Saving a file as an Audacity project ruining playback

Running Audacity 2.0.6 in Window 7

I am trying to save a bunch of live audio files as Audacity projects so that I can edit them more robustly, i.e., not just cut out dead parts, save the projects to return to later, etc. These files were all recorded via two microphones, so they are simple 2 track recordings. When I load these audio files (MP3 or FLAC) into Audacity, I can hit play and hear both stereo tracks in sync fine, and can separate them into a left and right track and play them fine, but when I save them as an Audacity project the left and right tracks go out of sync.

To clarify: they don’t just go out of sync, the sound for one channel will cut out while the other plays for a couple of seconds, and then it cuts out and the track switches to the other channel and plays the same couple of seconds, then cuts out and switches back etc. etc. So, it bounces between the left and right channel and no effects I have tried (normalization, syncing, etc.) has solved it. I also couldn’t find anything in the forum or FAQs that seemed to cover it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

There are bugs that could create what you are hearing if two conditions both exist (a) there are individual clips in the track (separated by a black vertical line or by white space) and (b) you have multiple tracks at different sample rates or you have used Set Rate from the dropdown menu on any track to change the track’s sample rate.

If you split the stereo track to left and right channels this makes separate tracks for Audacity’s purposes.

There is also a bug (thought to be on Linux only) where changing the name of the track in the dropdown menu can change the sample rate of another track (and so could possibly trigger the bugs mentioned above).

If you don’t have clips in the track, then probably none of the above is the explanation. The project could be corrupted or missing audio data block files. How many projects are affected, and if you see errors when opening the projects, what do the errors say?

I would suggest quitting Audacity, reopening all the projects then attaching the log file from Help > Show Log… top right of Audacity. That will show if Audacity sees any errors in the projects. Please see here for how to attach files:


Thanks for the response! I did as you said, i.e., when to Help > Show Logs, and did find that there were errors. These did NOT show up upon saving the file as an Audacity project originally, not upon opening the file after closing out Audacity and re-opening the file. Maybe this would be a good feature to incorporate into Audacity in the future?

Upon seeing the errors I actually realized something that might have caused the problem. I save a lot of large files (and access them as well) to a shared drive, for obvious reasons, and this is what I had done with these. I have copied a file to my hard drive and saved it as an Audacity project from there, which seems to have done the trick. I am not sure if I missed this in the instructions, i.e., that you NEED to save Audacity project files on your hard drive so that the file package is fully accessible to Audacity, but it seems regardless that this was the problem. I will continue to explore this to make sure, but it would be helpful to be able to do this same thing on my shared drive. If I am opening the files from a shared drive, and saving the Audacity project there as well, shouldn’t the program be able to retrieve all of the necessary files from that location?

Again, thanks for the response and information.

What were the errors? Can’t open file?

If AU data files were missing, there would be a warning on opening the project because Audacity explicitly does a check for “project consistency”.

If Audacity subsequently cannot read the AU files, or runs out of space while editing the project so that it can’t write files, that shows in the log but unfortunately there is no propagation of errors to message boxes. It’s something we know about but I understand it is actually quite hard to fix with the wxWidgets interface toolkit we use.

It is definitely recommended to use the largest and fastest local drive for the temporary Audacity folder, because you need fast access if you make recordings.

When you save and reopen Audacity projects it is also OK to use slower external drives as long as they are reliable.

Network folders are problematical if access is slow or patchy, even for retrieving saved projects. Remember you’re dealing with large uncompressed PCM data. An application won’t wait for ever for file access. However Audacity can cope if access becomes available again after failing. The export after access is restored should not have holes in it.