Poorly written looping wiki - need help looping

I looked at the wiki entry for looping but it doesn’t tell me how to change the audio visual from this:

to this:

When I zoom in it just makes the visual fatter making it impossible to find the a good place to loop. How do I make the visual thin like the second image? Also how I do show a line along the 0 over the audio visual like in the second image too?

These things should be explained in the wiki article.


Looping is generally thought of as quite an advanced topic. So as not to make the tutorial unmanageably long the tutorial assumes that people using this section of the manual already have a grasp of the basics. I agree that this can be a little awkward for people that are new to Audacity, but the tutorial cannot go into minute detail about every key press and operation.

To zoom in/out vertically, see here: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/audio_tracks.html#scale
To zoom in/out horizontally see here: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/zooming.html

Are you using an obsolete version of Audacity?
Look in the “Help menu > About Audacity” which version are you using? The current version is 2.0.3 which is available here: http://audacityteam.org/download/

If you post a link to the article that you are using I’ll have a look and see if this can be made more clear without going into too much detail.
Once you are familiar with using Audacity you may wish to help with writing the documentation.

Steve, I’ve tweaked http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Looping which I think is the page at issue. Retweak as you you want as I am not an expert on loops.

As such an inexpert, two things struck me as unclear:

  • Should the user be encouraged when only moderately zoomed in to choose selection edges that appear to be at zero amplitude? You say of course that the amplitude of the start and end of the loop should be similar. But unless you specify to look for an amplitude close to zero, is there a risk the user will zoom in a long way, choose a matching high amplitude for the selection edges and then be confused if the zero crossing moves the selection edge a long way?
  • In your images the area at the start of the selection “looks like” the area immediately following the selection, and the area immediately preceding the selection “looks like” the area at the extreme end of the selection. But although that may indicate a good choice, is the only thing that really matters that the end of the selection flows in an apparently smooth line into the start of the selection?


Making good “seamless” loops is a bit of an art. Entire books could be written on the subject and there are many companies that do nothing else but make audio loops. I think that the best that we can do is to offer general tips and advice and describe some common techniques, but even this is an ongoing task and not directly an issue of “how to operate the Audacity software”.

That depends on the type of loop being made.

For a “pad” loop the start and end should be at about equal volume, but as the idea of a “pad sound” is a continuous sound, the loop should have a reasonable volume throughout.

For a drum loop, the important thing is that the start and end of the loop occur on the same beat of the bar (usually immediately before the first beat of the bar).

For a constant “simple tone” (such as a sine wave, sawtooth, inverse saw…) the important thing is that the start and end are at the same phase cycle (usually a rising zero crossing point).

For random noise, the exact loop positions are fairly non-critical as long as the amplitude and frequency content at the start and end of the loop are similar.

Yes, if the area at the start of the selection “looks like” the area immediately following the selection, that is a good guide, but see above regarding different types of loop.

@Gale & Steve: Is there a good reason why “Looping” is in the Wiki and not in the Manual?

Should we consider moving it to the manual as a tutorial?


P.S. the recent updates you both made to the Wiki page are definitely an improvement.

Maybe that Wiki page should have something like Steve wrote about different types of loop and how that might affect selection - certainly as regards pad and drum loops.

Perhaps Steve summed it up as “not an issue as to how to operate the Audacity software” and an “ongoing task”.

The question that I think arises often is “why does my loop have a silence at the start” (i.e. because you exported it as MP3) so that may be worth a FAQ linking to the Wiki page on looping?