Turn children's bedtime stories or small-print newspapers into CDs or MP3s
Audiobooks aren’t a new concept, but it’s now easier than ever before to record your own. Free software makes it quick and simple to edit out mistakes, to add in music or other audio effects, and to remove any background noise, leaving a clean, high-quality recording that can be turned into a CD or MP3 file to pass on to others who might want to listen.
Anything can be turned into an audiobook, from favourite bedtime stories for kids or grandchildren to magazines or newspapers for an elderly friend or relative who struggles to read small print.
No specialist equipment is needed, either. All that’s required is a computer than can record sound – and most can. We will walk you through the whole process, step by step.
The first step is to download and install Audacity, which is the free audio-editing program we will be using for this workshop. Launch a web browser and visit Audacity's website. Click on the link labelled ‘Download Audacity 2.0.’ and, if the File Download Security Warning dialogue box appears, click Save and then choose a location for the downloaded file. Firefox users should select Save File to save the download to Firefox’s default download folder. Now locate and double-click the downloaded file to launch the installation wizard, following the displayed prompts to install Audacity onto your computer.
When Audacity has finished installing, it’ll prompt you to launch the program. (Next time, open it by clicking its icon in the Start Menu.) Now get ready to record. Your computer may have a microphone built in, but if not, you’ll need to plug in an external one: pretty much any mic will do and on most PCs, the requisite 3.5mm socket will be found at the rear (usually coloured pink). Now reduce background noise as much as you can – it’s best to record in a quiet room, with as few interruptions as possible.
Take a moment to familiarise yourself with Audacity’s recording and playback controls at the top – left to right they are pause, play, stop, skip backwards, skip forwards, and record. When you’re ready, start recording by clicking on the red record button; Audacity will create a visualisation of the sound waves you’re creating on screen as you speak. If you’re interrupted, or need a break, hit the pause button; to resume recording, click on the pause button again.
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