Audacity FAQ – Playback

1.1 Why have I lost sound after connecting a USB device on Windows?
1.2 Why does playback go quiet when I record or adjust the input volume?
1.3 Why is there a very low level hiss on Exported files?

Why have I lost sound after connecting a USB device on Windows?

When you connect a USB audio device to a Windows computer, it may automatically become the “default” device that is normally used for both playback and recording. If the USB audio device is not meant as a playback device for the computer (such as a microphone, turntable or tape deck) you may lose sound in Audacity or in most programs on your computer. You can fix the problem as follows.

  • Windows Vista and 7: Right-click over the Speaker icon by the system clock, choose Playback Devices, then right-click over the speakers or headphones device you are using, choose “Set as Default Device” and click “OK”.
  • Windows XP or earlier: Right-click over the Speaker icon by the system clock, choose Adjust Audio Properties, then click on the Audio tab. In the “Sound Playback” panel, click on the downward pointing arrow in the drop-down box, select the inbuilt sound card as the default device and click “OK”.

Alternatively, you can disconnect the USB device from the computer after you have finished recording.

Note: To hear audio while you are recording, ensure “Software Playthrough” is “on”. This can be toggled on/off by clicking Transport > Software Playthrough (on/off).

 

Why does playback go quiet when I record or adjust the input volume?

You may notice this on Windows 7, for example when recording overdubs while playing an existing track. This system setting turns down or mutes other sounds when audio goes through the recording or playback devices set as “Default Communication Device” in Windows. This feature can be useful when making or receiving internet phone calls but is undesirable for other audio. To turn off this adjustment:

  1. Right-click over the Speaker icon by the system clock then choose Sounds
  2. In the dialog that opens, click the Communications tab
  3. Underneath “When Windows detects communications activity”, choose “Do nothing” and click “OK”
  4. On the Playback and Recording tabs, you can optionally right-click over a device and set or unset it as “Default Communication Device.”

If there are other problems with audio inputs or outputs not interacting properly, make sure your sound device has the latest drivers specific to your particular computer model and operating system. The drivers should be obtained from the motherboard or computer manufacturer’s web site, or if not available there, from the sound device manufacturer’s web site. For more help, see our Wiki page Updating Sound Device Drivers.

 

Why is there a very low level hiss on Exported files?

Deliberate noise is normally added when you downsample, typically this will be when you export a 32-bit project to a 16-bit WAV or AIFF file.