Looking for a reasonable editor for sound files

Discussion in 'Techforge' started by Asyncritus, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. Asyncritus

    Asyncritus Expert on everything

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    I have a growing number of .wma and .wav files that could use some editing. They are voice only, so they don't need to be very high quality, but they still need to sound like something reasonable.

    1) I would like to be able to trim out little pieces, like a cough, a stutter, a pause, etc.

    2) I would like the resultant files to not be very big. Most of them are in the neighborhood of an hour long, or a little less. The .wma files run about 7 or 8 Mb and the sound is quite acceptable. The .wav files are roughly ten times that size, but for simple voice, there is no discernable difference. I would like to make those .wav files into .wma files about the size of the ones I have.

    I tried various ways of converting the .wav files to .wma. In most cases, the resulting files were about 50 or 60 mb. Way bigger than equivalent-length .wma files. I found one program that converts them and makes small files, but the results were worse than bad. Stuttering, disjointed and almost incomprehensible. I tried a few different parameters and even with the highest quality (which made files of about 30 mb, way too big), they were dismal. Needless to say, I removed the program from my computer. (It was a thing that lets you test the program by converting half of a .wav file, before you buy it. I wasn't going to pay to have such an awful sound.)

    I am willing to pay a reasonable amount (say in the $20 to $40 range), but there are so many of them, and my experience so far has been so disappointing, that I thought I might find out if anyone here has experience with this kind of thing and can recommend a program that will do what I want. I don't need a high-quality sound studio like one might use to work with music.

    Any suggestions?
  2. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    Just as a general observation, mp3 or mp4 would be a much better format than wav or wma.
  3. Asyncritus

    Asyncritus Expert on everything

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    Why? From what I've read, mp3 files are much bigger than wma, and I have no need of the improved sound quality. So what is the advantage?
  4. ed629

    ed629 Morally Inept Banned

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    Try Goldwave, I've used it of and on for the last 20 or so years. It works pretty good for what you're describing.
  5. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Audacity is free and can do everything that you want.
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  6. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    MP3/4 are universal standards. .wav and .wma are microsoft proprietary standards. Where I work we switched over to MP4 for all of our products several years ago, mainly for that reason.
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  7. Asyncritus

    Asyncritus Expert on everything

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    But can't most anyone listen to a .wma file? This isn't about a commercial product or anything like that, after all.

    And can you get an hour of dictation in an .mp3 file down as small as a .wma file? That's one of the most important parameters to me.
  8. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    The size of the file really depends upon the bitrate at which you encode it. The higher the bitrate, the larger the file. If the files are spoken word only, and the original recording is of a good enough quality, then you can drop the bitrate quite a bit without a noticeable impact. (You can clean up the file and compress the audio to help with issues in the original.)

    I don't know if wma files are smaller than MP3s, but MP3 is basically the default audio format these days for everything. Depending upon who your target audience is, they might have problems playing back a wma file, or not know what to do with it, but everything supports MP3 and almost everyone on the planet who sees that a file is an MP3 will know that it's an audio file and know what to do with it.
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  9. Asyncritus

    Asyncritus Expert on everything

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    I knew it was worth asking a bunch of nerds how to do these things! Thanks everyone, I'll try your suggestions and get back to you if I don't find something that works just right.
  10. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 RadioNinja

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    If you continue to have problems let me know via pm. I have some....small....experience in these matters. ;)

    If all you need is one track editing, Ocenaudio is a free program that's relatively easy to learn. FWIW I don't believe that any of them are intuitive and/or easy to learn. Ocenaudio is easier because it defaults to one track. MP3 is the way to go. You should always send MP3 unless someone specifies some other format.
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  11. Asyncritus

    Asyncritus Expert on everything

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    You lost me at "one track". What does that mean, specifically?

    All I need is for someone's voice to be recognizable and easily understandable. These are not professional recordings, destined for comercialization or anything like that. Is "one track" good enough for that?
  12. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    A mono recording is one track. A stereo recording is two tracks, a quadraphonic recording is four tracks. So, a one track (or channel) is fine.
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  13. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    Single track is like what you get over an analog phone line. Usually with less crackle crackle crackle, tho. It makes acceptable quality for a voice recording but can sound a bit . . . flat.
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  14. Asyncritus

    Asyncritus Expert on everything

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    Many thanks to @Lanzman, @The Night Funky and @MikeH92467. Ocenaudio turns out to be simple to use (once you get the hang of it), and quite satisfactory for my needs.

    I installed Audacity first, but it wouldn't even snif at .wma files. Instead of opening them, or offering some kind of plug-in that would work with them, it just said "Sorry, proprietary format, no can do". (Well, maybe those weren't the exact words...)

    So I installed Ocenaudio, tried to open a .wma file, and it simply opened it. Not even a little hiccup. And it does everything else I need.

    It turns out that an mp3 file saved at a bit rate of less than 64 kbps starts affecting the sound (you get a bit of a background "whistle" or something), and below 40 kbps you start getting a kind of echoing voice. At 64 kbps, the file size is roughly three times the size of the equivalent .wma file, but that is acceptable. It's much better than some of the files I got using on-line converters, that must have been using 128, 144 or even 160 kbps rates.

    At 40 kbps, the file size is a bit more than double the .wma size, but the sound is uncomfortable to listen to for very long. Very understandable, but not "nice". And when you get the .mp3 size down to below the size of the same file in .wma, the sound is horrible. (It takes a bit-rate of 16 to do that.) You can even make an .mp3 files that is smaller than a .wma file, using 8 kbps, but you can't even understand what is being said.

    Anyway, I know a whole lot more about sound editing now than I did a couple of days ago, even though I'm far from an expert, and have a program to do it with. Thanks for the info, guys.
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  15. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 RadioNinja

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    I'm glad I was able to help. It's way too easy to get lost in the geeky weeds with this stuff!
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  16. ed629

    ed629 Morally Inept Banned

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    Did you try out Goldwave?
  17. Asyncritus

    Asyncritus Expert on everything

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    No. Once I found one that suited me, I didn't look any further. I'm not trying to produce a product for mass distribution or anything like that, just clean up some recordings. It may well be that Goldwave, or some other program, is better, but I guess I'll never know. Or at least, not in the near future. But thanks for the suggestion anyway.
  18. Order2Chaos

    Order2Chaos Ultimate... Immortal Administrator

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    If you start with WAVs (recorded originally as such, not converted from WMA or anything else), encoding to M4A-HE (MPEG-4 Audio High Efficiency. Optimize for Voice and VBR if those settings are available. Should be able to get down to 32kbps without any trouble) will probably get you the best results and fairly broad compatibility (MP3 is more compatible, but not as good compression. Both have broader compatibility than WMA). If your files came out of the recorder as WMAs, they've already been lossy-encoded, and converting to WAV and re-encoding as MP3 (and probably M4A) will cause nasty distortion, so you should stick with WMA, and use an editor that supports it natively. Sounds like you've found one already. :techman: For any sort of distribution though, go with M4A from your original WAV files (if there are any), and WMA only when unavoidable.
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