making the perfect loop

Using Windows 7 and Audacity 2.1.0

I am working on some ringtones, so they have to loop well.

I’d like to be able to hear the splice between the start and the finish without having to listen to the whole thing each time.

For instance, lets say I have selected a 20 second piece from a song I want to use. I have the 20 seconds of sound set up as a new file.

The piece will splice and loop from somewhere within the last two seconds, but I am still narrowing down the precise spot to end and loop back. Instead of listening to the whole 20 seconds each time I have to listen to it, I’d like to be able to start at say, the 15 second mark, and hear the splice as it loops, to see if it sounds good matched up with the beginning of the loop.

How do I do that?


What I would do is duplicate the track (Control-D) and slide the duplication later in time with the Time Shift Tool (two sideways black arrows). Audacity will play both tracks unless you stop it, so you can drag-select the junction between them, Zoom into it (Control-E) and spacebar play that until your fingers bleed (attached). Attached 2 is the junction point magnified still further. You can only change the top (original) end point. If you feel an urge to change the bottom track, you have to start everything over. When you get done, the two tracks run smoothly into each other, select the top track by clicking just above its MUTE button and File > Export Selected.

Please note that MP3s don’t loop. MP3 is notoriously messy about beginning and end points. It’s daddy was a video format and tends to run in television frames or fixed boundaries, not continuously.

And speaking of television, there’s an old DVD trick about looping. If you sit on a DVD movie opening screen [Play, Language, Options, Subtitles] the animation will seem to loop perfectly smoothly for a very long time. It doesn’t really. The loop you see was produced carefully at the studio and seamlessly duplicated multiple times. At about the five minute mark there is a major glitch, hit and disruption where the real DVD loop is and the laser has to jump down the disk. Nobody ever stays around for five minutes. Chances are if you do, you’re really feeding the cat and will miss the real, messy DVD loop.

And you’re good for another five minutes.

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There’s basics about editing.

I found it handy to turn off Screen Update while I’m editing (but not during recording). That’s so Audacity doesn’t rip the edit screen away from me at the worst possible time.

Audacity > Edit > Preferences > Tracks: [_]Update… (de-select)


Select the audio that you want to loop, then hold down the shift key and click on the Timeline (time ruler above the tracks) at the point that you want playback to start.
See here for more information about the “Quick Play” feature:

Thank you all so much. Great tips!

It is ok that mp3s don’t loop. These are ringtones. The phone automatically loops it until either the call is answered or it goes to voicemail.

holding shift and clicking the time line starts from the beginning and goes to the very end, regardless of what part of it is selected.
holding alt and clicking the time line starts from the click point, but doesn’t loop or pay attention to what is selected.

And I forgot… the ringtones are exported as AAC files. Save as M4A, change the extension from .m4a to .m4r and you have yourself an iPhone ringtone!

I’ve just noticed that you’re using an old version of Audacity. You need the current Audacity 2.1.1 version for this feature.
You can get it here:

You can just add


at the end of the file name when you export from Audacity. Less work.