Listening and recording at the same time

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Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by Nebulous » Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:16 pm

First, I'm an almost brand new user. I'm technical when it comes to PCs, but I'm not very knowledgeable about recording. I've searched the wiki and the forums. I couldn't find anything, though this was a difficult one for me to figure out how to search.

I am a songwriter. I have digitally recorded the piano for my song, saved as a WAV.

Now I want to do the following - simultaneously:
    * Record my voice singing the song through a PC microphone
    * Listen to my recorded piano through headphones
    * Hear my voice as I sing it through the same headphones
The end result should be my voice as a separate recording from my piano so that I can edit and then combine them.

What I'm struggling with is how to listen my voice while I'm recording it through my headphone at the same time as listening to my existing piano recording.

Can I accomplish this with Audacity? If so, how?

Thanks a bunch!

jb
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Re: Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by Gale Andrews » Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:31 am

Nebulous wrote:First, I'm an almost brand new user. I'm technical when it comes to PCs, but I'm not very knowledgeable about recording. I've searched the wiki and the forums. I couldn't find anything, though this was a difficult one for me to figure out how to search.

I am a songwriter. I have digitally recorded the piano for my song, saved as a WAV.

Now I want to do the following - simultaneously:
    * Record my voice singing the song through a PC microphone
    * Listen to my recorded piano through headphones
    * Hear my voice as I sing it through the same headphones
The end result should be my voice as a separate recording from my piano so that I can edit and then combine them.

What I'm struggling with is how to listen my voice while I'm recording it through my headphone at the same time as listening to my existing piano recording.

Can I accomplish this with Audacity? If so, how?


Please see this Frequently Asked Question:
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/fa ... ulti-track

You can listen to your voice while recording it by enabling software playthrough in Audacity, but it has delay. If you are on Windows XP or earlier, try unmuting the mic in the playback side of your sound device (in the Windows Control Panel).

If you are on Vista or 7, you probably will not be able to unmute the mic on the playback side. In that case try enabling "Listen to this device" for the mic and send it to your sound device (right-click over the mic > Properties on the "Recording" tab in "Sound" in the Control Panel). It may have less delay than Audacity's software playthrough. And on Vista and 7, please use Audacity 1.3.13 (you posted to the 1.2 board).



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Re: Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by Nebulous » Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:29 pm

Gale:

Thanks for your prompt reply. I apologize for my delay - I'm new to this forum and for some reason didn't receive an email notification that anyone had replied.

Thanks for the very helpful information. I see that this is properly called multi-track recording.

Thanks also for the heads up about the delay. I haven't tried it yet. I need to move several devices around in order to do so, so I'm trying to understand what I'll experience before I go to that trouble.

The delay, if I understand correctly, will probably cause trouble in trying to sync up the recorded piano with live voice. It sounds like a showstopper. If the recorded piano will be ahead of or behind the vocals I hear as I'm singing, I'm afraid it will become confusing to sing at the right time.

Am I understanding correctly? Will my voice sound like an echo? Again, because I need to physically move the computer and keyboards around (they are in different rooms and this won't be a small task), I just want to understand what I might be up against.

Maybe there is better open source software for this particular task? Or maybe it's not as bad as I interpreted it?

Thanks so much again.

[I see the checkbox now to get notification of replies]

~N
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Re: Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by Gale Andrews » Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:04 am

Nebulous wrote:The delay, if I understand correctly, will probably cause trouble in trying to sync up the recorded piano with live voice. It sounds like a showstopper. If the recorded piano will be ahead of or behind the vocals I hear as I'm singing, I'm afraid it will become confusing to sing at the right time.

Am I understanding correctly? Will my voice sound like an echo? Again, because I need to physically move the computer and keyboards around (they are in different rooms and this won't be a small task), I just want to understand what I might be up against.

Maybe there is better open source software for this particular task? Or maybe it's not as bad as I interpreted it?

There are two different types of delay. I was referring to playthrough delay, which only occurs if you want to listen to what you are recording while you record it (which is usually advantageous). With software playthrough you will hear your voice through the headphones after you hear your voice acoustically (if you do hear that - with enclosed noise cancelling headphones or very loud playback, you may not). Either way, you will sing to the piano note exactly in sync but you will hear your voice in the headphones after the piano note. If the delay is long enough, it does get very difficult. "Listen to this device" may or may not be just about acceptable. If you can unmute the mic on the playback side of the sound device, it probably will be acceptable. You have to go into Windows and look.

No echo will be recorded as long as you record from the mic and don't record computer playback.

The other delay is recording delay - your voice will be laid down after the beat because of the time taken for your voice to travel through the sound device. Audacity will compensate for this by pushing the recorded track backwards by 130 milliseconds, but if that isn't the correct compensation to sync the tracks you can use Time Shift Tool (F5) to drag the recorded track to the correct place. In Audacity Beta you can set an automated correction that adjusts for whatever your recording latency actually is - see http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/Latency_Test .

Other software will only be "better" if it supports ASIO low latency sound device drivers which should bring playthrough latency down to acceptable limits. Audacity as shipped does not include ASIO support. The ASIO drivers will either be provided by your sound device or (most likely if you use the computer sound device) you will need free third-party ASIO drivers. Other software may be "better" if it has an accurate and automatic way of adjusting for recording latency, rather than the adjustment/configuration needed with Audacity.

Of course if you are prepared to spend money then you can buy a USB microphone (or USB interface for the mic) which includes a headphones jack. Plugging your headphones in there will give you no noticeable playthrough latency.


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Re: Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by Nebulous » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:52 pm

Thanks again, Gale. I now understand the problem much better.

