Getting Started with Audio Projects

There are many audio editing tools out there, and you should use what you are most comfortable with. If you have no experience with audio editing, this page includes tool recommendations and basic tips to help you get started.

Outlines and Scripts #

Before you begin recording your audio, it is important that you make preparations. Having an outline or script is the best way to insure that you don’t accidentally get lost when recording, and you have a clear end goal you want to achieve. These can be anything from a short bullet point list of talking points to a full word-for-word script, and each can be more helpful depending on the project. An audio project will take longer than you think it will, so plan to have all recording and prep work done well before the deadline of a project so you have time to edit it how you want.

If you need help with this part of your project, the Speaking and Writing Center is a great resource to help plan what you want to say and how to say it. Additionally, Peer Tutors can help with understanding material you might need for any kind of subject-specific project, and Simpson Library Research Help can assist with finding sources for your content.

Recording #

Recording Tips #

  1. Record in a controlled, quiet environment. This is the best way to ensure you get a good recording that is not interrupted by random passers-by. The DKC Podcast Studio is a great option for this.
  2. Record with a high-quality mic close to the subject. No amount of audio editing in post-production can save poorly-recorded audio. Record in a studio, or check out an Audio Kit lapel mic from the HCC Info Desk if you need record on-location.
  3. Test and play back before you record! This can save you a tremendous amount of time and headache. There is nothing worse than filming for 20 minutes and then realizing you didn’t record any sound and have to do it all over again. A ten-second test recording can save your life.

Recording Resources #

You can book an appointment with us and use our spaces to make your project! At the HCC we offer many spaces and technologies to help you with all of your audio recording needs.

  • HCC Vocal Booth & Multimedia Lab – The recording booth is open 24 hours a day in HCC 116 and is a great place to record audio with 1-2 people. This space does not require training.
  • DKC Podcast Studio – The podcast studio in HCC 408 is a sound-proof studio used to record audio with up to 4 people and is used for a variety of audio projects. Training and a reservation is required, and recording is only available during normal DKC operation hours.
  • HCC Equipment Checkout – Audio Kits are a great way to produce high quality audio on the move or in your own spaces. Use the recorder in the kit or use the lapel mics to connect to a variety of recording devices (even your own phone!). The kits are available to all UMW students, faculty, and staff. Come to the DKC in HCC 408 if you need help getting started.
  • Learn more about what production spaces the DKC and the HCC have to offer.

Editing #

Now that you have your audio files all recorded, you can start editing!

Editing Tips #

  1. Know the difference between different audio files.  
    1. Audio Files and The Difference Between Them 
  2. Stay within -12 and -6 decibels. This allows tracks to not be overpowering when there are multiple tracks of audio and prevents audio distortion.
  3. Label audio files while recording/before editing. Labeling your files will help tremendously before you start editing your project. You will know what each file is and it will help you navigate and create faster than if you had to keep playing each track over again to know which audio file is which. 
  4. Use keyboard shortcuts. In audio editing knowing the keyboard shortcuts, especially for things like cutting, splitting, and deleting clips, can make things go much faster. Learn more about shortcuts in software-specific guides.
  5. Record in multiple layers. Recording in layers allows for easier post-production editing. Find out more in software-specific guides.

Editing Tools #

Beginner-Friendly Tools #

These tools are easy to get started with but may lack some useful features the advanced tools have. Check out our DKC guides for these free tools:

  • Soundtrap – Soundtrap is a free online audio workstation that allows users to create music or podcasts.

Advanced Tools #

These tools are some of the most powerful you can find for this type of project but may be overwhelming for a beginner. Some of these tools require purchase or subscription. Check out our guides to find out more:

  • Audacity – Audacity is an open-source digital audio editor and recording application software for all operating systems.
  • Adobe Audition (Available through AppsAnywhere and HCC lab computers or with a paid subscription).
  • Logic Pro (Purchase required, only for Mac/IOS. Available in HCC Multimedia Lab).

Accessibility Considerations #

  • Make sure you can be heard when recording audio.
  • Include a transcript with any audio recording.
  • See our Accessible Audio Editing guide for more info.

Want More Help? #

Reviewed by Haley Gosman 03/27/24