I need help merging recorded electronic drum tracks

Hello everybody, I’m using windows 8.1 and audacity version 2.0.5. I have an Alesis DM6 Electronic Drum Set, 1/8" audio cables connected to my computer for recording. I’ve been recording multiple drum tracks and merging them together, then I import the song MP3 and synchronize the song with the merged drum track recording. The problem is sometimes when it’s done, I listen to it and notice where I merged the recordings because it’s bad quality or an echo. Can anyone tell me how to merge perfectly, without a decrease in quality?

1/8" audio cables connected to my computer for recording.

Desktop computer blue Stereo Line-In, or laptop pink Mic-In?

That’s the first place people run into sound problems.

I merged the recordings because it’s bad quality or an echo.

There’s a number of places to get that. Does the show sound OK in Audacity? We warn people not to do production or editing in MP3 because of problems like this. If you import an MP3, edit and then make a new MP3, the new show is going to sound worse than the original. You can’t stack MP3s like that, or at least not in Audacity. One way around that is export super high quality MP3 (256 or 320 quality) when you’re done or use WAV export. Both of those are going to produce very large sound files, but that’s the way it works.

You can get a serious quality problem by overloading (although that doesn’t produce an echo). When you play the edited show in Audacity, do the green sound meters ever go all the way up? That’s pure overload damage and you can fix that before you export.

See if those help. There’s other places to get this problem.


It’s a toshiba laptop Mic-In and I think the echo was my fault for not time shifting perfectly. I usually import the mp3 file first so that would make sense with the bad quality problem. So if I export as WAV it will be better quality? Yes the green bars are going all the way, I think I’m having the overloading issue, how can I fix that? I’ve always adjusted the gain to -20 on the song and +20 on the drum track, is that a bad idea? I just want the drums to be louder of the mp3.

Merged duplicate topic

I’m recording alesis DM6 electronic drums with a Toshiba laptop, 1/8 audio cables into mic in, windows 8.1 and audacity 2.0.5, My question is if I want to create a WAV file with both my recorded drums track and the song mp3 track, what should I do if I want the drums louder than the song? I adjusted the gain in all my covers so far to -20 +20, but I’ve been told that causes overloading damage. Please help! Here’s an example of one of my covers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td-fNMDwPYE

WAV will preserve the distortion in lossless quality, MP3 will make it worse.

Don’t record the drum set connected to the mic input unless you know it can be switched to line level input. The mic input will be adding unwanted low quality amplification, even if you can stop it actually going over 0 dB on the meters.

Get a USB sound card or interface with a line-in. Behringer and Trust can be recommended amongst others.

Different gain on the different tracks is just a question of adjusting the -…+ gain sliders on the Track Control Panel. + 20 dB is likely to give you distortion on that track unless you recorded it too quiet in the first place.

Multiple tracks add their volume together. You want to be thinking more like -12 dB on the track you want stronger and -18 dB on the track you want to hear weaker. Get the mix balanced correctly even if a bit too quiet. Then select all the tracks and Tracks > Mix and Render to one track. Then you can think about Effect > Normalize to make the mixed down track a bit louder if necessary.

Export as WAV.

If you think you may want to come back to the work later, Edit > Undo the Mix and Render and save the project with all the tracks open.


You can’t split apart a mixed musical performance into individual instruments and voices. Once you smash everything together onto one track, that’s the end of the story. If you recorded your performance as an overdubbing separate track, you can mix in any way you want, but if you did it as a live mix, you’re dead.


Since the question is about sound quality, I probably would not record your drums with the Mic-In of your laptop. That was designed for a microphone and is not a general sound connection.


Some computers can switch one connection between Stereo Line-In and Mono Microphone-In, but if you didn’t root around in the Windows Control Panels before you started, then you probably don’t have one of them.

I use a Behringer UCA202 to plug a stereo musical performance into my Windows laptop.


There’s other ways to do this, but I can’t find the list immediately.

Drums are a pain in the neck to record. They produce very sharp, thin blue waves that are difficult to see and many sound meters will not follow them. Probably the best you can do is watch for a red overload bar on the right in the bouncing sound meters and watch for red overload stripes in the blue waves. View > [X] Show Clipping.

