How To Make Music With Audacity? (A Beginner’s Guide)

How To Use Audacity To Make Music?

Apart from being a trendy audio editor, Audacity is a very capable workstation aimed at those looking for open-source, free audio software. 

Its cross-platform nature makes it a genuinely accessible tool, compatible with LADSPA, Nyquist, VST, and Audio Unit plugins. The software is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and most UNIX-based operating systems.

How To Make Music In Audacity

Like any DAW, Audacity gives you a set of tools and limitations that can help you express your creativity. You can either use the software to record, edit and process every instrument of your song or use it to edit and process pre-recorded audio and playback MIDI tracks.

Audacity currently does not support VSTi, So if you’re planning on using your MIDI controller to make that dope beat and those incredible synth sounds, it isn’t going to happen. You can, though, make it all within the software and still achieve great results! Here’s how to use Audacity to make music:

Setting Up for Recording

Whether you want to record live instruments with a microphone or make a beat using samples, it’s no harm learning the software basics.

After opening Audacity, the first thing you need to do is check the Device Toolbar and set up your audio host and project’s input and output.

Audacity Device Toolbar

The Audio Host is the bridge between Audacity and the sound device you’re going to be using. Depending on your operating system, your Audio Host can be changeable or not. According to the official Audacity Manual, the Audio Host works like this:

On Windows, you have three options:

  • MME: The most compatible and Audacity default;
  • Windows Direct Sound: Potentially less latency (more about that in a minute);
  • Windows WASAPI: Supports 24-bit recording devices;

On Mac, the only option is Core Audio.

On Linux, there is generally only one option: ALSA, but other options could be OSS or Jack Audio Connection Kit (also known as “Jack” or “Jackd”).

Suppose you’re using an audio interface to capture sounds, such as a Behringer, M-Audio, PreSonus, or Focusrite; you need to choose it in the Recording Device section, located beside the microphone icon within the toolbar. You’ll then select the number of channels in the device you’re going to be using to record.

Finally, you’ll choose the output, found beside the headphone icon, which could be either a pair of earbuds connected to your computer or a set of monitors connected to your audio interface.

You should check your signal flow to see if the sounds you’re sending through your microphone or instrument are reaching the desired output. Chances are it will be playing back OK, but with a slight delay. That is called latency, a small delay between sound input and output that can affect the user’s performance when recording to a click track or overdubbing. To fix latency issues in Audacity, you should open the Devices Taband under latency, set the following parameters:

  • Set Latency Compensation to zero;
  • Leave Buffer Length at its default value (100 milliseconds);

how to configure latency in Audacity

An overview of the Devices Tab in Audacity

If you have an audio interface that supports more than the default project sample rate (44.100 Hz), you’ll probably want your result to be more detailed and preserve more quality after editing. That being the case, increase Sample Rate and Sample Format at Edit > Quality > Sampling (or Audacity > Preferences > Quality on a Mac). If your system allows it, increase Sample Rate to at least 48000 Hz and Sample Format (or Bit Depth) to 24 bits, thus making sure you’ll end up with higher quality recordings and mixes in the end.

Now you’re all set to start recording your vocals, keyboards, guitars, drums, or whatever other instruments you can mike up or plug into your audio interface!

Making a Beat from Scratch

If you decide to go the beatmaker way and come up with all-new, personalized sounds, you can! All you need to do is master the magic behind the Generate Menu. This Audacity feature lets you generate audio in three different ways:

  • Into a new track;
  • At the cursor position;
  • To replace an existing selection;

By default, Audacity provides you with Built-in Generators and Plug-in Generators, which you can use to make a beat like Levi Niha did in his YouTube video Making Music Using the ONLY AUDACITY:

Making Music Using ONLY AUDACITY

Built-in Generators

Since working with audio means working with mechanical (and, in this case, completely digital) waves, Audacity lets you control how you want to shape these waves. All built-in generators let you type in a desired amplitude value and duration for your generated audio:

• Amplitude Value: In audio physics, amplitude roughly means the loudness of your soundwave, represented digitally in your DAW by a line that starts at the middle ground of the track and oscillates up and down, drawing a wave-like form. The distances between the middle ground and the taller sections of the wave (called crests) amplitude. The software lets you choose a value between 0 (silence, or the middle ground in the track) and 1 (the loudest before distorting, or the limit of the track), with the default amplitude being 0.8.