I do use a USB microphone. It makes decent voice recordings - decent enough for my needs. But it doesn't have its own headphone jack. I can see how that would make a big improvement (running headphones into the mic itself rather than relying on Audacity to play the sound back to me). But If I did that, I'm not sure how I could also listen to the piano recording from the computer.

I see that the instructions at the link you provided say that using a USB microphone is not idea. I don't have a mixer and standard mic, however, and am in no position to purchase one right now.

I will look into third-party ASIO drivers. That is a new term to me. I assume they will be easily obtainable online.

If you have further suggestions, I welcome any and all advice. But I do greatly appreciate your help!

~N
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Re: Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:44 pm

Audacity does not include ASIO for roughly the same reason it doesn't include MP3 Export. It's proprietary, licensed software. MP3 support is just a matter of downloading and installing the "lame" software package, but including ASIO requires recompiling the Audacity program. It's not the same Audacity when you get done.

There are instructions for producing your own Audacity with ASIO support.

http://wiki.audacityteam.org/index.php? ... _Interface

Not all external USB sound devices include the headphone mixing feature. I'm writing a piece on how to do Overdubbing (sometimes called Multitrack) using the hardware devices. If you have an external analog mixer, you can connect to the computer using the Behringer UCA-202 and that device has a headphone connection that will mix for you.

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UCA202.aspx

The other device I have is the Shure X2U...

http://www.kozco.com/tech/audacity/pix/ ... verdub.jpg

.. and that device actually has individual volume controls for the components of the headphone mix.

You can use the Samson G-Track microphone..
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/GTrackUSB

That one has headphone connections on the bottom and will let you listen to both sides of the recording. One of the guitarists in the office has one.

The advantage of the hardware solutions is simplicity and they work on any computer with no extra effort past telling Audacity what to do in preferences. The best you can do in pure software is reduce the delay -- it never goes to zero.

Audacity 1.3 will reduce the other delay -- latency -- to zero. That one is no problem. That's the difference between singing in perfect time to the recorded rhythm track, but it's off when you play back the combination. That one is completely fixable.

Koz
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Re: Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by Nebulous » Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:57 am

Koz:

Excellent news! So I'm reading here that Audacity 1.3 will solve my immediate problem in that when I sing to a recorded piano track, I will be able to hear my voice as it records "close enough" to real-time so that it won't distract me.

I'm also understanding that if I'm overdubbing, the vocals will be off time from the piano. But I don't think that matters if I'm recording the vocals onto their own track, does it? I think it's then just a matter of clipping a bit off the front end of the recording. Am I right?

I'm completely green here. I have written many songs. I'm a songwriter rather than a performer, but I want to record them for a couple of reasons - one for submitting for copyright, and the other for preserving a record of them when I get old and forgetful. Besides, I need to have a decent recording of the song I recently wrote for my stepdaughter's 16th birthday (a song to her unknown future husband) for her MP3 player.

Anyway, I am new at this and don't have money for equipment. But if I understand correctly, Audacity 1.3 will take care of me.

When is it due? Or is there a trustworthy beta I could use?

Thanks again!

~N
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Re: Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by Gale Andrews » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:04 am

Nebulous wrote:So I'm reading here that Audacity 1.3 will solve my immediate problem in that when I sing to a recorded piano track, I will be able to hear my voice as it records "close enough" to real-time so that it won't distract me.

No, this is "playthrough delay" that can only be completely solved by using hardware playthrough (using the USB devices Koz illustrated). As you have a USB mic, there will definitely be no Windows option to unmute its playback as there might be if it was a mic that plugged into the computer mic jack.

1.3 on its own will do nothing to solve the playthrough problem unless you compile it so that it can use ASIO low latency drivers. You can probably get help here with doing that but it is not something that can be done in 5 minutes.

The only other option using Audacity is to see if Windows "listen to this device" gives you acceptable playthrough latency (it's usually faster than Audacity's software playthrough).

Nebulous wrote:I'm also understanding that if I'm overdubbing, the vocals will be off time from the piano. But I don't think that matters if I'm recording the vocals onto their own track, does it? I think it's then just a matter of clipping a bit off the front end of the recording. Am I right?

Yes you are right the vocals when laid down in the recording track will be off time, but this is easily fixed after the recording.

The current Beta is 1.3.13 (available now):
http://audacity.googlecode.com/files/au ... 1.3.13.exe

You should use that version on Windows 7 if you use Audacity but again it does not fix your main issue because it does not include ASIO support.



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Re: Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by Nebulous » Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:11 pm

Gale and Koz:

Thank you both so much for your patience in my misunderstandings!

I think I understand now the limitations and options. Building and compiling my own copy of Audacity from the source code with ASIO would stretch my technical limits. I am certain I could do it, but it would require more time than I have to spare for the learning experience. I'm sure I could find someone to help me through it (for pay), but as I mentioned I simply can't afford to dole out any money at this time.

I downloaded ASIO4ALL thinking that might work, but alas I don't see a way to make it work in conjunction with Audacity either.

I love Audacity. For this purpose, though, I will probably need to try one of the similar free multi-track recording options out there. Krystal and Jokosher both claim low-latency, but I don't know unless I try them. The latter, unfortunately, has bad links for its documentation and even its forums, so I worry about even attempting it (though others have said it is good).

Anyway, I very much appreciate all of your help. You guys are awesome.

~N
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Re: Listening and recording at the same time

Permanent link to this post Posted by Gale Andrews » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:37 pm

Nebulous wrote:I downloaded ASIO4ALL thinking that might work, but alas I don't see a way to make it work in conjunction with Audacity either.

Audacity as shipped simply won't see those (or any other ASIO) drivers.


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