Is there a better way to correct recorded timing?

I firstly write a music composition in conventional notation, using the Finale software, after which I save the piece as a wav file. Then I open it in Audacity and use an acoustic guitar to record the music live, playing along with the imported Finale file through headphones.

Next I use the “Sliding Time Scale” tool in Audacity to correct any timing errors in the live recording, using the waveform of the Finale file as a guide (like a metronome). Now I don’t want to sound mechanical with perfect timing; but I often need to make some correction in numerous places, which can take up to two hours with the “Sliding Time Scale” tool.

Does Audacity have a quantizer, or is there a plugin that lets you correct timing more efficiently?

that lets you correct timing more efficiently?

Certainly. Effect > Change Pitch/Speed/Tempo. But they don’t sound as good as Sliding Time Scale. That’s the development conundrum. Sliding is unquestionably the superior of the tools, but it’s deadly slow. If it wasn’t, we would probably have replaced the other tools long ago.


“Change Speed” has excellent sound quality (better than “Sliding Time Scale”) but it changes both tempo and pitch, which may not be suitable for the job in hand.

In the next version of Audacity “Change Pitch” and “Change Tempo” will have a checkbox for “high quality” mode. This option uses the same algorithm as the “Sliding Time Scale” effect, but is a bit simpler to use because it is only changing pitch or tempo by a set (not “sliding”) amount. The “high quality” option is just as slow as the “Sliding Time Scale” effect, and it is only really “high quality” for relatively small pitch / tempo changes (for extreme changes, this mode produces some bizarre noises).

Sometimes it can work better to delete small bits of silence (to speed up), or “split” the track and drag the pieces apart (see: Edit Menu: Audio Clips - Audacity Manual and Tools Toolbar - Audacity Manual)

The “best” approach depends on the job in hand, so it’s useful to be familiar with different methods.

Thanks for the response.

I found the Split feature adding more labor to the job, already a laborious task. I’m dreaming of a plugin that would show the timing as a straight line that could be dragged up at points (like in the Envelope tool or an equalizer) to increase speed, and dragged down to lower tempo, all without affecting pitch. Finished editing would make the line look like a sinoid pattern. Such a feature would make timing correction in a recording absolutely awesome! A quantizer would also add prestige to Audacity. Until then, I’ll have to put my nose to the grindstone as the saying goes.

I sounds as if you would like a Time Track that does not change pitch. Do you want to “vote” for that?

You could vote for that too, but we don’t show bars and beats yet.


I’ve read this thread and I think the answer is ‘no’, but in case I’m misunderstanding … is there a way please to select a note, phrase or chord in the Audacity waveform and slide it to a new position, independently of the rest of the waveform, to correct a timing error?

That’s “possible”, but it involves fairly advanced editing unless the notes have space between them.
If there is space between the notes, then it is fairly simple. You just select the note and “Split to New” (see: Edit Menu: Audio Clips - Audacity Manual). Then use the “Time Shift Tool” to adjust the position. (see: Time Shift Tool - Audacity Manual)

For future reference, it’s best to start a new topic for a new question, rather than tagging onto the end of someone else’ topic (especially an ancient topic like this one).

Splitting as “New” and aligning sections with the Time Shift tool works nicely but is not nearly expedient as quantization. Dragging sections works best for imported parts of audio, life a collection of riffs to synchronize with, say, a drum track as the reference; for if you drag a split section, it will overlap the source track and cause unwanted dissonance in the mix. The Sliding Stretch tool offers the most precise synchronization but is painfully slow and laborious. I will keep looking for a quantization plug-in.