Installed Audacity, microphone settings broken?

Hi, I’m not sure if this is the right place but it’s the closest one I can think of.

Audacity Version 2.4.2
Windows 7 SP3 (a work computer)

I’ve been using OBS to record classes for my workplace - nothing fancy, just me talking over a PowerPoint. My setup wasn’t fancy, either, just Beats headphones (not sure of the model - they were just on hand) connected via a 3.5mm jack. I needed to record a simple audio track for one class, but OBS was overkill for that (I didn’t want to record a video file, then convert it to a wav, etc.) so I got Audacity. For the record, I’m reasonably tech-savvy but these classes have been my first foray into any kind of recording stuff.

When I tried to record the track with Audacity, I quickly realized that the files that I recorded were only playing from the right speaker. Not having any experience, I didn’t try to fix it, but instead resolved to just use OBS and left for the day. Unfortunately, now this seems to be happening with ANY recording that I try, whether with Audacity or OBS. Here is what I found after some experimenting:

  1. The speakers themselves are fine - YT and other video files play through both and sound okay. All headphones that we tried work as well.
  2. The microphones are also fine. Any microphones (mostly attached to earbuds around the office) lead to the same results, but they work fine with other devices; I can record on my phone using the same Beats headphones I mentioned and the file plays on both channels.
  3. The sound displays indicate that the left side is still picking up sound, but none of it makes it to the actual recording that I can tell. The left side is definitely less than the right side, though.
  4. Forcing it to use mono (downmix to mono, etc.) makes it sound weirdly hollow and tinny. I’m not sure what that means, given it sounded fine before, but even though it comes out of both channels equally when I do it, it sound awful.

So, whatever is happening seems to be related to Windows or… something else, I’m not sure what. I’ve gone over I don’t know how many Everything was working fine until I installed Audacity and I didn’t change anything else, so I think it might have something to do with it. Does Audacity change any Windows settings or options?

What can I do to fix this? I can’t record anything like this. :frowning:

Forcing it to use mono (downmix to mono, etc.) makes it sound weirdly hollow and tinny.

That’s the phrase that pays. Your microphone or microphone connection is damaged. As a temporary move, you can Split Stereo To Mono (don’t mix down) and delete the low volume track. The remaining single track should sound OK (check this carefully), will be tagged MONO and thus will play perfectly to both left and right speakers and headphones. Check that, too.

I’ll put money that the low track is not only at the wrong volume, but is also out of phase. Normally when you add left and right sound, the two tracks add and the volume goes up. Your tracks are in opposition and musical tones subtract or are otherwise damaged. You should know that any time your stereo show gets mixed to mono in a player or some cellphones, the same thing is going to happen. Odd talking into a milk jug sounds. So you should stop presenting unmodified files for use right away.

The Beats is really a headset, right? Combination of headphones and microphone?

Model number?

There is a pretty common adapter cable that claims to adapt a rock band microphone…

Screen Shot 2020-09-01 at 9.04.09 AM.png
…to a computer soundcard. It has a problem similar to yours. It’s wired “wrong” and it produces a stereo show that under certain conditions vanishes. You send work to five clients and two of them hear nothing. Those two are listening in mono. I call it the Devil’s Adapter for obvious reasons.


Thank you so much!

Following the directions you gave was a good fix - at least, good enough for what we’re doing, though obviously we’re a little concerned about it. I took the Beats (a headset, yes, model Beats EP as far as I can tell) home and they recorded just fine into my home PC, so as nearly as we can tell, something has happened to the 3.5mm jack - probably from frequent insertion/removal of the headset on an ancient machine. It just happened to break immediately after installing Audacity. So we’ll probably just get a USB microphone and call it there.

I appreciate the help!