Needlework – Digitize your LPs and cassettes with Audacity

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Formerly, digital players obtained information about the artist, album, and track from the file name. The related album cover was only displayed if it was provided in the folder. These days, details of the recording are saved as metadata stored directly in the audio file. When exporting to such formats, a corresponding editor pops up (Figure 5); you then can add information such as the title, artist, album, release year, and more.

Figure 5: The metadata editor is sufficient but cannot compete with specialist tools.

By default, the dialog only lists a couple of tags; if you want more, you also need to have a good knowledge of metadata standards for the desired format. Additionally, the editor is not particularly useful if you want to edit an entire album. Tracks exported from the same project appear over and over again with the same tags as the file saved previously. In many cases, it makes sense to export the recordings without the metadata and add the metadata later with a specialist tool such as EasyTag [5].

Conclusions

With relatively little effort, you can rescue LPs and tapes as MP3 or FLAC files for a new life in the digital world. Some caveats still apply; for example, the metadata editor is not always practical. The wxGTK basis of the program is also noticeably ugly in some places. The shift from Gtk2 to Gtk3 occasionally causes display glitches.

Alternative candidates are few and far between. EKO [6] and similar simple sound editors are of limited use for this job. Only KWave [7] offers functionality similar to Audacity; otherwise, you will be hard pressed to find a better audio editor in the repositories.

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