Multiple tracks showing up when trying to edit

I’m a previously published author whose works appeared in print in the last century and have now uploaded them on Amazon as e-book kindles. I downloaded audacity to help me record audio books. I used to be a voiceover artist whose work appeared all the time on Discover, history, The Learning Channel etc.But I’m a complete idiot when it comes to trying to understand the techniques of making it work – broadcast engineering – the guy up in the control room editing out all the coughs, pauses and glitches. The guys I’ve worked with in the past are very fast workers, almost like somebody playing a piano and taking a crappy reading and turning it into a masterpiece in the space of a half an hour or less. I wrote a show about theatrical dueling that Jose Ferrer narrated That was so full of coughing and pauses that I thought the tape would be ruined. The engineer made it perfect in less than half an hour After Ferrer left the studio.

But here I am now, a newbie into this arcane world with Audacity as my interface. I have been struggling with these tutorials and have managed to get a few tracks that I really loved, and one that I really liked using the “change pitch” effect to lower my voice. I was able to monkey around with it so that it actually sounds natural instead of some kind of science fiction vocal effect. I saved it of course, later intending to mix it with some music that I bought the rights for. In editing that vocal track, I got it right the first time completely by accident, selecting a section for redoing. I just deleted it, because there was background noise in it. I redid it and for some reason it worked just fine. It put it right back in that same track.

Subsequent trials didn’t work so well. Part of my problem is that all of this – to my understanding – is pure metaphysics written in Sanskrit. So I’m feeling my way by trial and error, much as a chimp would. The next time I tried that, selecting and deleting, the cursor jumps down into a new track, with a completely new wave form. And keeps doing that for every edit thereafter. The instructions say that one is supposed to be able to undo whatever it is you been doing right from the get-go, and wouldn’t you know I wound up deleting the whole damn file unintentionally, so now I have to start from scratch and hope I don’t mess it up again.

It would help me immensely if I could keep the two tracks in front of me on the screen without new ones constantly coming down and crowding out the ones that working. For some reason the waveforms keep disappearing also and it takes considerable monkeying around to get them back – in the same condition as I lost them. How do I keep all these new tracks from crowding in and banishing my 2 main tracks completely from sight?

When I first opened the manual, I thought “Hey this is great! It’s like ‘Audacity for Dummies’!” But what I need is "Audacity for Idiots. :blush:

A grand place to start is the Audacity version number. It’s a trick question. The real Audacity has three numbers and dots between. Some of the bogus versions have other number configurations.

There is no “the latest one.”


Audacity has two methods of displaying the timelines. It’s handy for the timeline to constantly update when you’re recording so you can tell what the blue waves are going to look like and to give you a record of possible overload points.

However, that will drive you completely nuts if you try post-production editing like that.

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


You can add to the end of an existing track with Append Record, Shift-R.

You can Pause a live recording with P and then pick it up again with another P. You can’t edit or do anything else while in Pause.

All other options start a new track. You can’t “smash record,” select a place and start recording over old work, which is what everybody wants.


wouldn’t you know I wound up deleting the whole damn file

I don’t think it’s possible to delete a file from the timeline. Even if everything vanishes, Edit > UNDO should crank your way back to wherever you started. Audacity is pretty serious about that and it takes up a lot of room to make sure its UNDO system is correct.

You should know that Audacity Projects, a way to save all your edits, timelines, tracks, positions, etc, Do Not save UNDO.

Audacity will not save a sound file. It only saves projects.

This is an Audacity project.

It’s a matched set of Audacity instruction file and folder with all the sounds in it. It’s only for Audacity. It won’t open up anywhere else.

If you need a real sound file you have to File > Export Sound to get one. Even worse, if you need an MP3 sound file, you have to add special software. Because Audacity is free, it can’t bury the cost of MP3 generation software into itself like other programs can.

Do Not do production in MP3. Stick to the Audacity default WAV (Microsoft) format. Convert to MP3 later if you need to (like for submitting to ACX-AudioBook).

When you get further along, we have tools specific to ACX and AudioBook Generation.


Thanks Koz- I’m a little premature because I need to go over all these tutorials more than once and try to digest all that info before moving on… :blush:

Oddly, what kills most people trying to read for AudioBooks isn’t Audacity. It’s bad recording environment. People still use recording studios for a reason. Getting rid of background noises such as dogs, street traffic, TVs and radios is almost impossible in Audacity (and most other programs). Yes, we can get rid of quiet background noises such as computer fans and refrigerators, but the process always damages the voice and is to be avoided.

You know you’re in trouble if you have the urge to post a message that has “Help me clean up…” in the title.

When you get that far, we have a tool called ACX-Test which is a pretty good simulation of the automated robot you hit when you submit to ACX. The robot tests for basic sound qualities such as noise and volume. It’s basic, but remarkably difficult for home recordists to pass.

It’s a pretty common newbie problem to obsess over tiny speech idiosyncrasies and ignore the forest fire of bad recording practices. You mentioned the guy in the booth watching your levels. You have to do that now—while you’re reading. That’s why the later Audacities have expanded volume meters.