You are reading Digital Ramblings, an educational blog that endeavors to deliver information on today's technology and the computing world in a detailed but easy-to-understand manner. In this blog you would encounter information involving computing in general and other related areas of interest, such as audio. This blog is currently run and maintained by 0612, a young enthusiast in technology.

This blog is inactive, but may be repurposed soon! For now, head over to my YouTube Channel to keep up with what I'm doing!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Audacity: Flanger Tutorial

Yes, my first tutorial!

Introduction: The flanger is a sound effect that can be found on almost every effects unit, and quite a few DJ Mixers, such as the Pioneer DJM-400. In this tutorial, I'll teach you how you can create a similar effect with Audacity, a powerful open-source sound editing program.

More about Flanger: The sound created by the flanger is described by many as the sound of a Jet plane taking off. The sound adds a futuristic/robotic feel to your music.

What you need: Audacity, 1 sound file (preferably a short one)

The first thing you need to do, of course, is to load your sound file into Audacity. You can do that by dragging the file into Audacity itself.

You then need to make a duplicate copy of the sound. Select the entire sound, goto Edit (up at the menu bar) -> Duplicate.

Now you have two copies of the same sound.

IMPORTANT: Lower the volume of both sounds by dragging the volume slider at the left of each sound. Drag the slider down until both boxes read "Gain: -6 dB". This step is vitally important, because if you don't do it, the volume will likely become too loud, and get clipped, causing distortion.

Now select one of the two sounds. Go to "Effect" on the menu bar, and click "Change Speed".

Now enter "0.1" in the "Percent change" field. Click "OK". (Don't click "Preview". You won't hear the effect that way)

Now play, and hear the flange! If you think it is necessary, you can mix the two tracks together by selecting them both, going to "Project" in the menu bar, and selecting "Quick mix".

Reflection: So where is the magic? The magic, folks, is in the "Change Speed", and that the "Percent change" value is small. If you want to know the goofy technical details, read the stuff at the end.

Your turn to play: The setting that is essential in causing the flange is that the "percent change" is set to a very small value. The larger the value, the faster your jet plane takes off. The smaller the value, the longer the effect will be. So now it's your turn to experiment with the values in the "Percent change" field. Negative values sound the same as positive values, but I generally choose positive values so that the length of the final sound is the same as the length of the original sound.

Goofy technical details: The flange effect is produced when two similar sounds are slightly out of phase with each other ("out of phase" is kinda like "out of sync", in other words, similar parts of a sound are not heard at the same time). The "Change Speed" option causes the sounds, which are originally in phase, to get more and more out of phase over time, causing the flange effect.

If the second sound is too far out of phase with the first, your ears become able to detect that there are two sounds instead of one, and you end up hearing an echo instead. That's why you should use short sounds.

Conclusion: There are no fixed values for the "percent change" field, and any number from 0.01 to 1 can still produce the effect to some degree. The main thing is about practising, and experimenting!

And yes, this has almost become a cliche, but...


EDIT: This tutorial has been updated here.


  1. I'll do one on my YouTube channel soon. I'll post here again once it's up!



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