audacity "bogs down"

I don’t know how else to describe it. My project is now about an hour long, with about 15 songs, 5 voiceovers, and 4 or 5 little tags. If I decide I want to add one more tag, say, somewhere in the middle, getting the project to play seems to strain my computer. I can close every other app and window, close and reopen Audacity, even restart the computer, but when I try to play the project, it stutters and stammers like a skipping CD. Mind you, this is a 4 month old computer on which I regularly work with 6-8 windows of Firefox open, 2-3 PDFs and a huge Excel spreadsheet or two. If I open Task manager while this is happening, it doesn’t indicate any issues with Audacity, and will say that CPU use is 5-9%. Any thoughts?

Do you have all that open at once? Audacity doesn’t Play Well With Others. As the available memory goes down, Audacity is goes into the toilet in a big hurry.

Audacity hates working into a badly fragmented hard drive. I know it’s new, when was the last time you error checked and defragmented?

<<<6-8 windows of Firefox open, 2-3 PDFs and a huge Excel spreadsheet or two.>>>

Right. What are the consequences of the computer being 250 milliseconds late delivering your spreadsheet recalculations? Would you even notice that? That’s audacity missing one spoken English word. Audacity runs in real time and it can’t sit quietly and wait for the computer to catch up. The video people have the same problem. If the computer isn’t perfectly speedy and right on top of it, you get damaged recordings and playbacks.

You’re on Windows you lucky dog. Does the problem go away if you unplug the network and turn off the Virus Protection?

Koz

It can often help to split big projects into multiple smaller ones. This takes a lot of strain off the computer.
Even though modern computers are much more powerful than old ones, some things have not improved much and can cause bottlenecks in the system (such as disk access time, which is an important one for multi-track audio and hence the reason that it is so important to keep your hard drive in tip-top shape).

There have been some fairly major performance improvements in Audacity 1.3.8 which should make noticeable benefits for people that are working on larger projects. Audacity 1.3.8 is due out later this month.

Thanks koz; I don’t have all that stuff open while I’m having this Audacity issue; like i said:
“I can close every other app and window, close and reopen Audacity, even restart the computer, but when I try to play the project, it stutters and stammers like a skipping CD. Mind you, this is a 4 month old computer on which I regularly work with 6-8 windows of Firefox open, 2-3 PDFs and a huge Excel spreadsheet or two.”

As for “when was the last time you error checked and defragmented?”, NEVER! so, good tip! I’m doing it now. I never have tried unplugging the network and turning off virus protection, but I was thinking that all that crap that’s always running on its own might have had something to do with this. I’m hoping defragmentation works!

Thanks stevethefiddle as well; I’m planning smaller projects in the future. I can always combine three 20 minute sets or five twelves later!

Yes it can have a massively detrimental effect. From time to time you should do a bit of computer “housekeeping” and clear the crap off.

<<<running on its own might have had something to do with this. I’m hoping defragmentation works!>>>

This one’s rough because you do have a new machine. Most of the regular solutions shouldn’t work for you, but who knows. Can you open up an activity monitor and watch that when you have this problem? Does the hard drive light go nuts during the skipping?

The thing with the comparison between Audacity and all the multiple windows on other applications is that Audacity is the only application in the bunch running at real time. It’s the canary in the coal mine. It would get my attention if a video editor was one of the other applications that worked perfectly. Can you play YouTube videos OK? Can you play a Movie DVD?

I suppose you could have high memory problems that wouldn’t show up until an application tried to use the whole stack. How much hardware memory do you have? 4G? 8G? Live production goes through memory in a big hurry and when the memory runs out, the computer is forced to use the hard drive as “memory.” Drive memory is enormously slower and it would bring the production to its knees. Again, the drive light would go nuts if this was happening.

Couldn’t hurt…try, if you feel like it, running the Microsoft Memory Tester.

http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp

If the computer makes it through that multiple times, then the computer may just not be up to what you’re trying to do.

One other troubleshooting technique. Can you make it a lot worse? Can you do something that causes the show to stutter a lot more? And last, did it start doing this when you included one particular clip? This one’s harder to think about, but cast your mind back. This one’s more difficult to prove because the last clip could also just be the one that ran you out of memory.

Koz