sound delay

I am using a MacBook Pro with a USB mic and headphones plugged into the jack on the side on the laptop. When I record in Audacity, there is a split second delay in hearing my voice through the headphones. Why? It is such a long delay, it is impossible to concentrate, record my voice and read the lines because I hear my voice a 1/2-second later than I should.

Yes. That’s correct. You are listening to “one computer” worth of delay – the time it takes the sound to go through processing twice, once coming in and once again going out. As a practical matter, that’s just how it works. Plain computers are not Digital Audio Workstations.

That’s why the three “perfect” methods for overdubbing (listening to yourself while you sing) all involve external hardware. Your headphone feed does not go through the computer.

You can program (recompile) Audacity not to do that, but that’s as painful as it sounds. Very early Windows machines had the ability to do sound redirecting inside the soundcard, but few modern computers can do that because it was complicated and nobody understood it well. This “upgrade” catches people going from older machines to newer ones.


Sometimes it’s better to just not listen. You can turn off Playthrough in Audacity Recording Preferences.

Recording Latency, not Computer Latency, is adjustable, so you can sing to an existing instruments track, you just can’t hear your own live performance.

Some much more expensive software packages have special ASIO software that helps with this delay, so not all software suffers this delay thing.