Procedures for recording audio on the Mac

Mark D. Anderson
created 2004 Nov 7

The first recommendation is to get Amadeus II, from
It is $30, with the free trial lasting a month.
I have found it to have the best combination of features and usability
among the alternatives on the Mac (such as Audacity, Peak, Audion, 
and Sound Studio).

Here are some basic instructions for using Amadeus, written
by someone else:
however, those directions are kind of confusing, because he intermixes
several different scenarios (mic, audio in, record to file or not, 
mp3 encode or not, etc.).

More advanced instructions may be found here:
and the product itself comes with a manual in PDF form.

Below are two different sets of instructions, depending on whether
you want to do any editing/processing of the audio (after recording
and before putting it in iTunes).

---- Procedure A: Record direct to File ----

If all you want to do is just grab some audio, and
do no editing (such as reducing noise, clipping out
tracks, etc.), then:

A0. Connect your male-male stereo mini plug cable between your
cassette player (headphone out) and your computer (headphone in).

A1. Go to "Sound/Record to New File", which will bring
up a dialog.

A2. Make sure the "Input" tab says Core Audio, Built-in Audio,
Line In, and that "play through" is checked (or you
won't hear anything).

A3. In the "Quality" tab, select 44100, 16-bit, "Mono"
(unless you actually have stereo audio coming in).

A4. In the "File" tab, check "Save a copy in real-time".
Make sure the file Name is a new one (so you don't
overwrite a previous record). By default the files
are put in the Desktop.
Choose "Mp3" as the format, and in Settings select
192kbps, Best quality, Default resample, and check
both "Joint stereo" (if available) and the "Variable bitrate".
In the "Expert" tab, select "Force mono encoding"
(if it is actually mono).
Mono vs. stereo can be dealt with at many different
stages; see
(These settings can be adjusted as you gain expertise.)
NOTE: 192kbs is suitable for almost-CD-quality transfers
of music. If you are recording voice narration, or going
to be listening exclusively in a noisy environment anyway,
going as low as 24kbs is possible.

A5. Go to the "Record" tab, and without pressing the
Rec button, play some of your input.
A very important step is to make sure that you have
correct volume settings going in. Play some of the audio
and watch the meter lights. They should go into the 
yellow every once in a while (otherwise it is too quiet).
Don't get the input volume confused with the volume
coming out of your speakers, which is separately controlled.
You need to watch that meter for a bit.
You must adjust the volume *at the source* (your cassette
player or whatever) till it is at a good level.
If the meters move but you don't hear anything, then
you don't have "play through" checked, or your computer
speaker volume is set off or too low.
If the meters don't move, then you selected the wrong
input (line in vs. microphone), or you set up the
physical cable incorrectly, or the volume on the 
source is set way too low.

A6. Once you get the source volume correct, rewind the
tape, start it again, and press the "Rec" button
in the dialog.
When the tape is done, click "Stop", and dismiss
the dialog by clicking "Ok". You  now have an Mp3 file that
you can drag into iTunes.
You can just ignore the window entitled "Untitled sound 1" 
or similar that is left there.

---- Procedure B: Record, Edit, Save ----

Now, if you *do* want to do some extra processing of
the file after it is recorded, then don't follow procedure A.

B0. Set up your connections as in A0.

B1. Select "File/New", then "Sound/Record".

B2. On "File" tab, make sure "Save a copy in real-time"
is not checked (since you want to save as a file later).

B3. Set "Input" tab as in A2.

B4. Adjust volume as in A5.

B5. Do the recording as in A6.

B6. Click "Ok" to dismiss the Record dialog, so that now you have
a signal window with a title like "Untitled sound 1".

B7. You can drag select regions of the signal and then do "Edit/Cut"
to remove them. This is useful for removing extra silence at
the beginning and end.

B8. To remove noise, sweep out a selection of just noise with
the mouse. Then do "Effects/Denoising/Sample Noise".
Then do "Edit/Select All" and "Effects/Denoising/Suppress Noise".

B9. You can extract clips and save them to individual files,
by making a selection, then choosing "Selection/Save Selection As".
Or you can split the recording semi-automatically into multiple
files by doing: "Selection/Generate Marks", "Search for Silences",
"OK", "Selection/Split according to Marks"

B10. Do a "File/Save As". When saving, you'll want to choose
the encoding type and settings as in A4.