The Book of Audacity

The Book of Audacity

Author: Carla Schroder
Company: No Starch Press
Price: $34.95 US, $40.95 CDN
360 pages

Audacity is an extremely popular, open source audio editor used by musicians, podcasters, and anyone who needs to record and edit audio files. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s a flimsy application. On the contrary, Audacity is immensely powerful, with a bit of a learning curve. Author Carla Schroder does a fabulous job of explaining how and why to use Audacity in her book, The Book of Audacity, published by No Starch Press.

One caveat before reading: while Audacity is a multi-platform application, Schroder’s focus is on Windows and Linux. All of her examples and illustrations show Windows and Linux screens; not a Mac in sight. This could be a problem for readers who are very new to Macs and/or computers. Stay with it. It will take a little more effort, but it will be worth it.

Schroder starts readers with an easy-to-follow tutorial on the basics of Audacity. Don’t skip this chapter unless you’re already comfortable using the application. After reading chapter one users will have enough information to begin recording.

Like most how-to books, The Book of Audacity doesn’t need to be read in order. Jump around and read what looks interesting. For me, Chapter Three: Transferring Vinyl LPs (and Other Legacy Media) to CD, and Chapter Seven: Creating Podcasts, in addition to Chapter One: Audacity from Start to Finish, are alone worth the price of the book.

Do you still have albums from the 1970’s and 1980’s like I do? Do you want to digitize them and get those memories onto your iPod? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think, especially after reading chapter three. Schroder discusses connecting a turntable to your computer, Audacity settings, fixing defects, exporting the project, and burning them onto a CD. There’s a great deal of information in this chapter, including Schroder’s home recording setup. Sadly, my very old turntable is unable to connect to my computer; otherwise I would have stopped reading The Book of Audacity and started digitizing my beloved record collection immediately.

New podcasts are popping up everyday in iTunes. If you’ve ever thought about adding your voice to the mix, reading Creating Podcasts in The Book of Audacity will at least make the technical side of your podcast much easier. Afraid the final recording will be too loud or too soft? Worried about pops and hisses? Podcasting with a friend? All these points, and more, are addressed. Thinking of adding music to your podcast? Schroder has that covered, too.

Schroder writes about the nitty gritty of audio recording in The Book of Audacity, and does so without talking down to readers or over their heads. True, some information needs to be read numerous times to be understood; audio can be pretty intense. But the more you use Audacity the clearer the information becomes. Remember: Audacity is for any type of audio recording, regardless of user experience or history.

The Book of Audacity covers many topics in addition to podcasts and digitizing legacy media, including:
• Building a Good Digital Sound Studio On The Cheap
• Creating and Editing Live Tracks For CD
• Authoring a Compilation CD
• Becoming An Online Star
• Multitrack Recording
• Making Your Own Ringtones
• Customizing Audacity

Audacity is used by both novices and experienced audiophiles. Schroder’s pleasant writing style, combined with her real-life examples, make The Book of Audacity a must-read for anyone using Audacity. Review Rating: 8 out of 10

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