I am a HUGE fan of the free, open source audio editing program Audacity. I installed Audacity on a new Mac today, and was pleased to learn that the default Mac installer for the LAME encoder now has an installer file, and places the LAME “library” in a convenient location which is easily browseable from Audacity preferences.
Downloading the LAME library (or in the case of Windows-based computers, the LAME “DLL” file) and “pointing” Audacity’s program preferences to this file is required if users want to export in MP3 format. Because of licensing issues, the open source developers of Audacity cannot legally distribute the LAME encoder with the Audacity program. LAME is legally free to download and use, but it must be obtained separately.
This process of messing with the LAME encoder isn’t terribly complicated, but for teachers who have not had much experience installing new applications on their computer or even navigating to unfamiliar directories / folders within their operating system, it can be an overwhelming experience. For that reason, early in our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices / Storychasers workshops on digital storytelling we made a decision to just SKIP installing and using the LAME encoder. The first day of our 2.5 day workshops on digital storytelling are spent with Audacity, and day 2 we introduce images with either iMovie or PhotoStory3. We’ve found both programs work fine when digital storytellers export their final, edited audio narration from Audacity in WAV format instead of MP3, and import that audio file so it can be sychronized with still images.
I think the Mac LAME download and installer has been “easier” like this for some time, but I have not had an opportunity to use it personally until today. Hopefully they’ve made the Windows-based installer similarly user-friendly. Does anyone know if it is?
Long live Audacity!
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