Audacity Processing / Sound Card?

Does the quality of the sound card affect Audacity’s processing of a file? I assume that it does affect the playback of audio but what about the processing? e.g. I import a .wav file and apply an effect, then export audio. Is the sound card a factor here, or does it only matter upon conversion digital to audio?

And in a related matter, does anyone happen to know if sound card quality affects burning (as opposed to playback) of a CD?


The soundcard only enters into the equation when you are either recording through it’s inputs or playing back through it’s outputs.

If you import a wav file, apply an effect, and then export the result to a wav the result will be the same regardless of the soundcard you have.

Ditto with “burning” a CD. That process is taking the digital files that are on your harddrive and writing the 1s and 0s to the CD. The soundcard isn’t involved.

I import a .wav file and apply an effect, then export audio.

And just because nothing about this is ever perfectly easy, if you do that whole dance and don’t change anything in the middle, you still don’t get a perfect copy at the other end.

Audacity runs a special sound format in the middle to avoid special effects distortion and processing damage. So when it makes your new sound file, a really tiny dither signal is added to the show so keep digital errors from interacting with each other and messing up the sound.

This drives obsessive researchers nuts. “HOW COME MY FILES ARE DIFFERENT!!!”

We calmly point out Audacity is an audio editor not a research tool and any time there’s a decision between surgical accuracy and making the show sound good, the show always wins.

You can turn dithering off, but it’s not recommended.