Crackly playback on project transferred to second Mac

OS 10.9 Audacity 2.1.0

I have read the manual.
I cannot find ANY way to transfer an Audacity project to an external WD 1TB drive and play the Audacity files on any other computer EXCEPT for the one that created the project!

Does the newest release fix this daunting problem?


What happens? Say I put an AUP file and the _DATA folder of a project I made on Sally over to a FireWire drive and move the drive to Johnny. Move the file and folder to Johnny. I expect Audacity 2.1.0 to open the show just fine. Where did that description go off the rails and what exactly happens during the failure?

Remember there are two different kinds of Projects. You can have a stand-alone project which is self-supporting, or you can have a reference project which is totally dependent on external music files in addition to the _DATA folder. Which did you make?

Audacity > Preferences > Projects.


My fault. I forgot to mention that the Audacity files are all original recordings made by Audacity from A/D audio inputs using a MacBook Pro with an iMic direct from a cassette player’s audio outputs. No source files were imported.

My bad (again). What happens is that instead of hearing the music I hear bup bup bup bup bup bup bip with a little weak music in the background. Moving the WD 1TB drive back to the Mac that made the original recording and all the files play fine.

It’s a puzzle.


Correct my entire post. It’s a FireWire drive, right? You moved the files to the new machine and then they wouldn’t play?

I’m guessing you’re trying to play the files live on a USB powered drive connected to an underpowered USB port. Or worse, a USB hub. In videoland we strongly discourage live production on USB drives.

Move the files and folders to the new machine. If there isn’t room to do that, you have just identified the actual problem. You need many times the size of the show as free space on the internal drive for any kind of production.


Mellow Greetings Koz!

As (almost) stated it is a USB Western Digital 1TB external drive. The drive is nearly empty. I bought it to hold this project. It’s set to Mac OS Extended Journaled.

The files were NOT moved to a new machine. They were left on the WD 1TB drive, having been put there by Save Project As from the originating machine . . .

The files were original Audacity recordings from audio input—NO imported files at all.

The USB drive is in an environment where TWO WD 1TB USB drives can be powered at the same time. Therefore, operating just one means it has plenty of electrical resources.

The object is to NOT move the files to another machine. The object is to be able to make a library of Audacity recordings on an external drive and then work with this library of recordings on any of my Macs.

There is TONS of room on the 1TB drive. Also, there is plenty of room on the hard drives of the two Macs I’m using for this adventure.

I have just downloaded Audacity 2.1.1 and will now repeat the experiment to see if the flaw has been removed during the update, or if it remains.

MacBook Pro > Save Project As > Western Digital USB 1TB Drive
Change WD drive to the iMac
Attempt playback listening for bup bup bup bup bup bup bup bup

Wish me luck . . .


It’s not a power problem. USB has notoriously sloppy data management. Most USB hubs for example will not pass a simple live audio stream if the hub is shared with anything else, such as a mouse. Stutter City. Distance can make a difference. Larger computers can have different characteristics between the front cabinet port and the back. You can have problems between USB2 and USB3. Are you trying to share between an older Mac and a much newer one? I think the ports are different.

You can do what you want all day with firewire drives. I used to do all my video and audio editing—and boot—from an external firewire drive. We had shared firewire drives between the edit rooms at work and clients would come in with their work on one.



The new test results are in.

Opening three music files with 2.1.1 (recorded by 2.1.0)
the files opened without complaint.

Saving the file to the USB WD 1TB drive took place rocket fast.
Opening the just-saved files in Audacity 2.1.0 produced the bup bup bup bup bup bup anomaly.

Now updating second Mac to 2.1.1

FAILURE. Using the pristine Audacity-recorded original file the playback on the second Mac was still bup bup bup bup bup bup.

I will attempt to upload 15 seconds of the same song 1) from the Mac that created the recording and 2) the second mac that’s trying to play it off the 1TB WD USB external drive.

This pretty much wraps up this defect report.

Sherman Keene

Hi !

I share complex files all day and all night on WD USB 1TB drives. Movies. Cubase Pro 8. Huge graphics libraries.

Only Audacity can’t manage to transfer a project to another drive.

I’m sad to find this out. I must stop using the product now because it it has this terrible flaw.

I have Cubase Pro 8! After all . . . what am I fooling around with Audacity for? If it had worked properly, it would have been beautiful. However . . . it does NOT work.

What is a great name for this defect?

Let me think . . .

The Audacity Orphan File Syndrome!

How about that? I think that’s perfect!


So . . .
When the result is a completely clear negative . . .
you censor a client’s research.


That must make for a much happier customer base. Yes?

How sad it is that you cannot admit your product FLAW!

Realizing that this won’t be published [because of your censorship] . . .

I remain,
Sherman The Forthright
Removed by Censorship
For Your Reading Enjoyment

It’s OK. Really it is. I have a place where I publish such outrageous affronts to Americans. Really I do.

This is nothing to do with compatibility of project data between different Macs. Audacity will read the project data the same way, whatever Mac it is.

It is however generally not recommended to record direct to external drives, if that is what you are doing. Recording is a real time process. Disk access needs to be fast, and external drives (especially USB) are not as fast as internal drives. Set the Audacity temporary directory at Audacity > Preferences…, “Directories” section to your internal hard drive. When recording is complete, save the project to the external drive.

Are you saying an MP3 exported from the project plays fine on the second Mac in iTunes or Finder, but the project or the MP3 makes these noises in Audacity on the second Mac? If so, the difference must be in the sound device and/or hardware on the second Mac.

So, exactly what sound device are you playing to on the Mac where you recorded the project, and exactly what sound device are you playing to on the Mac where you hear bad playback? The problem you are experiencing is quite likely this: Why do I hear clicky playback on Mac OS X?. If that is the problem, reducing Audio to buffer in Audacity’s Recording Preferences should solve it.