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.