April 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm

How To: Make ‘Slowed Down’ Music for Fame and Amusement

You know those slowed down versions of songs on YouTube that sound so incredible — or, at the very least, strange?

They’re actually easy to make, and you can do it even if you’ve never done anything to affect sound with a computer before, and it doesn’t cost a cent. The key to the process is free, open-source software called Audacity — or, more precisely, a plug-in that comes with it called Paulstretch, which was created by Nasca Octavian Paul. There are plenty of apps out there for slowing down music in order to learn it, but only Paulstretch is designed to do extreme stretching without making the audio sound choppy and wrong.

Paulstretch is also a standalone app for Windows and Linux, but you should use the Audacity plug-in anyway, because then you’ll know how to use Audacity a little bit, and that is a good thing to know — plus, it works for Macs too.

Here’s how to timestretch any song using Paulstretch in Audacity:

1. Get Audacity

It’s here.

2. Import the song

To do this, go to File > Import > Audio, then navigate to the song you want to stretch, like so:

For the purposes of this tutorial I am using the excellent new track “The Stars” from my brother’s and cousin’s band, Javelin.

3. Find the Paulstretch plug-in

It’s in the Effects menu:

4. Tweak the settings and preview the sound

You can decide how much to stretch the song in the top box. We had great results without changing either value, which produces a 10x stretch, but your mileage may vary.

If you want to preview various parts of the song rather than just the beginning, just select part of the song with your mouse, and then open Paulstretch to preview what it does to that

5. Click OK

Once the preview sounds right to you, click OK.

6. Export the MP3

Now that the song is stretched, you need to get it out of Audacity. Due to the cost of licensing the MP3 codec, the free, open-source Audacity requires a little bit of fancy footwork to get things set up, but once you do all this stuff, Audacity will be able to crank out MP3s with ease. Just go to File > Export and choose MP3:

What you do next is up to you, although clearly, YouTube should be an option.

Here’s what Javelin’s “The Stars” sounds like slowed down 10x using the above technique, in case you’re interested: