Editing Audio Files



Linux systems can manipulate audio files just as well as Windows systems. Linux can edit the audio file itself, change the tags, and convert video formats. I will use the audio file for the Ubuntu login sound to show how these tasks are done.

Linux has several audio converters, but the most recommended and used converter is FFMPEG. Some of you may know that this is a command-line application and many people dislike the command-line. Thankfully, there is a GUI for this application called WinFF. I will convert the Ubuntu login sound from OGG to MP3. The directions for every converter is different. Generally, add the file or files to the converters queue and set the desired format. For WinFF, I selected "Audio" in the "Convert to:" menu and MP3 in the "Preset:" menu. Then, choose the desired output location and then click "Add" to select the files needing a conversion. Lastly, click "Convert". There are other settings, but these should only be changed if you have a specific reason to do so and understand how to change the advanced settings. The Ubuntu login audio file is small, so the convert finished in one second. Remember to test the new MP3 file because some conversions can fail. This is usually due to faulty conversion settings or a missing codec.


NOTE: The mp3 codec/encoder for Linux is called libmp3lame and can be downloaded from http://lame.sourceforge.net or special repositories.

WinFF (FFMPEG) can convert to and from various formats (both audio and video) as long as the system has the proper codecs installed.

Once an audio file is converted (if you want to convert your files), you can then edit the contents if desired. Some music files have silence at the beginning and/or end of the song. Some people do not like this. Thankfully, this silence can be cropped.

Audacity is a great application for doing so. Audacity can not only crop audio files, but also change their speed, bass, etc. Audacity supports various audio formats including mp3 and ogg files. This Ubuntu login file has silence at the beginning and end of the file (seen as flat lines). Highlight one region at a time the same way you would do for text. Once a section is highlighted, click the cut button (the scissors icon) or press ctrl-x. The volume can be increased by sliding the volume slider closer to the plus sign. The speed and other characteristics can be changed in the "Effect" menu by clicking the desired entity. For example, to change the tempo, click "Effect -> Change Tempo..." and make the desired changes in the window that appears. Typically, the settings in the windows are self-explanatory. I will change the tempo by 8%. Once the changes have been made, click "File -> Export.." to save the file. Audacity can save the file in various formats.


Some users like to add metadata tags to their MP3 files (some other audio files support tags). A commonly used tag editor is "Kid3". Fill in the desired fields like "Artist", "Year", "Genre", etc. and then save the tag edits. These tags allow users to search music libraries more efficiently and sort music files in media programs (like Rhythmbox and Clementine) by a specified tag.


NOTE: The attached audio file is licensed by me under the Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 license.

Now you know how to manipulate audio files, so you are probably wanting some. These are some websites that offer legally free audio files.


Youtube now allows its users to license their videos under the Creative Commons license. So, people can get Youtube-Downloaders. There are some Youtube-Downloader addons for Firefox. One is called “Youtube Podcaster” and the other is “Complete Youtube Saver”. Not very many stand-alone Youtube-Downloaders exist for Unix and Unix-like systems. Overall, the Firefox addons are the best choice for such computer systems.

WARNING: Use these downloaders legally. Otherwise, you are at risk of Federal Copyright charges and Youtube's user policies (if you get caught).



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