I have a problem I hoped somebody could help with that involves distorted stereo audio. We run a podcast that includes audio recorded with a few different microphone set ups - some mono, some stereo. When I export the edit I’ve done of our podcast via LAME to MP3, it sounds totally fine when listened to via headphones, either through a computer, or on a mobile phone (apple or android), but when played without headphones via a computer or phone speaker, the stereo parts of the edit sound really distorted. On the computer they sound really quiet (though they don’t through headphones) and on the phone they just sound totally garbled. Does anybody have any advice on how I can fix this? I’ve tried normalizing, mixing and rendering to one track, and exporting as both stereo and joint stereo and continue to have the same problem. Any advice much appreciated. Thanks.
I am using Yosemite on a Mac, and Audacity version 2.1.2.
Before you mess with your sound works, you need to have good backups. When you get done with a voice recording, Export as a WAV (Microsoft) copy and put it in a safe place. There is no “Audacity crashed during the edit and took my only voice track with it.” Even worse, an Audacity crash took my only copy of an important interview.
Some of this is going to turn out to be a bookkeeping problem. You need to pay strict attention to where the damaged audio is coming from. There are seemingly harmless ways to record live sound that can produce really oddly damaged sound.
You can tell ahead of time when a stereo track is going to be damaged by temporarily mixing it down to mono.
Tracks > Stereo Track to Mono. I expect a normal, natural stereo track to suddenly sound a little flat, but in all other respects sound normal. I expect your damaged tracks to sound distorted, low volume, or both.
So that’s the test so you don’t present bad sound by accident.
Edit > UNDO.
You can fix this track (if it’s broken) by splitting the left and right, reverse the phase of the bottom track and then recombine them.
Using the drop-down menu to the left of the stereo track > Split Stereo Track.
Select the bottom track by clicking just above MUTE.
Effect > Invert.
Select the top track by clicking just above MUTE.
Top track drop-down menu > Make Stereo Track.
Do the test again to make sure we didn’t break anything. I expect it to behave like a normal stereo track now. If this little dance fails, post back immediately what happened.
I predict (holding fingers to forehead), you are going to track this problem down to one or two sound systems, microphones or one or two suppliers.
It seems like a gift from the angels. A simple, inexpensive cable to adapt your good quality XLR microphone to your computer. Depending on your computer, that will produce the oddly damaged stereo tracks you have.
You can continue to do that little phase process to each new track, or stop using that cable.
Thank you so much Koz. That has absolutely fixed the problem. We think we’ve narrowed the problem down to a cable we were using with a new microphone and will make sure to fix this before our next podcast. Thanks very much again.