Files won't playback except through USB headphones?

I thought I was golden with using audacity with basic podcasting equipment to record some interviews at work. I recorded one this morning, no problem, worked on a little bit of editing, went to lunch, came back to sit down with a 2nd person to interview and everything fell apart. I didn’t disconnect anything from my mixer or computer except the power cord for the headphone amp fell out & I put it back in. I opened up a new audacity window, clicked record to test the mics with the new person and a loud screeching feedback sound came out of my docked laptop. I don’t normally get any sound out of the laptop when I dock it, just from the speaker on the monitor, or from theVOIP phone attached to the computer (eg if I watch a video online or play music, etc), and after digging through the sound feature in control panel, disabling &enabling various things, I finally got it to stop though I have zero idea why it happened and I’m not too sure I could fix it again easily if it happens again, particularly given that it was not a problem earlier in the same day.

So once I got the feedback to stop, I recorded some test audio which played back fine through the headphones that are plugged into my mixer. I unplugged the mixer USB from the side of the monitor and tried to play it through the computer and got an error message - error while opening sound device. Please check the playback device settings and the project sample rate.

I have no idea what this means and if it is the result of the things I changed trying to get rid of the feedback or if it is a simple setting within audacity. My computer speakers are enabled (I just played something via youtube no problem), I googled this error and found a very complicated convoluted solution to this that I am not technically experienced enough to understand and I keep hoping that maybe it is just a setting in audacity or on my computer that I need to change to be able to listen to audacity files either via headphones or through the computer speakers???

Please help. I thought this program was pretty straightforward but these glitches today are making me want to throw in the towel on this project, or bring in my mac from home and use garage band… :frowning: Thanks.

There isn’t quite enough information to quote specifics, but I bet I know in general what happened.

The instant you lost the headphone amp, the system would have freaked out and switched to anything it could find that was still working. That would be the built-in speakers and it would not have automatically switched back. That gives you a live microphone or two in the same room with running speakers. …eeeeEEEEEEE.

From there it sounds like a comedy act where everything is always one step away from where it’s supposed to be.

So once I got the feedback to stop

The desperation method is turn the speakers off. You can make a delightful recording by watching the sound meters and not hearing a thing (that’s not recommended, but it does work).

I gotta read through that again.

Audacity is recording from and playing to whatever it says on the device tool bar.

In the face of an Emergency Condition (cord falls out), that can change by itself and the Mac settings can change, too.


Wait. You’re on Windows for this?

I’m going to need a more wire-by-wire how you have everything connected. It sounds like an insanely complicated setup for what you’re trying to do. That’s why it got away from you. It’s fine as long as everything is happy and holding hands.

For example, I read through that twice and I’m still not sure where the headphone amp is plugged in—or why you need one.


The above still stands, by the way. Once you have an Emergency Condition and the system starts switching by itself, it can get very entertaining.

Your explanation does make sense though I even shut down and rebooted the entire computer at one point before messing with the speakers…
As to the headphone amp I have discovered I don’t need it, because there is a delay between speaking and hearing yourself in the headphones that makes it impossible to wear them and talk into the mic at the same time.

Here’s the setup and the only reason is that we purchased a two person podcasting bundle that included all these parts.

Mixer is plugged into USB port.
Headphone amp is plugged into mixer phones port. Two headsets are plugged into that, with the idea that the two ppl talking could be listening on the, as they talk (I assume) but it is not working out bc of the slight delay.
Two mics are plugged into mixer.

And yes on Windows.

it is not working out bc of the slight delay

That could mean the mixer is set up wrong. Listening to the show from the mixer is the accepted way to not get that delay and echo when you’re listening to the computer.

You may have a fancy-pants USB mixer which can, in fact, listen to the computer anyway through a monitoring system or setting. This is part of the system needed should you decide to overdub or sound-on-sound yourself singing or playing multiple instruments. In that sense, it’s desirable. But maybe not during an interview.

