Rendering new tracks from mix and mixing stereo to mono gives unreliable volume

Perhaps I’m missing something, but the sound mixing in Audacity 2.3.0 has been frustratingly inconsistent.

I recorded a podcast on a Blue Yeti mic. I split the stereo audio to a single mono channel, duplicated it, and re-created stereo for editing (one channel on the mic has a buzz and is going back under warranty shortly). In one portion of the podcast, I must’ve leaned in and the sound gets louder. This is where the problem comes up.

If I try to reduce the volume in that section with the envelope tool, it sometimes gets much softer, sometimes hardly changes. Eventually I split that part out of the track and went to control it with the sound level dB meter on its own track. Once I got that where it sounded good, I rendered a new track, but the new track as a combination of the two previous tracks didn’t sound the same. I repeatedly rendered the new track with trial and error on volume levels until I found something that worked. Then, when I mixed the stereo result down to mono (for download size reasons) the volume on that section changed again, requiring me to do trial and error with the section of volume.

Why is the mix inconsistent? I’m reasonably new at this, but I would think this part was fairly basic.

Thanks for any insight,

Possibly phase-cancellation …

Exasperation ongoing.

If I clip a sample, the problem is intermittent with each playback. Sometimes loud, sometimes equalized as it is supposed to be. It can even change in Audacity between repeat playings and on Windows media player between repeat playings. No way to guarantee sound.

Exported *.wav sample, sounds OK in Audacity but has a quiet to loud switch when played on Windows Media Player. (Most notable with headphones.) Copied the file to MacOS, and it sounds fine again. It seems to be an intermittent problem possibly with Windows, possibly with Audacity. I know in mixing I’ve seen the waveform double the sound there, so it doesn’t seem to be exclusively a Windows issue.


This problem may be with Windows, though I don’t know how to tunnel closer from there. I re-edited things in MacOS and haven’t had issues, but if I export the finished mp3 to Windows, the sometimes-loud sometimes-normal behavior is present on playback in Windows. If I upload the mp3 to a website and stream it, it sounds find on MacOS but has the sometimes-normal sometimes-loud behavior in Windows. Problem seems to also be Windows 10 as I couldn’t reproduce the issue (with online behavior) on Windows 8.1. It happens both online and offline with Windows 10, and does not seem related to which browser is used online.


Anyone know if this is some setting or issue in Windows 10?


Then, when I mixed the stereo result down to mono (for download size reasons)

If you are making a mono program it’s better to record in mono. A single voice IS mono, so unless you’ve got your voice an the left and someone else’s voice on the right it should be mono.

FYI - If you are making an MP3 (or another lossy compression format) the file size is determined by the bitrate so a mono file isn’t necessarily smaller. (A stereo WAV file is exactly twice the size of a mono file, and a FLAC stereo file can be larger than the mono file.)

sounds OK in Audacity but has a quiet to loud switch when played on Windows Media Player.

Audacity itself won’t “accidently” apply effects, and it can’t apply effects in real-time. But, Windows Media Player has optional equalization (and perhaps other “enhancements”), and Windows and/or your soundcard may have some optional effects/enhancements and these can be applied while playing (or recording) with Audacity. I assume the Mac has similar-optional sound-altering features. (iTunes has an equalizer and Sound Check and maybe other effects.)

And just to make sure it’s “apples-to-apples”, re-load the final exported into Audacity and listen before concluding that it sounds different in Audacity.

Stereo-to-mono conversion can “change things” (usually phase related) so it’s generally recommended to check (regular stereo) audio productions in mono before releasing-publishing, in case your listeners listen in mono. Some mixing engineers like to monitor in mono while mixing, then switch back to stereo.

It’s also generally recommended to do audio post production with monitors (speakers) rather than headphones, unless you are specifically making a production for headphone listening. It is a good idea to check your production on headphone (as well as anything else you can get your hands on).

Take a good long look around the Windows Sound Control Panel and Windows Media Player to see if any effects or “enhancements” are enabled. If they are, turn them off.

Like “Loudness Equalization” …