Sporadic warping/twisting sound to vocal-only recording

Afternoon, all –

I’m having a sporadic issue in recording some vocal-only samples seemingly only in Audacity. I’m sure there’s a technical term for it, but for lack of knowing that, it’s like a warp, phase or “twist” is happening to the sound as I finish some specific wording. It’s like I’m using one of those phasing guitar effect pedals that has a looping ebb and flow of sound, and on certain words, I’m not just fading but warping away. Hope that helps clarify what result I mean.

I was doing a demo ad for Harry’s Razors, and the word “razors” was doing that (and on a few takes, “Harry’s razors” were both affected), as was the bulk of “glide smoothly across your skin”. Repeatedly, one big warping twist on that part of the full phrase.

I read the same copy into the default Windows voice recording program using the same gear – SM58 mic, UR12 interface with the gain cranked up – and that warping/phasing wasn’t there at all in any of numerous attempts. So it’s evidently not the gear or some default weirdness with my voice, but there’s something about the way Audacity itself is recording it that is causing the warping/phasing effect.

Any idea a) what that issue is called so I can stop describing it to people and use the right term, b) what to do about that in recording, or c) as a last ditch save, is there anything I can do in post to fix that?


So you can try Disable Audio Enhancements - Microsoft Support)

If the recording has already been made you can try Audacity – Spectral editing tools introduction | Audacity ®

Some of the audio enhancements are threshold dependent,
e.g. echo reduction, & noise-gate.
If the signal is loud enough they don’t kick-in.

NB: there can be two layers of audio enhancements you need to disable for a faithful recording, #1 is Windows, #2 is sometimes called MaxxAudio.

Thanks for the feedback.

To clarify, the suggestions from both of you include turning off an audio enhancement in Windows. But I must be misunderstanding something because the recording in Windows was more faithful (i.e. no phasing/warping distortion) than the recording in Audacity. If the issue may lie in a Windows enhancement, wouldn’t the Windows recording have the same issue?

Or is it that Windows enhancements may be conflicting with Audacity in some way and thus may be causing the distortion?

Audacity does not process your audio in any way other than what you have directed. I can’t say I have experience with the Windows Voice Recorder but I expect that it does not either.

So that leaves the only other variable - which is a big one. Have you done a blind test ?

That is very strange, and of course Audacity gets the sound from Windows.

But, you can record with Windows Voice Recorder (or whatever) and then open the file in Audacity for editing.

…Also, don’t save as MP3 (yet). Wave as WAV. As you may know, MP3 is lossy compression and it can “damage” the sound. I don’t think that’s what you are describing but it’s a variable you can eliminate. Then if you want MP3, start with a high bitrate (high quality) setting. MP3 can often sound identical to the uncompressed original, but let’s get a good recording first. :wink:

The SM58 is a fine microphone and it’s the most popular stage mic of all time and I’m NOT telling you to upgrade!

But FYI - It’s a dynamic mic and dynamic mics tend to have low-output compared to condenser mics. Condenser mics also tend to have stronger high frequencies for a “crispier” sound. Most studio recording is done with large diaphragm condenser mics. There are a couple of super-popular dynamic mics used for broadcast/podcast. They also have low-output but they are usually using a mixer or preamp with more gain or a “Cloudlifter” (a pre-preamp).

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Recordings with meowing, gargling, or talking into a wine glass just scream something in the sound path trying to “help you.”

Nothing wrong with the SM58. It has one hidden attribute. It’s almost impossible to kill. We had one at work that got dropped. It came back to the shop in two pieces. I pushed it back together and as far as I know, it’s still in use.

The SM7B is an insanely popular microphone. See Joe Rogan.

Screen Shot 2023-05-16 at 8.41.20 AM

…and it sounds terrific, but it is a dynamic (moving coil) microphone and its signal is modest. It’s very commonly sold with a CloudLifter volume booster.

Screen Shot 2023-05-16 at 8.44.31 AM

You may not need a Lifter if you have a sound mixer rather than an ordinary digitizer or computer interface. Mixers can have three different ways to boost voice volume. So you’re less likely to get stuck.


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I’m not sure what that is, so I can safely say no, I haven’t.


No, thanks for verifying, but that’s not causing what I’m talking about.

What I’m experiencing is with certain words (or sometimes chains of words), evidently with Audacity but nothing else I’ve tried so far, that warping/phasing sound happens in the original recording. It can be heard on the playback, even with the file as yet unsaved in any format.

And my thanks for the info about the mics. I went with the SM78 due to its legacy, but maybe the Rode NT1a would’ve been a better mic to start with.

Regardless, I’m just trying to figure out why Audacity is recording certain words that way when recording straight to my phone or in Windows voice recorder (to Windows with the same gear with the same settings) doesn’t do that warping. So it’s not the gear, but something in the way Audacity is recording it that’s the issue.

I guess I could record in Windows and tweak it later in Audacity as a workaround. But that’s a bit of a pain to need to do. And I admit I’m now just curious about what’s going on that’s causing it.

I don’t see a way to attach any files to these posts, but could I just drop the files I’m having issues with, that have the warping/phasing effect, into Dropbox or something, for people to pull the file from to listen to?

Would that work?

Probably easier for people to hear the issues for themselves rather than helping me via my (perhaps lacking) description of what’s happening.

Some of the pseudo-surround-sound playback audio-enhancements can producing a phasing effect if mixed down to mono.

