Why would there be a delay of sound thru-put on input?

Doing overdubs or multi tracking is not going to work this way, lol. It takes like almost 1/2 a second after I hit a note on guitar for me to hear it on the headphones, or the stereo. The playback isn’t having this issue, not at all. It’s not any of the gear I’m going thru before the computer, as I’ve tried going direct into the computer, still having the same delay in sound thru-put. All I can think is that I’ve got some crummy soundcard ($60 computer from craigslist), or might need to reinstall Audacity, but I’m hoping you all can just tell me that it’s something to do with the software, a setting I haven’t got right?

Audacity 2.0.3
Windows XP
SoundMAX DIgital Audio

I just noticed a huge improvement when I switched from MME (not sure what that is), to WindowsDirectSound, but it’s still off enough to leave me unable to move on. You think a USB sound device might work better or worse?

I also just noticed that I could upgrade my sound driver, but it then said that it wont support the hardware. I’m using

Would an older version of Audacity work better? I think I have the 1.26 .exe somewhere. Should I try it?

This is not an Audacity bug that is fixable by changing version. Playthrough done by routing audio from input to output through software processing always has latency. Please see Why is there a delay or echo when listening to what I am recording? .

You have an obsolete and insecure operating system, but older machines do sometimes have hardware playthrough of inputs. Have you tried going into Windows Sounds and Audio Devices ? In the “Sound playback” section, select the sound device you are using for input then click “Volume”. See if there is a volume slider for the Line-in that I assume you are connecting to. If the Line-In has a volume slider, unmute it and turn up the slider. That is hardware playthrough and should have no latency. Then turn off Transport > Software Playthrough in Audacity.

Audacity 2.0.3 is also outdated. I suggest you get 2.0.6: http://audacityteam.org/download/windows .

If you have any more questions please give exact make and model numbers of all your equipment including the “crummy” soundcard and exactly how you are connecting all these pieces together.


In audio, this is generally called latency. You can sometimes reduce it to an acceptable level, but as long as you are monitoring through your computer you can’t eliminate latency. Pro interfaces and pro software use ASIO drivers to minimize latency. But, you can often get acceptable results with regular Windows drivers.

IMO - the best solution is to get an audio interface that allows direct zero-latency monitoring ([u]example[/u]).

Latency is caused by buffering… Computers have multitasking operating systems and they are always doing things in the background, even when you are only running one application. There is a recording-input buffer (holding tank) and the audio data comes into the buffer at a smooth constant rate. When the operating system gets around to it, the buffer is read in a quick burst. If the buffer overflows before the operating system gets around to it, you get a glitch. You can decrease the buffer size to reduce latency, but if you go to far you’ll get glitches.

There is also a playback-output buffer. In this case the danger is buffer underflow. Again, a smaller buffer will reduce latency and is more prone to glitches.

The total round-trip latency is the sum of the input and output latency.

When I wrote the first overdubbing tutorial, I purposely included three hardware devices that don’t have this problem. Most soundcards do.



You can, if the sound card has playthrough of the inputs. Few modern machines have this but if the machine is old and given this is XP it it well worth mef1975 checking if this is available in Sounds and Audio Devices.

USB interfaces can have quieter audio than motherboard sound devices, but a $60 sound card connected to the PCI interface of the computer (if that’s what you mean) ought to be quite good if it supports hardware playthrough.