sudden unexpected waveform changes

Been working on an audiobook. Just finished and saved a chapter. When I re-opened it, the waveform was nearly flat…but the audio seemed ok. I am not very “tech smart” and have been using Audacity for years…can you help?

You may have accidentally turned down the track gain-slider

before saving, (before exporting).

It isnot the track gain slider. The problem has not occured since December 15…until today. I cannot figure out the probem…this is what I am seeing…
distorted wave form  resized.jpg

Just finished and saved a chapter.

And it doesn’t match all the other chapters you produced? This is your first chapter, ever? Where are we in the production process?

The blue waves don’t measure from dead silence to maximum volume. The blue waves only measure about the loudest 24dB of the show out of a possible total range of 96dB. If the waves are visible at all, you should be able to hear them.

Many home microphones come out of the plastic wrap with “gentle volume.” Which microphone are you using and how do you have it connected?

Where does the bouncing sound meter bounce when you speak? It’s supposed to occasionally turn slightly yellow at -10dB to -6dB. It’s your job to arrange the microphone, performance, studio and sound pathway to make that happen.

This illustration is slightly louder than normal. It’s the picture I had.

Oddly, having flat waves doesn’t affect performance volume. There are tools in Audiobook Mastering which take care of that. What kills you is noise. It’s the third of the ACX specifications and it’s the one that gives new users the most trouble. There are natural noises in your system and it’s your job to make your voice louder than they are.


Hi and thanks for checking in. This is so baffling. I have narrated more than 30 audiobooks…all through Audacity. I have NEVER had a problem. The problem began last month as I was completing the last book. It seems to happen during the saving process…but at the time it seems normal. I don’t notice it until I call up the file to do more editing. With this most recent experience, I decided to save several times during the course of recording - in case the problem occured again. All of the saves seemed to work but after the final save of the last chapter, the distorted waveform appeared…ruining the entire effort. I am working with a CAD 2200 condenser mic which I have had for years…

Since I last posted I have been in touch with someone from Focusrite…the manufacturer of my recently purchased preamp…which I suspected as being the source of my problem. After hearing the details and listening to the recording, they determined that the problem was most likely with Audacity since the issue was with the waveform and not with the audio. They suggested that I might be accidentally touching a shortcut when exporting the file. Is that a possibility…can you suggest what the shortcut might be? Also…I am working on the excessive noise that you referred to and things that it is under control. But…is there something that Audacity can do to recover or repair the waveform issue? Thank you in advance for your input.

The best way to make backups (for safety), is to use “Save Lossless Copy of Project…”
(see: File Menu: Save Project - Audacity Manual)
This is in addition to normal saving of the project.
When you make a lossless copy of the project, give it a unique name so that you know which is the latest version (don’t overwrite previous versions).
When your project is complete, safely exported as an audio file, and tested to see it’s OK, then you can clear out your backup files.

As Trebor suggested here: sudden unexpected waveform changes - #2 by Trebor
you may have nudged the track gain slider.
However, your description of the problem is vague, so we can only guess.

Is the problem only with that one recording?

No. It has happened numerous times over the past several weeks. I also think that there is a change in volume of the recording through my headset prior to the appearance of the distorted waveform. Very perplexing…

You saved the Audacity project? (as opposed to exporting an audio file)

Are you saying that the waveform was visually much smaller vertically, but sounded the same as before?
Are you aware of the difference between “Waveform” view and “Waveform (dB)” view?