Bad quality recording

I’m new with Audacity, so i have a question…

…I’m trying to record some acoustic guitars and voice tracks on Audacity. I have a Toshiba Satellite A200 1NH, and I’m using a small headset with microphone, plugged in the mic socket (because i don’t have a line-in).
The problem is that, when i record guitar parts, the sound is terrible, like when you listen to an really old cassette or so, almost not recognizable.
And also, sometimes, appears that if i record a second guitar part, to go with the first one, they never match tempo wise, like there’s a delay in the sound while i play the second one, being guided by listening to the first guitar part.

I don’t know if it was to do with the kind of microphone i’m using, or the fact that i use the mic socket instead of the line in?! Im just looking to record with a reasonable clear sound and no delays, so i can compose a tight song in the end.

Can anybody give me some tips how to solve this problems?

Thanks in advance


There’s a couple of things to consider - The headset mic you’re using is unlikely to give good results when recording acoustic instruments. It’s only really designed to handle speech for communication purposes. Secondly, I’m not a great fan of the onboard soundchips in laptops, generally they’re only good for going “ping” when you have mail and not suitable for recording music if you’re halfway serious about it. Finally, the delay you’re experiencing is called latency, which is basically caused by the time it takes the signal to pass through the audio hardware. Again, this is down to the onboard soundchip. However you can experiment with compensating for latency in Edit - Preferences - Audio I/O (haven’t needed to do so myself, so I can’t go into detail on that option).

So - a better mic and USB audio device will improve the quality of your recordings tenfold. Neither of which have to be particularly expensive to improve on your current setup.

Audacity 1.3.x (not v. 1.2.6)

Well spotted - I don’t have 1.2.x installed but I should reinstate it for checking differences between versions when posting here.


I try to change the preferences, but didnt worked that well…probably then related to the soundcard.

Thinking about usb audio device, would you give me an advice, please?
I also heard that using usb devices for recordings will also cause latency, is that so?

stay well

All soundcards have some latency simply because the audio data can not get from the audio input to the hard drive, or from the hard drive to the audio output “instantly”. USB devices tend to have greater latency than PCI audio devices, and require more resources, but this should not be a problem if you set up latency correction correctly.

How it works is:
When playing back a track, at time = zero (t=0) the audio will start to be read from the hdd, but will not reach the audio output until a little later, so you will not hear it until a little later.
If you then play along with what you are listening to, you are already a little bit later than t=0. It also takes a little bit of time for your new sounds to get sent to the hard drive, so your second track is going to be doubly out of sync with the first track.
If you then play back both tracks (without any latency correction), you will hear that the second track is a little bit late compared to the first track even though you were playing in time with what you could hear (the first track).
What latency correction does is; when you press the stop button to end the recording, the track you have just recorded is all shifted to be a little bit earlier, thus compensating for the latency delay. You can see this happen - if you carefully look at the track when you record and press “stop” you may see the track jump a little to the left.

PCI soundcards are generally better than USB (more stable and reliable) but this is not an option with laptop computers. I use a Behringer UCA202 which works fine, though there are many other ones used by people on this forum, some of which have additional features such as direct monitoring. The USB audio devices that we see lots and lots of problems wih are USB turntables.