19 April 2011

Book Review--The Book of Audacity by Carla Schroder

Another book review for the O'Reilly blogger review program

The Book of Audacity: Record, Edit, Mix, and Master with the Free Audio Editor
by Carla Schroder
no starch press 2011

This book is published by "no starch press" who normally do a pretty good job of keeping things simple and easy to understand for the average user.  The book breaks out into covering what Audacity is and what it's used for.  One nice thing that they mention in the introduction, briefly, is another free program, and tell readers which you use depends on what you want to do. In the first chapter they cover the basics of just how to use the program, ranging from the simple of starting a project to editing recorded tracks to the different formats that it can be saved in.  Then they cover how to build your recording studio and some of the equipment that you might look for.  Carla tries to give a price range for each type and what its used for so that you know whether or not it will fit your budget and need.  The other chapters then cover specific projects that you might want to work on with the program, with the obvious being podcasting to the less obvious of transferring vinyl and other formats to CD.  She gives clear instructions, with some technical jargon, on how to use Audacity to create the projects and other equipment that might be needed, such as for transferring records to CD.  The last few chapters are about customizing audacity with plugins, making it work well with Ubuntu Linux and Windows (and yes they miss out on a specific chapter for the Mac.)

Here's my honest opinion, this book is NOT for a beginner. Other than the first chapter it really doesn't cover the basics of how to use the program or how to do basic audio editing.  It's written more for people that have experience with computers, people interested in setting up their own recording studio, or those that are looking for a new hobby or career.  That isn't too say its a bad book as the projects really do cover a lot of interesting ways to use Audacity and give detailed instructions on how to use Audacity for it, its just overkill for someone just starting to learn about audio editing.  Also I think that the book was put together in a bit of a weird order for a basic book on a program.  Me personally, I would have started with the project on the podcast or making a CD, rather than transferring records to CD since the later requires extra equipment and is a big project.

My biggest disappointment with the book, however, is the lack of the mention of copyright and where it is mentioned it isn't even located with the obvious sections of the book.  For example, they don't mention copyright at all when talking about transferring vinyl records to CD and to me that's a major omission, especially since she mentions starting your own side business of doing this.  While some records are out of copyright, others are not and I think its a fairly dangerous thing to leave out.

Overall the book has some good useful information and some interesting projects to do with Audacity, but it isn't for the beginner and isn't what I thought I was going to get.   

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

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