Nomenclature of a waveform

Parts of a waveform

Waveform represented in Audacity

A waveform represented in Audacity

  • Duration: This is simply the length of your generated sound and can be typed in or manipulated with the keyboard arrows. You can adjust the units in which you want to measure duration by clicking the triangle to the digits’ right and opening the context menu.

Tip: since you’ll be working with digital waves when using generators, chances are you’ll end up with robotic, digital sounds. To simulate how mechanical waves would behave if captured in the real world, try applying fadeouts to your generated sounds until you achieve a nice balance between attack and decay times. This can be done by selecting the desired fade-out area in the sound clip and accessing Effect > Built-In > Fade Out.

fade out in Audacity

Here’s what a generated sound looks like with a fade-out.

The built-in generators Audacity provides you with are:

  • Chirp
    This can generate 4 different types of tones. You can set amplitude and frequency to your liking.
  • DTMF Tones
    Generates sounds similar to those on telephone keypads. Typing numbers can generate its Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) sounds from 0 to 9, lowercase letters from a to z, and the special characters * and #.
  • Noise
    You can choose between three types of noise: White, Pink, and Brownian. White is the one with a greater probability of masking other sounds or creating texture due to its nature of maintaining similar energy at all frequencies. Pink and Brownian noise have both more energy at lower frequencies and less controllable amplitudes.
  • Silence
    In this generator, the only configurable setting is duration since amplitude will always be set to zero. You can use it to create space between tracks or cover unwanted noise. If you apply it to an audio selection, you’ll achieve the same result as choosing Edit > Remove Special > Silence Audio.
  • Tone
    This generator lets you create one of four waveforms: Sine, Square, Sawtooth, and Square (no alias). The differences in tone can be heard right away when compared. A sine wave is a natural, continuous wave, a pattern found easily in nature. A square wave is an electronically generated sound, and a sawtooth wave can be found in analog synthesizers.

Plug-in Generators

By default, Audacity gives you three plug-in generators:

  • Pluck
    A quick sound with abrupt or gradual fade-out. You can select the pitch so it corresponds to a MIDI note.
  • Rhythm Track
    A fully configurable metronome track is used to help you keep the tempo and follow the song’s bars. Very helpful considering that Audacity, unlike most DAWs, doesn’t have a grid you can align audio to.
  • Risset Drum
    The closest you can get to sampled drum sounds within Audacity. It takes some testing and tweaking to get great results, but it’s totally feasible.

Some Audacity built-in Plugins to Consider

After you’re done building your beat, recording tracks, and mixing the levels of each track, you should consider trying out a few built-in Audacity plugins to improve the overall sound of your mix. While each engineer has their own way of applying effects and textures to a mix, there are a few plugins you’ll end up using anyway. Here’s a brief selection of everyday effects you’ll find in Audacity within the Effect Menu:

  • Compressor
    A compressor is used to reduce loud sounds while increasing quiet sounds, thus reducing any given track’s dynamic range. The Audacity Compressor has five independent parameters that can be set to achieve the desired sound: Threshold, Noise Floor, Ratio, Attack Time, and Release Time.

