How to Create DJ Drops With Audacity
By Simon Foden
Updated September 22, 2017
During a broadcast, a radio DJ drops in various pieces of audio to complement his performance. For example, Howard Stern regularly uses pre-cued sounds for comic effect. These are called “DJ drops.” You can make your own DJ drops using Audacity, a free audio recording and editing program. DJ drops can be sound effects, comedy sounds, jingles or “links” between sections of your show. Use Audacity’s editing and mixing functions to make the drop the perfect length, volume and balance for your preferred application.
Open Audacity. Double-click the desktop icon. It may take a few seconds for Audacity to fully load. The last session you worked will automatically open.
Click “File” and select “New Session.” This opens a blank session for you to work in.
Plug in a pair of headphones to the "headphones in" jack on your computer. If your computer doesn't have a built-in microphone, connect the PC microphone to the "microphone in" jack.
Click “New Audio Track.” Double-click on the box that says “Audio 1” and rename it to something relevant--for example, “joke jingle.”
Import your sound files. Click “File” and select “Import Audio.” Browse for any audio files that you want to use, such as sound effects, samples or clips of music. When you locate the correct audio file, click on it to bring it into the Audacity interface. It will automatically open in a new audio channel.
Cue up your audio. Drag the file to the right to create a time delay between the start of the clip and the start of the track. This gives you a “run-up” when recording. The horizontal axis represents time, broken into seconds so you can see how long you have to wait for the audio to play.
Press the “Record Enable” icon on the channel strip for the new audio so that Audacity knows to which channel to assign the new audio. This is the red “R” icon. Hit “Play” and “Record” together. This sets all the audio rolling. When you’re ready, record your part of the DJ drop by speaking into the built-in microphone on your computer. For example, record “You’re listening to soccer-talk! Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite soccer debate show” over the sound of a soccer referee’s whistle. Once recorded, the audio file is rendered as a rectangular sound wave image on the screen.
Trim any extraneous sound off of the clip. Click “Tools” and select the “Trim” tool, denoted by the “Scissors” icon. Click the cursor on the extreme right of the sound wave image and drag left to cut off any noise at the end.
Mix the DJ drop. Adjust the “Gain” level sliders for each channel, according to how you want the audio to be balanced. Naturally, the more audio you have in the drop the more balancing you’ll need to do. Set the mix so that any spoken parts are clearly audible above the sound effects.
Audition your sound levels before recording. Do a 10-second take. If the red signal meter on the Audacity interface starts to flash, move away from the microphone or use a quieter voice.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.