Interference while listening to metronome or other tracks in audacity while recording

I am using Audacity 2.3.0 on Windows 10.

When recording vocals with an online metronome playing at minimum volume through over-the-ears headphones (which I cannot hear at all when the headphones are a foot away from my face), I am getting weird interference. For the most part, it sounds like pulses of noise in time with the metronome tempo - not the sound of the metronome, however, just noisy interference that I don’t usually get with my recording setup. The problem occurs to the same degree no matter how far my headphone are from the microphone. Also, I’m just using the built-in laptop microphone, which hasn’t historically been all that sensitive.

Additionally, when trying to record harmony while listening to a melody line in the same audacity file, I can always hear the melody line in the background of the harmony recording. Again, moving the headphones away from the microphone does not make a difference.

Any advice on how to avoid this interference? My setup works just fine for simple spoken word recordings.

After a Microsoft WIndows update a few months back, on my laptop, inserting the headphones did not always fully mute the speakers. That could account for your gremlins. More recent updates took care of the problem. I may have also downloaded a different driver. So, check that your speakers are properly muted when you plug in your headphones.

I assume you have rebooted your machine. We are also assuming you are up-to-date. To be sure, do a check for updates. Be sure you are online when you do so. Sometimes an update fails and it needs to be re-run.

BTW, Audacity is now up to 2.4.2.