Issue with MP3 Export in Audacity 2.4.2

Hi there,

I am currently using Audacity 2.4.2 on MacOS Big Sur. As I understand it, the LAME MP3 Export now comes with the Audacity download, so I did not download anything additional save FFMPEG.

I’ve been experiencing a problem at least since LAME came packaged with Audacity. When exporting to MP3 I often get the track preceded by a long period of silence. In some cases I’m not sure there was any sound in the file at all. However, it’s very clear a file was created and that it has an audio duration listed. I principally use this to edit nature recordings to upload to a website that accepts only MP3 files. The original audio is usually in .wav (from my recorder) or .m4a (from my iPhone), but even if I save it as an Audacity project, the problem persists. I haven’t found an answer in the MP3 FAQs and was wondering if anyone could help.

FYI, I’m blind and can’t yet figure out how to check the project rate on export, if that’s the issue.

Interestingly, when I check the ‘build information’ tab in Apple Menu > Audacity > About Audacity, I see that it lists MP3 import as enabled but says nothing about export, even though for other libraries it says ‘import and export enabled’. Might this have something to do with it?


That is not related to LAME. If you export as WAV or any other format, the same thing will happen.

Some old versions of Audacity ignored empty space before the start of the track. That caused problems for people working with multi-track projects, and was inconsistent with how Audacity handles empty track space in all other cases.

The default behaviour now is that empty track space at the start is exported as silence. You can change that back to the old behaviour in Preferences:
“Preferences > Import / Export > Ignore blank space at the beginning: → YES”
(see: Import / Export Preferences - Audacity Manual)

If you are not already aware, there is a mailing list specifically for blind Audacity users. Some of the people there have been using Audacity for years and are happy to advise on accessibility issues. Information about how to sign up to that mailing list is here: Missing features - Audacity Support

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your help with this. Sounds like an easy problem to solve and I’ll be sure to investigate that.

I’m already on the Audacity4Blind mailing list, but I appreciate the mention. But as regards blind Mac users, I think Audacity’s device to use 2.1.1 as an accessible version is now misleading and should be discarded. I had major problems with that version which prevented me from using Audacity from the time I got my Mac to the time I decided to download the latest version on a whim. The newer versions seem much more accessible to me, besides which the old one no longer works with newer OSs because it’s 32-bit.


Good point.
I can remove that paragraph, or if you could provide more up to date recommendations regarding screen reader I can update it.

I’d be happy too, but I use Audacity for very limited purposes compared to others. If you’d like, I can start up a thread on Audacity4Blind and see what others think, if you think that would be helpful. People who use it in more advanced ways than I do would have a better take on things.

I’ve removed the part about Audacity 2.1.1 from the Audacity wiki.
There is still a comment about Audacity 2.1.1 in the Audacity manual - David Bailes on the Audacity4Blind list (and our VI consultant) has been contacted to ask for his recommendations.

There is still a comment on the download page (Audacity ® | Download for Mac OS), which is what I was refering to. Perhaps this can be removed as well once David puts in his two cents? And in fact, the reason I downloaded the latest version at all wasn’t on a whim, but rather because the 32-bit 2.1.1 screen reader version no longer worked after an OS update. I discovered after the fact that the latest versions seemed to be more suitable for my purposes than your recommended one. In retrospect, I think this may have caused me unnecessary hassles that I hope others can avoid, assuming accessibility is reasonably good for other functions in the latest version. I’m interested to know what comes out of all this.

How are you getting on with Audacity 2.4.2? We know there are some accessibility issues in 2.4.2 on macOS, but overall how accessible are you finding it?
What screen reader do you use?