Garbled audio in playback with Macbook

I have had this problem with Audacity with every version. At some point, usually when the computer has been on a while (20 minutes, but maybe less) and
the audio becomes corrupted and garbled in places. I noticed the computer Macbook Air 2012 gets hot usually when this happens. I close computer, wait, start again but then the garbled audio happens again only quicker. The waveform looks normal but the playback is corrupted. This might be a MAC/AUDACITY issue as I know other Mac users with same problem. I hope the development team will seriously look into this issue and provide help. Thank you!

Do you have Google Chrome on your machine?

Audacity doesn’t do that, but other applications do. (From memory) Go > Applications or Utilities > Activity Monitor. That will give you an idea who’s taking your system resources.


I do have chrome on my machine but it is turned off and I rarely use it. I had this problem in previous versions without chrome.

Is there a certain amount of space I am looking for in the activity monitor? Will garbled audio happen if not enough space? I turn off all programs when recording. Thank you!

Is there a certain amount of space I am looking for in the activity monitor?

What you’re looking for is an application taking up terrificly high values in the % CPU column.

That’s not to say that Audacity will always be completely blameless. You can install plug-ins and effects from third parties and they can have a profound effect on computer activity. In some cases, a renegade plug-in can prevent Audacity from starting at all. In the case of Windows, a plug-in can cause a Windows failure. It’s very serious.

Macbook Air 2012 gets hot usually when this happens.

I got it down to Chrome and the Chrome helper programs. My MacBook Pro got too hot for my lap and my Mini fan would go into whistling high speed. Applications should not sit at 99% CPU in normal use. I have one application whose registration program—not the program itself—sits in the background and slowly eats the whole machine.

Activity Monitor is highly recommended as a peek on what the machine is doing. Attached is what I would consider normal.

A note that you can have more than 100% if you have a multi-processor machine (pretty normal).

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.45.06.png

Watched Activity monitor closely last night and Chrome and Chrome Helper were way up there when they were running. 90%! Good news was, when I used “Quit Chrome” they seemed to no longer be running.

Hopefully, that will solve the issue. Even though I usually closed browser windows, I don’t think I always used Quit.

In case anybody is interested in hearing an example of what I was talking about, below is a file. Listen from 1:38 to 1:48 in the file. You’ll hear a jump cut, then some incoherent noise, followed by a jump in a sentence. It sounds like a terrible edit, but nothing was done to the file. This is the error I was talking about.


Following this discussion…

I don’t think I always used Quit.

I used to regularly get a manager out of trouble at work by actually closing all the applications he had “napping” in the dock.

Also to be clear, There’s no guarantee closing (or uninstalling) Google Chrome is going to solve the stuttering sound problem, but I’ve found if you have obvious problems with your machine, it’s good to solve them before chasing off on one specific problem. Myopically observing a warm spot and ignoring the forest fire around you. This also leads to the forum post: “Why doesn’t my Audacity work?”

Stuttering can (and is probably in this cast) caused by the machine not having resources to deal with live, real-time record or playback. Real-time is not easy. Having Chrome pounding away at your machine while it’s trying to edit your podcast is not helpful.


Does this tell you anything useful with Audacity? I can see that there isn’t that much space left but still some? Is that the problem?
Acitvity .png

You are measuring just your processes not all of them. Note in my illustration, I had it set to All Processes.

Does this tell you anything useful with Audacity?

That’s the super-duper high speed internal memory and that looks normal. If you start getting 4GB left on your system drive, that could be very serious.

Desktop > Go > Computer. Control-Click on the system drive (attached 1) > Get INFO.
You’re looking for Capacity and Available numbers (attached 2).

This is my “office machine.” I wouldn’t dream of doing heavy audio (or video) production with available numbers that low.

Now that you closed Chrome, Are your problems still there?

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 10.34.10.png
Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 10.32.41.png

Have you tried this possible solution:

It’s possible, but I thought the buffer thing was for recording where the machine had bad or ratty control over drive/memory during real time demands.

“The cello solo is continuing to pour in, but the hard drive is off polishing the silverware. We need to put the sound somewhere.”


The buffer problem is primarily but not exclusively a playback problem. That is why it is in the Playback section of the FAQ’s.