Which computer is best for Audacity?

Which computer is best for Audacity? I am about to buy a new computer. My desktop was a rocketship nine years ago, but the current crop of desktops are certain to be much better, faster, etc.

What features should I be looking for when it comes to processor, memory, input-output, etc.? Are there any other features that are vital for Audacity use?

Here are some of my concerns:

— compatibility. I strongly desire ease of use. I hate spending time trying to sort out problems, or simply how to do something basic. I will be using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 between the computer and the guitars, microphones, keyboards, etc.

— speed. I want no latency at all. Is there any other factor affecting latency besides processor speed and memory? Does a SSD affect this at all?

— sound. I don’t know what factors to look for in a computer to get a crisp, accurate sound quality.

— software. I will be getting a Windows-based computer, most likely with Windows 10 Home.

Are there any other concerns I need to focus on?

Here is an example of what I am considering. It is selling locally in the mid $400 range. I am not at all committed to this particular computer. If it is way off base, please tell me why and what else I should be looking for. …Lenovo IdeaCentre 510A Desktop PC, 9th Gen Intel Core i5, 8GB Memory/16GB Intel Optane Memory, 1TB Hard Drive, Windows 10 Home, 90HV001PUS (I could add another 8GB memory and/or a SSD if it would help any for Audacity performance)

Thanks large for any info!!


The only way you can get that, is by direct monitoring from a device that provides “zero latency monitoring” - that is, the headphone output is hard wired to the analog input. When using such a system, you will get zero latency monitoring regardless of what computer it is connected to, (or even when not connected to a computer at all, provided that the device is powered somehow).

For Audacity, it is recommended to use a computer that is less than about 10 years old, and has more than the minimum specification for the operating system.
For microphone recording, quiet fans, or a fan-less computer is good. Fan noise is one of the most common problems when recording on a computer.

As everything is going 64-bit these days, I would definitely recommend getting a 64-bit computer (most modern PCs are 64-bit).
Solid state drives (SSD) do make a noticeable speed increase when working with very large projects, though Audacity still works well with hard drives (HDD).

Other software that you want to use is likely to be far more demanding than Audacity.
For Windows, Audacity publishes minimum system requirements here: Audacity ® | Download for Windows

I will be using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 between the computer and the guitars, microphones, keyboards, etc.

Will be using? You’re not live recording now?

Behold the longest forum postings. They’re almost all people trying to make top quality home voice recordings. If you can tell your computer is on just by listening, you lose. That may be less of an issue with music where you can steamroll your way over the computer fan noise by turning the amp up, but don’t try that with a delicate violin solo.

Don’t plan on fixing it in post production, either. Repair filters and effects all leave audible footprints and damage.

There are some odd problems that only happen with newer computers such as permission and security issues. “How come my microphone system doesn’t appear in Audacity like it used to on my old machine?”

Obviously, you will be using your computer for communications and conferencing, so Windows will take the initiative to automatically apply Noise Reduction and Echo Suppression, whether you want it or not. That famously will not pass music and settings can be hard to find. Do you like Skype? Skype does Not Play Well With Others—like Audacity.

Editing in the computer is a terrific way to go and sound quality is generally only limited by your speakers and playback system. About the only way you can screw up digital music is insist on using MP3 everywhere. Stick to WAV and Audacity Projects until you have to post the music on-line or on your Personal Music Device.

Recording live performances can be challenging. That’s not a complete list of problems. I have a fuzzy rule that if you struggle with recording on the computer much longer than about two weeks, stop recording on the computer. Use a stand-alone, quiet, dedicated sound recorder.

Have I been enough of a blue bird of joy? My job here is done…


Frankly I don’t think you can beat a Mac. I still have mine from 2014 and it is still going strong.

But if you want to use Audacity, don’t upgrade to macOS 10.15 (Catalina) yet. Audacity (and many other audio apps) does not yet support Catalina.
There’s a list here of the support status for many popular audio apps: https://www.pro-tools-expert.com/production-expert-1/2019/9/18/macos-catalina-compatibility-the-ultimate-pro-audio-guide-check-it-out-today-to-see-if-the-software-and-plug-ins-you-use-support-apples-1015-yet#the-ultimate-pro-audio-guide-to-macos-catalina-compatibility/?view_8_sort=field_5|asc

And apart from the fact that Audacity is not supported on Catalina yet - there’s also the fact that on a Mac you can’t record what’s playing on the computer (a webstream say) unless you use additional software or perform some party tricks to make it happen.

Whereas on Windows there is WASAPI loopback recording which does that job in Audacity just fine.

Oh and don’t forget the price premium for Apple products.

As an Audacity QA bod I run both Windows W10 laptops and an Apple Macbook Pro (running Mojave 10.14.6 currently) - all three with SSD disks. All work fine with Audacity.

Personally I don’t like the way on macOS that the app’s menu bar is not attached to the app’s window but sits at the top of the Mac screen, and only shown when Audacity is the current active app.

I also don’t like the way that macOS keeps the app running and active in the lower Dock until you right click and Quit it. - or use Audacity>Quit Audacity. If you use Audacity’s own File>Close or close the Audacity window by clicking on the top-left red dot, the Audacity project window closes but Audacity remains active.


Hi Waxcylinder! Was not aware that Audacity is not supported on Catalina. Having said that, I don’t often update to the latest version of Mac. I am still on Sierra. Although you are suppose to update, I find it causes some older programs not to operate.

If your computer supports it, it is worth updating to Mojave so that your computer does not fall too far behind, and so that it receives security fixes.
Catalina breaks a lot of software (including Audacity), so I’d recommend that you don’t upgrade beyond Mojave for now.

See this Forum announcement Audacity under macOS 10.15 Catalina

And many thanks to noraa for posting that workaround


As others have said, I recommend a PC in order to get the fullest Audacity experience without needing additional software. I also recommend investing in a microphone (I use a relatively inexpensive Yeti one) in order to record without worrying about the sound of the fans. Then you can also avoid tracking down a fanless computer.

You still need to keep the microphone far enough away from the computer so that the microphone does not pick up the fan noise. This is particularly problematic with a laptop computer as you need to be able to access the keyboard and display while you work.

I use a relatively inexpensive Yeti one

A Yeti USB microphone. That means you will not be getting more than about 6 feet (2M) away from the computer for reliable USB. Also no hubs or splitters. Home runs only.

in order to record without worrying about the sound of the fans.

You’re not reading for audiobooks are you? The background noise specification for audiobooks is at least -60dB. That means your background noise has to be 1000 times quieter than your voice.


The background noise specification for audiobooks is at least -60dB.

The didn’t pick that number out of the air. That’s the broadcast sound specification, too. A very common performance complaint is noise.