New technology giving me headache.

I need help. I am older,(44), and have been out of recording since the days of 4-track cassette recording. I tried Audacity, like it, but can only record a single track. The latency test thing drove me nuts! I need GOOD, SIMPLE step by step instructions. I record a drum machine, bass, guitars, then vocals. I’ve done this with great success on a linear PCM digital recorder but was hoping to step up my game with Audacity so I can produce my album. I have windows 10, a focusrite scarlet solo interface, headphones, monitors that hook to my laptop,(not the interface), a cardioid condenser microphone, guitars and amps. Any resources or advise is much appreciated, thanks!

Tell us what you read already and what the problem is where you can only record one track. You enabled Transport > Overdub, right?

And you have the Scarlett Solo driver ?


Thank you! Yes, I did that, I am able to record tracks now, (drums, bass), but the latency thing I can’t seem to configure. I went through the steps on the manual but its not effective, (tracks aren’t in time together because of delay). I am heading out for work now, I will be spending a few more hours at this tomorrow. Thanks again!

If you do the Latency Test then you have to enter the observed latency as a negative value in Latency Correction in Recording Preferences.

That will align the tracks after recording unless your latency is changing constantly. Do the latency test when the computer is under normal load, not when you are encoding a video or playing a game which will increase the latency beyond normal.


Nobody’s said these English words yet: You know there’s two latencies, right?

You typically can’t listen to the computer for overdubbing because of Machine Latency. The headphone feed will always be one computer late. The time it takes for the sound to get into and then back out of the computer. It can be significant, and it’s fixed. Can’t be easily changed.

Recording latency is easily adjustable with the Audacity tools. Typically, you feed the headphone back into the microphone,

measure the timing error on the timeline and subtract it from the Audacity preference setting. With a little luck and wind at your back, it takes doing that about two or three times to hit it almost perfect. You may be trying to correct the wrong one, or both at once.

The illustration is using a simple click track. Top blue wave is playback, bottom is record.

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 13.19.13.png
Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 13.18.59.png

If you mean the delay between you singing or playing and you hearing yourself, that is fixable by monitoring with your headphones in the Scarlett. In that case set Scarlett as the Audacity playback device in Device Toolbar. That playback may be a little late but it is not usually very noticeable.


Thank you. I believe i preformed the latency test correctly. Do I need to put a minus symbol before the number? as in -0.149? I just got home from work and will have some time over the next couple of days to try it again. Thanks again!

If your recording is to the right of the original sound (as in my picture), then you should add negative numbers to the preference value. Keep careful track of the timing readings. If your corrections make it worse, go the other way.

That happened to me once. I got the positive/negative numbers wrong and the error doubled instead of going away.


This is your chance to be obsessive, too. You can keep magnifying the timeline and get the corrections down to the half-cycle of a high-pitched audio tone. It won’t stay there. Home computers aren’t that accurate or stable, but it will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

And beyond a certain accuracy, it doesn’t make any difference. You can’t hear it. And if you do convince yourself you can hear it, you can correct it with the Time Shift Tool (two opposing black arrows). Before you mix down to a single audio file. Once you mix down, you’re stuck. It pays handsomely to save all the original tracks in WAV so you can go back later if you need to. Saving an Audacity Project will do this. That will save all the individual tracks in Audacity Project (not Audio) format.

You generally can’t edit an MP3 without causing sound damage.


Thanks everyone. I seem to be everything correctly but am not getting good results. My buddy at work who recommended this download is going to come by and walk it through with me.

There are possibilities of disaster.

When you’re overdubbing, the machine has to record the new track and play the old track (sometimes more than one) in real time exactly, perfectly, correctly. If for some reason your computer can’t do that, you will never make it through the latency line-up.

So where basic Audacity recording, play and edit can turn up speed, capacity and efficiency problems your computer, Overdubbing is the graduate level course. Multiple real-time processes running at the same time.

Not all machines can do that.

Doesn’t have to be a dud machine, either. What else is your machine doing? Shut down your network, wifi and the anti-virus program. Restart the machine and only let Audacity run.


Well, no dice! I’m following the steps to the letter,(for latency test), the two small black arrows appear in my second track indicating that audacity is compensating for latency, but my bass track,(2nd track), is still out of time with my drum track,(first track). I’ve tried drastically altering the latency time,(like the real time between latent clicks is 0.210, so I tried 5.210 just to see if it would make a difference!), and it had no effect. Do I need to do something to apply the latency reading to the second track? Getting a little flustered here!lol :angry:

Oh I forgot , I wanted to kind of explain my set up, maybe that’s the problem- 1) Drum machine to interface, interface to laptop, record first track. 2) Bass to pre-amp, then to interface, then laptop and record while I listen to speakers from laptop playing the 1st track,(drums). I can’t hear the first track through the headphones. Thanks again everybody!

The purpose of the Recording Latency adjustment is to mess with the recording process such that the new track and the original tracks line up when you play them back.

For example, say the recording process takes a half-second. From the time you pluck to the time the machine lays down a sound file is a half-second. Audacity could play the drum track to you a half-second early. You think your live performance is in perfect time, and a half-second later your bass joins the original drum track lined up exactly correctly.

So no, it’s not a post production process, and it’s up to you to tell Audacity how long that little timing dance is. That’s the setting.

It’s possible, yes, you’re confusing the issue by using instruments and microphones. I wrote the original overdubbing tutorial and I have a process of doing it by generating a click track instead of beating on a drum and plucking a guitar (mostly because I can’t do either).

Have you cranked through the official overdubbing tutorial? I need to drop out for a while.

There is one item in both my versions and the official version. There’s a split between “perfect overdubbing” and just overdubbing. If you use just the right hardware when you record, you can hear yourself when you record in addition to the original drum track. And it’s correct. That’s perfect overdubbing. If you’re trying to do this without special hardware, you will probably not be able to hear yourself during the performance. That’s regular overdubbing. It still works, but it’s not as artistically convenient.


Even if so, you can simply press F5 on your computer keyboard, zoom in (CTRL + 1) then drag the bass track where it should be. When the tracks are aligned as you want them, press F1 to go back to Selection Tool.

As Koz said, all the latency adjustment does is to shift the subsequent tracks by the specified amount after recording stops.

If with the latency adjustment set to zero your second track is 0.210 seconds late, then you need to enter


as the latency adjustment.

If you enter 5.210 this shifts the subsequent tracks forwards by just over 5 seconds.

Where are the headphones connected? They should be connected to Scarlett Solo, and in Device Toolbar, set Solo as the playback device and the recording device.

And double-check you have Transport > Overdub enabled in the Audacity menu bar. If that is off (not ticked) there is no playback of existing tracks when recording, and no latency adjustment.