Import audio with time limit

When I create a podcast episode, I string together several audio tracks, align them end to end, and then import a “background” track with ambient sounds to play under the conversation. The ambient audio file is 2 hours long (longer than any episode would ever get to). I split this audio at the end of the conversation tracks, then select the remainder and delete it. This gives me an audio episode with talking in the foreground and ambient sounds in the background for the length of the episode.

Feature request: When importing the audio (in this case the ambient background audio), it would be nice to specify that only X:XX number of minutes and seconds of audio be imported.

I can look at the end time of the conversation tracks and use that as the import length. This would eliminate the need to import the whole 2 hours of sounds, finding the place where the conversation ends, splitting the background audio, and deleting the remainder. It would also mean that I wouldn’t have to wait for the whole 2 hours of sound to import.

This sounds like a simple request, but I’m sure it is more complicated than it sounds to accomplish, especially with so many different types of audio out there. If this can be done, I would welcome it.

You don’t have to do that now.

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You can start the process and be sitting at Starbucks when it finishes.


The 2 hours of ambient audio have already been recorded.

I would like a way to just import, say the first hour of it, into the project without having to load the whole thing and remove the end.

On my machine, importing a 2 hour WAV file takes around 26 seconds.
If, for example, you only want the first hour, then that will take about 13 seconds to load.
Assume that it takes around 5 seconds to check the required length and type the X:XX value into the import dialog, and you have saved a whole 8 seconds.

If you are waiting much longer than that, then you have a different problem.

If you are making a lot of podcasts, it may be worth making a couple of different length versions of the background audio, so that you can use the one which is closest in length to suit the podcast.

And you got those numbers from the performance show length, right? That’s to prevent the background sound or music from sticking out at the end.

We assume your shows are free-form and all different lengths, so you would have to generate the length number and post the setting after editing each show. How is that easier or faster than just jamming the background track in there and cutting off the end? No bookkeeping.

It might be possible to have the tool save the last value. I can see where no developer would touch that one. What do you mean the program is automatically cutting off the end of my music?


It takes my computer significantly more than 26 seconds to import the audio to all the rest of the project. Time enough to take my headphones off, stand up, stretch, use the restroom, fill my water glass, and sit down again.

If it only saved 8 seconds, I wouldn’t have spent time writing such a thoughtful request.

I thought that might be the case.

Do you use a SSD (solid state drive) or hdd (spinning disk drive)?
SSD’s are highly recommended for both speed and reliability.

Is your background audio file a WAV file?
WAV format is highly recommended for both speed and quality.
Compressed formats are likely to be significantly slower, and limit the sound quality.

Does your computer have a reasonable amount of RAM for your operating system (8GB + for Windows 10, preferably more for 64-bit Windows)?

Do you have plenty of free disk space?

Do you have an 8th gen i3 processor or better?

Are you running other apps at the same time?

Which version of Audacity have you tried? (There have been a couple of reports of the latest version being rather slow for some operations).

Anything else you can think of that may be slowing down the import?

Yes, but this is the first time you posted the specific reason you want that tool. Taking a million years to import a large sound file is a computer/system problem. Not software. See Steve.

I like his idea of pre-configuring several different backgrounds and then choose the best one.

My Macs have a way to watch the activity and see where all the horsepower is going. I’ve had “background tasks” trying to take 100% of the machine.

You might see if you can view that. If you can’t, then as above, clear out the machine to only the stuff you need for the show. I know this is overused, if you’re on a Windows machine, do a clean shutdown (Shift+Shutdown) to make sure everything is closed and put away.

Do you have any internet stuff running in the background? Kiss of death. Close the internet connection while you work. If you can’t do that, you may have identified your problem.


I know my computer very well, and I have done everything I can afford to do for it. Blaming the victim is unbecoming. Doubling down is not necessary.

Look: I just posted what I thought would be a useful request. If it can be done, that would be great, and Audacity would have one more nice feature.

No I’m not blaming the user. I’m enquiring whether we can improve performance for you, since you say that it is very much slower for you than it is for me.

If the slowness that you see is due to hardware, then there isn’t much we can do about that, but if it is something else, then improvements may be possible. The first step towards optimising performance is to figure out where the bottleneck is.

Rex, the best place to make Enhancement Requests is on Muse’s GitHib issues log:

It has a much better chance of getting on Muse’s radar their (Muse are the owners of Audacity).

You will need a GitHub account for that but those ar free.

BTW if you post an ENH for that I suggest that you generalise it and request that Audio from X:xx to Y:yy is imported - as this could be even mpre useful.