All this is assuming you’re putting your drum performance on its own track. If you’re not doing that, then you’ll probably never get the mix right.


One of the things that happens when you use Mic-In on your laptop wrong is the computer overloads and distorts the sound. The blue waves will never go all the way up and down, no matter how loud you play. Your drums may sound crisper and tighter than you think they should. That’s all from the distortion.

When you’re playing guitar or recording voices from a mixer or other instruments, this distortion shows almost immediately, but again, drums are rough. It’s very difficult for even the big kids to do a good job.

As above. Never do production in MP3. MP3 builds in compression distortion as it goes and you can’t ever clean it up. WAV is good until you get to the final show. Make a WAV and then if you need to, the MP3 for posting or your personal music player.


Thanks guys, I think I’ll be a lot better off now!

Ok it’s been a while and now I have a Griffin iMic external sound card but I’m still getting the problem. I recorded 4 different tracks and merged them together perfectly synced up in this cover and after 30 seconds you can hear the first merge. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8DdhT2mdJk&feature=youtu.be
I adjusted the gain -18 on the MP3 track and -12 on the drum track, mixed and rendered and exported as WAV. what am I doing wrong??? this is so annoying, it sounds like an airplane or going through tunnel or something at 30 seconds >=(

I import the song mp3, synchronize it with a drum track, merge the other drum tracks together as one (I keep the gain on 0 while doing this) mix and render, and export as WAV. I even have a Griffin iMic now which is an external USB sound card. Windows 8 Toshiba Laptop Audacity V 2.0.5

It’s not my type of music but it certainly sounds fuzzy to me and not loud enough for the density of sound.

Look in Analyze > Plot Spectrum. Why is there nothing above 15000 Hz? If you are using MP3 sources for the songs you shouldn’t. The issue at 30 seconds sounds like what you get from using low quality MP3’s or duplicating MP3 sources. What is the source of that drum/guitar entry at 30 seconds - an MP3 or a drum machine recording or both?

Do you have iMic set to Line level?

If you are especially concerned about the bit at 30 seconds drag select from just before there to 45 seconds and Export Selection WAV files for each track, so we can hear each track for that selection. Zip the WAV’s up and post them somewhere.


@Gale the source of the guitar part is the original MP3 song AND the recording of my electronic drums, because when I record the drums it also records the mp3 from my ipod. My ipod is connected to “MIX IN” on my drum set and the “PHONES” are connected to a splitter, one end my headphones, the other end going into the iMic which is set on MIC because the manual told me to if recording a musical instrument. then the iMic connected to the USB. The iMic is selected as default and listen to this device. Also, when I recorded, the drums were clipping the edges so any pointers on monitoring the meter levels?

I’ve only been doing this since October 2013, I really appreciate all the help gale.

You’ll have to wait for a pop/rock engineer to answer, but I would not degrade the MP3’s even further by re-recording them. Import the MP3’s into Audacity, save as a project then record your drum machine only, while playing the tracks in Audacity. Can you set the iMic as playback device in Audacity and listen to the Audacity tracks in the output of the iMic?

It looks like the drum kit USB output is USB-MIDI only so you can’t record it that way into Audacity. So connect from the master or headphones outputs of the drum kit to the iMic. Those outputs must be line level, and the headphones output of the iPod should be line level as far as I know. So I would say the iMic must be set to line.

Try to keep the levels on the meter down to the recommended -6 dB when monitoring.


And please stop posting duplicate topics without even referencing your original topic. This here is your topic. Don’t confuse everyone by starting new topics about the same thing. I merged your duplicate post back here and edited it down. Thanks for considering this.


@ Gale: Ok so what you’re saying is import the song mp3 first, then play it and record along with it right? I don’t even need the ipod that way, I never thought about that. Yes you can playback the Griffin iMic in audacity and it has an output. So I could connect my connect the Drum set’s PHONES to the iMic’s IN, then connect my headphones to the iMic’s OUT. That way I can hear the drums, play the song in audacity and record all at the same time.

