Working With Sound On a Mac

Audio comes in a variety of flavors on the Macintosh. We are going to work with purely digital audio although other common types of audio are MP3 and MIDI (musical instrument digital interface). The primary consideration when working with sound is what kind of equipment do you expect your piece to be played on. The opposing extremes are; high quality stereo sound or, the low quality small speaker inside older macs. All macs have built in sound capabilities and and have since their introduction. All PowerMacs and high end quadras are capable of recording and playing 16 bit stereo CD quality audio. Older machines usually only mono 8 bit sound although most have a stereo headphone jack. The better the quality the larger the file. Sound is very important and powerful but try to be realistic with its use. Remember that it takes a whole CD to put a dozen five minute songs on.

The following are step by step instructions for digitizing sound from a compact disc:

1. Insert the CD into the CDROM drive (if necessary use the caddy) it will appear on the desktop as "Audio CD 1".

2. Launch a quicktime player such as MoviePlayer, Simple player or Peter's Player or a sound editor like SoundEffects, SoundEdit16 or Audioshop.

3. Go to the file menu and select open. Navigate to the desktop and open the CD and then select the track you wish to digitize.

4. Click on "convert". Name the file and place it where you wish to save it. You cannot save it on the audio CD since it is read only.

5. Click on "options". Choose the sample rate, the sample size and stereo or mono. Sample rate refers to how often the computer checks the audio (the more often the better the quality) and is analagous to DPI in a photoshop image. Size refers to how big a sample it takes (the bigger the better the quality) and is analagous to bit depth in a scanner. Stereo or mono determines the number of tracks it generates (1 or 2). Preview the sound if you wish by clicking on the play button. You can choose whether to digitize the whole sound or just a part of it by selecting start and end points. Either use the arrows on the start and end boxes or use the sliders in the box.
6. Click OK. It will take exactly as long as your selected sample for the computer to do its digitzing since it has to play the track. You now have a quicktime movie of your sound.


7. To get this into Museum we must be able to get it to the clipboard. If you are using a newer machine, later versions of the sound manager in the computer allow you to simply hold down the shift key and drag through your QuckTime movie to select it then use Copy under the edit menu to get it on the clipboard. with older computers you may need to use a sound editing program like SoundEdit or Sound Effects. All effects and voice overs need to be done in a sound editor.

8. Remember to save your work often.