Plug your computer microphone into the mic input on your computer. This is usually a pink-lined opening.
Open the Audacity program. In the upper right, you’ll see an icon of a microphone with a slider beneath it. This controls the volume of your microphone. Make sure it is all the way to right.
Go to File; Preferences. Set the Quality to 44.1, 16-bit. Set the File Format, Uncompressed File Size to WAV 16-bit if you’re working on Windows, or AIFF 16-bit if you’re working on a Mac. Under MP3 conversion, select 64 as the bit rate. You may need to locate your Lame Library before you can make a change to this setting (Lame is separate mp3 encoding software that you’ll also need to download from the Audacity site).
Now you’re ready to record. Press the red record button and start speaking. You will start to see the digital waveform as you speak. Record the copy, pause for a second, and reread it. Now you have 2 takes contained within the same digital file.
Press the brown square to stop recording. Check to make sure the playback slider is maximized enough for you to hear. You’ll find this next to the microphone control.
Click on the green play arrow. Listen to your takes and decide which one you like better. (If you want to record again, start over and create a new file. Otherwise, the program will open new tracks in the same file and it gets a little confusing.)
Now you have two choices on how you want to edit these basic recordings. You can preserve the original file and just copy the section you want to a new file. Or you can cut everything you don’t want, leaving just the good portion in the original file. Here’s how to do the first option.
Select the portion of the recording that you like, just as you would highlight text to cut and paste. Click and hold the left mouse button while you highlight from the silence right before you start speaking to the silence right after you stop. Go to Edit, Copy.
Create a new file (File, New). Select Edit, Paste. Your edited section will now appear. You can fine-tune the editing here, by using the Zoom In tool (a magnifying glass with a plus sign inside). You can fade in or out, by selecting a portion of the file and clicking on Effect, Fade In or Fade Out. Generally, you won’t need to do fades on an audition, but they’re helpful when editing your demos for the website.
When you’re happy with the results, you’ll want to Normalize the file. Select the whole piece, go to Effect, Normalize and click OK. This will improve the sound.
Now, save the file. Go to File, Save As and name the file. Now you have to convert the file to an MP3. Go to File, Export As MP3. If you haven’t set up an association with Lame in Preferences, Audacity will ask you to find the Lame Library. If you have saved it in Programs, browse for it there. You only have to do this step once. The program finds the Lame MP3 encoder, and compresses your original file into a 64-bit MP3. You can now upload your audition to the website.
As you practice, you’ll want to experiment with how close you are to the microphone. You may need a pop filter, if you start hearing a lot of hits and pops in your recording. We’ve found that computer headphone/microphone combinations have built-in windscreens that reduce this problem.