Audacity is a free audio editor and recorder that has been around since 2000. It runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and GNU/Linux platforms. Audacity has a pretty robust set of features for a free application. You can see a list of features here. The latest release is available on sourceforge (Audacity Download). I currently use Audacity 1.3 beta on Mac OS X. I also have Audacity 1.2.6 on my Windows VM. The 1.3 beta has crashed on me once or twice but the interface has a number of enhancements that definitely make it worthwhile (and it does recover gracefully, for whatever that is worth).
Screen shots and procedures are based on Audacity version 1.3.
UCCX Prompt Formats
UCCX prompts are .WAV files that have the following attributes:
- Format: CCIT U-Law
- Sample Size: 8-bit
- Sample Rate: 8kHz
Creating and Editing UCCX Prompts
There are essentially two methods one can use to create UCCX prompts. One method is to use a custom CRS script to create prompts using the telephone user interface (TUI). The second method is to record the prompts off line and upload them. I have used Audacity to record prompts, edit prompts, and convert prompts for both methods.
For this blog, I will focus using Audacity for recording prompts using and for editing pre-recorded content for use with Cisco UCCX.
Creating UCCX Prompts
You can use Audacity to record prompts directly. In Audacity, you first start by creating a new project (File>New). Once you created a new project you set set the project sampling rate to 8kHz. This is done by modifying the drop down option at the bottom left of the project window (see below). After setting the sampling rate, add a new track (Tracks>Add New>Audio Track). This will add a new mono-channel audio track. It should inherit the project sampling rate.
Figure 1. New Project
[Note: In Audacity 1.2.6 you can skip this step.]
To record audio in the new track you can go to Transport>Append Record use Shift+R from you keyboard or press Shift on your keyboard when click the “Record” button on the tool bar. When you are finished recording click on the “Stop” button.
Figure 2. Recording
Now, you can review your recording. You may edit the recording in numerous ways. You can add silence, cut out the front and/or back of the recording, or cut out sections, just to name a few of the editing tasks that can be performed. Once you are finished editing you can export the audio track to a file. Go to File>Export. In the export dialog, set the format to “Other uncompressed files…” and choose Options. In the options dialog, set the Header to “WAV (Microsoft)” and the Encoding to “U-Law”. Click on OK and then specify the location and file name.
Figure 3. Saving File in Proper Format
[Note: In Audacity 1.2.6 you can't select the type when exporting. You have to go to Edit>Preferences and specify the "File Format".]
Another method I have used to do these recordings is to actually just make the recordings using the default sampling rate and export format and then used Switch Sound File Converter (Switch) (link) to bulk convert all of the files.
Editing and Converting
I usually use a CRS script approach to create prompts. We have a whole system in place that makes the recording process simple and I would say it is the most efficient method if recording a batch of prompts yourself (i.e. not studio recorded). Sometimes, audio artifacts may be present in recordings creating via CRS script. For example, I have had a customer record their own prompts and the person recording it would noticeably sigh before and after the recording. Instead of asking them to re-record, I would just fix it for them. Another example is that when using using the CRS script from an external (PSTN) station I have found DTMF tones “leaking” into the recording.
I have also used Audacity to record prompts that a customer had a professional studio record, but the prompts were recorded as MP3 files. We tried to get the professional studio to record the files using the correct format but they said the customer specified MP3 and they would charge a ton of dollars to re-record. Unreal.
Anyway, Audacity to the rescue. When converting audio files, start a new project (File>New). Set the sampling rate for the project to 8000Hz (see Figure 1). Then go to File>Import and browse to your audio file. Audacity recognizes most audio formats. When you open the file, you may see that the audio file was actually recorded in stereo (which was the case in my example). UCCX can only handle mono formats so you have remove one of the channels. Use the following procedure:
- In the track description area (left) click on the drop down arrow
- Choose “Split Stereo to Mono”
- Then delete one of the mono tracks
Figure 4. Converting Stereo To Mono
Now, you can review and edit the recording as previously described. Once you are finished editing you can export the audio track to a file. Go to File>Export. In the export dialog, set the format to “Other uncompressed files…” and choose Options. In the options dialog, set the Header to “WAV (Microsoft)” and the Encoding to “U-Law”. Click on OK and then specify the location and file name (see Figure 3).
William Bell is the Collaboration Practice Lead for Chesapeake NetCraftsmen. Bill has over 10 years of experience in the IT industry with a focus on communication and collaboration technologies. In addition to blogging on the NetCraftsmen site, Bill also maintains the UC Guerrilla blog: http://ucguerrilla.com. You can follow Bill on Twitter: @ucguerrilla