I know how to use Clip Fix now which helps with the clipping and I know how to monitor levels correctly before recording now. my question now is, if I record the way mentioned above, stop and record another drum track and I want to merge the 2 drum tracks, can I do that without messing up the quality? There’s nothing wrong with importing the song MP3 first right? I mean what other way could I do it? There’s guys on youtube with perfect audio covers and I know I can do it too. Thanks again gale

As with anything, getting good at editing and mixing takes practice.
Yes it is possible to add, mix, merge, mutate or otherwise combine multiple tracks and multiple takes, but doing so skilfully takes a bit of practice. The top studio engineers have spent years, or decades honing their skills, so you can’t realistically expect to be a master in just a few weeks. Having said that, it should only take a little bit of practice to achieve enjoyable results.

Have a look at the tutorials (http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/tutorials.html), but most importantly, have a go, experiment, gain experience and have fun with it. :wink:

Yes. Then the MP3 is stored in lossless quality in Audacity. That does not make the MP3 any better - but it does not get any worse.

Go to Edit > Preferences then Quality, and make sure that Default Sample Format is 32-bit float and that under “High-quality Conversion”, the dither is set to “Shaped”. They should be set that way by default, but it is worth checking. Then however much adjusting volume up and down you do, you won’t be adding noise to the mix.

I don’t know for sure if iMic will give you a mix of playback from Audacity and playback from the drum set in the headphones. It may only give you playback from Audacity. Griffin don’t mention monitoring anywhere I’ve seen, so let us know what happens. There are other USB devices that do let you hear a mix of the input and Audacity.

Of course you can hear the drum kit acoustically with one earphone slightly off your ear.

Also don’t forget to set iMic to Line. Some of your quality problems may come from setting it to Mic.

Make sure Transport > Overdub is on (checked) in Audacity, so that it plays the song while you record.


You’re the man Gale! I got perfect quality in this cover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqwbvKMz4z4&feature=youtu.be
This is how I did it. 1. Alesis Drum set’s MIX IN to iMic’s OUT, Alesis Drum set’s OUTPUT to (SPLIT WITH HEADPHONES) iMic’s IN
2. Open audacity, import the mp3 of the song and clip fix it if it’s clipping. Go to prefrences - devices - make sure playback is speakers iMic and recording I microphone iMic. On the iMic itself, it should be set to MIC, NOT LINE. IT WILL NOT RECORD IF SET TO LINE.
3. Make sure audacity’s input volume and output volume is set to .10
4. Record drum track(s). If multiple, use the select tool to start 2nd recording where 1st recording ends.
5. Use clip fix to get rid of the clipping in the drum tracks
6. Merge drum tracks
7. Adjust gain to -8 on the mp3 and keep the drum track at 0
8. Select both tracks and mix and render
9. Adjust gain of mix to +10
10. Export as WAV
The difference of this video and my previous ones is incredible. You can’t tell at all if I merged any tracks. I don’t need the ipod this way either.
Thank you so much for your help. I’m going to upload as many covers as possible with this quality. BTW I know you don’t like thrash metal, so do you like punk? or anything besides country, pop or rap? I’ll be happy to cover a song for you if you request it. :mrgreen:

You’re pretty good. :slight_smile: I can appreciate that track a bit more than the last one.

Thanks for saying how you did it.

Did you hear the Audacity playback on time in the headphones that way and did you then still rerecord the song? Or can you configure these choices in Alesis?

I’m still puzzled by that. I can understand plugging an electric guitar into iMic would need iMic to be set to “Mic”. Are you sure you could not record with iMic set to Line if you turned the Audacity input slider up?

You can also press K (on the computer keyboard) to move to the end of the track. Or you can SHIFT-click on Record or hold SHIFT and press R to record at the end of the same track.

If the two takes abut or overlap you are better to record on two tracks and crossfade one into the other.

Clip Fix will only fix mild clipping though it can add a bit of “air” into tracks that are not clipped - it’s not reverb, but it can make things sound a bit less “close”.

I am not a lawyer but I should point you to:

http://suebasko.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/cover-songs-on-youtube.html .

I am OK with pop or soft rock, but classical is my main musical enjoyment. The more “classical” the pop (I don’t mean only the way it sounds) then the more I like it.