Why can you not record into an existing track?

Maybe I’m missing something. Not sure. I have looked all over the manuals, tutorials and this forum and as far as I can tell you cannot record into an existing track. I am fairly new to digital recording so I am wondering why this is.

I just want to use the track I have open to do new takes on. When recording an instrument or singing, I don’t want to have a new track just pop up. It’s easier to just use an existing track. Since I am no expert, I am wondering what the thinking is behind not having such a feature.

If it’s a matter of “erasing” the take while recording over it, can I not maybe select the wave and erase it, thereby clearing the existing track for new audio?

I don’t want a new track to just pop open every time I do a take. The Append Record feature is not a useful way to record into an existing track as it only lets you record at the end of the track. ?? Why not anywhere inside the track??

I am using windows 8.1, toshiba satellite (cheapo, I know), audacity 2.1.1, .exe installer.


The short answer is that Audacity does not (yet) support multiple “takes” on the same track.
To expand on that a little; that means that if you did record “inside” currently recorded audio, then the new recording would overwrite the previously recorded data, in much the same way as recording over a cassette tape. So let’s assume that you do that, and your new “take” is a little longer than the part that you were wanting to replace.

Original recording:
“Now is the time for all groof mon to come to the aid of the party”

Retake - attempt to drop-in “good men”, but you don’t get the timing quite right:
“Now is the time for all … good men ome to the aid of the party”

So now you have made more of a mess than you started with.
If you have every tried making “crash edits” on tape, then you will be very familiar with this painfully frustrating problem.

Same example using multiple tracks:

Original recording:
“Now is the time for all groof mon to come to the aid of the party”

“for all good men”

Align the new take and edit the two tracks together:
“Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party”.

Result: A little more effort, but a perfect result.

Better approach - if Audacity supports multiple takes on the same track:

Original recording:
“Now is the time for all groof mon to come to the aid of the party”

Retake - attempt to drop-in “good men”, but you don’t get the timing quite right:
“Now is the time for all | … good men | ome to the aid of the party”

We have still “messed up” this take, but it is non-fatal. We can either go for another take (and as many as we want), then select the best one and delete the other, or, we can “explode” the track so that the new take is on a new track and then edit as we would in the current version of Audacity.

Classic (old) tape editors had two modes: “Insert” and “Add-On or Assemble.” In the Insert mode, you defined a hole in the existing show and the machine would go into and out of the edit at those edit points. It would repeat that forever if you wanted. The first time it destroyed the original work in that hole. You could go in and out manually, but nobody in their right mind would try that.

Assemble was just crash record. It would go into the edit perfectly either by pre-arranged edit point or simply pressing Record (with the right settings). The catch was it wouldn’t come out clean and it effectively destroyed everything from there to the end of the tape. This is the mode used when somebody makes a serious error and you needed to record the whole end of the show fresh.


Despite what Steve says, there are apps that make an acceptable job of “destructive” punch-in record if you practice at them. You would not have to redo the retakes every time.

Some of us want “destructive” punch-in (of course with Undo) because it should be much quicker to implement then a complete solution where takes are stored in “layers” from which you can choose any of the takes. Some of us don’t.


“Acceptable” by what standard? Good enough for a professional quality audiobook?
Are there any free programs that you would describe as being able to do an “acceptable job”?

I thought you were generally opposed to “half baked solutions”.


If it passes the robot and it’s your second or third post, nobody checks.


If you’re reading for someone else, the rights-holder may have something to say about it.


Yes, I believe so. Certainly good enough for professional voice-overs which I would think have higher standards for continuity, if anything.

Yes I posted a link to one a few years ago that I tried myself and had good success with when I wanted to do a one-off voice recording. It was way easier than recording it in Audacity. :astonished:

I can’t come up with the link right now or remember what the app was called. IIRC you tried the app, though, and gave it some kind of grudging approval. :wink:

I don’t think what was requested recently in https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/re-recording-a-small-section-in-a-track/40504/1 is “half-baked”. Note that the poster refers to other apps that do similar to the app I used.

Paul Licamelli has already expressed an interest in working on punch in. Perhaps he might make a simple destructive and more advanced non-destructive punch-in. I vote we encourage him in that, rather than further work on Spectrograms refinements which fine as they are, are of more limited appeal and have a had a lot of attention recently.


Yes, he literally says “other” applications (“Other programs”). He doesn’t say what those “other” apps are. Perhaps he means programs such as “Pro Tools”. Pro Tools has a well thought out and efficient mechanism for non-destructive “punch-in” recording, just as it has a well though out and efficient implementation of scrubbing and real time effects.

Hi to EVERYONE who replied to my question and THANK YOU all as well.

I was trained to record way back in the 70s and early 80s… so NO digital tech, of course. I am just now getting back into it as a hobby so I have a ton of catching up to do. Also, I have forgotten more than I remember, it’s been so long. So, I appreciate all the help and the conversation that ensued.

Sorry it took me a while to get back to this and say, but since I posted that question, we had a new addition to our family born in the interim and that took me away until today.

Again, thanks for all the replies and happy holidays to all! Enjoy the end of the year, folks and may next year be a good one for you all.