Audacity Compressor

  • Filter Curve EQ
    Whenever you need to reduce, cut or boost frequencies to make a sound sit better in the mix, you should go for an EQ. Sometimes only cutting or boosting low and high frequencies isn’t enough, and that’s when Audacity’s Filter Curve EQ comes into play. As most sound engineers will tell you, there’s no right or wrong in equalization, just what sounds good in the mix. So, use your ears and creativity to achieve whatever sounds you feel are good for the song! Here’s a video by Team How To showing how to use the Audacity Filter Curve EQ:
Equalization Effect In Audacity 🎧 Updated 2020 - EQ Settings Details

Graphic EQ
This equalizer does the same as the Filter Curve EQ, but with sliders, rather than draw curves. It is perfect for boosting or cutting specific frequency regions that might be putting your mix off balance. Here are a quick EZ Tutorials video showing Audacity’s Graphic EQ parameters:

Equalization in audacity
  • Reverb
    This effect can be used to simulate a controlled ambiance that can make your recording more natural and give the impression that some instruments were recorded in the same room. The Audacity Reverb has many parameters, but it is not very complicated. Here’s a video by Young Halfington showing how to use the Reverb plugin from Audacity:
How To Use Reverb! Audacity Tutorial! Giveaway!


Audacity empowers independent producers and musicians with free software capable of catering to seasoned producers and curious beginners. What it lacks in its not-so-visually-appealing user interface is compensated in the number of features and versatility.

The biggest downside for most producers is the inability to record anything MIDI, which can slow the workflow down for some people. However, you can still record, mix and master an entire album, or record and edit podcast audio, on this competent, user-friendly platform.

Readings that you may like: 

DAW Related:

Best DAWs For Musicians Available (With FREE DAWs)

How To Develop DAW Software?

What’s The Most CPU Efficient DAW? – 5 DAWs Compared

How To Make Music Without Using A DAW?

Pro Tools Guide: How To Use AutoTune & Pitch Correction?

Ableton Review: Is It Worth The Money? (Cons & Pros)

Logic Pro X Review: Is It Worth It? (Cons & Pros)

How To Use Auto-tune & Pitch Correction In Cubase?

How To Fix Ableton Crackling, Crashing & Freezing? Step By Step


Plugin Related:

What Are Audio Plugins? Different Types of Plugins Explained

What Are The Best Tools To Develop VST Plugins & How Are They Made?

Cost of Developing Audio VST Plugin: Several Factors (With Table)

VST, VST, AU and AAX – What’s The Difference? Plugin Formats Explained

Complete Guide To Noise Gate – What It Is, What It Does & How To Use It?

How To Clip My Drums? Here Is How & Audio Teasers (Before/After)


Complete Guide To Limiter: How To Use It (+ Best Plugins & Analog Limiters)

Mixing With Reverb: How To Add Life To Your Mixes

Linear Phase vs Minimum Phase EQ – Full Guide

Difference Between LUFS, RMS & True Peak Loudness Meters

How And When To Use Algorithmic And Convolution Reverb In Your Mix?

Difference Between Active EQ, Passive EQ and Dynamic EQ


Headphones & Studio Monitors:

Do headphones get worse with age?

Monitors vs Studio Headphones For Mixing & Mastering

Top 10 Room Calibration & Headphones/Speakers Correction Plugins 

Does Heat Damage Headphones?

Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Good For Music Production?

Can Headphones Break in Cold Weather?

Why do headphones & cables get sticky?


Can Wearing Headphones Cause Hair Loss?

How Do I know If My Studio Monitor Is Blown?

Side Effects Of Sleeping With Your Headphones On

Do You Need Music Amplifier For Studio Monitors or Studio Headphones?

Do Headphones or Earphones Damage Your Brain?

Can Headphones or Earphones cause Deafness or Toothache?

FarField, MidField & NearField Monitors – Their Uses, Pros & Cons


MIDI & Synths:

Should I Buy A MIDI Keyboard Or Synth? (Are Synths Worth It Anymore?)

