Getting distortion on audio recording - guitar and vocal

Hi there,

I’ve just started using Audacity and I’m getting a consistent distortion on audio recordings, whether guitar or vocals. I’m using Audacity 2.0.5, my OS is Windows 7 64-bit, and my audio interface is the E-MU 1616m microdock. I can see the audio on the interface meter, it’s not clipping, and I can hear it fine - i.e. no distortion - when I turn the speakers up. It’s only in Audacity that I’m getting the distortion.

Please help! I thought I had finally found a user-friendly, idiot-proof way of recording my songs (primarily guitar and vocals) but it’s obviously not going to come easy =(((. If anyone can help I will be eternally grateful! Apologies if I have replicated another question elsewhere but I couldn’t see anything similar.


How are you doing that? Where are your speakers connected?
Do you mean that you’re listening through speakers while recording with a microphone? That can cause problems because the mic will pick up the sound from the speakers (assuming that the speakers and mic are in the same room).

You mean on playback? How are you listening to the playback? Where are your headphones / speakers connected?

How high is the level of the signal in the Audacity track? The waveform must always be well away from the top / bottom of the track. About half the track height for the loudest peaks is a a good level for recording.

This is a perfect recording.

If you start going up higher than that on either the red sound meters or the blue waves, you run the risk of distortion and sound damage.

People who use microphones also use headphones, not speakers.

That’s not by accident. You can get very unstable sound with speakers and microphone both running.


Sorry if I wasn’t clear - I’m hearing severe distortion when I play back the track I’ve just recorded (guitar), and I am using headphones while I record (to hear the click track). And the levels are nowhere near peaking while I’m recording, somewhere in the middle. The headphones are plugged into the E-MU 1616m interface micro dock.

Any other ideas?! =/

Yes, perhaps it isn’t “distortion”. Perhaps it “bits missing” due to data not getting from sound card to hard disk fast enough. That can cause a kind of “crackling” effect to the sound.

If you post a short sample in WAV format, we can check if that’s the case. See here for how to post an audio sample:

Hi Steve,

Been away for a few weeks hence only getting round to replying now. Your suggestion sounds very plausible, I will try and attach a small segment and maybe you can take a listen for me. Incidentally when I had just opened Audacity I managed to make a quick audio recording (guitar) that sounded fine, but as soon as I tried to use the onboard click track the next attempt to record came out “distorted” again; then when I switched the clicktrack off again it was still distorting…

I really hope this can be resolved as all I want is to be able to record my songs simply, and Audacity looks like it should be able to do that for me.



Steve’s on holiday now, but there are numerous dropouts in the track which is why it sounds incorrect.

See and follow all of the links on that page that could be relevant. Visit to see what drivers you are using. There is a more recent Beta driver which might help if you are not already using it.

Turn off all other applications and services that you can before recording.

Try increasing Audio to buffer in Audacity’s Recording Preferences.

Match sample rates so they are the same everywhere. See the link above.


Hi Gale,

Thanks for getting back to me. I’ve tried:

  1. downloading the most recent drivers
  2. increasing audio to buffer
  3. making sure all other applications and services are switched off
  4. matching sample rates so they are the same in Patchmix and Audacity

The odd thing is that sometimes the first take after I open Audacity is fine, but as soon as I try to add a click track it “distorts/crackles” again, and then when I take the clicktrack out it is still “distorting/crackling”. Is there anything I’m missing?


It’s not distortion - it’s severe dropouts.

Do I take it this isn’t a USB device but the dock is installed to a PCI Express card on the computer?

Exactly what inputs of the device are you connecting to? Describe where all the cables connect to.

What audio host and recording input are you choosing in Device Toolbar ? Can you post the content of Help > Audio Device Info… top right of the Audacity menus?

I would suggest choosing Windows DirectSound host. If the 1616-M appears in Windows Sound, enable the “Exclusive Mode” boxes for it in both the Playback and Recording sections of Windows Sound. See .

What sample rate are you using? If you are using 192000 Hz, try a lower rate that the device supports.

Are there any buffer settings in the device that you can make less ambitious?