Record a Song With Audacity

This article is for Audacity 1.2.6 or later

Audacity is a free recording program capable of a lot of things. You can do anything from recording a song to recording lines for a cartoon.

If you've written a song, and need an easy way to record it, this article will tell you how to record your song with Audacity, and give it a professional finish.

Things you need to check

If you're new to Audacity, you may need to know a few things. If you are experienced in Audacity and feel confident that you can do good with it, skip this section.

  • All editing tools are under Effect. In the Effect drop-down menu you will find two dividers dividing the menu into three sections. The top section contains only one option, which repeats the last thing you did from that menu. The middle section contains 20 options, which are effects. The last section contains 9 options. These are the filters.
  • It's best to go to Edit > Preferences and make sure play other tracks while recording a new one is checked.
  • Whenever you press the record button, a new track is made. The more tracks, the better the song sounds (in most cases).
  • Whenever a sound is made into the microphone while recording some lines on the track will show up. These need to be kept between 0 and 0.5/-0.5.



If you have some extra money on your hands, then you will want to set some things up like a microphone, a guitar, a keyboard, etc... If these are not available or they are already set up, skip this section.

  1. Open Audacity.
  2. Set up the preamp. In case you didn't already know, a preamp is a device that you can plug a guitar and/or microphone into. The preamp is then plugged into somewhere where you can record, or the sound is amplified (e.g. a guitar amp and speaker). You'll want to get an adapter with two jacks in it. You should be able to plug a wire like the one in the picture into the adapter. The wire should plug into the line-in port on your computer's sound card. Make sure the buttons that say 80Hz and +48v are on.
    • Connect all wires.
  3. Set the audio source. In the top-right corner there should be a drop-down menu. Set it from microphone to line in, unless you are using a normal computer microphone. In that case you leave it alone.
  4. Optional Set up some headphones. Putting on headphones for recording can help the quality if you know what you sound like while singing. Since the line-in port on the sound card makes the sound go through the speakers in most cases (it's alright if it doesn't, this step is optional) you will be able to hear yourself after plugging in the headphones to the headphone/subwoofer jack on your speaker


Now you will begin recording. These steps do not need to be followed in order. Also, never play the guitar and sing at the same time when recording. It sounds unprofessional.

  1. Set up your microphone. You should be using a microphone that will plug into the microphone slot on the preamp. All you have to do is plug in the microphone and get ready to go. If you are not using one of those, plug the microphone into the microphone jack on the sound card.
  2. Record the singing lines. Your mouth should be positioned as shown in the picture. If you are using a microphone that you usually see professional music artists using when performing live, or a recording studio mic, keep it in front of your mouth, but keep it still.
  3. Record any acoustic instruments. Simply record these with wherever the sound comes out of facing the microphone.
  4. Set up the instrument. Unplug the microphone and plug in the guitar, keyboard, bass or other electric instrument. These will go in the instrument slot. Recording an electric instrument without a preamp is tricky. Your best bet is probably to record next to the speaker or add MIDI
  5. Record the guitar. Don't play too loudly. Do nice soft strums, even if it's a heavy metal or punk rock song. You may wish to adjust the drive on your preamp for the guitar track. If you are recording acoustic guitar, you should record it with the microphone close to the sound hole.
  6. Record any other electric instrument


  1. Now comes the editing. For a professional finish you may wish to...
    • Amplify or Filter. Amplify will make the highlighted area louder, and vice versa. Just be careful with both. Too much will make the song sound horrible.
    • Apply GVerb. The GVerb filter will make an effect as if you were in a room. Tinker around with it and see if you like it.


  • Play around with all of the editing tools. See what you like, see what you don't like. There is an undo button!
  • Adding a click track can help you stay on beat. Just make sure you delete it when the song is finished unless you need a metronome sound in the background for the song's style.
  • Practice makes perfect! Nobody's first try is very good.
  • If you don't have a microphone you can make a cheap one by plugging headphones into the mic jack. more info here:More Info
  • You may wish to add some MIDI tracks for any synthesized sounds (try Anvil Studio (free) or Cakewalk (costs money).


  • Know the difference between constructive criticism and put-downs. Constructive criticism would be "Nice work, but I think the guitar could be a little bit better." A put-down would be "Man, your song reeks! You should never write again!" You don't want to blow off the wrong person. If someone tells you something bad about your song that isn't constructive, forget them. Constructive criticism however can help you become better.
  • Screaming into the microphone can cause it to break. You don't want to spend that much money twice. If you absolutely must record screaming, scream away from the microphone and amplify it later.

Things You'll Need

  • Preamp
  • High-quality music microphone
  • Headphones (Optional, but a good idea)
  • The instruments you plan to use in your song or a MIDI version of them.
  • Audacity (download here)
  • Computer

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