very bassy recordings ...

Hi everyone.

I’m a newbie on the board but not with Audacity, which I’ve been using, happily, for a couple of years.

But here’s a thing… I’m on the latest beta, so maybe that’s why, but, with the recordings I’m doing recently, straight off the radio, all music, the playback comes out incredibly bassy. I don’t get it. Female voices sound much lower than the original - which is how I can easily tell. If I’m listening to instrumental music I might not detect it so easily. But when I recorded a soprano, I thought, wow, she sounds like a contralto! And speaking voices are noticably lower.

Also, in trying to fix the problem and wondering which preferences to alter, I couldn’t find in the help file a clear explanation of what you’re supposed to do with the following settings, if one wants the very best sound quality possible without caring about the resultant file size/

  • the default sample rate - what, ideally, should that be?

  • when recording radio, I’m sometimes getting slight glitches in the recording. Can I cure this by either increasing the length of preview or, alternatively, reducing it? (What’s the for, anyway?!)

  • latency - I see what the options are, but am unclear as to how one best uses this feature. Could anyone kindly enlighten me?

  • effects preview - likewise - what’s this for?

Many thanks

<<<* effects preview - likewise - what’s this for?>>>

It can be joked that it exists so the developers can say they have one. Most of us choose a small portion of a show and add effects and fine tune and mess around until we get the work we want, and then apply that exact same correction to the whole show. What Preview is supposed to do is give you an idea what the effect is going to sound like without going through all that. I never got it to work right, and I haven’t tried in a long time.

Sample Rate. That depends.

44100, 16-bit, Stereo is the Music CD audio standard. That’s a basic, common one and everybody supports it. If you need higher sparkling clear quality, you can go to 48000 or higher. If you’re going to do multiple complicated effects and filters, it’s best to have a higher bit depth. 16-bit to 24-bit to 32-bit floating.

Audacity will manage internally any number of sound channels from one to sixteen.

However. Basic 44100, 16, Stereo will make a lot of people very happy and it translates directly to Music CDs with no damage or other problems. It makes great MP3 files that are accepted all over the world.


That’s how long your computer is. Every time your computer has to stop and think about something, it takes time. When you record it takes time and when you play it takes time. You get killed when you want to do both at once. Record the drum track and play that to your headphones in order to add the vocals. That’s a very common thing to want to do with Audacity. A very common complaint is “How come my new voice track is off time with the drum track? The drum beat is here and my voice doesn’t sound until over there. I was in perfect time when I recorded it.”

That’s latency. The drum data is retrieved and you hear it one computer late. Then you sing and the song is recorded inside the machine, wait for it, one computer late. So your voice is added to the show two computer’s worth of delay compared to the drums.

So if you have a really fast, modern, talented computer, you may not notice all those delays, but if you have a normal computer like the rest of us, the echo effect can be really significant and annoying.

Latency control gives you the ability to fudge the sound management inside the computer so each performance gets added to the show correctly and musically in time. Each computer is different, so you have to set these numbers manually by experimentation – usually only once, thank goodness.

You get killed again later if you change computers and want to record a new song. Sorry. You need to set all the numbers again.



That’s nice of you. Thanks for all this invaluable information. A great help.

Now, I wonder if you could add to your angelic behaviour by explaining how I can take the bassy voice back to the original pitch…



Your voice goes the wrong way. When you start having computer speed problems – for any of a list of reasons – the computer will not be able to keep up during the recording, so it produces a digital performance where the singers are too high.

What’s wrong with this picture? Your voices went down. They didn’t used to go down? All you changed was the Audacity version? This is seriously hard unless one of the other Windows Elves has an idea. Can you go back to an earlier Audacity as a Quick Fix?


Interesting. Thanks Kos. I will do as you say, install an earlier version and see what’s what.

OK, do you mean that a) the songs are playing back slower, or b) the pitch of the entire song changed without altering the speed, or c) is it just a case of sounding like the bass has been turned up?

If it’s (a) or (b) that is seriously weird. You record the music in Audacity, don’t change any settings, play it back in Audacity and the audio has been altered in ways that normally would require a concerted effort. The only thing I can think of is that you recorded at a sample rate of 48000, then played them back at 44100.

Look at the ‘Project Rate’ at the lower left of the Audacity window - what does it say? This is the rate you will be recording things at. Now click on the drop-down menu in the track that’s playing back too slowly, go to the bottom and hover over ‘Set Rate’ and take note of the selection that is checked in the fly-out menu that appears. Do the numbers match? In any case, please tell us what they are. If the track that is playing too slowly has a sample rate of 44100, try setting it to 48000. If this fixes the problem then you must have changed the ‘Project Rate’ at some point, either in the pop-up menu in the main Audacity window or in Preferences > Quality > Sampling > Default Sample Rate.

I leave everything set to 44100 all the time and never have problems. Pick a sample rate and don’t change it and you won’t have problems.

– Bill

Hi Bill

The only thing I can think of is that you recorded at a sample rate of 48000, then played them back at 44100.

Thanks for your very helpful post.

