Strange Problem on 10.8.2 - playback crackles/fades out

I am by no means an expert with Audacity, but I have used it for years for very simple tasks. I have never had the problem I am experiencing though, and have tried searching for it here, and through Google, without success.

When I load a file, in this case a wav file ripped from an AVI file, and press play, the file will play perfectly for a second, then quickly become more and more crackly/static-y and distorted as the sound fades out. The volume meter continues to show activity as though it is recognizing the volume of the file at each instant, but no sound comes out after a certain point.

Changing the sample rate changes the amount of time that it takes before the file becomes silent, but doesn’t make it work without this effect. It reminds me of some scenes from “12 Monkeys” when Bruce Willis would “talk to the future” if anyone here has seen that.

I am running OSX 10.8.2 Mountain Lion and I installed Audacity 2.0.2 from the dmg file. It is a Mac Pro Early 2008, and I have an E-MU 0404 USB sound card hooked up to studio monitor speakers connected by 1/4" cables to the 0404. I have used a few versions of Audacity over the years without any issues, and this is the first time I have heard this. I don’t know enough about the settings to know what to look for.

Before this problem, I had successfully edited a M4A file, and it played back just fine. If I play the same file that is giving me problems now in Quicktime or iTunes, it plays just fine, so I don’t think it’s the soundcard.

If anyone can give me some pointers on where to look, I’d appreciate it.

Thanks in advance.

Ramzy Darwish

Thanks for the detailed report.

To summarize, when playing a certain (or any?) imported file in Audacity, after a moment the sound becomes crackly and fades out, but the meters continue to indicate normal playback volume. When playing the same file in Quicktime or iTunes the problem does not occur.

  1. Is it this one file, or any file, that exhibits this problem?
  2. If you Generate > Tone and play it back, does that exhibit the problem?
  3. Looking at System Preferences > Sound > Output, what it the setting there?

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m on 10.7.5 so I can’t say if this is a 10.8.2 issue or not.

– bill

So I believe now, after a little more investigation, that it is definitely an issue with how Audacity and the E-MU 0404 driver interact. If I play the same file through the built-in output, I get no problems at all. I tried installing some more recent drivers, but they didn’t help.

This card has always given me issues in terms of up to date drivers.

I would still like to know if there is a solutions though.

To answer your questions:

  1. This happens with some files, and not others. I have tried wav’s, mp3s and m4a’s. Some work fine, others don’t. I have tried simple songs as well as longer soundtracks ripped from movies to see if it has something to do with file length, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

  2. Generate Tone does the same thing as in the first post. Plays back for a second just fine, then starts to distort and fades out.

  3. System Preferences > Sound > Output shows the E-MU 0404 as the selected output device. As always, it shows that there are no output volume/mixing controls for the device.

I hope that helps. So, unlike what I thought before, it is not solely an Audacity issue, but seems to be an Audacity + Mountain Lion + E-MU 0404 issue. Maybe someone with similar gear has had the same experience and has figured something out?

Thanks again for your help.

Try googling “e-mu 0404 mountain lion”. I found a bunch of posts indicating problems with this combo, including GarageBand and Logic not working with the e-mu 0404 on mountain lion. Maybe something in one of those will help you.

– Bill

Thanks. I will give that a try. This interface has been a pain in the behind since I got it in terms of compatibility with Mac/drivers. When it works, it works great, but it’s not worth all of the effort it has taken to get it to work.