Recordings are Skipping. Any ideas?

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Recordings are Skipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by butter » Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:16 pm

Hello,

My recordings sound like they "skip" here and there when i play them back.

I read through this message board for people posting with the same issue that I’m having and found several good suggestions, all of which I’ve tried. Unfortunately, I’m still having problems.

I’m running Audacity 1.2.6 on XP. I’m using the Blue Snowball USB mic to record with. I'm recording drums, bass, guitar, and keys. Clipping occurs even when testing with only one instrument playing.

Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

-Reinstalled drivers
-Lowered recording levels which I thought would fix issue. My recordings are quitter now but I still get the clipping
-I checked the Audio I/O tab in Preferences, and made sure that "Software Playthrough" is not checked.
-Snowball mic has 3 recording settings. i've tried changing each setting.

Any other suggestions?
Last edited by butter on Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recordings are clipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by alatham » Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:42 pm

Are you sure you're using the word "clipping" correctly? You also describe your problem as a "skip" which is not at all the same thing.

My first suggestion is to try plugging the USB mic into one of the ports on the back of your computer. Ports on the front are not as reliable as those on the back (this might be a very rare problem, but it happened to me once with a FireWire device).

In order to help any more we need to know what your problem is. I don't think you're clipping, I think you're actually just getting bad data from the mic (or missing data).

Also, it would be good to know the following:
1) The sample rate and bit depth you're recording to (it's probably 44.1KHz @ 32 bits).
2) Can you use Windows Sound Recorder to record from that mic without any trouble?
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Re: Recordings are clipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:50 am

Also unsure what you mean by clipping / skipping - could you upload a sample somewhere and post a link.
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Re: Recordings are clipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by butter » Thu Dec 06, 2007 9:26 pm

What i mean by clipping (and yes, i could be using the wrong vocab here) is when I play back the recording, it sounds like a CD when it skips. the audio plays then all the sudden a little "skip" then it will play along further then another skip. some are worse then others. My very first thought was processing speed but I kept Task mgr open while recording and didn’t notice my CPU peaking out at all. (My laptop has a Pentium 1.40GHz processor with 1/2 GB of Ram)

I don't have any place to upload a sound clip to otherwise I would. Do either of you have a place I can send a file to you at?

I only have USB ports on the side of my laptop and i've tried both. same issue. I have not tried this with windows sound recorder though. I will see if I get the same problem there.
you are correct, my sample rate is 44.1KHz @ 32 bits

Let me know if either of you have a place I can upload a sound clip to and I will. Or I can send you a file if you like.

Thanks for the help so far. I will post my results with windows sound recorder tomorrow.
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Re: Recordings are clipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by alatham » Thu Dec 06, 2007 9:46 pm

OK, you're getting skips, not clips.

It's happening as a result of your USB mic failing to constantly send data to your computer, or something is preventing it from doing that. Don't worry about your processor though, that's plenty fast for recording mono audio.

If you can, update the drivers for your microphone before anything else.

Do you have a virus checker running? If you do, disable it and try recording again. If you're paranoid, disconnect yourself from the internet while doing this. Virus checkers are evil and will often take resources away from Audacity while it's recording (due to all the file writing taking place).
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Re: Recordings are clipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:59 am

Change the USB connection, or replug the one you have several times. Restart the machine.

Clipping easily happens on percussion because of the way they send sound through the air. It's not a continuous blanket of sound that is easy for the microphone to deal with, it's like the acoustic equivalent of a gunshot, and it can be really painful to deal with. It's possible for it to cause odd data problems depending on how the microphone is configured inside. Do all your skips happen at a drumbeat?

Do you use a blast filter?

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PopFilter6/

That can help, too. Unlike dynamic microphones, condensers will overload, and it's not pretty when they do. Instead of dropping the volume control on what may already be a damaged performance, back away the microphone.

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Re: Recordings are clipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by butter » Fri Dec 07, 2007 3:35 pm

OK, I tried recording with windows sound recorder and I get the same thing.
-already updated drivers on mic
-No virus checker is running. I made sure not to have any unwanted processes running at the time of recording.
-All the skips do not always happen at a drum beat. Sometimes they happen on instrumental and ambient parts.
-I do not use a blast filter. i'll look into that.

I plan to test with a different lap top next. just to rule out my machine.

one thing i've noticed to, when i play back right after recording, it really sounds rough... but once i've converted to .wav or mp3, the skips seem to clean up a lot.

Thanks for all the suggestions! Keep em coming.
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Re: Recordings are clipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by alatham » Fri Dec 07, 2007 5:49 pm

but once i've converted to .wav or mp3, the skips seem to clean up a lot.

Clean up a lot? Or clean up completely?

I have one more idea, download and try to use Audacity 1.3.4, as long as you install it to a different directory, you can have both copies on your computer at the same time, they won't complain (though they don't like being run at the same time). Your problem might go away using that version of the software.

If it doesn't, I have one more thing to try. In Audacity 1.3.4, go to the Edit -> Preferences -> Directories menu. Here, turn "hold recorded data in memory..." ON. If that helps, then your problem might be with hard drive access. Either something is preventing Audacity from writing to disc all the time, or your drive is simply too slow and/or fragmented.

If you can get Audacity 1.3.4 working with that option turned on, then go ahead and use Audacity that way. It will use up more RAM during recording, but you've probably got plenty of RAM to spare. You might have trouble making longer recordings this way though, I'm not sure exactly what the limit would be.
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Re: Recordings are clipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:26 pm

<<<-All the skips do not always happen at a drum beat. Sometimes they happen on instrumental and ambient parts.>>>

Shucks. Must be something else. Do look into that blast filter, tho. They can get you out of a lot of trouble in live performances--and not call attention to themselves while they're doing it.

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Re: Recordings are clipping. Any ideas?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:45 pm

<<<one thing i've noticed to, when i play back right after recording, it really sounds rough... but once i've converted to .wav or mp3, the skips seem to clean up a lot.>>>

That got everybody's attention, didn't it?

Doctors have a moment they call the "Doorknob Moment." The patient is finished and has his hand on the door to leave and turns and says, "By the way, I bleed out both ears every night at 8 PM. That's not important, is it?"

Your condition is very typical of speed or capacity problems. You can't play a capture or a full WAV file, but you can play an iTunes selection or compressed MP3 just fine. You know this kind of thing happens since you intentionally close everything before the performance; you said so. But it's not enough in this case.

When was the last time you defragmented your hard drive? Never? How long have you been using this machine for production? I bet there is some serious partial and split file issues on the drive.

You need to translate this for your own Windows: On Win2K, I press Control-Alt-Delete > Task Manager > Processes. It is said that if that list goes over about one and a half pages, you have too much garbage running in the background for the machine to provide full speed to you and your jobs. Death by a thousand cuts--or processes in this case.

That's the time you back up all your data and erase the drive. You will be shocked how much faster your machine becomes with a fresh Windows install.

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