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During a reply, the bar with an upward arrow should allow you to upload files.

Screen Shot 2023-05-16 at 09.59.01

However, it’s pretty common to refuse uploading to New Users. This is to guard against fake users trying to post ads. Nobody know how new, so there’s no way to tell you how many connections you need to stop being “new.”

Yes, if you have a DropBox address, that should work, although this is a common enough problem that you shouldn’t need that.

I could record in Windows and tweak it later in Audacity as a workaround.

This kind of distortion resists correcting. The best you can do is re-record the words and try to patch it together in editing. That’s a retirement process. You’ll be doing that when you reach retirement age. So finding the cause is very valuable.

Do you use Zoom, Skype, Meetings, Games or any other app that uses sound. You should make sure none of those are running or even “napping” in the background while you record fresh work.

Have you done a Clean Shutdown? Shift+Shutdown (not regular Shutdown and not Restart) > OK > Wait > Start.

It occurs to me as i re-read that, you can get that kind of distortion by having a microphone and speaker or headphones running next to each other and feeding back-k-k-k-k.

I’m not kidding about the Clean Shutdown. Post back after you try that. Post even if the problem changes and not vanishes.


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Ah, now THAT sounds like it has potential. I haven’t tweaked anything from the defaults for recording and have only recorded in mono. Would you know where to find those settings?

Ah, now THAT sounds like it has potential. I haven’t tweaked anything from the defaults for recording and have only recorded in mono.

This can cause problems only if you’re recording in stereo and somewhere in the system convert to mono. If everything you do has one blue wave, then the system would never get the chance to mess with the mono mixdown.

My non-popular advice if you just can’t force the computer to record is stop recording on the computer.

This is my terrific Zoom H1n stand-alone sound recorder

It doesn’t show in this pix, but you can monitor yourself in real time with plug-in headphones. Highly recommended.

The largest memory chip will record for days without running out of room. Doing it this way also has the advantage of automatic hardware backup of your work.

I don’t do it this way, but you can power the H1n from the wall and not worry about batteries. I would resist the temptation of leaving it plugged into the computer. Bad USB connections can cause problems.


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Sorry, the Zoom H1n 2-channel Handy Recorder is no longer available.

I think they’re actively fighting the entertainment producers…


No, nothing else is running in the background that uses sound. Not even a browser.


Good thinking, but no, I don’t usually have the headphones plugged in at the same time as I’m recording (and this effect seems to be recorded the same way whether or not they’re plugged in).

Never heard of this. I tried it and then recorded immediately after I got it back up again, and the phasing sound is maybe lessened? a little?, but it’s definitely still there.

Ah. Well, that’s not it, then. I’ve only recorded in mono from the start, so it’s not a mixing down kind of issue.

Appreciate the thought, but right here and now I’m just trying to get started doing some V.O. work. I’m reluctant to spend more on other equipment until I at least get SOME money coming in. Particularly since this definitely seems to be an Audacity issue and not a problem with the gear or computer (since I can record the same copy with the same gear using the same settings with other software and the phasing sound isn’t happening… common denominator is the software).

At the very least, I can just record any problem takes in the native Windows recording program and transfer it into Audacity to change in post to side-step that phasing issue. It’s just a pain to have to take that extra step for a recording problem that seemingly only Audacity has (from what few other programs I’ve tried so far).

I’ve got an interesting idea.

I’ve basically accepted that there’s something about Audacity recording this specific copy with this specific gear, perhaps when tracking my specific voice, that is causing this warping sound.

I’m going to ask my wife to read the same copy tonight and see if it does the same warping with her.

Which won’t help me resolve my issue here and now – if it doesn’t warp with her, it still does with me – but that will at least check the possibility off the list that it has something to do with this specific copy’s mix of sounds that are somehow mucking with Audacity’s recording. Which still won’t help my searching for how to squash it in the recording process (the problem is still there, so I’m still open to other suggestions of how to contend with it), but it’d be good to know.

Anyone else up for trying it to see if it happens with you? I’d be interested to hear either way, and what your gear setup is.

The specific copy in question, if you’re up for trying it yourself:

“Get a smooth, clean shave every time with Harry’s razors. Our precision-engineered blades are designed to glide smoothly across your skin, while our ergonomic handles provide a comfortable grip.”

The word “razors” warps for me (maybe a biiiit of “Harry’s”), as well as all of “smoothly across your skin”. I just added the rest of the second sentence to help talk naturally through the problem area rather than risk you vocally concluding there, which would change what was recorded.

Curious to hear about your gear and results.

OK. Here.

This is Studio B.

I have another pix of the setup on the desk in my quiet bedroom. This is Pressure Zone Configuration. That’s fancy-pants for no spacing between the microphone and the table. It eliminates the weird echo distortion of desk reflections and doubles the voice volume with no increase in noise. Obviously, you can’t have desk or floor noises.

Now you know why I was rejected for audiobook reading because of mouth noises. Terrific voice, but can you stop smacking your lips and gasping?

No, I can’t.

This is that exact configuration in a restaurant interview.

It’s common—and correct—advice that you can start your YouTube career with a phone, a simple microphone extension, and a tripod. No Expensive Red Production Camera needed.

There is a caution. Never tell anybody how you cut their sound track.


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That’s an iPhone-SE (Special Edition). The one in the middle. Apple offered three.

I maxed out the memory because I knew I was going to do production on it. Nobody recommends this, but I found it handy.


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