So what’s the model number?

What are the microphones?

We have to build your system in our heads to figure out what happened. Connection and model information help.


Headphones for the two people is a grand idea. Most people don’t think of that. It can be a little off-putting if you’re not used to hearing your own voice come back.

How long was the interview? Was it planned to be that long?


I tried to take a picture but it was too big to upload I guess.

This is the package, only the mic stands I have are different b/c the pop filters tipped these little ones over which doesnt really matter related to this issue of course :slight_smile:

As I said before, the mics are plugged into the mic jacks along the back left corner of the mixer, the phone amp is plugged into the phone port on the back right, headphones come put of the phone amp and the USB cable comes out of the back of the mixer to the computer. The black ‘to phones’ button is depressed, adn the ‘to main mix’ button is elevated. I don’t mess w/ any of the knobs except volume ones b/c I dont know what they do.

As for the interviews they’ll generally be 30-60 minutes and then I’m hoping to edit them down which is why I’m using audacity though the learning curve for that is steep so I might be doing less editing than planned since this is a small piece of my job but could suck up hours & hours. I didn’t want to always have the whole system out to be able to edit and just do it through my computer speakers which prompted this post. Thankfully when I export the file to a wav file or other, it plays fine through the speakers which I guess is the most important part but I’m kind of sick of having this equipment all over my desk just to edit.
I also wouldn’t mind just ditching the headphones from the setup altogether since as I mentioned, the delay b/w speaking & hearing yourself in the headphones is such that you can’t actually use them.
Thanks for any help.

Update- I booted up and opened audacity today & got the feedback again. I immediately went into the Sound area on the control manual and disabled some speakers (I assume from the laptop though it doesnt specify, just says speakers) and it fixed the feedback. I’m just unclear on why that never happened before when I was testing and recording initially and just started happening. Oh well.

Still don’t know about listening to playback without headphones but it isn’t urgent so I’ll just deal with it I suppose!

I need to go back and read through that again. I know when I dropped out, we were playing posting tag and some of the messages are out of order. Isn’t servicing over nine time zones fun?

To be clear, running live speakers in the same room with live microphones is not recommended.

the mic stands I have are different b/c the pop filters tipped these little ones over

This is where I recommend theatrical sandbags to counterweight whichever stands you have and keep them from being unstable during use. Aaaaaand I don’t have a picture of that in use. Shucks. Attached.

And this is where I claim that you need a specific type of sandbag to make the recording come out right. It is complete horse-pucky, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 11.46.37.png

Well, that was harder than it needs to be. There are no documents that tell me how the headphone amplifier is powered. That cable that snakes off the right-hand side of the illustration goes into the wall socket or power brick, right? It doesn’t say that anywhere.

I know where the feedback is coming from. Neither of the USB 2-Track buttons should be pushed. Those are the two that bring the Audacity sound the wrong way into the mixer.

It should be possible to hear the live performance in headphones with the headphone amplifier plugged into PHONES of the mixer without either of those pushed. That’s normal recording.

You may need to push one to hear the Audacity Playback in your headphones when you’re done. But then turn it off again if you need to do more recording.

Like I think I said earlier, most mixers don’t have this feature and having it makes overdubbing/sound-on-sound (playing music to yourself) much easier. But if you’re not expecting it…

In addition. Audacity > Edit > Preferences > Recording: [_] Playthrough should be de-selected. That can give you feedback through the laptop speakers. That pathway is separate and has nothing to do with the mixer. Probably turn off Overdubbing, too.

I believe his whole thing is serious magic because you had/have two problems. Those are the most entertaining to fix.

I don’t see anything wrong with the podcasting package.

The mixer and microphones should be good if you want to sing three-part harmony to yourself, too. In that case you do want some of those settings I just told you to turn off. Let us know if you want to be a one-person Andrews Sisters or Mills Brothers and we’ll set you right up.