playback is garbled

I recorded a track from my sony digital voice recorder and I havent been able to get it to play…my goal is to clean up the track so i can hear the conversation better than how it plays on the voice recorder itself…the track is voice only with some background noise that i wish to eliminate. I have never used this type of program and would absolutely appreciate it if someone can guide me.

You left out the part where you describe your computer and how you connected the recorder to it.

Windows laptops are not wildly happy about doing jobs like this. The only connection on many Windows laptops is tiny pink Mic-In and if the only connection to your recorder is Headphone-Out, that may create substantial distortion right there. They’re not compatible with each other.

Also, newer Windows laptops have Windows Enhanced Services which can create sound distortion, but that you can turn off.

Even if you resolve all those problems, you’re still going to run into the Noise Definition. I bet your noise and Audacity noise are different. We can’t pull a conversation out of other conversations or traffic noise. We can’t do forensics like the CSI TV show.

What’s the conversation? Maybe we can help there.


windows 7 and yes…recorded with headphone to line in…i don’t really need to reduce all of the noise…lowered would be good but i do need to boost the voice. there is a lot riding on my being able to hear the conversation so anything to clean it up a little would be great…the playback on the recorder itself is pretty good already but there are parts where the voice is low

So what is happening at the moment? When you try to record, do you see a wiggly blue waveform appearing in Audacity corresponding to the sound that you want to record?

There’s a series of “getting started” tutorials in the manual that may help:

yes…recorded with headphone to line in

Please note that’s not what I said. I said Mic-In. Like this pink thing.

Mic-In is very sensitive and designed for communications like this.

It’s mono, not stereo, and it’s probably going to overload and sound harsh and distorted if you directly plug a powerful headphone connection into it. Some Laptops have a real Stereo Line-In (blue?) and that would work.

there are parts where the voice is low

Covered up by what, exactly?


that is exactly what i think is happening. It sounds very distorted and yes sorry sometimes i use the wrong terminology…please bear with me…i just had a brain tumor removed 8 months ago and processing is sometimes a little lagging…it was mic-in and maybe thats why it sounds so distorted and garbled. I’m using a gateway laptop with windows 7 home premium 64 bit 4 GB…I didn’t see a line in option on the laptop. would it have helped if i had uploaded using something else and then imported to audacity? I just assumed recording from the source was the best option.

Hey tsmgmranger,

If your source is the Sony digital voice recorder, then it most likely stores the files as mp3 or WAV or something. Can that Sony recorder connect to your computer via USB? (In fact, why don’t you just send us a link to the sony recorder you are using.)

Because what I am thinking is that what SHOULD be done is that you shouldn’t be messing with cables or playback or any of that. What you should be able to do is plug the recorder into your machine via USB (or something similar), and then just access the sound files directly as if the recorder was an external hard drive. If you can do that, then you’re golden, and what you’ll want to do is copy or cut the sound files from the recorder itself and paste them on to your local drive.

THEN fire up Audacity, open a new project, and select FILE > IMPORT > AUDIO, then navigate to the sound file. From there, it will import the file EXACTLY as it is on your recorder, and it will playback on your computer exactly how it does on your recorder (though, presumably, it will sound better as the speakers on your laptop should be better than your recorder’s). Now, if you want, you can do noise removal, EQing, or any other editing you’d like.

it is an older one unfortunately, sony icd-bx112…i did get the file into audacity, it has a whole bunch of blue lines, but i think the problem is how i am getting it in there. when i play it back i have to slow it down to almost nothing and then it sounds very distorted. cannot hear the normal background noise or the talking

OK, that model does not have a way of getting the file itself on to your machine. Bummer.

Tell us how you are getting the file (more accurately: the audio) on to your machine?

Slowing it down is not going to help things unless you are only slightly slowing it down,. To minimize distortion and noise, you’re going to want to record the audio at a fairly low volume to avoid clipping (e.g. distortion from levels being too high). You can then boost the audio once it’s in Audacity. They key is going to be getting the audio recorded in the most noiseless way possible. I suggest using an 1/8th inch to 1/8th inch cable (in other words, the cable’s ends should look like what your headphones might look like if you have an iPod or any other portable audio/mp3 device). Plug it from the line-out jack on the recorder and plug it into the line-in jack on the laptop. Adjust the volume on the recorder to about midway. Hit record on Audacity and press play on the recorder.

If it comes out as distorted (worse then it does when you play it back on the recorder itself), then do it again but turn the volume on the recorder down.

Audacity has a noise removal tool.

I would then highlight the audio and then go to “Equalization” and click on some of the presets. Not being able to hear your audio, I can’t tell you how to adjust, but in general, if it’s already muddy/muffled, you’re going to want to take down the lows, and boost the mids or highs to give it more of a crisp “telephone” like sound.

awesome…i had a feeling that might make a difference…i did have the volume all the way up on the recorder. Let me try that…it might be a little bit before i get it done…

ok…it does seem better and i managed to take some of the noise out, but where voice should be is inaudible…it just sounds like wierd sounds. is there a place where i can send the file to?

Short audio files can be attached to forum posts (see here:

the good one.aup (8.3 KB)
ok…let me try to send it

Please note that the .AUP file is NOT a complete project and is not playable by anyone else.
See here for more information about Audacity Projects:

ok, i read the instructions and i am embarrassed to ask if you want me to convert to wav or something else? If wav, can you tell me the easiest way? I am really sailing in uncharted waters here.

We probably only need to hear a few seconds of the recording, so in Audacity, click on the wiggly blue waveform and while holding down the mouse button, drag to the right so that a few seconds are highlighted. The highlighted part is called the “Selection” (the “selected” audio). Then go to the File menu and click on “Export Selection”. The default export format is WAV so you probably don’t need to change that. Enter a name for the file using normal letter and number characters (don’t use punctuation or other strange characters as they may not be valid). Select the location that you want to export to (such as “Documents” or “Desktop”) and export.

There’s more detail about this in the manual: