Monday, November 24, 2008

Audacity and LAME

Day 21

There are some intentional incompatibilities between Audacity and proprietary files formats (.wma, for example). Apparently this applies to mp3s as well because a separate file is needed in order for Audacity to export projects as an mp3, and while Ogg Vorbis is just as good, it just isn't the standard yet. LAME is needed.
On a Windows computer, installing LAME is no more difficult that downloading the file and then directing Audacity to its location. It proved to be much more difficult on Linux. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough, but I couldn't find a location to download the file Audacity was asking for (Incidentally, Windows Audacity asks for lame.dll). I decided to compile the file from source. Here's how.

  1. Download the source file here.
  2. Extract the files from the .zip.
  3. Click into the LAME folder that was extracted, click on the tools menu, and choose “open new console window.”
  4. Type sudo apt-get install build-essential
  5. Type su and enter your root password when prompted
  6. Type ./configure
  7. Type make
  8. Type make install

Following these steps caused all kinds of interesting things to happen in the console – it kind of looked like the time the cat walked across the keyboard while I was typing my masters project – but it seemed to do the trick. Sort of.

When I tried to export to mp3, it again asked me the the LAME file, and much to my chagrin, I couldn't locate it. I minimized the window and used the handy find option in the launch bar to locate the path to Strangely, Audacity couldn't see the folder it was in, so I had to manually move it to my home directory and use it from there.

If anything, the last two days have shown me why the Eee doesn't ship with Audacity. Sure it works, but it's kind of like using a butter knife as a screwdriver. It gets the job done, but may require a bit more effort than expected.

Day 20

I have yet to remedy the recording problems I experienced while using Audacity, although to be honest, I haven't really tried to fix them. Instead, I needed to focus on editing some multi-track .aup files that some students at school recorded. It's a podcast, more or less, complete with transitions, background music, and sound effects.

I wasn't sure at first if Audacity on the Eee would even open the files since they were made on a computer running Windows XP, but it fired up right away. Sort of. I couldn't double click on the file – it would open as a text file, and I wasn't sure how to assign a program to the .aup file type. Instead, I ran Audacity and then opened the file from there. No problem.

I saw no major difference in editing between the Eee and a Windows machine other than a slight speed difference when importing new audio or adding effects, but this could be from the 512 Ram in the Eee. It had no problem, however, with playback - despite having five tracks total in the project.

When I finished editing, I saved the project, and then went to export it as an MP3. I know from experience that LAME is needed, and as expected, Audacity asked me where the file was. By now it was late, so I canceled the export and figured I would fight that battle another day.

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