Audacity transfer becomes erratic and stops recording

Thanks to Gale Andrews I was able to successfully burn a recorded file to CD and I thought that my problems were over. On tackling a second transfer from cassette to my laptop using Audacity, the recording started successfully but about 25 minutes into the recording process, the moving line covering the wave pattern on my laptop screen suddenly became erratic and eventually stopped altogether. I was careful with my input volume level ensuring that it remained at optimum level. I then stopped the sound source (cassette) and played the Audacity file from the beginning. When it reached the point where it had become erratic, the sound stops altogether! I then chose another cassette as a sound source and tried again and the same problem arose as with the earlier attempt. Am I doing something wrong? Any help will be appreciated. Les.

Sounds as if a background (IE maintenance) program might be kicking in, hogging your CPU. Check the Task Manager for running processes when this happens.

Another thought is disk fragmentation though it would have to be pretty bad to cause this, IMHO. All the obvious checks apply: virus, malware, rouge software.

This isn’t a volume problem. I’d be looking at the machine. How much hard drive space do you have and is it well-behaved and defragmented. It sounds like you’re filling something up. Windows XP?

Start > My Computer > right-click C: > Properties. I may have that wrong. I’m not near my Windows machine.

Sound recording doesn’t wait. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to calculate a spreadsheet or blur a Photoshop picture, but the machine isn’t up to accepting each musical note or spoken word as it comes, you may get the symptoms you have. The computer slows down slightly as it captures the show – they all do – but if your machine is on the edge, it may do what you have.


Hi Koz, I’m using Windows 7 Home Premium and I’ve checked the space available on my hard drive - I have only used about a third of the space available. I will try to defrag the machine. Thanks for your suggestions. Les

Windows Vista and later defragment automatically if your computer is on at night and you have not changed the schedule.

Is it a USB recording device? If so make sure you are connecting to an empty USB port on the computer, not to a USB hub that already has other USB devices connected to it.

Restarting the computer may help too.


Thanks for your suggestions Gale and ajmich! I am actually using the “mike input” jack on my laptop - not any of the USB ports or a hub. I’ll check the task manager too.

Mic inputs (pink) are mono or at best rather poor stereo (unless they have an explicit control or switch that sets to them to high quality line-in stereo). As well as being mono that input will tend to distort if you connect a cassette deck to it - the mic port is only meant for unpowered microphones.

So unless you have a real, switchable mic/line-in input, it would probably be better to buy a USB interface to give you a stereo line-in.

It is still a puzzle why the mic input would cease recording like that.


Hi Gale, Nick Digiwiz (UK) has a Youtube item that explains how to transfer cassette recordings to laptop hard drive and on to burning a CD using Audacity software. When I told him that Audacity stopped recording mid-stream, he sent me the following blog - This blog confirms that other people have experienced the same problem and it goes on to offer solutions. However, the possible solutions involve virtually running the recording process totally blind - it even suggests minimising the Audacity screen during recording and it further suggests recording mono and not stereo. I can’t work blind - I have to see what is going on - if anything? I also bought a “Cassette2USB” device to transfer my recordings but that didn’t work properly in my case because the copied recording on the hard drive runs slightly faster than the original. Getting back to the blog - it basically suggests that every program should be stopped during recording including the anti-virus software etc. I have decided to abandon the whole project! Thanks to you and everyone else that offered suggestions.

You should post with the original speed problem! You have multiple problems on your machine and it would be good to know that. Most of the suggestions on the web page have to do with the computer not being powerful enough to do live sound. If you have one of those, then yes, turn off everything you’re not using and try again. Also, Virus Protection programs can make a hash out of live music. If you shut virus down, disconnect your network/internet and turn off WiFi if you’re using that.

I have favorite people to help because they’re so predictable. They complain about the computer and I close, not just minimize, all their applications (sometimes dozens), empty the trash bucket and restart the machine. Poof. No more problems. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.

Audio (and video) don’t wait. If the computer can’t go fast enough to catch all the musical notes, then some notes may get left out or damaged.


Thanks for your reply Koz.

The blog doesn’t say what device he is recording from, but the poster on Nabble had a USB device and USB recordings may often seize up.

Running too many programs and services usually causes gaps in non-USB recordings rather than complete seizure, but you should certainly try what Koz suggested (no need to minimise Audacity except as a last resort).

If the speed problem with the USB cassette player is consistent you can use Effect > Change Speed to correct it. See here for how to calculate the correction .