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Sound editing software

In order to record oral history on your computer you will need some sound editing software. This software will also allow you to manipulate and edit sound recordings. You will be able to cut out sections of the recording that you do not like, select extracts that you do like, adjust the volume and even improve the quality of the recording. Most of the following software has versions for both PC and Mac, although if you have a Mac, Garageband will do a lot of what you need.

At the start of 2016 these are the options that members of the Oral History Network use (thanks to Julia Letts for compiling the list):

The overriding favourite was Sound Forge from Sony Sound Forge Studio - http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/audiostudio. The latest version is listed as £34.99 on Amazon.

The British Library now recommends Wavelab Elements (£73) - https://www.steinberg.net/en/shop/buy_product/product/wavelab-elements-8.html. All the OH team at the BL use this: it’s very intuitive and has lots of features which you can use or ignore.

Wavepad’s free version (home use only) has also been used with success and Reaper - http://www.reaper.fm/ - has also been suggested.

Amadeus is available for Mac users - http://amadeus-pro.en.softonic.com/mac.

Here at EMOHA we are very happy with Audacity - http://www.audacityteam.org/. Some people have found this tricky to use, and for multitrack tasks it can be, but for the basic tasks we think it is easy, and there are good instructions available on how to use the software.

Once you have your software you should see a window that looks something like this:

[Audacity window with sound wave]

You are likely to recognise most of the controls from other Windows programs you have used and from hi-fi equipment that you own. All the usual 'play', 'stop', 'record' buttons are there, but you will also be able to see the soundwave which is playing.

Be careful not to permanently change your master recording. You may want to create a copy and edit this.

For further information about how to get started using sound editing software, try the Vermont Folklife Centre's Digital Editing of Field Audio or the JISC guide to digitising analogue media

Still having problems?

Look at EMOHA Information Sheet No 18 or contact the Archive for help.


Last updated: 04/02/2016
East Midland Oral History Archive Web maintainer
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.

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