Distorted recording

Hello, I am using Audacity for the first time and can’t seem to get a clear recording. I am trying to convert a vinyl LP to my computer using at turntable with USB (which came with the Audacity software). I play the LP and select record, however instead of showing on the screen as waves it shows as a solid purple/blue bar filling up the whole area from 1 to -1. I have tried to reduce the volume input to 0.5 however it still sounds the same, except the solid purple/blue bar remains solid however only fills up the area from 0.5 to -0.5. If I reduce it to 0.1 the same sound, however the solid bar reduces in size to between 0.1 and -0.1. In the preferences, under ‘Audio I/O’, ‘Playback’ I have Device set as ‘Speakers (Realtek High Definiti)’ and under ‘Recording’ I have Device set as ‘Microphone (USB Audio CODEC’) and Channels ‘2 (Stereo)’. Would anyone know how I can get the recording clearer?

I have been able to get a clearer recording by downloading the latest version of Audacity and reducing the recording volume to 0.03, however it still isn’t really clear. If I reduce it to 0.02 it’s not loud enough. It seems a bit strange to have to reduce the recording volume by this much. Does anyone know if there might be another reason for the distortion?

It might be some Windows “microphone enhancement” setting. (Windows seems to think you’re using a USB microphone, which isn’t unusual and isn’t a problem.)

See [u]this page[/u].

Also since Windows might think it’s a microphone, make sure it’s set to stereo (2 channels) in the Windows Control Panel.

Audacity (or any other recording software) simply captures the digital audio stream and sends it to your hard drive. But, Windows sometimes monkeys with the sound before Audacity sees it.

Is there a gain control on the turntable? Sometimes the control is hidden underneath the turntable chassis.


Thanks, however I wasn’t able to improve the sound. It still sounds ok, so I’ll just record it with a recording volume of 0.3.

…however I wasn’t able to improve the sound. It still sounds ok

Zoom in until you can see the individual “waves” and check for [u]clipping[/u]. If the digital data is clipped before being sent over the USB bus, reducing the digital volume won’t help… It will reduce the level, but it won’t change the wave shape. I’m really thinking there’s a problem with the turntable… :frowning:

Even though it “sounds OK”, you might want to know if there’s a problem (beyond the usual problems with records :wink: ).

I assume you’ve tried more than one record? Some records are louder than others and some are just distorted. Some modern CDs & MP3s are highly-compressed (or even clipped) and they can look like a “solid blue brick” too! (The [u]Loudness War[/u].)

If you have a desktop or tower computer with a regular soundcard, most USB turntables have line-outputs so you can make an analog connection to your soundcard’s line-input and record that. (Hopefully, the line-output is not clipped.) Some USB turntables have a switch to bypass the internal preamp so you can use an external phono preamp or an audio interface with a phono-input.

What turntable do you have? [u]Knowzy.com[/u] has reviews & ratings on many USB turntables and you may be able to find out how yours “rates”.

The microphone input on a laptop won’t work, but you can get a [u]Behringer UCA202[/u] which has line-inputs, or the UFO202 which has switchable phono/line inputs, or something similar. These inexpensive Behringer interfaces have quite good audio quality, but there is no gain control so there’s still some chance of clipping the analog-to-digital converter. There are higher-end interfaces if you have the budget.