Sporadic Recording Muting

I can best describe my problem by saying this: I feel like I have sound-activated recording turned on, but I don’t.

When I record, Audacity or the mic or something, seems to only pick up sounds over a certain level. However, all the mic settings, input levels etc, are turned up all the way. Sound-activated recording is not turned on. So, the end result is that the recording has tons of little pockets of muted sound. This tapers words, music and everything to distorted levels that makes everything frustrating and nothing is easy to listen to.

Anyone have any useful suggestions?

What’s the goal? What are you recording and how is it connected and to what? Pretend I’m trying to connect my sound the same way you are.

Audacity is aggressively non-real time. No effects or other craziness until post production. There is a tool that allows recording only if the volume goes over a certain point, but that gives you a show with no gaps.

So this almost has to be a sound channel – a computer problem.

I resolved an issue like this once where someone was trying to push very high level sound through a microphone input of a sound card. They got the show level so loud it was smashing through the electronics…but only on high volume peaks. The show was almost 100% distortion and garbage and they wanted me to “clean it up.” How about we record it properly…

So, are you trying to force Stereo Line Level sound into the Mic-In of your PC Laptop?

What color is your computer? (that’s the non-useful one).


Hi, thanks for taking a minute to help:

  1. I’m just connecting a standard 3.5mm pc mic to my 3.5mm line-in mic jack on my laptop. Then, I’m talking, singing, playing guitar into the input. Not shooting for CD production, just stuff for my own use.
  2. I’m just talking about any type of recording.
  3. How do I set the sound channel to be appropriate for the tools I have?

Thanks again,


That is probably the problem. The mic inputs on PC laptops are generally designed for voip (Skype and similar) and not for even semi-serious recording work. The sound quality of these inputs is usually poor, and they also have effects turned on by default such as “echo cancellation”, “noise reduction” and “Automatic Gain Control”. These effects can help with making internet phone calls, but when recording they create exactly the type of problems that you are experiencing. You need to find out how to switch these effects off - it may be necessary to search for settings in the Windows Control Panel. Better - upgrade the sound card with an external sound card.

Steve, you win. Where can I send your $5 Starbucks gift card?

Bottom of this page: http://audacityteam.org/community/donate

Ha! Touche. Yes, truly. Will donate. Good point. How selfless of you.

Keep in mind, the donation doesn’t show appreciation for your specific help with my problem.

Thanks for the help.

You too, KOZ!

Just so we’re clear, the Mic-In on built-in sound card is usually barely OK and not complete garbage. You can get going by turning all that automatic stuff off and then see how it sounds. My sound cards are perfectly usable for casual recording with a very low background hiss or maybe a click here and there – and that on one machine only.

There is no top end for microphone preamplifiers and USB devices. You can keep going up in price and quality until your nose – or more accurately your wallet bleeds. So the decision is when to stop to get what you want at the what price point. Our favorite post goes something like: "What’s the absolutely best, professional, top quality, perfect, widely respected amplifier in the whole world – for $29 USD.