Extreme Distortion/Echo Recording Problem

Hello, I’ve recorded stuff using my piano and audacity before, and any distortion has always been able to be removed simply by reducing the input levels/microphone levels. However, today I wanted to record something again using the same equipment/techniques but whenever I record I get extremely bad distortion and this weird echo effect through playback and I have absolutely no idea why. Putting the input levels of the microphone down the the bare minimum only makes it quieter, the distortion does not improve.

I use a jack to jack cable connected from one of the headphone ports in my piano to the line-in port in my laptop to record directly into audacity. In order to hear myself play, I plug my headphones into the other headphone port that’s in the piano. This method has worked for me before very well, so I don’t know why suddenly it’s failing me. I tried using a different piano, different headphones, re-installing the software but nothing so far works… if someone knows what’s causing this problem could they please help me out as I’m eager to get back to recording again.

I made a short demo of what this bizarre effect sounds like. I’m playing the C arpeggio just once, the second time you hear it is the echo effect.


From the recording it sounds like the distortion is being caused by a bad cable or connection. If we sort that out then maybe we can better identify where the echo is coming from. Another possibility is that something has changed with the sound settings on your laptop. What computer and OS are you using, and what version of Audacity?

– Bill

Do you have a new Skype account?


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I’m using an Alienware Mx15 laptop with Windows 7 (yes, I’m a dorky gamer XD). It’s the same laptop/OS I was using when I made my previous recordings so nothing changed there. I’m using Audacity 1.3 Beta, should I try it with 1.2?

If the jack-jack cable is damaged it’s possible I can replace it, they’re really cheap.

I also disabled my laptop microphone in case that was interfering with it, but nothing changed.

I don’t have a new skype account XD Just the one I’ve always had.

the noise in the “silence” has harmonics every 100Hz, (the frequency may be a clue to the cause).