Two Sides Recorded Simultaneously

I have Audacity 2.1.3 on an iMac running macOS 10.12.4. Initially, I thought the problem was having Software Playthrough on. There were opposing instructions in different parts of the Audacity manual, but since it said to leave it on if you wanted to hear what you are recording, I left it on. I am recording from a cassette player connected via USB to the iMac. What happened was that when it reversed to play the second side of the cassette, the first side was playing as well, so the two sides were playing together and, I assume, they were being recorded that way. So I recorded the cassette again with Software Playthrough off. But the same thing happened. I also had overdub off both times. So I have no idea why this is happening and hope someone can help.

It seems pretty hard to delete the bad recordings. What’s the trick there? I have been saving the tape to the iTunes Music folder. I don’t know if they appear anywhere else, e.g., Application Support.

Also, in Audio Mini Setup, if I choose the recorder instead of microphone, I cannot change any settings to match Audacity. I did go ahead and match them in microphone and don’t know if that might be responsible for this strange phenomenon.

As long as I am asking, I am also wondering if it’s possible to import tapes into iTunes with the tracks named separately or only as one whole file. I am using a device called Super USB Cassette Capture, and it only has instructions for Windows, and very few of those.

Where exactly were the opposing instructions in our Manual? If you are overdubbing your voice onto another track you want to turn software playthrough off. To hear a cassette you are recording you should turn Software Playthrough on.

You haven’t recorded both tracks together, but Audacity is a multi-track editor and mixes all tracks together on playback unless you press Solo or Mute on the tracks as appropriate.

Do Command + A to select all, then Tracks > Align Tracks > Align End to End. If you want that made into one track, then do Tracks > Mix and Render, but you don’t need to do that for purpose of playing or exporting as one file.

Next time, use the blue Pause button when you turn the tape over then release Pause to resume recording on the same track.

You can use Export Multiple to export one file per track on the cassette. Record as one track to do that. See Splitting a recording for export as separate tracks.


I don’t remember the sections where it said to turn it off. The first section I came to in the instructions for recording and listening at the same time said to have Playthrough on, so I immediately did that. Then later on, I questioned it. Honestly, I think I did not full understand the criteria used later on when it said to turn it off.

So you mean it likely did record properly and I should not pay attention to what I hear during recording? Are you advising that I should press Solo or Mute?

You’ve lost me here. What am I selecting? At the end of the recording process, I don’t SEE anything.I couldn’t find Audacity instructions for how to save the file, so I just followed the instructions that came with the device, which translated to Mac as File–Save–Name, Locate, etc. And when I do that, I wind up seeing a folder in iTunes Music with the name I selected and then the title of album within the folder. Within that, there is only one file with the name of the first track. I only got one of those screens where you fill in info about the artist, title, and track, etc. I assumed that file was the whole album and that you could not name the tracks. That’s why I don’t know what you are referring to when you say to select “All.” Sorry, I am totally new to this.

Actually, just to clarify, the device I have has a “loop” button that allows the tape to play the other side without your having to turn the tape over manually. What I did do (because there was no much dead space at the end of the first side) was to click on the stoop button; then when it started side 2 on its own, I went back to record. So, should I click Pause instead of STOP while the blank space at the end is playing? Is it OK to let this device do the switch automatically?

I will look this up. Thanks.

If your tape player really sends both sides playing together then it is a fault on the player. Audacity can’t correct that. If you plug headphones into the player I don’t think you will find it is playing both sides together.

You should however look in Audacity’s Device Toolbar and make sure you have chosen the USB Audio CODEC or similar as recording device.

If as you said you had Overdub off, then you should only hear the second track recording (if you have Software Playthrough on) and you should not hear the first track playing. I would check that you really do have Overdub off.

If you keep the recording on one track (see below) then you don’t need to worry about Solo and Mute.

Obviously I assumed you still had the tracks visible and had not already closed the project. Of course, you should be able to see the blue waves immediately after you stop recording.

Export not save when you want a file for iTunes. See


Tutorial - Exporting to Apple Music/iTunes - Audacity Manual .

If you want to export multiple files, one per cassette track, only use one recorded track. To do that, click Pause while the blank space is playing then Pause again when the player starts playing Side 2.

Or if you prefer, Press Stop when playing the blank space, but resume recording by holding Shift on your keyboard while clicking Record. This will restart recording at the end of the same track.


Thanks so much for your patience as well as all this info. I have tried this recording so many times now and they take so long that I am reluctant to try it again until I am sure I know what I am doing. So I just have one question remaining. I still don’t know what you are referring to when you say to select all the tracks simply because I never seen any tracks either before or after export. Or will the tracks appear somewhere after I click Export Multiple? Where you say that you assumed I still had the tracks visible implies that they were indeed visible at one time. But no. I have never seen separate tracks anywhere.

Oh, btw. I did have an earphone set plugged into the device the whole time through my various recording attempts, even when I had Software Playthrough ON and listened without the earphones. That could not have been the problem re both sides playing at once, could it? Should I unplug them? And yes I know I had overdub off and did check to make sure. I turned Playthrough back on.

FYI, the device is listed in device toolbar as USB PnP Audio Device. Hope that’s OK.

“Track” means an Audacity track with a blue waveform, like this stereo track:

It doesn’t mean a song track on your cassette.

When you pressed Record twice, you had two Audacity tracks on top of each other which would then by design play at the same time unless you aligned the second one after the end of the first. If you keep the recording in one track, you don’t need to worry about those considerations.

