operations.

Alternative sound recording options not included in this tutorial may be demonstrated by instructors separately. Additional recored sound files may be used at the discretion of the instructor.

Review prior to the tutorial:


Topics Covered

In this tutorial, students will learn to:

  • play a sound using Audacity
  • select, copy and paste portions of a sound
  • change the pitch of a sound
  • work with multiple tracks within a document at a time, mix them, set left/right balance and volume
  • apply Effects (amplify, reverb, echo, pitch shift, tempo, fade in, fade out, normalize, equalize)
  • generate noise, silence, tones
  • record sound & voice at appropriate levels to avoid distortion
  • exporting Audacity project files to MP3 or WAV for integration with other applications



 Your final sound file should be no longer than 10 seconds. 

When finished, confirm that your project folder contains all audio files that you used.

Submit your exported mp3 to the proper folder on the class Google Drive.



Note: Before launching Audacity, open System Preference and set the SOUND>INPUT to Internal Mic (iMacs) or External Mic (Mac minis and Pros). Also check the volume of your computer. Set it loud enough to hear but not too loud as to disturb others. Use headphones (plugged into the small speaker jack on the back of the computer) if available.



1. Create a New file

forewarning: Once this file and folder are named, you MUST NOT change them.
Name it [your_last_name]-ex3.aup and Save As… to a New Folder titled [your_last_name]-Ex3 on your Desktop. Be sure to include your name in the title of the Audacity file…this will ensure that the data folder that is created automatically by Audacity will also have your name on it should you need to turn it in to your professor.

When Audacity asks if you want to Save all Audio into your project, answer Yes.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Audacity saves out two elements: a Project file (.aup) and a Data folder. The data folder may contain numerous sound samples. The .aup file and its accompanying data folder must always be moved together, and never renamed. If you do not copy all audio to the project then you must always move the audio files with the project file when sharing or changing computers or the files will not be read and your project will cease to exist. 

2. Upload a background track or get one from the web.

head to a site that offers free, unlicensed audio such as FreeSound.org to grab a couple tracks (search things like "background").

Open the file in Audacity. Select 15 seconds of the file and copy and paste it into your exercise 3 file.

Select all and run the Normalize effect.

3. Manipulate 15 second background track

Select all or portions of the track and experiment with applying the following Effects. Stop when you’ve altered the sample so that it is no longer recognizable and you feel you’ve got something interesting to start with.

Change Speed
Change Pitch
Change Tempo
Fade In/Out

Experiment with the Envelope tool to add and drag handles to control the amplitude within the track.

Save your document.

4. Import additional sound segments

Drag-and-drop additional sound samples, or use the Import command under the Project menu. If you don't have more of your own, just grab a few more from online for now. The imported file will appear on an additional track. You can then use cut, copy, paste and the time-shift tool and move around the chunks of sound you are starting to assemble.

Try selecting a portion of one of your samples, then experiment with the Edit> Clip Boundaries> Split command and the Edit> Duplicate command. What is the difference between them?

Remember to Normalize and adjust Gain and Pan as needed.

Your goal here should be to have at least 5 separate tracks running simultaneously in your piece. Apply the effects you used in step 3 to further manipulate your samples.

Save your document.

5. Record audio with mic or external recorders

You can record audio into the built-in mic of your computer. Go to the Audacity menu and select Preferences. Set the input device to Built-In Audio and select a 2 Channel Stereo file. Then, make sure that the microphone is set to “Monitor Input”. When you want to record, you don’t need to make a new track…a new track will be made automatically for you. Be sure that your cursor is at the beginning of your file, and when you’re ready, just press the Record button (with the red circle) and start making sound. You can always Undo Record if you don’t like the results.

Save your document.

6. Generate tones, silence, noise

Select a short portion of one of your tracks. Then go to the Generate menu and choose Tones, Silence or Noise to see the difference between these sound generators. You can Undo what you create in this step, or leave it in the final work if you like it.

Save your document.

7. Experiment with L/R panning and gain of each track

The controls for Left and Right Panning, (moving a stereo sound around spatially from left to right), and Gain (volume), can be found to the left of each track. Experiment with adjusting these settings for each track. This is known as “mixing”. You are preparing your multiple track recording to be “bounced down” to a stereo sound file.

Visit this wiki page to get a sense of how this can be accomplished.

Save your document.

8. Export the Audacity file toWAV or Mp3

Export as WAV (high quality, larger file) or as MP3, (smaller, lower quality file). Make sure that the tracks you wan’t to be present in the mixdown are not muted (otherthat tracks aren’t solo’d). If you want to preserve stereo channels, make sure your final mix down contains both channels.

Go to File, Export. Choose either WAV or MP3. You might be asked to “edit id tags” for your Mp3…you can ignore this step and just hit OK. Audacity project files must be converted to Mp3 or WAV in order to be used by Flash and other programs.

9. Copy .aup file, data folder, and Mp3 file to Google Drive

Save and Close your project file. Do not change the names of either your project file or it’s accompanying data folder. Do not move one without the other. Do not put the project file inside the data folder. In other words, do not change the relationship between the project file and the data folder.

Copy the .aup file, the data folder, and your exported Mp3or WAV file to the Google Drive.

If your .aup file and data folder do not contain your last name, you must open the document in Audacity and Save as to a new name. Copy the new .aup file and data folder to Coursework.