Overdubbing - cracking and popping noises

Hello, was looking around for an answer to my problem but haven’t found any. Apologies if this has been answered before.

I’m using:
Windows 10
Audacity 2.2.1

I’m using an M-Audio USB Fast Track. This one: https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1941361,00.asp

Here’s what I do:

  1. I make the M-Audio be the recording device AND the playback device. I set the mixing knob to the middle so I can hear what I’m playing AND the playback.
  2. I turn off Software Playback on Audacity.
  3. I create a rhythm/click track on Audacity. Works fine. Can hear it fine through the MAudio. No hissing or popping. No clipping. All good.
  4. Before recording another track I play my guitar through the M-Audio device and since I’m hearing myself through the M-Audio device itself I can here myself cleanly and with no latency. No clipping or popping. I’m not peaking the input to the MAudio or anything.
  5. I press record on Audacity to record a new track with my guitar. I can hear the clicktrack but it’s coming through poorly with strong hissing and popping. It’s an intermittent noise too but it’s pretty much always there. This is whether I play my guitar or not. That clicktrack is just a mess. Note that this only happens when I press record. If I press play on Audacity the clicktrack comes through fine.

Possible things going on:

  1. Is there too much digital information going through the USB such that the MAudio can’t handle the digital data from Audacity (the clicktrack) and the digital data going TO Audacity (my guitar)? Seems odd, that would seem to defeat the purpose of the MAudio.
  2. I have some Audacity setting wrong (I tried lowering the playback volume on Audacity but it makes no difference). Maybe it’s a sampling rate issue?

First day using Audacity. Been reading as much as I can but so far no joy. Help much appreciated. Thanks!

PS. When I get home tonight I can provide audio samples of the noise. It sounds “digital” to me but not 100% sure.

I create a rhythm/click track on Audacity.

It is strongly recommended you make a straight, simple, plain recording with your live system before you set up for overdubbing.

I’m betting your system will not pass simple recording.

If you do get a clean recording, then the next most likely problem is sheer horsepower. Overdubbing is the first time the system has to play the backing track absolutely perfectly at the exact same time it records the new performance, also absolutely perfectly. It’s a stress point.

There are audio standards that your interface may like better than others. You should set up Audacity for those. The generic standards are 44100 sampling, 16-bit depth, Stereo (or Mono). That’s the standard for Audio CDs. I have an interface that doesn’t like crossing Stereo/Mono by accident.

You also need to set up Recording Latency so your new recording rhythm-matches the backing track without you messing with it in post production.



I’ve already recorded guitars fine on their own. They sound fine.

My PC:
System: Intel i7-7700K Quad-Core Processor 4.2 GHz (4.5 GHz Max Turbo) | 16GB DDR4 RAM | 1TB HDD | 240GB SSD | Genuine Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Dedicated Graphics Card | 1x DVI | 1x HDMI | 1x Display Port
Connectivity: 3 x USB 3.1 | 2 x USB 2.0 | 1x RJ-45 Network Ethernet 10/100/1000 | 802.11AC Wi-Fi | Audio: 7.1 Channel

But I’ll still look into the stuff you suggested. Thanks!

I set the system to 44.1kHz and 16 bit. Problem persists. Checked specs for the MAudio box and those are supported. I set the Maudio to Mono and the tracks I create are Mono as well. One thing I did notice though is that the MAudiouses USB 1.1. Maybe a need to upgrade to a unit that supports USB 2.0? Or even SUB 3.0?

The latency in Audacity is actually fine.
In fact I can record two tracks and when I play them back they sound fine. It’s DURING the overdub that I hear the noise coming from the speakers. I can hear the first track underneath the noise and can keep time. Two resulting tracks are in sync.

Also I can playback what I recorded and play my guitar at the same time and it sounds fine provided I don’t press record. I’ll see if I can get a hold of another USB interface and see if that handles the throughput well. Have a hard time believing this bran new PC can’t handle this. The CPU is fast and I’m not using its audio card or anything. I’m relying on USB and the Fasttrack right? Anyway I’ll keep you posted. Thanks.

I’ll also read the link you provided some more. There are three paragraphs there that describe what’s happening. I’m almost certain I need to make sure the digital side of things are all aligned correctly (sampling rate and such).

Thanks again.

Ok fixed. Problem was the MAudio FastTrack. Bought a Scarlett 2i which has USB 2.0 and supports Windows 10. Worked right off the bat. Thanks!

Likely the old MAudio just wasn’t compatible to the setup. Too old.

There is a major step between USB2 and USB3. Did you try it in a USB2 connection?


I tried the Scarlett in USB 2.0 and it works great (it does not support USB 3.0)… And really liking Audacity itself! At this point I’m happy I can start having fun. Thanks for the help.