If you choose to use Audacity for your audio project, you’ll need to download it as well as the separate mp3 encoder that works with it and install them on your computer. Audacity is open-source and free and is available for Windows XP, Vista, and 7. (You’ll also see a Mac version, but I recommend that Mac users go with GarageBand instead.)
Keep in mind that you won’t be able to use Audacity on a lab computer, so you should bring your own laptop to class, if applicable. You can use GarageBand on a lab computer, but you can’t import a GB project into Audacity. You can, however, export an mp3 out of GB and import that.
Visit the Audacity for Windows Recent Versions page to download the version for your version of Windows. After the download finishes, install the app.
Also follow the link to the LAME MP3 Encoder for instructions on how to download and install that, which you’ll need to export Audacity files in mp3 format.
Installing the LAME MP3 Encoder
The LAME MP3 Encoder page may now have better instructions for how to install it, but if not, here are the instructions I wrote for students in 2011.
Regardless of which version of Audacity you download, you will also need to download and install the LAME MP3 Encoder, which is what will allow Audacity to export files in MP3 format. Be sure to take note of where the encoder is installed (what folder), so that you can let Audacity know where to find it, following the steps below.
- If you’re using Audacity 1.2.6, go to the Edit menu and drag down to Preferences. Click on the File Formats tab and look for the area labeled MP3 Export Setup. Click on the “Find Library” button. A window will open that asks if you’d like to locate the LAME MP3 Encoder library (a file titled: lame_enc.dll). Click Yes and then navigate through your directory until you find the folder where the encoder was installed (most likely in Program Files). You can search for the folder by name if you have trouble finding it. When you locate the library file, click on it and Audacity will store the information, so you won’t have to do this again.
- If you’re using Audacity 1.3, go to the Edit menu and drag down to Preferences. Click on the Libraries tab and locate the MP3 Export Setup area. You should see that Audacity has already found the LAME MP3 Encoder library. If it hasn’t, click the “Find Library” button and navigate through your directory until you find it. After you click on it, Audacity will store the information, so you won’t have to do this again. (Note: These directions are from memory of the last time I looked at Audacity 1.3 — let me know if I missed a step!)
If you run into trouble, search Google by keywords such as: Audacity installing LAME.