- The two drop-down list controls in this pane is where you configure
which device Audacity should use for sound input and output.
This basically means which sound card, USB sound device, etc you want to use.
If your sound card support multiple sound inputs, e.g. has a microphone
input and a line-in, then you select these on the
mixer toolbar. No need to adjust this if Audacity
is already playing to and recording from the correct place.
- Record in Stereo: If this is checked, recordings you make in
Audacity will be stereo, otherwise they will be monaural. Note that
the interpretation of mono recordings depends on your system - on most
systems making a mono recording of a stereo input will result in the
two channels being mixed, but on other systems it could give you just
the left channel, for example.
- Play other tracks while recording new one:
Check this box if you want to record
multiple tracks over top of one another! Record the first track as
usual. Then, with this box checked, click record again. The first
track you recorded will play, but Audacity will also record a
new track at the same time, maybe allowing you to sing harmony with
yourself or add real-time sound effects to a recording.
You may notice that when you play the two tracks you recorded
together, they aren't synchronized. This is normal and is not the
fault of Audacity. To fix it, you will need to grab the
Time Shift tool and slide one
of the tracks around until it sounds right.
- Hardware Playthrough (Mac Only):
This sets up your computer to send the sound coming in to be recorded
straight back out of the speakers, so you can hear what you are
recording. Hardware playthrough has no latency and takes no CPU,
but is only possible if your input and output are on the same audio
device, and that device supports it.
Windows and Linux users can enable this using your
operating system's Mixer, by simply turning up the level for the input
you are using and unmuting it.
- Software Playthrough:
This enables you to hear what you are recording by taking the data about
to be recorded by audacity, and playing it back out of the sound card.
This works with any duplex sound card, or combination of sound devices,
so you can record in through an external USB device and play back
through the computer's built in sound device or vice versa.
Because of the delays in processing the audio on the computer, there
will be some delay or latency in the sound that you hear. It
also needs some CPU power, so if you have an old machine and are
getting breaks in your recordings try turning it off.
This panel sets the default sample rate and bit depth for new projects.
It does not affect any existing project - to change the sample rate of an existing
project, just click on the rate at the bottom of the window and select
a new rate from the pop-up menu.
The bit depth affects imported material, if it's copied, as well as newly recorded
material. The advantage of the 32-bit float resolution is that effects return material at
a this resolution, which improves the final mix, because the computer has more precise
material to work with.
If you aren't doing any processing then you may want to save some space by setting this
to 16 bit, if your hardware supports this.
- When importing uncompressed audio files...
- Make a copy of the file to edit: selecting this means that
Audacity will run a little bit slower, but it will
always have its own copy of any audio you are using in a
project. You can move, change, or throw away your files
immediately after you open or import them into Audacity.
- Edit the original in place: selecting this operation means
that Audacity depends on your original audio files
being there, and only stores changes you make to these
files. If you move, change, or throw away one of the files
you imported into Audacity, your project may become
unusable. However, because Audacity doesn't need to
make copies of everything, it can import files much more
quickly this way.
If you want to send projects to other people or archive them,
then select this option.
- Uncompressed Export Format: This lets you select the
format that Audacity will use when you export uncompressed
files, i.e. anything other than lossy formats, such as OGG and MP3.
Audacity can output a huge amount of different formats with the
Other option, which lets you define any aspect of the
multitude of different formats.
For most users, 16 bit WAV (Microsoft) or AIFF (Mac) files will
be the most compatible.
- Ogg Export Setup: Use this control to set the
quality of Ogg Vorbis exporting. Ogg Vorbis is a compressed
audio format similar to MP3, but free of patents and
licensing fees. A normal quality Ogg Vorbis file is
encoded with a quality setting of "5". Note that unlike
MP3 encoding, Ogg Vorbis does not let you set a bitrate,
because some audio clips are easier to compress than
others. Increasing the quality will always increase the
file size, however.
- MP3 Export Setup: Use these controls to locate your
MP3 encoder and set the quality of MP3 encoding. Higher
quality files take up more space, so you will need to find
the level of quality you feel is the best compromise.
