Getting Started with Audacity 1.3 Paperback – 2 Mar 2010
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About the Author
Bethany Hiitola is a working writer. She's worked as a technical writer and multimedia developer for over 12 years and spends the rest of her time as a wife, mother, caretaker to pets, and Master of the household. She's written more user manuals than she can count, essays, short stories, academic papers, press releases, and feature articles. More details are at her website: http://www.bethanyhiitola.com.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
She has 10 chapters with well written step-by-step guides that show you how to set up the software, record the sound files on computer, edit and repair the sound files, add effects, and then export your final product in a variety of formats. She tries to keep jargon to a minimum but that is pretty difficult so she provides a reasonable glossary in an appendix. Chapter 9 is a great reference chapter that could easily be overlooked. It has clear details on all the Audacity effects and how to apply them - it would have been more accessible as an appendix.
There are two traps for young players that are not dealt with adequately in the book: Firstly, there are only sketchy notes on what sample rates, sample formats and bit rates mean - these are things you have to select when you save a file and are totally daunting to a beginner. Secondly, there is no discussion of the pros and cons of working files in the most commonly used file formats of wav and mp3. Specifically, editing in mp3 is `lossy' which means that information can be lost every time you save a file, so it is better to edit in wav format and export into mp3 as the last step.
Throughout the time I spent reviewing the chapters, I found the book to be interesting and very readable, proposing projects that were both easy to do and immediately compelling, such as creating and editing useful soundbits from a ringtone to creating a podcast complete with a phone interview. I even used what I had learned to create my own ringtones: the first chords of "Fortunate Son" by Creedence for one, and a few bars of the main theme from the film "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" for another.
I recommend this book for those that want to create or edit their own soundbits and don't know how. It is the perfect introduction to audio editing. The fact that the app used is available on the three major operating systems for free, and that it has an intuitive interface is a major boon.
Very clear, step-by-step approach (about 200 mono pages with screenshots, plus numerous hints and tips along the way)
An ideal starting point for online journalists, bloggers and students. (Includes easy-to-follow advice on using Skype/Audacity to record interviews and how to submit podcast-ready audio files to iTunes)
Very good chapters on `beyond the basics' (how to use echo, EQ, compression, ducking etc).
Helpful guide to output file formats and how to extend Audacity with plugins and libraries.
The price. Sorry, but an RRP of £24.99 ($39.99 US) is a bit too steep, in my view. However, an e-book version is available on the Packt website and watch out for Amazon deals.
This book will have you weaving audio magic in no time ... if you can afford it.
The book introduces Audacity of this complexity and confusion in a very easy-to-follow manner. Throughout the book each platform (Mac, Windows and Linux) is well taken care of. For example, a) installation of Audacity, Skype (used to record the audio), Audacity plug-ins and b) keyboard shortcuts are explained well enough for each OS. I didn't need to spend a time on Google at all. After explaining installation and basic usage, the author introduces a sample project. That is making a podcast with the audio you record with a Skype interview. From recording to publishing. The final outcome is really a podcast. The author introduces how to add background music, export the entire audio and publish to the iTunes. So remember that this book doesn't end with very basic cutting and pasting. You will learn different techniques to make your audio more professional including how to remove the noise, adjusting the audio level strategically and softening annoying sounds like "sh" and "ch".
There is no required knowledge to read the book. The author avoids jargons where possible, and, when a term is introduced, she explains it in details. Additionally, the glossary of terms is placed at the end of the book. The language used in the book is simple. No dictionary is necessary. Many screenshots visually help understanding. All the screenshots are taken using Mac, but the author reminds the reader of potential differences across the platforms. I'm sure users without access to Mac can go through the book without a hassle.
Even if you are already an Audacity user, you'll find explanation of effects quite useful. However, unfortunately this book is not meant to be a comprehensive guide for every single feature in Audacity. When I browse through all the menu items, some items aren't mentioned in the book. For example, generators and sound activation are not refered to.
In summary, the book explains the basics of Audacity very well for beginners and intermediate users. After finishing the book, you will have a good understanding of its interface and usage, which is complicated by nature. The interface ugliness won't change, but the interface doesn't intimidate any more after you finish this book.
Reviewing this book was a real pleasure, so I'm now publishing this blog entry so I can try and get you to buy the book (which is available both hardcopy and as DRM-free PDF ebook!)
So, why should you buy this book?
* It's straight-forward, no-nonsense. You get hands-on from the first chapter.
* You can read my name in page 4, that's SURELY an incentive :P Kill me.
* Chapter 3 is packed with "How to record Interviews" tips.
* Chapter 4 goes on to editing, effectively changing the recorded interview to a real PODCAST!
* Chapter 5 goes straight into Noise Removal.
As you can see, just if you read chapters 1 to 5 (or skip straight to 3 if you are good with GUIs), you'll get a real sense of what working with audio is, which will probably make the following chapters more interesting:
* Exporting to MP3
* Advanced Audio Editing
* Effects and background music
In a nutshell, it's a really good book on using Free/Libre Open Source Software to create a professional Podcast. The great oriented approach of the book, plus the AWESOME, HUGE Audacity Community, makes this book a great buy.