2015 by Donald R. Snow
Sections of the Class Notes This page was last updated 2015-03-15.
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  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes, along with the more comprehensive  Sound and Audio Supplementary Notes ,  are posted on .
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  4. The problem for today:  Working with audio files, how to convert analog to digital sound file, and how to edit and transcribe them.

  6. Sound files are of several types, including .wav, .mp3, and .cda; some are very large; from recording with a microphone, digital recorder, converting old analog forms (phonograph records, tape recordings, etc.), downloading from the Internet, and elsewhere
  7. Digital recorders record in various formats depending on the device; formats include .wav, .mp3, and .dss (the Olympus compressed format)
  8. To convert analogs to digital you need a machine to play them; connect the speaker output of the machine to the line-in on the sound card on your computer (usually on the back of your computer), and use a recording program on your computer, e.g. Audacity (see below) 
  9. Rule of Thumb -- It takes twice as long as the recording to digitize an analog since you have to set up, run it in real time, check the files, etc. 
  10. You can sometimes download recordings from the Internet, but you usually have to record them while they are playing and you can record anything coming through your computer speakers
  11. Sound files can be emailed over the Internet just like text or image files and you can upload sound files to FamilySearch Family Tree in the Memories section of a person

  13. Audacity -- good OpenSource (free) recording and editing program -- has many features, but the simple features are easy to use -- Audacity helps and tutorials
  14. With Audacity you see visual tracks for loudness of input and recording, one track for mono and two parallel tracks for stereo; experiment to set volume on the player and on Audacity so you don't get distortion; Audacity has an amplify feature if the entire recording is too low 
  15. Sequence to use in recording from another device or computer:  (1) Start Audacity, (2) Start player; when done, (3) Stop Audacity, (4) Stop player-- that way you don't miss anything and Audacity has good editing features to delete pauses and clicks at start and end, rearrange parts, fade in or out, etc.
  16. For microphone recording plug mike into the mike jack on your sound card and set the microphone level on Audacity the way you need it
  17. When done editing, save the file with the name and file format type you want -- may be a good idea to save an archive version in wav format and a smaller mp3 version for an mp3 player, or to send or upload; Audacity will also save the entire project in Audacity format, including every step before and after editing, if you will want to work on it again sometime
  18. Use Audacity to make sound narrations with background music for slideshows to use in videos, e.g. with  PhotoFilmStrip

  20. Automatic conversion of continuous speech into text is still not completely accurate; best tools are commercial, but there are free programs and even smart phones do fairly well
  21. Windows 7 has built-in Speech Recognition -- go to Control Panel > Speech Recognition -- can drag the microphone icon from the address bar at the top to get an icon on your desktop; to begin click on Start Speech Recognition, say "Open Wordpad", and start dictating; helps to go through the tutorial since your computer then learns your voice so you get better accuracy
  22. Dictation -- free website and Chrome app that does speech recognition using features of the Chrome browser -- -- only seems to do a few lines of text and isn't very accurate; website includes a 2-minute video tutorial; can put a bookmark on your browser or desktop for it
  23. You may get better accuracy in converting continuous speech by "echoing", i.e. you listen with earphones and speak the words you hear so the program hears it in your voice; can also transcribe hand written journals, letters, or notes by reading them into the computer 
  24. Due to all the editing needed aftewards it may be easier to transcribe handwriting by scanning the article and using  Transcript , free program where you see the image in a window above and you type what you see in the text box below; image moves up as you press return at the end of lines  
  25. Listen N Write -- -- helpful transcription program that plays the audio and you type what you hear; free for private use
    1. 4 min tutorial -- YouTube Listen N Write Tutorial
    2. Has keyboard start and stop keys and even replays a few seconds before going on so you can see that you have transcribed it correctly


  26. Ripping a CD
    1. Ripping a CD means copying it onto your computer -- ripping saves all the CD files without having to play them to record; most ripping programs find the metadata (album title, artist, song title, etc.) online and save it with the file so later you can search your computer for album, song title, artist, etc.
    2. You can make copies of your CD's to use yourself, but not to give away or sell or you violate copyrights
    3. Good free CD rippers are  FairStars CD Ripper  and  Windows Media Player (built into Windows 7)
  27. Burning a CD
    1. Windows 7 has a simple burner in Windows Explorer; info and tutorial --  
    2. Many good free CD/DVD burners -- -- they rate  ImgBurn  the best        
  28. Skpye -- telephoning via your computer and the Internet
    1. Free program --
    2. You talk via a microphone and listen via speakers or earphones plugged into your computer sound card
    3. Can even do conference calls with several people at once
    4. No charge for Skype-to-Skype calls world-wide; small charge for Skype-to-telephone calls world-wide


  29. This just scratches the surface of working with sound files; see more info on my  Sound and Audio in Family History Supplementary Notes  on my website
  30. Recording and editing sound files takes time, but makes family history come alive when you hear people's voices

Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don's Class Listings Page .