Export Question


Is anyone able to explain why exported audio that looks like this when first imported:


Looks like this after its been exported:


All I am doing is exporting a 320 mp3 as an edited 320mp3 and dropping it into Ableton Live so I can work with it from there.

The sound of the audio is actually no different after being exported but I’d like to know why the file appears to have been compressed so it looks like its clipping?


That is a good one.

The first graphic is of a sound clip in 100% distortion. I suspect if you turned on View > Show Clipping, the screen would light up solid red overload bars. It’s not normal to have the dark blue waves live at 1.0 in a solid block of blue. I suspect if you played that piece, the Audacity sound meters would turn red, smash to the right and stay there.

That might be why the conversion to MP3 failed. MP3 compression process “knows” what content is and tries to hide compression damage by carefully folding it into the music or voice. Audacity uses Lame MP3 work-alike software instead of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft “the real thing.” While I have no doubt they both do a credible job with well-behaved sound files, I wonder how well they’ll do with unusual sound files like yours.


Thanks for the reply Koz

I’m interested in this comment:

It’s not normal to have the dark blue waves live at 1.0 in a solid block of blue.

The waveform is actually at approx 0.5, but I see what you mean about the blue section being live at 1.0; is there any way I can reduce that? I haven’t done any adjusting to the audio at all, just cut a section and exported it.


This is a normal recoding with peaks going up to around 0.8 (about -3 dB). You should not record higher than this. Generally it is safer to record a little lower.

This is a track that has been normalized (amplified) to 0 dB. This is the absolute maximum level that audio can be with distortion:

This is your track (downloaded from your first link). The level is far too high. The recording should not be “a solid block of blue”.