HELP: Sound variations between two computers

I use audacity to create stories in mp3 format which countless people have come to love over the years. I’ve had magnificent success for years doing this with my older laptop. Recently I bought a new laptop. I’m running the same Audacity, using the same microphone, but the sound of my recordings on the new computer are like I’m in a huge hollow room. They are very “airy” in sound and not qualified for use…WHY am I getting two different sounds, using the same software and the same microphone ? Is this a difference in sound cards on the two separate computers??? What can I do? I’m a Grandma, so explain anything complicated in kindergarten language. I’m scared to death my older laptop is going to die one day and I won’t be able to produce the same quality recordings. Thank you for any help!

Do you wear headphones while you’re recording your stories?

How is your microphone connected to your computer and who made the microphone? You don’t have to get crazy, you can describe the connection. Is it a flat metal thing about a half-inch wide (USB), or does it look like one of these…

If you got the microphone on-line, can you forward the internet address?

You pretty much can’t give us too much information. Is there a sample of your work posted on-line somewhere?


The microphone I use is a standard USB microphone I bought through a computer store. I haven’t had any issues with it using the older laptop. I will be glad to submit a couple of files showing the difference in the quality if you’d like me to email it. I have had one computer IT for a corporation tell me that my issues is likely the difference in sound card and he suggested that I tweek it. I don’t know how to do that, but I’m willing to try. Also, you asked about headphones…I have used headphones to tape and listen and I’ve NOT used headphones to tape and listen. Whether listening with or without doesn’t make a difference, I get the same hollow, airy sound when taping using the new laptop…My older laptop, with XP on it, is still up and running and doing just fine but if it ever goes my stories are going to go down hill fast, which was why I bought the new laptop and loaded audacity to use with recordings. These are sent to radio stations which play them and I’ve even got school bus drivers who are using radios now because they know the kids all get quiet when they hear me on the radio…so you see I need to figure out why I’m getting this hollow, almost echo effect, in the new recordings.

One possibility is that there are “Surround Sound” or other effects on the sound card in the new machine, and that what is happening is that the effects are being added to the recording you make, and again to the playback.

The tweaks, if there are any, will be in Windows Control Panel > Sounds and Audio Devices. Go through every option in the menus there, and turn off any sound effect options you find.


The sound card may make a difference to playback, but it will make no difference at all to the recording. USB microphones bypass the sound card completely.
To find out if it a playback issue, take a recording that you’ve made on the new laptop and play it on your old computer. Does it still sound bad?

Which version of Audacity are you using? (see “Help menu > About Audacity”)

Do you know what your MP3 settings are?
Try exporting a test recording as a WAV file and see if that sounds better - this test could tell us a lot.

I sent you a private forum message.
User Control Panel (New Messages) – up left on this message page.


Where are you?
We may need to start the “which time zone are you in?” thing. I’m in Los Angeles. Many posters are in Great Britain. I think Bill is in the US.

We do get occasional complaints of time gaps. Over and above the forum has the one of the fastest responses of any forum I know of, sometimes the question has to go around the earth once.


My money is on a computer setup, not an MP3 export problem. I think you’re recording more than one pathway and the delay between them is causing the “Big Room” echo effect.

I don’t think this is your problem, but we had one poster that complained bitterly about the wrong thing. We fixed the wrong thing for pages before we uncovered the real problem.

You’ve given us lots of high quality information and it’s only a matter of time before we figure out what’s happening.


I was going to say surround sound too, but if the echo is on the recording it can’t be that.

What if the new computer has a in-built mic and old one didn’t, and there is say 10ms latency between the USB mic and the built-in mic.

If the signals from the in-built mic and the USB mic were being inadvertently mixed that could give an echo effect.

You could try gently tapping close to the computer’s built-in mic, whilst keeping the USB mic far away as possible, to see, (or rather hear), if the built-in mic is ‘live’.

If the in-built microphone is ‘live’ it can be reversibly disabled in “audio devices”.

Here is what I have discovered:

The sound card in the new computer cannot be set to studio quality. The sound card in the old laptop IS set to studio quality. I am next going to try making an mp3 in or WAV file on the new laptop and play it in the old laptop to see if this shows any difference. I believe the issue is discoverable and I’m going to work on it.

I am in Central Time zone. Working today but will be off the next few days and trying to fix this.

Thanks guys!

Check back in. You are about to experience the up side of help coming from all 'round the earth.

<<<I believe the issue is discoverable and I’m going to work on it.>>>

We think so, too.

“Studio Quality” is a fuzzy phrase like Broadcast Quality. If you have the only pictures of the Hindenburg burning, then whatever you have, however ratty, suddenly becomes Broadcast Quality.


If playing old recordings, (made on old computer), on the new computer sounds echoey, but they sound normal when played on the old computer then it could be surround sound effect is switched on on the new computer. The surround effect only effects playback it is not on the recording: e,g, the surround sound echo effect would not be heard if the file was played via a portable MP3 player (e.g. ipod).
select 'stereo' not 'surround' sound.png
If the echo is on the recording no matter what device you play the file on then I’d look to see if the inbuilt mic on the new computer is live (see my previous post).

You can attach a few seconds of your recording to a post here (up to 1mb) and we can tell you if the recording has echo on it.