Audacity Project vs. Export WAV

I’m a new user. I will be using a public access Mac at local library to convert LPs to CDs. I may not complete editting a recording during a session. I expect to be saving my work in progress to a USB flash drive. What are the pros and cons of saving and restarting as an Audacity project vs. exporting a WAV file. Thanks.

Have a look at this page in the manual. Especially relevant is this page.

If all you have is one stereo track with no splits or labels then there is no advantage to saving an Audacity project. Once you have created a label track you’ll want to save the project, as the WAV file will not have the labels. Similarly if you have two or more stereo tracks you’ll want to save the Audacity project or save each track as a separate WAV file.

If you are saving the Audacity project, go to Audacity > Preferences, then the Quality section and set the Default sample format to 16-bit before you begin recording. The will halve the space the Audacity project requires.

– Bill

Export the WAV file. We recommend WAV Export as a backup for Projects and recordings. You will be breaking up a Project into individual WAV files for burning to a CD anyway.

There is an upper limit. Keep any one 44100, 16-bit, Stereo WAV file under three hours. That will give you a 1.9GB file and 2GB is one of the WAV upper limits.

44100 is the Audacity default sample rate. That’s the number in the lower left corner of the Audacity Window. WAV (Microsoft) 16-bit is one of the common Export formats.

44100, 16-bit, Stereo is the quality of music on an Audio CD.


Audio CDs don’t save song titles unless you use a special CD format.


There is a less popular problem, too. Audacity Projects can be brittle compared to WAV. There’s no shortage of people posting of Projects that will not open after being saved. The only WAV Exports that may not open are the ones that went over the 2GB and 4GB limits. This typically accounts for people trying to make Audacity into a surveillance recorder.

My Personal Audio Recorder automatically splits up performances into three hour chunks to stay under the 2GB limit.


Koz and I have differing opinions on the “brittleness” of Audacity projects. Yes, we see lots of users posting here when they’ve lost their project. That’s a few out of the millions of users.

In my 10 years of using Audacity to convert LPs to digital (yes, I took my time :wink: ), and other uses, I’ve never lost a project. Also, this is not an irreplaceable live recording, where making a backup is essential. If things to south, you still have the LP and can do it over.

– Bill

I’ve never lost a project.

I haven’t either, mostly because I’ve never used one.
Unlike capturing vinyl, my stuff is non-recoverable. IMHO, Projects are not a good habit to get into.

In today’s forum postings, there is a producer who flushed an AUP Project Manager file by accident. I give it about a 20% possibility of recovering the show, if that.