Using Audacity: Preparing Audacity to Record

Preparing Audacity to Record (Windows Audacity 1.2.6)

Setting Audacity’s Preferences

On the Audacity menu, select: File > Preferences…

Audio I/O Tab

Select your sound card or usb headset as the Playback Device.

Select your sound card or usb headset as the Recording Device.

Select 1 (Mono) from the Channels drop down menu. uncheck Play other tracks while recording new one uncheck Software Play through.
Select mono wherever possible as stereo doubles the file size. For most voice recordings mono is adequate. Only use stereo if you must feature quality music in your podcast.

Quality Tab

Select 22000hz Default Sample Rate for a reasonable quality voice-only recording.

Select 16 bit as the Default sample rate

Leave the other options at their default settings.

File Formats Tab

Click on the Uncompressed Export Format drop down menu and select WAV (Microsoft 16bit PCM)

Move down to the bottom of the dialogue box to MP3 Export Setup and select 32 Kbs bit-rate MP3 encoder setting from the drop down menu.

Factors affecting file quality and size when exporting to mp3 using the LAME encoder

We can select the amount of compression when exporting an audio file as an MP3.

The greater the compression - the smaller the sound file, but the poorer the sound quality.

In sound recording software such as Audacity we can set the MP3 bitrate.
Another way to look at MP3 bitrate is the ratio of the amount of compression used.
320 = 4:1 minimum quality loss. 128 = 10:1 standard Internet music download. 64 = 11:1 good voice quality. 32 = 22:1 average voice quality.
In summary - the lower the sampling rate and the higher the MP3 compression, the lower the file size, but poorer the sound quality, and vice versa.


For recordings featuring mainly voice, anywhere between 32Kbps (Kilobits per second) and 64Kbps provides acceptable quality.
In order to reduce the file size to as small as possible while retaining a reasonable quality voice recording 32Kbps is recommended for podcasts.

To set this in Audacity, click Edit>Preference select the File Formats Tab and set the Mp3 bit Rate to 32


Select Input Device

Select the type of input device - in this case Mic Volume - from the drop down menu on the main screen.


Apple Mac OSX Audacity 1.3.12 Beta

Select Audacity > Preferences >Devices


Choose your playback device of choice eg. USB headset or internal speakers.

Choose your recording device (microphone) of choice eg. usb headset or internal mic

Choose Mono as the recording Channel option

Select the Quality Tab

Select 22050 Hz as the default sample rate & 16 bit as the Default Sample format

Leave the other options at the default setting