Windows 7, Audacity 2.0.3 — I have been having this problem when recording live music either with a USB sound input from a mixer, or using the built-in microphone in the laptop. Sometimes recordings come out fine, but other times I get sound which is garbled & full of crackles. Sometimes I can re-record without changing any settings and get a clear recording. Then sometimes I have the problem several times in a row. It can happen even if the settings are low volume, so it doesn’t seem to be caused by the volume being set too loud. Has anyone else had this happen? Any solutions? (I did just download 2.0.4, but have not had time to try recording on it yet.)

My guess is your computer can’t keep up with the work.

It doesn’t have to be skips, it can be periodic noises, pops or clicks.

Recording puts a very serious strain on a computer. It can’t “hold on for a second” while it manages files. Everything in sound (and video) happens right now in real time. You didn’t say you were overdubbing, but if you’re playing live music, that’s a very good bet. In that case, the computer has to maintain perfect playback of all the existing tracks and perfect recording of the new one. Really Perfect, not missing a bit or fragment here and there.

The FAQ probably covers this, but you need to do everything to speed up your machine. Stop Skype, really stop it, not just put it to sleep. DeFragment the hard drive and if necessary, back up a bunch of stuff so you have at least 15% of the drive free. Audacity will not work into a full or fragmented drive.

If you’re going to do this a lot, your next laptop should have an SSD instead of a spinning platter.

See if any of that helps, and do read through the wiki.


It’s worth checking that you have Windows Enhanced Services turned off.

But I don’t for a minute think that’s what it is.


Are you using an external USB drive? That’s discouraged. You can use an external drive to store stuff, but the drive management is usually too slow for live audio.

You covered all the usual suspects when you had the problem with both USB microphone and built-in microphone. That’s pages of troubleshooting gone right there.


Sounds like I have some good ideas to work with. I was overdubbing; I was recording to my own hard drive (not an external USB drive). I probably had other applications open. So my next plan is to reboot and have everything else off, then I’ll try defrag. I’ll post more details if that doesn’t help enough. Thanks much!

Fragmented hard drives are killer. Audacity has to play the violin part from here on the drive, the tambourine from over there and it has to record the new trumpet part wherever it can find room. Oh, and do it all at exactly the same time.

Simply too much stuff on the drive can cause Windows to freeze.

That’s not pleasant, either.


Just to add that, unless you explicitly changed it, Windows 7 defrags automatically in the background according to a schedule (usually in the early hours of the morning, but if the computer is busy or turned off at scheduled defrag, Windows tries at other times when the computer is idle).

So defrag would happen automatically unless your computer was always busy or otherwise turned off.


FYI – after rebooting and closing all other apps I was able to get several clear tracks yesterday. I have saved notes on your other comments for future reference if needed.
Again - thanks much for the help!