But I have never over the last 2 years ever changed any setting whatsoever, certainly not done as quoted above, recorded at one rate, played back at another. Until yesterday, I didn’t even explore the idea of changing the rate. IN that situation I would expect to hear something radically different. I’ve been always very lazy. Recorded, played back.

Once I realised the problem, I have indeed over the last 2 days been trying to find features so the recordings come out with the pitch of the voice as the original, so I am now looking at the various suggestions made here and shall go off and experiment again. Actually, my whole use of Audacity for the last two years has been only recording plays, so I never noticed any difference in pitch and even if I had, it would not have troubled me.

The reason this has come up is that I have been recording a lot of the PROMS concerts - and kept thinking, eugh, that doesn’t sound quite right. It’s a bit distorted, a bit weird and low, the ping of the voice is missing, it sounds a bit bassy, a bit hollow, the ring of the voice isn’t there.

So, first of all I’ll set the rate at 44100 and leave it there (which is what I’ve always done anyway). I’ll also go back to a previous version of Audacity and see if that changes things.

Thanks for the good brainwork you lot!

Personally I wouldn’t bother going back to a previous version of Audacity. Probably more trouble than it’s worth. I’ve noticed little difference - stability-wise - from 1.3.7 onwards. Before you go to that extreme, just check the rate on the tracks that sound wrong. As I said, if they’re 44100 but should be 48000 (and setting them to 48000 works), then you’ve found the problem. You can set the tracks (one track per project) to 48000 then export at 44100 and you’ll have a new set of WAV files at 44100. By the way, the difference between 48000 and 44100 is only about 9% - certainly not “chipmunk” or “voice of the devil” territory (depending on which way the pitch changes).

As a last resort there’s always the “Change Pitch” or “Change Speed” Effects. The former changes the pitch without changing the length, the latter changes the speed also changing both the pitch and the length.

– Bill

Hi Bill - Thanks for your further thoughts.

I think I’m going to drop this project for the time being,thanks. I’m too hectically busy and am now feeling overwhelmed by not knowing what on earth anyone is talking about, to be honest. Looking in the preferences, there’s many options but I don’t know what one is meant to choose and why and what the best choices would be. There’s lots of features, but what you’re meant to do with them is anyone’s guess. (What’s the ‘playback speed’ all about, for one? Dunno!)

I see there’s lots of options, but I was hoping to be advised what to set the preferences at, rather than it being left up to me when I hadn’t a clue what they were all for. For example, I’m still unclear why there are even different project rates. If people always use one - what are the others for? Baffling. What about preview before cut region - what’s that about? When I set it to stereo for my music recordings, that seems to be making the voice deeper - maybe it was that. Mono seems to be better, but then I assumed stereo is the norm.

Thanks for all the help. I’ll pop back I hope one day when I have oodles of time and hope to be able to sort things out then. I know it’s not difficult software - not at all. But all the options have ramifications and I like to know what I’m doing really. Guesswork takes up too much time. Somehwere in the help section it would be nice to have, say, three sample record projects, with an explanation fo what to set the preferences at and why., as guidance.

BTW a tiny point, but just for whoever is organising this forum. Every time I’ve come on I’ve set my user name & password to be recognised automatically but iit never sticks.

Cheers all. Thanks for the info.

<<<set my user name & password to be recognised automatically but iit never sticks. >>>

I believe that process depends on “cookies” in your browser. If you have cookies turned off, you will be a stranger every time you arrive.


(Quick reply to Koz
Just to say I’m on the internet about 20 hours out of every 24. It’s very basic to have cookies switched on and and yes, of course I do and did have cookies switched on. However, this morning I was able to get on without yet again adding my name & password and I certainly have not changed any browser settings. All well now then!)


The two most commonly used 44100 is used for CDs (it is part of the Red Book standard for CDs) - 48000 produces higher quality and is party of the DVD standard - and is used if you create music DVDs for higher audio quality. And there are occasionally folks that need to use higher quality settings like 96000

Yes it is a bit of a steepish learning curve - but worth persevering. Have you had a read of the manuals - the manual for the upcoming 2.0 (and therefore for the current Beta 1.3.9) is still under development. It can be found here:

Or if you’re planning to stick with 1.2.6 (though I agree with Bill that 1.3.9 is the way to go right now) this page will get you the documentation:

Also the Wiki is a useful source of information and tutorials:



I too record a lot offair from the BBC (including R3 - I’m listening to Charlie Gillett’s World on 3 from last night right now) and I never experience anything other than true pitch and true speed.

My settings are
Project Rate 44100 Hz (bottom left hand corner)

Devices>Recording>Channels 2 (stereo)
Quality>Default Sample Rate 44100 Hz
Quality>Default Sample Format - I have mine set to 32-bit floating, but would recommend that you set yours to 16-bit

Those settings should enable you to connect a good FM tuner to your computer’s soundcard and get good quality recordings at CD quality.

It is possible that there is a timing fault on your computer’s soundcard and this may be giving the wayward pitch. In which case you may want to consider using an external soundcard (I use an Edirol UA-1EX for this). See this sticky thread for reviews of soundcards that are known to play well with Audacity: