Audio Editing Tutorial: Here is How to Change the Speed/Tempo of a Song with the Free Software Audacity

Hello again good people of Publish0x!

As some of you might know, I work as a fitness class instructor and have recently started uploading my fitness classes to my very new YouTube channel.

I have been composing workout playlists for a couple of years now and for that purpose, I learned some basic audio editing. Today I will show you

how to increase a song's tempo

if it's too slow or if you feel like it doesn't push you hard enough.

But first of all:

What's the difference between a song's speed and its tempo?

The difference is that if you increase a song's tempo, you don't change its pitch. And if you increase it's speed, the pitch will also increase.

Ok, well. What's a song's pitch then?

A pitch is basically how high something -- for instance your own voice -- sounds.

The reason is that sound is stored as waves. If you squeeze a wave, it's wavelength is reduced. And a reduced wavelength is the same as an increased frequency. That is the explanation why the pitch increases when you speed a song up. If you want to speed a song up a lot and you don't want the song to sound like Mickey Mouse is singing it, you should increase its tempo instead of its speed. When increasing a song's tempo, the software does some clever things in order to preserve the pitch. However, it might deteriorate the sound quality. In my experience, Audacity does a fantastic job when you're increasing a song's tempo -- if you avoid "high quality stretching" as explained in my other article.

Here are the instructions on how to change the tempo of a song with Audacity

  • Install Audacity
  • Open Audacity 
  • Go to the app's settings to install the ffmpeg library in order to get its full capabilities. 
    Click "Edit", then select "Preferences".
    In the preferences window locate "Libraries" in the left pane and click "Locate" or "Download" -- depending on whether you already have the library installed or not.
    It is possible that you already have ffmpeg installed and you still need to install the library.
  • Import the song you want to modify 
  • Select the part that you want to modify 
    In my case, I want to modify the tempo of the entire song, so I select everything with Ctrl+A
  • Navigate to Effect -> Change Tempo
  • Select the tempo change by sliding the slider or by entering a number into the text box
  • Make sure that "high quality stretching (slow)" is NOT selected


  • If the result doesn't sound good, you could try to undo the effect and do it once again using "high quality stretching". However, I have not had good results using that option as explained in this article.
    Actually, Audacity's website states that the "high quality" algorithm is only suitable for "small to moderate tempo changes" without stating how much of a change is still considered "moderate". It seems that the 8% in my example is already more than a moderate tempo change... 

How does it sound?

This is my 8% faster version using the standard algorithm: 

This is the original version:

If you are a content creator, check the original song for information that you need to include in the description of your video. Feel free to use my clean version of the song. If you do, please link to my YouTube video above as well.

PS: If you would like to hear the comparison between the fast algorithm and the "high quality stretching" algorithm, check out my comparison post.


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Workout Playlists
Workout Playlists

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