Synchronizing Multiple Tracks

Hi, newbie here with another question.

I’m creating a click track and then recording four more tracks after that, one at a time.

I’m using a Zoom H2 mini digital recorder ( ) as the microphone, connected via USB to a WinXP laptop running 1.2.6. During recording I’m also playing back the click track to the performer through headphones connected to the H2. You could’ve knocked me over with the proverbial feather when it all worked the first time, but it has been reliable, is a nice minimalist setup, and I’m having fun playing with it.

I understand there will generally be unknown and perhaps variable latency going through the loop from mic to Audacity and then back out to the headphones.

So, I just want to get some sync info onto each track so I can time-shift the track during editing to exactly align with the other tracks. Right now I’m doing this by allowing a couple bars of lead-in on the click track, and having the performer loosen the headphones briefly and lean close to the mic so the click playback is picked up on the recorded track. But, that feels kind of like a kluge, and is a bother for the performer (a violin player)… so my question is… how do folks who know what they’re doing get a sync signal onto their tracks? The function I’m after is basically like that of a clapper when shooting film… how do other folks achieve this? Is it feasible to “tune out” latency this way, or does it vary too much (and even within one recording) to be addressed with a one-time time shift?


HI, your on the right track. I play guitar and this is my method, you can probably adapt.

I find it handy to give myself 2-4 bars of the click track before i start recording guitar.The bar before i start playing i whack a muted string (or all six) in time with the click track. that way it produces 4 distinct peaks (if its a 4/4 song) that can later be alligned to the click track with the time shift tool. Provided you can whack in time then this works. Its probably most important that you are certain your last whack is on the money and just go by this.

get what i mean? so it goes

Click, Click, Click, Click,
Click, Click, Click, Click,
whack, whack, whack, whack, (me on guitar in time with the click,For you the violin player may take 4 quick stabs at a note)
Click, Click, Click, Click,
then start playing from the next bar, you can delete the whacks later with the silence option but only get rid of it after youve recorded all your track, use this same method for vocals, bass, drums etc, that way you can line everything up nice.

Find something that works for the violin player, he/she can make her own clicking noises and clap or whatever, at least they wont have to take the headphones off.

Latency is a very annoying problem but i guess unless we are going to spen the dollars on top quality equipment then we will have to put up with it.

Thanks! We’ll experiment with something like that. Our latency’s not bad – well under a tenth of a second, I think – which might be smaller than the typical error in sounding a note (esp. for a studunt violinist)… so this is mostly me being picky about dialing out any “outside” timing influences.

thanks again,

You will definitely get latency, it’s unavoidable when using a computer to record. However, this latency shouldn’t be variable, especially if you’re always recording the same number of tracks.

In order to fix it completely so you never have to worry about it you’ll need to use Audacity 1.3.4. It’s got a latency correction that you will have to set up manually. Luckily for you, I wrote up instructions on how to do this some time ago:

You can install both 1.2.6 and 1.3.4 at the same time, they won’t interfere with each other.

For step 2, just generate a click track with 1 click.

For step 3 you can just put your mic right up to the speakers and record that signal (try to avoid feedback).

Once you get that set up, you shouldn’t have to worry about latency at all until you upgrade Audacity again.