DESKTOP APPS for Editing and Composing with Audio


In order to create an audio story or essay, or to create an audio voiceover for a video, you’ll need two things: (1) a recording device (a laptop with internal or external mic OR a smart phone); and (2) software for recording and editing audio.

Mac users should use GarageBand, while I recommend Audacity as an option for Windows users. See the sections below for details.

If you want to use a mobile device, search its App Store for a suitable audio app. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can get an iOS version of GarageBand from the iOS App Store for about $5.

GarageBand (Mac)

GarageBand is part of the iLife suite of applications that come on all Macs (at least since 2003) and also includes iPhoto and iMovie. Starting with the ’09 version, GarageBand has the ability to record podcasts, which is the feature you will want to use for a spoken voice recording.

If your version is older than ’09, that means your Mac’s operating system is pretty out of date. In that case I strongly recommend you update your entire operating system, which will only update the “brains” of the Mac, not the data you’ve stored on it. As of October 2013, the current version is Mac OS 10.8 (aka “Mountain Lion”), which is only $19.99 on the Apple App Store. Or you can buy GarageBand ’11 alone for $14.99.

The application is quite powerful and can be used to make a complete movie sound track, with a variety of instruments, vocals, and sound effects, so it might look a little intimidating when you first launch it. But the basic features are pretty easy to use. For our purposes, you only need to know how to do a few basic things: create a new podcast project, record yourself speaking, edit the sound file (if necessary), and “share” (or export) it in mp3 format.

To view the GarageBand help pages I’ve created for students, browse the Using GarageBand category on the sidebar.

Other Resources (on Apple’s web site):

You can also find lots of other GarageBand tutorials through a Google search.

Audacity (Windows)

Audacity is a free, open source audio app that’s pretty powerful, but it’s also pretty easy to use for the basics of recording the spoken voice. You can also use it to combine a music soundtrack with the spoken voice, which is handy if you want to use both in the soundtrack of a movie you make in Windows MovieMaker.

To use Audacity, you need to download the application AND a separate LAME MP3 encoder, which will enable to the application to export audio files in mp3 format (which is required for posting them on the class blog). See this help page: How to install Audacity for Windows.

To view the Audacity help files I’ve created for students, browse the Using Audacity category on the sidebar.

Other Resources:

You can also find lots of other Audacity tutorials through a Google search.