Listening to Audicity Files

Peter from Nottingham writes:

I have downloaded Audacity and copied an audio tape. It seems to have copied, but I can’t get it on the CD to play.  I selected MP3 player.  I think I have done everything right, but I guess not.  HELP!  Thank You.

Hi, Peter.  I’m not 100% sure of your question, so I’m going to give you a couple of options here to see if I can cover it.

First off, for those who don’t know, Audacity is a great free audio recorder and editor.  For a free program, it does a LOT including mixing tracks, special effects and equalization.  I can’t think of any audio recording needs that a non-professional might have that audacity doesn’t address.  It can be downloaded from Sourceforge here:

Peter, here’s the first possibility that I hear in your question… that you have copied music from a tape to your computer using Audacity, transferred it to a CD and now it won’t play through your computer’s MP3 player program.

First off, to let you know, the default recording format for Audacity isn’t MP3.  It isn’t any sound file that your computer will play.  The default is .aup, or an Audacity file.  This is what you get if you choose SAVE PROJECT or SAVE PROJECT AS from your file menu.  What you really want to choose, if you want to play the sound file through your player is EXPORT.

When you click on EXPORT, you will get a list of file formats to choose from.

These include MP3, but, because Audacity does not come with an MP3 encoder, if you choose this option it will send you to their website to download the encoder.  Frankly, I assume that it comes with encoders for the others, but I don’t know for sure because I always use MP3 format.  The give and take of MP3 over other formats is that MP3 files will typically take up far less space on your hard drive, but you do lose some audio quality.  If you are recording spoken word, rock, pop, or country, you will probably never notice the difference in sound quality.  If, however, you’re recording classical, opera or jazz you may because the sound spectrum for these is much higher than it is for the first group.  In other words, the range of sounds from the highest high to the lowest low is much greater.

Once you’ve chosen your format and saved your sound file, you will be able to listen to it through any of your audio player programs.

Which leads us to the second possibility… that you’ve saved your files as MP3 format, transferred them to disc and are trying to play the disc but can’t.

If you have saved the files on a disc in MP3 format and tried to play it on most CD players, it won’t play simply because most CD players do not have the capability of playing MP3 format sound files.  They basically don’t understand the extension .mp3.  In order to play these through a stand-alone CD player, you’ll have to make sure that the CD player has the MP3 logo on it to play the files.

This is going to sound like a really obvious statement, but the other thing is to make sure that you are recording them onto a CD and not a DVD.  Your stand-alone CD player won’t read DVD’s.

The other option is to record the CD using your favorite CD burning program (Nero, Windows Media Player, Itunes) to burn these files to disc.  The program will automatically covert them from MP3 to a CD audio format. 

I hope that this helps, but, if I have completely misunderstood your question, please post a follow up in the comments section below.  I do check the comments on my articles and respond when I can.

~Randal Schaffer


4 thoughts on “Listening to Audicity Files

  1. True, Audacity is AWESOME. The LAME MP3 Encoder is an extra download and can be problematic depending upon the version of Lame and Audacity. I use it daily on my XP machine but it will not work on my 2 Laptops using Win. 7. Even after following DOWNLOAD instructions carefully. Either I get a dialog box saying the encoder cant work with this version of Audacity or it tells me there is a problem and will not EXPORT as an MP3. So, I Export as WAV files then move my work on my network to my XP and combine and save as MP3 on the XP machine. A A PAIN GUESS WHERE!

  2. To record MP3 files and make them playable you need to also download two other files on the audicity site and install them, they are: Lame_v3.99.3_for_Windows.exe and FFmpeg_v0.6.2_for_Audacity_on_Windows.exe – (ZIP version – here) they also have a mac version if you need it. MP3’s won’t work without these installed to your computer.

    When you record your sound file, after it completes, you go to file tab on Audicity> then: export> choose drive location, then file location. after this completes to your computer, can then transfer to CD/DVD or keep on your computer as you choose.

    One other note lame & FFmpeg these do work properly on Windows 8 & 8.1 like stated above I also had problems installing them on Windows 7

  3. What I forgot to say in the previous comment, was that they have a manual that you can download on aducity at the edit tab> Preferences> Libraries and Click on lame download box> it tells you all of the ways of using audacity. I also found while researching this that there’s additional steps that you have to take on setting up for Windows 7. They are below:

    How do I download and install the LAME MP3 encoder?

    Because of software patents, Audacity cannot include MP3 encoding software or distribute such software from its own web sites. Instead, use the following instructions to download and install the free and recommended LAME third-party encoder to export MP3 files with Audacity.
    Windows: Go to the external LAME download page
    Left-click this link, do not right-click.
    Directly underneath “For FFMpeg/LAME on Windows”, left-click the link Lame
    v3.99.3 for Windows.exe and save the file anywhere on your computer.
    Double-click “Lame v3.99.3 for Windows.exe” to launch it (you can safely ignore any warnings that the “publisher could not be verified”).
    Follow the Setup instructions to install LAME for Audacity, making sure not to change the offered installation location of “C:Program FilesLame for Audacity” (or “C:Program Files (x86)Lame for Audacity” on a 64-bit version of Windows).
    You should now be able to export MP3s without any further configuration, choosing File > Export… then selecting “MP3 Files” in the File Export Dialog.

    Occasionally, there may be a conflict where Audacity still tries to detect the path to an older lame_enc.dll file. To correct this:
    Ensure there are no older versions of lame_enc.dll in any locations where

    Audacity detects it, namely:
    C:Program FilesLame for Audacity or C:Program Files (x86)Lame for Audacity (this is where the installer puts the new .dll)
    the Audacity installation folder (usually C:Program FilesAudacity or C:Program Files (x86)Audacity), or in the Plug-Ins folder inside that.
    Exit Audacity and navigate to the audacity.cfg preferences file at:
    Windows 2000/XP: Documents and Settings\Application DataAudacityaudacity.cfg Windows Vista/7: Users\AppDataRoamingAudacityaudacity.cfg.
    Open audacity.cfg in a text editor such as Notepad, and delete the two lines

    starting with:
    Save the changes to audacity.cfg and restart Audacity

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