Why Is Audio Gear So Expensive? (Especially Synths)

Top 12 Synth Brands – Analog, Digital & Modular Synth Manufacturers

11 Tips How To Choose MIDI Keyboard 

Should I Buy MIDI Controller Or Keyboard? Cons, Pros & Tips


Guitar/Amp Focused:

Can I Put Nylon Strings on a Steel-string Guitar?

Do Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?

Buying Your First Guitar: 2 Things To Know

Are Tube Amps Worth It? (Tube vs Solid-State Amps)

How Often Does A Guitar Need a Setup?

Can I Play Classical Guitar On A Steel-String Guitar?


How often guitar necks need reset?

Can You Play Two Guitars Through One Amp?

Can a 6 String Bass Be Tuned Like A Guitar?

Can I leave My Guitar Tuned Down a Step? Yes, But Is It Safe?

Should I Learn 4, 5 Or 6 String Bass Guitar & Why?

How To Know If your Guitar Amp Is Broken?

How To Fix Distorted Bass Guitar Sound?


Do Fender Guitars Appreciate In Value?

Should You Put Stickers On A Bass Guitar?

How Acoustic And Electric Guitars Are Made?

Is Electric Guitar Too Loud for an Apartment?

Does a Preamp Improve Sound Quality?

If I Learn Acoustic Guitar Can I Play Electric Guitar?

How Many Hours A Day Should You Practice Bass Guitar?

Do I need an AMP/DAC To Run Bookshelf Speakers?

How to Record Electric Guitar Into Logic Pro X?

Do headphones get worse with age?


Recommended Gear:

Top 12 NearField Studio Monitors On Any Budget

Top 10 Midfield Studio Monitors For Home Recording

Best Biggest Studio Monitors (FarField Monitors)

Top 10 Guitar Pickups for Low Tunings 

Top 10 Analog Compressors For Mixing & Mastering (On Any Budget)

Top 12 USB Audio Interfaces Under 150$, 200$, 300$ 400$ (Any Budget)


Top 12 Hardware Equalizers (Analog EQs For Mixing & Mastering)

Top 6 Analog Hardware Limiters 

Top 6 Solid State Bass Amps (On Any Budget)

Top 6 Ribbon Mics On Any Budget (For Vocals, Drums & Guitars)

Top 6 Cheap Dynamic Mics For Vocals Under 50$, 100$, 200$ & 300$


Top 6 Chorus Guitar Pedals (On Any Budget)

6 Best 61-Key MIDI Keyboards (On Any Budget)

9 Best 49-Key MIDI Keyboards Under 100$ & 200$

Top 5 Best 25 Key MIDI Keyboards (On Any Budget)

Top 12 Acoustic Drums (Best Kits/Sets On Any Budget)


Plugin Roundups:

Genre Focused:

Top 10 EDM Plugins  (And 10 Best FREE Plugins For EDM)

Top 10 Plugins For TRAP Beats (And 5 Best FREE Trap Plugins)

20 Best Plugins For Rock Musicians (+ 6 FREE Plugins)

Top 14 Trance Plugins (Uplifting, Tech, Progressive, Vocal, Dream, Hard)

Top 10 GOA & PsyTrance Plugins (Best Psychedelic Trance Tools)

Top 7 Plugins For Dubstep (With 10 Best FREE Effects & Synths)


Top 20 Synthwave Plugins (+ 11 Best FREE Plugins)

Top 15 Plugins For Techno, House, Electro, Tech House, UK Garage

Top 6 Plugins For Latin Music  (And 4 FREE Tools)

Top 12 Plugins For Hip-Hop (+ Best Kontakt Libraries)

Top 7 Plugins For Game & Film Scoring  (+ 6 Best Kontakt Libraries)

Top 10 R&B And Pop Music Plugins & KONTAKT Libraries 

30 Best Free Plugins For DnB, EDM, IDM & Experimental Music 


EQ Plugins

Top 12 Free EQ Plugins For Precise Mixing & Mastering

Top 9 Mid/Side EQ Plugins  For Mixing & Mastering (+ 2 Free Tools)

