Stop audio, record feedback, start back playing audio?

I am a Technology Support Technician at a language/culture studies college. A professor had his students record responses to an .mp3 file that asked the user a series of questions in Spanish. It was made to simulate a job interview. The speaker in the audio file would ask a question, there would be maybe 90 seconds of silence, then the next question would start. The student responses were recorded during the 90 seconds of silence. The audio file is about 15 minutes in length. His students recorded their responses using the program Sanako 1200 7.10(and Sanako headsets) and I sent the new audio files (with the recording + student responses) to him. Professor wants to use Audacity to listen to the student recordings, provide audio feedback at certain times (i.e. “you pronounced this incorrectly”), grade it, and send it back to the student.

He has used Audacity before, whereas I don’t have a lot of experience with it. He is looking for a feature he is absolutely certain was included before but he is unsure how to utilize this feature again.

Professor states there was a button that would stop the audio, allow him to record his feedback (without overwriting the currently playing audio), and then start back playing the audio. I am unable to find this feature in Audacity. I have learned how to use Audacity and wrote up a simple support guide for the faculty, but the Professor is not satisfied.

The alternatives to his request that I have found are (sent to him for his consideration):

  1. While you are listening to the audio play and want to record over a certain section: Click “Stop”; click the area you would like to start recording (such as during the silent pause between a student’s responses); and click “Record” to start recording in this section. I thought he would record over the many silent pauses in the recording. This was unsatisfactory.

  2. During the recording, when you have found a place to provide feedback, click that area. Hit “Stop”. In the menu at the top, click Generate > Silence. A box will pop up asking how many seconds of silence you would like to add at this point. By default it is 30 seconds, which is a good amount to leave feedback. You can trim the silence later if it is too much and if you need more, you can append another period of silence to the first one. Go ahead and record during this silence. It is seamlessly integrated into the full recording when you export the file (say, as an mp3). This was unsatisfactory as well.

He is absolutely certain there was just a button that would pause the recording and allow him to record as long as he needs during the pause. When he is done, the audio plays through the rest of the track until he needs to provide feedback again, at which point he clicks this button again.

Does this make sense to anyone? Does Audacity have this capability? I have read the guides and FAQs, but I cannot find anything on this matter. Thank you for your assistance.

Audacity 2.0.2 (installed on image, .exe)
Windows 7 64-bit

I can think of one way to do this. Play the student performance in Windows Media or “Something Else.” Set up Audacity to record the professor’s microphone which also picks up the student’s playback via the computer speakers in the room. The professor’s microphone is always active. When the professor wants to say something, they Pause Windows Media and just talk. Hopefully the two program controls will not interact.

Export the Audacity file at the end and send to the student. The student already knows that the performance sounded like and the goal of this sound file is a good quality Professor.

There is a fancy-pants version of this where you have a mixer and produce a very high quality mix between the student and the professor. Use Audacity to record that. That’s much harder to set up.


Audacity does not do that in one step.

He should use SHIFT + A to stop, which sets the cursor at the stop position.

Audacity would record in a new track, starting from the time point that was clicked. When played or exported, the professor’s recording would be mixed into the silences in the student rendition.

It would be more convenient to select the silent area then he would record for that length of time in the new track and recording would stop automatically.

Or if he does talk for too long, click at the end of the student’s phrase, CTRL + I (as in “eye”) to create a split, F5, then drag the student’s track rightwards until it is after the end of the professor’s feedback.

The professor would end up with a lot of tracks, and should probably do CTRL + A and Tracks > Mix and Render from time to time to reduce the number of tracks.

A better variant would be to create a new single track for the professor’s recording. Click in that track at the time point to record the response then SHIFT + R. That will always record in that track and not create a new one. If the professor goes on too long, do all the splits and drags as the final step.

Or you could insert pauses beforehand with something like Inserting pauses to aid transcription. or Extend Silences

Whichever way you look at it, Audacity is not ideally suitable for this. We need something like Missing features - Audacity Support.

It does not affect this discussion, but the current version is 2.0.6 Audacity ® | Download for Windows.


Thank you both very much for your suggestions! I appreciate the assistance and will instruct my faculty accordingly.