distortion recording voice

I’ve just changed to a new computer with Windows 7. I’ve used Windows XP before and have recorded alot of songs using the same instruments and equipment. I did some multi tracking on the new computer 2 days ago and it worked perfectly. However, I’ve been trying to do the same thing today. The acoustic piano has recorded perfectly, but the vocal track keeps playing back with loud static or humming. Any idea what is going on?!

to add to this, I think it may have something to do with using the headphones. When I playback through the computer’s speakers, it sounds OK. This is very strange as it worked perfectly the other day!

Static on recordings can be caused by sending your USB microphone or mixer through a USB hub. Audio connections need to be computer home runs.

Past that we know nothing about your setup. What kind of microphone, which mixer, what is your connection type? Did you change physical computer, of just do an operating system upgrade?


It’s a new computer with Windows 7. I am using a Prosound microphone connected by a USB port and have earphones connected to the headphones jack on the computer. I am not using a mixer - only Audacity. Please could you explain further what a USB hub is? What seems weird is it all worked perfectly on this computer a couple of days ago! I don’t think I changed anything.

clip 2 for forum.aup (892 Bytes)

sorry - neither of these clips seem to work

Just to add, projects I recorded on my previous computer running XP are playing back perfectly.

The .aup file is just part of an Audacity project. .AUP files do not contain any audio data (see here: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/audacity_projects.html)

It would be useful if we could hear a sample.
Select a short section (just a few seconds) of a track with the bad audio, then use “File menu > Export Selection” and export in WAV format.

A USB hub is a device that allows you to connect multiple USB devices to one USB port on the computer. They should not be used for audio (or video) recording. The USB mic must be connected directly to a USB port on the computer.

If you are using a full size computer, try one of the USB ports on the back of the computer - these are sometimes better than the ones on the front.

Here are 3 examples

That’s curious - you have three audio clips and they all have different problems.
What did you do different each time?

I altered the input device - generic microphone and microphone array.

Of the three samples here: https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/distortion-recording-voice/27105/10
which one is which?

sorry - I’ll have to re-record as I can’t remember!

I’ve managed to improve the recording a bit by reducing the volume of record and playback but the hum is still present. Is it possible that the computer’s fan is creating it?

Clips 1 and 3 (microphone generic) has repeated short bursts of noise creating a “motorboat” effect. This is probably because some part of the computer cannot keep up with the amount of audio data.

Clips 2 and 4 have worked “perfectly” - the “only” problem there is that the sound quality of the built in mic array is rubbish :wink: (usually the case on laptop and notepad computers).

There probably isn’t anything that you can do about the sound quality of the built in mic array apart from turn down the recording volume and speak closer to the built in microphones.

For the USB headset, I think the sound quality will be much better if only we can stop that motorboat effect.
Go into “Preferences” (Effect menu) and in the “Recording” section, try increasing the “Audio buffer” setting. The default is 100 milliseconds. Try increasing it to 150. If necessary keep increasing it in 50 millisecond steps up to a maximum of about 300 milliseconds.

If you find that a higher setting fixes the problem with the USB mic, you will need to then set up the “Latency Correction” so that when you “overdub” new tracks over existing tracks, the tracks are kept synchronised. See here for how to do the latency correction: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/latency_test.html