Top 7 Graphic EQ Plugins  (With 3 Best Free EQs)

Top 7 EQ Plugins For Mastering In | And Best FREE Mastering EQs

Top 6 Passive EQ Plugins (Klevgrand, SPL, UAD, Waves, IK Multimedia)

Top 11 Plugins For Making Metal (Best Guitars, Drums & Effects)



Top 5 Audio Metering Plugins (LUFS, RMS, LRA, True Peak)

Top 6 Spectrum Analyzer Plugins  – Spectral Analysis Tools

Top 6 Oscilloscope Plugins To See The Waveforms

Top 5 Key Detection Plugins & Software  (+ Best FREE App)


Kontakt Libraries

20 Best Kontakt Libraries For All Categories (Synths, Drums, Vocals)

Top 7 Drum Libraries For KONTAKT (And 4 Freebies)

Top 7 Trap Music Kontakt Libraries (And Best Lo-Fi Kontakt Library)

Top 7 Metal & Rock Kontakt Libraries (Best Guitars & Drums)

Top 10 Guitar Libraries For Kontakt (Acoustic, Electric, Bass & Freebies)


Top 7 Trailer Scoring Plugins & Kontakt Libraries 

20 Best Free KONTAKT Libraries For Various Instruments

Top 9 Piano Kontakt Sample Libraries  (And 5 Best Free Pianos)

Top 10 Percussion KONTAKT Libraries  (And 3 Freebies)

Top 7 Kontakt Libraries For Horror & Thriller Scoring (No VSTs)


Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility:

Top 6 Noise Reduction Plugins (And 3 Best Free Tools)

6 Best Audio Restoration Plugins & Software 

Top 7 Phase Alignment Plugins To Fix Your Bass & Drums

Top 10 Room Calibration & Headphones/Speakers Correction Plugins 


Instrument Plugins: 

Top 6 Vocoder Plugins (Effects & Synths + FREE Vocoder)

11 Best Rhodes VST Plugins (AND 5 Free Rhodes Plugins)

Top 12 Randomizer Plugins Including FREE Plugins

Top 6 Kick Drum Plugins (Best Kick Designer Tools)

Top 12 Woodwind Plugins (And KONTAKT Libraries)

Top 10 Double Bass Plugins (Best Upright Basses)

Top 5 Strings VST Plugins (AND 4 Best Free Instruments)


Top 6 Sampler Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Plugins)

Top 6 Classical Guitar Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (And FREE Guitars)

Top 7 Wavetable Synth Plugins 

Top 12 Sub Plugins (Best 808 & Bass Tools For Massive Low End)

Top 10 Plugins On PluginBoutique (And 7 Best Free Plugins)

Top 11 Plugins On Plugin Alliance 

Top 7 Acoustic Guitar Plugins (And 4 Best Kontakt Libraries)


9 Best Bass Guitar Plugins (And 2 Best Freebies)

Top 6 Electric Guitar Plugins (Best PAID & FREE Picks)

Top 10 Arpeggiator VST Plugins (Best Synths, MIDI Effects & Tools)

Top 10 Modular Synth Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Plugins)

Top 6 Choir Plugins & Sample Libraries (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

11 Best Percussion & Drum VST Plugins (And FREE Plugins)


Top 8 Piano Plugins (Best Sounding Pianos & 5 FREE Piano Plugins)

Top 6 Organ Plugins Ever Made  (And 3 Best Free Organs)

Top 14 VST Plugins For Beginners (And 9 FREE Plugins)

Top 9 Drum Machine Plugins (And Groovebox Plugins)

4 Best Banjo Plugins (Best Banjo Instruments)


The 5 Best Ukulele Plugins & Kontakt Libraries 

Top 13 Synth Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Synths Plugins)

Top 13 Sequencer Plugins  (Synth, MIDI & Step Sequencers)

