buzz when recording bass in audacity

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buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by glaukopes » Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:40 pm

Recording vocals and guitars work just fine, but when I try to record bass I get a buzzing noise every time a note is played (i.e. there is no buzz in between notes). I've tried recording going through my mixer and the mixer's pre-amp, I've tried going through my bass amp's pre-amp and into my mixer, and I've tried playing through my bass amp and putting a condenser mic in front of the amp and running the mic through the mixer and recording that. In every case, I get the exact same buzzing noise.

I do not have any buzzing problems at all when I record my bass using Windows Vista's Sound Recorder or Tracktion 3. I've tried recording in Tracktion and Sound Recorder, and then recording in Audacity without touching any level settings anywhere at all. The recordings come out perfectly clean in Sound Recorder and Tracktion, but Audacity has a nasty buzz.

Any ideas? Why doesn't Audacity like bass?

Edit: I should add, I've tried uninstalling Audacity and re-installing it. All the the recording settings are at their defaults. I've looked at the Edit -> Preferences -> Quality tab thinking there might be something there that could help, but I've tried changing some of those settings with no success.

Edit2: Another addition, there is no buzz when I monitor my playing live through my computer's speakers. The only time the buzz happens is when I record using Audacity.
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Re: buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:19 pm

From the information given - I've no idea. Audacity uses the exact same sound system as Windows Sound Recorder - so it should come out exactly the same with either.

Can you try and fill in some of the gaps - we must have some vital piece of information missing.

What sample format are your using (example 16 bit 44100 Hz)
How loud is the Audacity recording (look at the peak amplitude in the recording)
Does it look distorted (zoom in close and see if the tops and bottoms of the waves have been clipped flat)

glaukopes wrote:The only time the buzz happens is when I record using Audacity.

Do you mean when you play back in Audacity what you have just recorded?
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Re: buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by glaukopes » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:16 pm

stevethefiddle wrote:What sample format are your using (example 16 bit 44100 Hz)
How loud is the Audacity recording (look at the peak amplitude in the recording)
Does it look distorted (zoom in close and see if the tops and bottoms of the waves have been clipped flat)
Do you mean when you play back in Audacity what you have just recorded?


1) Default Sample Rate is 44100 Hz. Default Sample Format is 32-bit float.
2) I've tried a number of different gain settings. At the loudest I've probably had peaks at 0.8. At the quietest I've had the gain set to where the peaks are maybe 0.1.
3) No, they don't look clipped flat.
4) Exactly. It sounds fine through the monitors or headphones while I'm playing it in, but when I play back what audacity just recorded I hear the buzzing.

Some further information. I've tried doing some comparisons with my acoustic-electric guitar. When playing a bass line on my acoustic guitar, I can detect a faint buzzing when playing notes on the lower strings. Likewise it seems like when I'm playing my bass, the buzzing is louder on the lower strings and quieter on the higher strings. So it seems like the loudest buzzing is on the lowest string on my bass and gets quieter as I move up to higher strings. The buzzing gets even quieter as I move to my acoustic guitar's lowest string, but it is still distinguishable. As I move to higher strings on my acoustic guitar, the buzzing becomes so faint that it becomes indistinguishable.

Edit: I figured out how to reset Audacity's preferences by deleting its registry entries, so I am fairly confident that I am now using default settings.
Last edited by glaukopes on Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:24 pm

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Re: buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by glaukopes » Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:17 pm

*bump*

I'm bumping this post because I'd like to give it another chance to get a response. I really would like to use Audacity for recording, but with this problem I simply can't.
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Re: buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:41 pm

Are you recording just one track, or multi-tracking?
When you export the audio do you here the buzz?
What if you generate a low frequency wave - say a sine wave at 60 Hz and amplitude of 0.9 - does that buzz?
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Re: buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by glaukopes » Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:16 am

1) I'm recording just one track at a time. I've tried both stereo and mono.
2) I tried recording a bassline and exporting it as a wave file, and there was no buzz when I played the file through Windows Media player.
3) Generating a 60Hz sine wave at 0.9 amplitude does buzz.

So, I was surprised to hear the exported wav file play cleanly in wmp. I guess that means the issue has to do with audacity's playback--not its recording. I tried opening up that exported wav file in audacity and playing it there, and yes the buzz was back. For cross reference I also played the wav file back in winamp, and there was no buzz. So it seems pretty clear that the file audacity exported is clean. I assume that means the recording is clean and that the problem is playing back audio through audacity.
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Re: buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by Fluxliner » Wed Sep 24, 2008 4:21 pm

I have just encountered the same problem (at least I think so)! Strange that I haven't noticed it before, but there is indeed a rather annoying mosquito-like buzzing-sound everytime Audacity plays back a passage with very dense bass. It seems like there has to be a certain amount of "density" in the problematic frequency range in order for the buzz to be triggered. But this is only true for files that were recorded with Audacity! Imported files that were recorded with other programs like Reaper play back in Audacity without the BassBuzz. What is different here is that in my case the exported .wav's retain the buzz (I have tested it with wmp, kmplayer,vlc, winamp etc.).

I don't know if my "buzz" is the the exact same as yours, glaukopes, so I have made a little video for you all to check out:
http://www.mediafire.com/?mow0iqeqtzk
or here:
TheAudacityBassBuzz.avi - 2.35MB

When you watch the video, note how the buzzing-sound get's a tiny bit louder each time I restart the playback of the same section (maybe you have to crank the volume up a bit)! :o At first it is barely audible, but at the end it is really annoying. I could have chosen a better sound-example with more bass in it, but it is sufficient to prove that we have some bass-buzz-problem here.
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Re: buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:16 pm

Fluxliner wrote:What is different here is that in my case the exported .wav's retain the buzz

Then this is a different issue. The problem in your case Fluxliner is that you have recorded too loud, so the recording is distorting. The waveform should never reach all the way to the top or bottom of the track. Always leave a bit of "headroom".

Back to glaukopes.
Try reducing the volume on the playback slider in Audacities mixer toolbar. It sounds like you have the playback level too high, and therefore distorting on playback. (I have that problem with VLC player).

P.S.
If the Mixer toolbar is not available, or does not work with your configuration, then you will need to adjust the playback volume with the Windows Mixer - see here for more info on that: http://audacityteam.org/wiki/index.php? ... bar_Issues
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Re: buzz when recording bass in audacity

Permanent link to this post Posted by Fluxliner » Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:55 pm

Thank you very much for your response, stevethefiddle, but there is absolutely no indication of this being a clipping-related issue. That is because if you had looked carefully, you would have seen that the said track (in the video) was not at the default zoom level. Just look at zoom-scale on the left. You can clearly see that the track I played back in the video is at a different zoom level than the muted track above it! (I should have used the default zoom to avoid misconceptions like this.) Here is a picture that shows the same passage as the video but in normal zoom:
ImageImage

You see? No clipping whatsoever. If I have the time I will upload a new video that will prove once and for all that this is not as simple as it seems (it could be that there is a simple explanation after all - as is so often in life - but clipping? Nope, not this time.)
(Besides, everybody can hear that clipping sounds entirely different. And on top of that, the fact that the buzzing got a little bit louder every time I've replayed the passage is definitely not explainable with clipping.)
So again, thank you for the reply, but the problem is far from solved.

PS: since you've mentioned the VLC player. There was a very nasty but largely unrecognized problem with version 0.8.6f (and I believe the 0.8 in general) where it distorted the high-frequencies when played back too loud. The problem has since vanished, but there was no official explanation as to what caused it. This has absolutely nothing to do with this problem here, but it reminds me of it.
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