here is a step by step for people using their computer's built in soundcard with a mic or a direct connection
1. download, install, and open audacity
2. plug your guitar or your mic into the sound card
- for the first option, you need a guitar with an output jack (probably 1/4 inch kind), a patch cord (1/4 inch cable), and a 1/4 to 1/8inch adapter.
- for the second option, you may also need the 1/4 to 1/8 adapter
-there are often 3 jacks on the sound card - a line out going to you're speakers, a line-in, and a mic-in. the mic input should be more sensitive - it boosts the relatively weak signal of the mic.
3. in the input selection box in audacity, choose 'line in'. to the left of this there is a volume control for the input (with a mic icon beside it) - move it to the halfway point. then, hit record (red button) and play something to test the signal - try the loudest part of the peice you want to record. (you can also click on the input meter in the top right corner to monitor input)
now stop recording - if there is a waveform in the track, play it back and listen to it. if there is nothing, select 'mic in' from the input selection box and repeat the process.
4. once you have a recording of your 'test performance', decide if the input volume needs adjustment: the peaks should not reach "0" in the level meter (top right) (they should not be much higher than "-6")
and the highest and lowest parts of the waveform should not reach "1.0" or "-1.0" in the audio track. if you pass these thresholds, there will be distortion, so try to leave a little extra room to be safe.
5. check to see if you have recorded a stereo audio track - there will be two waveforms, and they will be labelled "stereo, 44100 hz". unless you have a stereo mic and the line in records both channels, there is no point in having a stereo recording. so, if this is the case, change the recording mode to mono: top menu > edit > preferences > audio i/o tab> in the recording part choose 'mono' from the 'channels' drop down box and click 'ok'.
6. press record and play the peice, then play it back and decide if you will keep it. you can experiment with mic position or the equalizer on your guitars preamp (but keep the volume on the guitar at full). you can delete the track with the "X" button at the top left of the audio track.
7. When you have a recording you want to keep, choose "export to wav" from the file menu. this will be your uncompressed backup. if you plan to edit the file in audacity (reverb, eq, etc) you should export before doing this, so you don't lose anything if the program crashes. if you plan to do the editing in more than one session you should also save the project (in file menu).
8. press 'ctrl' and 'a' on the keyboard at the same time to select the audio track. then from the top menu choose effect>amplify
the effect is automatically set to raise the volume of the track so that the loudest peak is as loud as it can be before distorting. it may be a good idea to lower the 'new peak amplitude' slider to "-0.1" rather than leaving it at "0"
9. to export to mp3, go here and follow the instructions:
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/fa ... m=lame-mp3
before exporting, go to edit>preferences>file formats
in the "mp3 export options" click on 'find library' and locate the lame file you downloaded.
then choose the bitrate:
64 - the quality of compression will be the same as the average mp3 (because the average mp3 is 128k stereo, and this file will be mono)
96 - not many people would be able to tell it apart from the uncompressed wav, though people not doing blind tests may think they can.
128 - maybe not the best option if you are going to post it online - you may as well save bandwidth (higher bitrate = larger file size)
choose 'export as mp3' from the file menu. add id3 tag info if you want. thats it.
don't worry if the quality of the recording is not amazing - it's just a picture. the real thing is much more important.