The 10 Best Multi-Effect Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

Top 12 Plugin Bundles For Musicians (Synths, Mixing & Mastering)



Processing & Sound Design:

8 Best Lo-Fi Plugins (PAID & FREE)

Top 11 Plugins For Mixing Vocals  (For Home Studio)

Top 12 Saturation Plugins (Best Mixing & Mastering Tools)

Top 6 Pitch Shifter Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Pitch Shifters)

Top 6 Chorus VST Plugins For Musicians (And 3 FREE Plugins)


Top 6 Limiter Plugins For Precise Mastering & Mixing

The 8 Best Filter Plugins For Precise Cuts & Boosts (+ 5 Free Filters)

6 Best Autotune Plugins To Improve & Enhance Your Vocals

Top 10 Transient Shaper Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)

Top 7 Enhancer Plugins (For Bass, Drums, Vocals & Harmonics)


Top 6 Flanger Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Flanger Emulators)

Top 7 Phaser Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Phasers)

Top 10 Plugins For Mixing Drums (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

Top 7 Bitcrusher Plugins (And 4 Best FREE Bitcrushers + 3 Bonuses)

Top 6 Plugins For Voice-Over & Dialogue Cleaning (Post Production)

Top 10 Stereo Imaging Plugins (Best Old & Modern Picks)


Top 5 Multiband Limiter Plugins 

Top 7 De-Esser Plugins For Better Vocals (And 4 FREE Plugins)

Top 7 Clipper Plugins (Best Limiter Alternatives)

Top 6 Chord Generator Plugins That Inspire Melodies (+ FREE Tools)

7 Best Exciter Plugins For Mixing & Mastering

Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 2 Best Free Plugins)


Top 11 Distortion Plugins (And 4 Top Free Plugins)

Top 5 Comb Filter & Resonator Plugins | Melda, Kilohearts, Tritik

The 7 Best Vibrato VST Plugins | Audec, Audiority, Melda

The 7 Best Tremolo Plugins | Eventide, Melda, SoundToys, Kuassa…

The 7 Best Harmonizer Plugins | Eventide, Melda, Aegean Music

7 Best Sidechain Plugins (VST, AU, AAX) | Xfer, Cableguys..


Top 10 Noise Gate Plugins (And 6 FREE Free Gate Tools)

The 6 Best Ring Modulator VST Plugins | KiloHearts, Melda

7 Best Autopan VST Plugins | CableGuys, Melda, Waves, Soundtoys

The 6 Best Frequency Shifter VST Plugins

Top 11 Granulizer Plugins For Future Sound Design

29 Best Sound Design VST Plugins


Compressor Plugins

Top 11 Free Compressor Plugins (VCA, Vari-Mu, FET, Digital)

Top 7 Multiband Compressor Plugins (And 4 FREE Plugins)

Top 5 Diode-Bridge Compressor Plugins 

Top 6 Mastering Chain Plugins: Complete VST Solutions 

Top 10 FET Compressor Plugins 

The 7 Best VCA Compressor Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)

Top 11 Mastering Compressor Plugins (And 2 FREE Plugins)

Top 10 Opto Compressor Plugins For Transparent Sound

The 7 Best Vari-Mu Compressor Plugins (And 2 Best FREE Tools)


Reverb & Delay Plugins:

Top 12 Reverb Plugins (And 5 FREE Reverb Plugins)

The 6 Best Spring Reverb VST Plugins | AudioThing, GSi, u-he, Eventide

Top 12 Delay Plugins For Music Production In (VST, AU, AAX)

Top 10 FREE Delay Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)

The 10 Best Convolution Reverb Plugins 


Amps & Preamps:

Top 10 Guitar Amp Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Simulators)

Top 10 Bass Amp Plugins (And 5 Best Free Simulators)

Top 9 Preamp Plugins (For Vocals, Guitars & More!) + Free Preamps

Don`t copy text!
Scroll to Top