Out of memory...


I am currently creating an audio drama on audacity. It is about 25 minutes long, and is 1452 KB in size.

Just when I was editing it, I tried to click play when I had clicked onto a certain section of my project at a certain instant in the timeline. But a pop up emerged…‘Out of memory!’ I clicked OK, then another pop-up came, saying ‘Error opening sound device. Try changing the audio host, playback device and the project sample rate.’

I have no clue what to do to allow more memory. Delete files from my computer, what?

Help is much appreciated,

I suspect that the “out of memory” message came from your operating system (Windows) rather than from Audacity. (I’m not aware of there being an error message like that in Audacity, and I’ve seen most of the error messages at one time or another).

The second error ('Error opening sound device…") is most likely a consequence of the first.

Do you recall what you were doing at the time that the error occurred? Had you just applied an effect? If so, do you recall which effect?

Do you know how much RAM your computer has?

It is about 25 minutes long, and is 1452 KB in size.

…That’s awfully small for a 25 minute audio file, and big for an Audacity AUP file. (Most of my 3-4 minute music MP3s are around 4MB = 4000kB.)

What’s the format?

Does it play in Windows Media Player? (Don’t try if it’s an AUP file, only if it an audio format like MP3, etc.)

I am in the exact same boat as you, we are making about a 24-27 minute long audio drama and we recorded the tracks all separately there are probably about 150 tracks in total all about 3-15 seconds long. I did not add any effects I had about 15 minutes of it added in and then when I tried to play it, it popped up the “Out Of Memory” screen and then in the top left corner one that talked about the playback audio device. I tried all that it said and I cant get it to work. I need this project done by 4/21/18 so I really need some help!!

That’s a lot of tracks.
Audio has to be buffered before it can play, which means copying a bit of audio from each track into memory (I don’t know which memory Windows uses for this, but it could be limited in size).

Are you able to merge some of the tracks so there are less tracks?
(If there is empty space in one track, an audio clip can be dragged vertically into the space using the Time Shift tool. Hold the Ctrl key down while you drag if you wish to retain the exact same time position.)

As I posted in a sister message, “Out Of Memory” can mean your hard drive filled up. When your machine has a show too big for actual memory, it starts using a portion of the hard drive as if it were extensions of memory. When that runs out, there’s no place else to go and the system starts gasping for air and damaging current work.

No matter how large the files are when you shot them or collected them, Audacity always decompresses them and then re-encodes them in the Audacity special high quality internal format. So multi-track shows are going to be crazy larger than you think they are.

That’s why all the forum comments say, “That can’t be right” when you say the sizes of the files.

Time to clean out the machine and maybe run the disk optimization or whatever Windows is calling it now. Clean out some files first, or disk optimization could take years.



Windows has very good tools for checking its resource availability. Start task manager ( right click in a free area of the taskbar ) and select more details then select the performance tab. Memory, disk space and CPU utilization are all clearly shown. You can also see which processes are using the overstretched resource and possibly stop some less important ones to give Audacity more. If you really need to dig down further you can also open resource monitor but for most people that would be overkill. Memory (RAM) is relatively cheap and almost any computer can be upgraded either by adding more sticks of memory or by replacing existing memory with a card having a greater density of memory.