I recently purchased a Tascam TM-78 condenser mic along with a Tascam US-100 interface. I’ve been recording acoustic guitar and vocals with some success, however every now and then (and with increasing frequency) my takes are super modulated and distorted, seemingly for no reason. My levels aren’t peaking, my input/output volume is set extremely low, each track/overdub’s volume has been lowered significantly as well. What’s going on? I’ve had this problem once before (and much worse) with a USB direct mic. I chalked that up to my computer’s shitty sound card, but now I’m having the same problem with my interface/mic set up. Anyone else ever have this happen/have any insight?
Just as a remote possibility, make sure Windows isn’t trying to “help you.”
You didn’t mention which headphones you’re using. Overdubbing demands sealed headphones to keep the playback guide tracks out of the show and still be able to hear them.
I’m using beats headphones, they aren’t “sealed” but I don’t seem to be having a huge problem with sound leaking out and getting picked up by the mic on overdubs. It’s just that the takes themselves become EXTREMELY modulated, seemingly at random. I lowered my levels down to the point where I could barely hear my tracks and my vocals were still grossly distorted.
You should’t skip steps or leave out details. Which Beats headphones and did you go down into Windows and check for those settings? Windows conferencing settings can seriously hose music performances.
Where are you listening? Do you get the same effect if you plug your headphones into the Tascam US-100? Is it clean there but messy inside Audacity?
You said you had normal blue waves and bouncing sound meters, but the playback sound is very loud and trash? If the blue waves are OK, then the sound inside Audacity is probably OK. You may have some magic in your playback system. If you play the same show multiple times, does it trash out in the same place each time?
My Beats Solo headphones are plugged into the interface itself. The mic gets great sound when used with Skype or any other program. The modulation/distortion is there when I export the file as well. Let me try and break this down a little more.
I have been recording fine with the mic, when suddenly my takes start to sound like garbage. The problem seems to be fixed when I lower the volume of my other tracks down to inaudible levels, but then goes right back to sounding like garbage on the next take, seemingly randomly.
My computer speaker/mic settings are all set to recognize my interface and mic as recording devices. My headphones are plugged into the interface, which is where I get my sound.
Everything was fine until I was halfway done recording a song piece by piece. That’s when the modulation surprised me, since it was out of nowhere. No settings where changed, no levels were raised. When I am recording the take, everything sounds fine through my headphones. Playback is a different story and the audio is completely unusable. Why is this happening in the middle of my recording session? There seem to be no problems with my mic and everything works just fine for a while before it completely craps out on me.
I even tried exporting the finished first half of the song and using that file in a new project but I had the same problem; anything else I tried to record over it sounded just as modulated. Is this due to limitations in the program? Like I said, everything seems to be connected just fine and my computer isn’t getting mixed up between sources/inputs/outputs.
Can you cut a portion of the distorted audio and post it here?
How long is it since you shut down the computer and restarted it?
Here’s a portion of the audio problem, in response to Gale’s question my computer was restarted about an hour before I started recording. It’s quite the workhorse though, built it specifically to edit video and audio.
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You can always try tweaking audio settings or try a different USB cable or USB port.
What version of Windows? Settings are more complex on Vista and later than XP. Choosing Windows DirectSound host in Audacity, set the project rate bottom left of Audacity then enable Exclusive Mode in Windows Sound can sometimes help with problems. See http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Mixer_Toolbar_Issues#vistacp .
You can also try a higher buffer setting in the Audacity Recording Preferences.