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Once you’ve recorded and edited your audio files to make them as clear and crisp as they can be, it’s time to export them.
Exporting refers to converting your edited audio tracks into usable audio files, which you can then utilize within your video editing tools to make your online course videos.
In this post, we’ll go over the best export settings in Audacity for when you’re exporting your audio as .MP3 files.
Exporting MP3 Files in Audacity
Once you’ve edited your audio track according, it’s time to export it so you can use it to make your online course videos.
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To do this, select your audio track by pressing Ctrl + A. After that, click on File in the top toolbar, go to Export in the drop-down menu and then, click on Export as MP3 as shown:
You’ll be greeted with a window that asks you where you want to save your exported file along with some export options.
Let’s have a closer look at what they all mean.
MP3 Export Options and What They Mean
The reason for explaining what every aspect inside Audacity’s export menu means is because there’s no one-size-fits-all setting that you can apply to every track.
So without further ado, let’s get into it:
Bit Rate Mode
The first thing to look at within the format options are the different bit rate modes.
You have variable and preset modes alongside constant as well as average modes.
Different bit rates can result in varying file sizes as well as varying sound qualities for your final exported file.
Feel free to experiment with this option to see which option suits you best but in our opinion, the best option for voice-over work is Constant (also known as CBR in some audio and video editing tools).
Constant bit rate modes mean exactly what the name implies: That your file’s bit rate will remain the same throughout its entire duration.
It will result in a larger file size and while it can result in low sound quality if you have music in your audio, that isn’t the case here so you’ll be fine.
Exporting with a constant bit rate has a couple of advantages:
- It results in a file that has high sound quality.
- It’s highly compatible with most other editing tools.
Compatibility is highly important here because you don’t want to spend time cleaning up your audio only to find out that the exported file doesn’t work with your video editing tool.
A disadvantage of constant bit rate is the fact that the actual file sizes of the exported files can be fairly large.
If you choose to export a high number of files for your online course, it can take up a lot of space within your hard drive.
Furthermore, if you have background music within your audio track or something similar, it could result in low audio quality at certain parts as well.
Thus, if you only want to do a voice-over, you should go for a constant bit rate but if your audio has music and/or sound effects, you should try experimenting with variable bit rates to see which option sounds better.
Variable bit rate offers the best quality when you have music and other varying elements within your audio and that too, with a lower file size. This is because, as the name suggests, this mode continuously varies its bit rate according to what it thinks is best at that specific point.
You may find comparable files encoded with different bit rate modes to have the same quality. This is true for voice-overs but not for music files.
Regardless of what you choose as the Bitrate Mode, the real option that determines the sound quality of your file is, well, the “Quality” option.
If you choose the “Preset” option as your Bitrate Mode, you’ll see that the options in the settings range between Medium preset (145 – 185 kbps), Standard preset (170 – 210 kbps), Extreme preset (220 – 260 kbps) and Insane preset (320 kbps).
While we won’t use the preset mode, the result options for quality give you a good idea of what constitutes high quality as well as what constitutes low quality.
We highly recommend that you choose a quality that is at least above 220 kbps and if you have the space for it, you should export it at 320 kbps.
This is because, of course, you want the sound quality to be as good as it can be but there’s also another important reason:
You will use this audio to edit together your online course videos. Thus, your audio will get encoded again.
If you export it in Audacity at a low quality, it becomes even lower once you use it within your online course videos. Thus, you need to compensate for that by exporting at the highest possible quality you can.
Variable speed or encoding speed is an option only available if you choose “Preset” or “Variable” in the bit rate mode section.
It determines whether you want it to be encoded quickly or with the maximum quality. There’s no reason not to choose the latter here.
It may take longer but you’ll get the best possible result.
You can choose the channel mode between either joint stereo or stereo or you can force the export to be mono.
Choosing between mono or stereo audio can be confusing but personally, we feel that for voice-overs for online courses, you should stick to mono. This is because there are no particular advantages to having your voice in stereo mode when you’re just narrating lectures.
That being said, let’s talk a little about the difference between joint stereo and stereo:
If you have joint stereo encoding chosen, this means that it provides different audio within the left and right channels (like regular stereo).
However, if at any point the left and right signals have the exact same sound (or relatively little stereo separation), it joins them together. The great thing about this is it results in a slightly smaller file size.
You don’t need to worry about audio quality when determining channel modes as they have no effect on it.
In the end, we would recommend you check the “Force export to mono” box so that your exported file has a mono channel mode.
This will help your students understand you clearly even if they have only one earbud on when they watch your online course videos.
You should only use stereo or joint stereo encoding if you have background music or sound effects within your audio track.
Audio Quality and the File Size of Your Audio File
You will have probably figured this out already but it needs reiterating, if you want your exported files to be of the highest quality, they are going to have large file sizes.
That’s the trade-off.
While large files can be annoying to store, it’s generally preferable to have them to ensure that your audio sounds as clear and crisp as possible once they’re exported from your Audacity project.
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Wrapping Things Up…
We hope you’ve gained insight into what the different settings within Audacity’s MP3 export options mean and how you can use them to get the best quality audio you need.
If you’re looking for better quality, we recommend trying out exporting your audio as a .WAV file instead of an .MP3 file. .WAV files have much more consistent quality than .MP3 files but the trade-off is that they might not be compatible with some tools which you might be using later on.
Which settings do you use to export .MP3 files in Audacity? Let us know in the comments.