Music Distortion

Hello all,

I have been using Audacity for quite some time now, and I have not found any problems, until today. I have recorded music from YouTube and other online sources regularly. I happened to playback music I recorded on Audacity. I noticed some slight distortion in the sound that on a casual listen or less demanding listen, I would not have noticed. I tried re-recording the music, tried a different source, tried following the Audacity FAQ help page by lowering the volume of the source material, and also downloading the YouTube clip, all with no improvement. I even tried uninstalling Audacity and re-installing, also no improvement. I am using Windows 10, and the new version of Audacity I have is 3.0.5 (from 3.0.4). Has there always been some sound imperfections recording from YouTube et al. and therefore not fixable or is there something else I can try. Something easy to do, please.

Of course, YouTube is “unknown” depending on the quality of what was uploaded.

What format are you exporting to? As you may know, MP3 (and some other formats) use lossy compression. Data is throw-away to make the file smaller. That doesn’t mean the quality is always bad because it tries to throw-away stuff you can’t hear anyway, and it depends on the compression settings but technically it’s imperfect and at low bitrates (high-compression for a small file) it can sound bad.

Lossy compression is what makes a cell phone call sound “imperfect”. (Cell phones use much more compression than a “music quality” MP3).

YouTube uses lossy compression (not MP3) and depending on the format being originally uploaded, you may be listening to the 2nd generation of lossy compression. If you re-record it and make an MP3, or use a utiilty or 3rd-party website to “download as” MP3 that’s another generation of lossy compression!

If you record and then export as a lossless format, that should be identical to what you hear when listening to YouTube directly (assuming no “problems”.)

Besides lossy compression [u]clipping[/u] (overload distortion) if you “try” to go over 0dB digitally. Clipping is the most common kind of distortion and you also get clipping if you try to get 110 Watts out of a 100W amplifier, etc.

…Clipping is rarely a problem when recording streaming audio. It’s more common with analog where you “overload” your analog-to-digital converter. Or if you over-amplify after recording.

Or when you record you can sometimes get [u]dropouts/glitches[/u] which are related to multitasking.

I have been using Audacity for quite some time now, and I have not found any problems, until today.

Has there been a recent Windows update?
Perhaps something in the audio driver got borked (nothing new with MS updates), or “sound enhancements”
got switched on again somehow.

How does the audio sound if you play it in another application?

Directly from Microsofts website:

(Number 3 made me laugh, updates probably broke it, so they recommend latest updates… :smiley:
Just to make sure it’s really broken).

Also, make sure that Zoom or other similar types of app are not running in the background.
They will make a mess of the audio being recorded and played back.

I think my problem has been solved. Thanks for the help.