To play music from a CD, your computer will need to have a drive (CD or DVD) which can play a CD.
To record your voice, you will need a headset with a microphone. If your computer has a built-in microphone, you can use it but results tend to be better with the headset.
In addition, you will need a “sound recording" program. For testing and rudimentary work, you can use Sound Recorder which comes with Windows (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Entertainment > Sound Recorder). However, you cannot edit the sound file with Sound Recorder.
For more professional results, I highly recommend Audacity. Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems.
In addition to recording your voice and other sounds, Audacity allows you to do things like make sounds softer or louder, select clips of very precise lengths, remove ‘noise’, change the pitch or speed, fade sounds in or out and ‘normalize’ your audio (for instance, make your voice play at an even volume even though it was recorded with soft and loud portions).
Importantly, Audacity allows you to save your file in various formats like MP3, WAV or Ogg Vorbis.
In our next article, we begin our journey into the wonderful world of presentations that talk and sing.
Additional Resources: For more tips and tricks, be sure to take a look at the collection of Microsoft PowerPoint user guides and tutorials found here on Bright Hub's Windows Channel. New and updated items are added on a regular basis, so bookmark us and check back often.