clipped original (?)

I’m dealing with a pretty poor original, recording from the web using Audacity 2.0.5 on a Dell with Win 8.1 (installed from an .exe file). In particular the loud parts sound pretty muddy. I tried running analyze > find clipping. But I don’t see any evidence of clipping in my recording (if I’m reading this correctly). I’m guessing it’s an mp3 file, but I can’t quite figure that out since all I can see is javascript scripts.

I’m recording using the “stereo mix” device–don’t even have a microphone hooked up–44100 Hz, 32-bit float. I chose “best quality” whenever given an option but I really don’t know anything about conversion or its dither settings or how relevant it is here.

So, first, if someone will be so kind as to look at the right side of the attached image, am I correctly understanding that those straight edges along the top/bottom of each wave mean that I have a clipped original? If not, should I re-record using some different settings? If I’m correct, what can I do to get the best that can be salvaged out of this? This too could include re-recording.

Many many thanks for any guidance.

“Clipped” audio generally sounds “distorted” (“crunchy”) like
Flat tops / bottoms of the waveform may indicate “clipping” or may indicate that the peaks have been “limited” (see
The “problem” could be the original recording that you are copying. If copying the audio is allowed by the copyright holder, there may be an option to download the file rather than record it.

I’m dealing with a pretty poor original, recording from the web.

If you are capturing it accurately (if the recording sounds like the original streaming audio) I’d say you are recording OK.

If you’re starting with a bad recording, often there’s only so much you can do… :frowning:

In particular the loud parts sound pretty muddy.

Clipping is often described as “harsh” or just “distorted”.

“Muddy” usually implies a lack of highs or too much bass or too much mid-bass. If it seems like a frequency-balance problem, try experimenting with Equalization. Try boosting the frequencies above 4000Hz and/or cutting below 300Hz. If that helps, just keep experimenting with the sliders to see what you can do. For experimenting, I usually recommend the Graphic Equalizer mode instead of the Draw Curves mode.)

The waveform does look limited or clipped, but a lot of commercial releases look like that… If you zoom way-way in to the point where you can see the individual samples, you may be able to see the clipping. Wikipedia has a [u]picture of clipping[/u] (an analog waveform on an oscilloscope).

I tried running analyze > find clipping.

As far as I know, Find Clipping only finds clipping at (or above 0dB). So if you have clipping below the 0dB “digital-limit”, Audacity won’t find it.

I’m guessing it’s an mp3 file

Lossy compression can do “strange things” It changes the wave shape (so it might change the shape of a clipped waveform) and it can push the peaks above 0dB without clipping, which Audacity will show as (potential) clipping.

Steve and DVDDoug,

Sorry not to have said thank you right away, but thanks so much. You’ve given me much to consider and study.