Mix Tracks Using Audacity

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Apr - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Apr - 2006
Mix Tracks Using Audacity
Here, we look at the basics of audio mixing using Audacity, a very powerful free and open source software. You can download Audacity from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/windows. To save your tracks as MP3s, you need the LAME MP3 Encoder, which is available under 'Optional Downloads' at the same site.
STEP 1. Opening Tracks
Once you start Audacity, you can open the songs you want to work with by selecting Import Audio from the Project menu. File > Open will open the file in a different window. The song(s) will open in different tracks in the same window as waveforms.

A waveform is a graphical representation of the audio file. It shows the amplitude (or volume) of the track at every instant of time. You can play from any position on the track by simply clicking on the waveform at the desired point (timeline) and pressing the spacebar or the Play button. To select a portion of the waveform, just click and drag your mouse cursor and you will see the waveform being highlighted.

STEP 2. Making A Selection
Let's say you want to mix the music from Darude with the track of Alice Deejay. Open these files in separate windows. Note that you cannot copy just any part of Darude and mix it at any point in Alice Deejay. First, you must take care to begin your selection (in this case, Darude) at a point on the waveform where the amplitude is zero. Zoom in to the waveform to pin-point a position where the Y-axis (hence amplitude) is zero. Similarly, end the selection at a zero amplitude point.

  • Do not start your selection from this point
  • Selection can start from here

When you play the tracks, ensure that the mix sounds good. You may need to spend some time on it before you get the proper hang of mixing at the correct points. You can try different combinations like mixing the intro music of a number at the end of the song, extending the track by pasting another song at the end. The possibilities are limited only by your creativity!

STEP 3. Normalising The Tracks
When you have two songs open, you will immediately see that the average levels (the Y-axis levels) of the two are different (in most cases). Before you do any mixing, you need to bring them to the same level by a process called normalising. Press [Ctrl] [A] to select all tracks, and go to Effect > Normalise and apply the change. 

STEP 4. Mixing The Tracks
Open the Alice Deejay track in a new window and here, create a new blank track by going to Project > New Stereo Track.

Choose the point(s) in Alice Deejay where you want to mix your selection. Now, in the blank track that appears just below, paste this selection (from Darude, by our example) at a point of your choice. Now when you play the track, you can hear the sound from both tracks. You can repeatedly paste your mixing selection to create a loop effect or even paste them at different points.

The main and mixing tracks

If your mixing appears at the beginning of the track, you may want to Fade In your selection (increase the amplitude gradually) or conversely, Fade Out if it appears at the end of the track. These options can be found under the Effects menu.

STEP 5. Deleting Parts Of A Track
Deleting is perhaps the simplest thing you can do-just highlight (select) the portion to delete and press [Delete]. You may select a whole stanza or beat sequence to delete if you want to shorten the song. Erasing at random will make the track sound bad, to say the least!

STEP 6. Save The New File!
Once you're satisfied with the way your mixed track sounds, you can save it as an MP3 by going to File > Export as MP3. Your output file will contain the "mix" of both the tracks.

Mixing two tracks is just one of the basic operations that can be performed on audio files using Audacity. Audacity offers a lot more editing and manipulation options. Try different options under the Effects menu on parts of the file. The hitherto dormant Music Director in you might just be unleashed!

Team DigitTeam Digit

All of us are better than one of us.