For more information, see
Exporting MP3 Files.
You can view any audio track as a Spectrogram instead of a
Waveform by selecting one of the Spectral views from the
track's pop-up menu. This dialog lets you adjust some of
the settings for these spectrograms.
- FFT Size: The size of the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT)
affects how much vertical (frequency) detail you see. Larger
FFT sizes give you more low frequency resolution and less temporal
resolution, and they are slower.
- Grayscale: Select this for gray spectrograms instead of
- Maximum Frequency: Set this value anywhere from a couple
of hundred hertz to half the sample rate (i.e. 22050 Hz if the
sample rate is 44100 Hz). For some applications, such as speech
recognition or pitch extraction, very high frequencies are not
important (visually), so this allows you to hide these and only
focus on the ones you care about.
Use this panel to set the location of Audacity's temporary
directory. Audacity uses this directory whenever you work on
a project that you haven't saved as an Audacity Project
(AUP file) yet.
You have to restart Audacity (close and open it again) for
changes to the temporary directory to take effect.
This directory can contain a lot of files and is used a lot,
so choose a disk with plenty of free space to put it on.
Never put it on a network drive.
- Autoscroll while playing
page flips to the right when the cursor travels to the right hand
end of the wave display, either during playback or recording.
Always keeps the cursor on screen, but may cause breaks in recording
or playback if you have a slow machine.
- Always Allow Pausing
- Update spectrogram while playing
Tries to keep the spectrogram updated while playing. This requires
a lot of cpu power, and really isn't a good idea unless you're
playing a really small piece or have a powerful CPU and plenty of
RAM. In combination with Autoscroll while playing this can
cause pauses during playback or recording.
- Enable Edit Toolbar
Gives you a toolbar of a few useful functions. Check out the
page on the Edit Toolbar for more information.
- Enable Mixer Toolbar
Turns on display of the Mixer Toolbar used
to control soundcard mixer settings.
- Enable Mixer Toolbar
Turns on display of the Meter Toolbar, with VU meters you can use
to monitor the recording and playback levels of your project.
- Quit Audacity upon closing last window
Sets Audacity to shut down when the last project window you
are working is closed. If you turn this off then audacity will
keep re-spawning new blank project windows until you do
File > Quit.
- Enable dragging left and right selection edges
Lets you manipulate selections by clicking on the edges and
dragging them along the timeline.
- Enable dragging left and right selection edges
Sets the transport control button order as:Pause, Play, Stop, Home,
End, Record. Rather than: Home, Play, Record, Pause, Stop,
Lets you change the language of the menus and other onscreen text
to the language of your choice. Simply choose the correct option
from the drop-down list. Note that for languages with unusual
character sets you need the correct fonts installed. If your menus
come up all ???? that's what's wrong.
- Minimum of dB mode display range
This sets up the scale used for logarithmic waveform displays.
Because Decibels are logarithmic, it is impossible to have a
0 point on the scale, so some very quiet sounds will display as
silence. If you you reduce this effect by increasing the range,
then the louder part of the scale gets squashed, so there is a
choice of settings for different uses. -48dB is a good compromise
for general work.
- Commands/Key Combination List
All commands in Audacity that can be triggered by a keyboard shortcut
are listed here. Click on the shortcut and the assigned keystroke
is highlighted in the command/shortcut list.
Click on the "Clear" button to erase the keystroke assigned to the
function selected in the Commands column.
- Adding new shortcuts/changing shortcuts
Click on the command in the list. Click in to the field next to
the "Set" button and press any key or combination of command
key(Shift,CTRL,ALT) and alphanumeric key(everything else).
The description of that key or key combo will appear in the field
or replace the existing keystroke. By clicking on the "Set" button,
you can add or change this key or key combo as a shortcut to the
function selected in the Commands list.
- Saving your setup
You can export your keyboard shortcut settings for safekeeping or
to import into audacity on another machine. Use Save... to
save you settings to a file, Load... to load a saved settings
file, and Defaults to restore the default audacity settings.
Head over to this page
for step-by-step description of the dialog and how to edit the command/keyboard combination list
with a text editor.