As above, two Audacity tracks on top of each other will play together when not recording.

It might be less confusing if you unplugged the headphones from the device. If you have Software Playthrough on and listen through headphones attached to the device, the Software Playthrough (if you can hear it) will play after what you hear through the headphones.


Well, everything seemed to be going very well as I followed your advice. No simultaneous recordings. I clicked Export Multiple, chose iTunes Music folder, which was already there, and started to name the tracks. There are 11 tracks. When I named #7, it automatically kicked me out of that pane and started the Export, which took about 10 minutes. Why could I not name all 11 tracks? But that’s the least of it.

I then went looking for it in iTunes, but it is isn’t there. I then went to Finder and found in the iTunes Music folder a folder with the title of the album, and within that folder, what looks like a single track. (It’s hard to tell because the title of album is the same as the first track, so for all I know all the songs are hidden there under the same title.) But it sure does look like one track only. Nevertheless, it is not in iTunes under Recently Added or under the artist’s name.

What might I have done wrong this time?

Addendum: As soon as I submitted my questions to you just now, a window popped up with a list of 7 songs that were “successfully exported.” I clicked OK, and then a spinning wheel began and stayed. I went to the Force Quit window, and it said Audacity was not responding. Then another supposedly successfully exported list popped up with duplicates (I suppose because I tried to begin the process of naming over again, thinking that I had pressed on something wrong, and I could not quit out of the export window when I saw that it was not me but the app that was automatically kicking me out). For that list, which had duplicates for all but one, I could click on the OK button.

I quit iTunes hoping to refresh it, but the album still does not appear despite what the app thinks was a successful export. Neither has anything changed in the iTunes Music Folder.

I did not delete the recordings. I still have that pane on my desktop in the hope that the situation can be saved and that I won’t have re-record yet again.

We can only do so much to help remotely. Sometimes, it is simply better to pay for a computer technician to read the documentation we have provided you with then come to show you how operate Audacity.

Alternatively if it’s a popular album you will probably be able to buy the CD.

We cannot see your computer, but obviously you made a labelling error or you used the Export Multiple command in error, or opened Export Multiple before you had finished adding labels. The labels determine the Track Titles and the file names, so you don’t need to add track titles in Export Multiple. Have another look at Splitting a recording for export as separate tracks.

Export Multiple remembers where it last exported. So open Export Multiple and look at the location it says if you are ever in doubt.

As it says on Tutorial - Exporting to Apple Music/iTunes - Audacity Manual, we recommend exporting to Home/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Automatically Add to iTunes. This should ensure the exported files are in your iTunes Library.

If you use modern Mac operating systems you must, in my experience, expect brief spinning beach balls unless you have a recent high end machine.


Black magic at work?

I would personally never, ever export audio directly to the itunes folder…

Not even while itunes isn’t opened.

Yes, you may call me religious now :laughing:

I see part of my mistake, which resulted from my not seeing the whole section on track labeling, so I did not do that before I clicked on Multiple Export. Be that as it may, I find the instructions confusing, to say the least.
(1) The section on labeling said to keep clicking on the - zoom pointer in the toolbar after the first label, but that only resulted in the tracks getting narrower and narrower, and beyond the 2nd or 3rd one, I could not even see where the next one began. So I just put the song titles anywhere. That’s the only label I wanted to mess with.
(2) Are the tracks in the order of 1st song at the top and last on the bottom? My sense was they were going up as I was recording. So I started at the bottom, and perhaps that was the problem.
(3) The advice in the labeling section was to use WAV format to export and then convert to MP3 in iTunes. But I could find no instructions about how to do that conversion. Plus, there are two WAV options in the dialog box, both labeled Microsoft, and I randomly chose the 32 bit float option. Have no idea whether that was correct because it was not in the instructions.
(4) The path you offered as to where to save the file does not exist on my computer. I only have home/music/iTunes/iTunes Music/list of artists. I will attach a screenshot.
(5) Finally the album title appeared in iTunes though I had to double click in the music folder before it would do that. When I tried to convert it to MP3, I could not because the only non-grayed-out choice in the Convert menu was Apple Lossless. So there must be instructions somewhere that I cannot find. That evidently produced another file. However, neither of them will play when I click on them in the Recently Added pane of iTunes. This works with CD imports, so I thought it would in this import as well.
(6) I also see only 7 tracks recorded even though I listened to and watched all 11 being recorded. They all had silence between them, but I’m still wondering if perhaps in some cases two or more songs were recorded as a single song. Is that possible? I left at least 2 seconds after I paused recording on the 1st side, and I believe there were 2 seconds before the 2nd side started to play. Not sure about how much I left at the end.

This is the first of a 200-cassette transfer project! So purchasing them is not an option either in terms of availability or cost.
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Saving in the “Automatically Add” folder is official Apple advice:

Personally I would never, ever use iTunes.


All the things you claim are not in our instructions are there. You need someone to help you on location. This cannot be done remotely. Computer Technicians can be found in your phone book. Point them to the documentation pages we have already shown you.

If you still want to go it alone, delete all your Audacity labels and relabel the start of all the songs carefully. Click (not click and drag) then Command + B to add a label that marks a point. Use one Audacity track. Do not use multiple Audacity tracks stacked on top of each other - that is expert usage. Export as WAV (Microsoft) signed 16-bit PCM, or AIFF.

If you are not sure how to use iTunes, please contact Apple Support (they do offer telephone support, which might make things easier for you). Here is their support page for “Automatically Add to iTunes”: