Live listen is fine but recorded playback is not

I am using windows 8 with audacity 2.1.0. I an very new to this. I have a microphone with a XLR lead which I have connected to a Focusrite Scarlett solo usb device. I go to new track, new stereo track and then hit record. The sound only comes out of one headphone but I get around this my spilting the track to mono once I have recorded it.
I have done this fine for 3 live recordings. Brilliant.

Noe comes the problems, I am recording live lectures so I cannot do anything while recording. The last to recording have come out all wrong. I have done nothing different, only what I have done as listed above. But the playback is all distorted and crackly. While listen through the headphones live there is a slight cracking noise but the playback file is unusable.

Please help.

details. the file is mono, 16 bit 44100hz. thanks in advance

While listen through the headphones live

Where did you plug the headphones in? Remember, we have to follow you and we can’t see what you’re doing.


Can you drag-select about ten seconds of the crackling sound, export it as WAV (Microsoft) and post it here?
Scroll down from your forum message window > Upload Attachment > Choose File:


Do you get the red lights on the Focusrite while you’re recording? Or did you during the problem recordings? The Focusrite doesn’t have sound meters, but they do have lights behind their knobs that tell you when you’re making a damaged recording.

Unique gain halos stay green when your level is right and turn red if you’re too loud


Thanks for the replies. I am plugging my headphones into the Focusrite box. I have the level of the XLR mic at a level where when the speaker talks it lights up green. If it lights up red I lower the level. The live listen is of good quality ( there is a slight crack in the background), however the playback is very bad, chimpmonk style. I have a section of the faulty file.

I have reinstalled Audacity, I did the live recording, placed it back ( poor quality ) then waited for the hall and audience to clear and did a couple of test recordings again. The test recording came out fine. Really unsure of what would have caused this. This has occured on my last 2 recordings.

Speed problems are always sample rate mismatches somewhere. See especially the section “If you are on Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8”.

Your Solo supports 44100, 48000, 88200 and 96000 Hz. It may well default to 96000 Hz.

As described in the link (assuming you are choosing MME host in Audacity Device Toolbar), you need to check in Windows Sound that the “Default Format” sample rate for Scarlett and the Audacity Project Rate (bottom left) are the same.

Set Recording channels in Device Toolbar to mono. Then you won’t need to split the stereo track to mono, and you won’t be stressing the machine recording a channel of un-necessary silence, which doubles the data the computer is being asked to handle.


Thanks, I will try is in 1 hour when I’m back home. Wouldn’t I hear this through the headphones? I though whatever I hear Live is what is getting recorded, so this isn’t the case, no?
Also as soon as I play my recording back and noticed the problem I carry out another test recording, same setup nothing had moved or was unplugged and the new the 3 test recordings were absolutely fine. Very strange but until I have a root cause makes me lose at of confidence and faith. Also pressure mounts to make sure I can get a good recording done. I try your suggestion and see if I get better results. Thanks again

The Focusrite always knows exactly what it’s doing. The problem comes when the sound goes into computer sound management. I have been known to set Audacity to Playthrough and listen to the computer headphone connection. That show has been through the whole pathway and come back out again.

It’s also late (echo), so you can’t listen there for a whole show. It will drive you nuts.

Audacity > Edit > Preferences > Recording: [X] Playthrough (select).

Then make sure your headphones or soundcard is selected in the Audacity Device Toolbar (sorry, I’m not a Windows elf).

By the way, you know you’re in trouble if more than one voice comes out the headphone connection. If your voice comes out multiple times (not just late), then you may have a serious sound routing problem somewhere.


Thanks, I did what you said and get a very clear and brilliant recording, the next day I did the exact same thing and got the same error.
What I didn’t mention (sorry) was there are two mics in this scenario. One which I have connected to the Focusrite and the is used by the pa system on site which a wireless mic. During my basic sound test I setup my devices and but the wireless mic next to my wired one and there wasn’t any issues. Would the wireless cause a problem?

Please say what you did exactly. If you made sample rate or host changes, please state your exact choices.

Please say what error you received. Did you see an error message or do you mean too fast recording? We cannot see your computer so please be as precise as possible.

Is the wireless mic an audio device on the computer?

A wireless mic won’t create speed problems.


No its completely independent. Very confused about my problem. Had another failed recording. Please can someone help me please. I can give you more information about my setup but please help I am completely stuck and need to get this sorted.

The desperation Method is change the computer. You have what the programmers call “Moon Phase” problems. Sometimes, during a full moon when the temperature is above 72F…

Change the computer. Rent another one, get one from a friend. Most people don’t have problems like this and I expect you won’t have this problem on a different computer.

We can chase intermittent problems for weeks. How long do you have?


As I said, we cannot see your computer or what you are doing with it.

We can’t help you unless you are prepared to co-operate with us by describing problems and answering our questions fully and precisely.

Exactly what changes have you made? Have you eradicated the speed problem? What is the independent problem exactly? Post a sample of it. See How to post an audio sample.

Or use another machine as Koz said.


I did not make any changes.
My settings are as follows

32 bit float

I have used both a Shure 1/4" mic and also a XLR mic into my Focusrite solo box which is connected to my laptop (SSD drive with Windows 8) into other the usb 3 and usb 2/0 ports. I have used had my laptop with power connected and power unplugged.

The only thing I notice is that when I have had a failed recording, when I listen live to the recording through my headphone there is very slight crackling noise for the first 10 seconds of the recordings which then disappears. There is nothing wrong with the speed when listening live. When I stop recording and play the recording back then I notice the problem.

I am never sure if I will get a good recording or not.


I don’t receive any error message. I did another live recording today and got the same problem. The only constant is the laptop and the Focusrite box.

Then I suggest you do make the exact changes I mentioned in Windows Sound if you are saying that over-fast recording is still the problem. Here is the link again: As I explained before, assuming you are choosing MME host in Audacity Device Toolbar, then you need to check in Windows Sound that the “Default Format” sample rate for Scarlett and the Audacity Project Rate (bottom left) are the same. So make Default Format 44100 Hz.

There is nothing unusual in this. If you use external recording devices, sample rates must be the same in Audacity and the system settings (and on the device, but your device does not seem to have its own control for sample rate, so the changes to be made are in Windows Sound).

Also have you visited and made sure you have installed the Scarlett Solo USB 2.0 Driver? If you do not have the correct drivers for the device you would expect to receive erratic behaviour.

If the recordings are too short as well as too fast, then you may be able to fix an existing recording by opening Effect > Change Speed… and applying (for example) a -50% speed change. You may need a greater reduction if for example you have Windows Default Format set to 96000 Hz.