Audacity FAQ – Recording

1.1 Why can I not record in Windows Vista or 7?
1.2 Why can’t I hear what I’m recording?
1.3. Why do my recordings fade out or sound as if they were made in a tunnel?
1.4. Why isn’t my new track in sync with the previous ones?
1.5. Recording from YouTube (or other streaming audio) does not work.
1.6 Why do I get crackles, pops, or distortion when the recording is loud?
1.7 Why do I see a lot of vertical red lines in the track I just recorded?
1.8 How do I make a recording without small skips or duplications?
1.9 Why does my recording keep pausing automatically or why is my recording cursor stuck ?
1.10 Why do I get only a flat line and no sound when I try to record ?
1.11 Why do I get a periodic noise every 6 – 12 seconds?
1.12 Why do I get an unbalanced stereo recording?
1.13 Why is the recorded waveform not centered on the horizontal line at 0.0?

2.1 How can I record in stereo?
2.2 What is an optimal recording level to aim for?
2.3 How do I record from vinyl records, cassette tapes or MiniDiscs?
2.4 Can I play a track while recording a new one on top of it?
2.5 Can Audacity record YouTube, internet radio or other streaming audio?
2.6 How long can I record for?
2.7 Can I set Audacity to record at a certain time?
2.8 Can I record from a multi-channel device (more than stereo)?
2.9 Can I record from two microphones (or even two sound cards) at the same time?

Why can I not record in Windows Vista or 7?

On new Windows Vista or 7 systems, you may receive “error opening sound device” when you try to record, and/or have no audio input devices (or only “microphone”) in Device Toolbar.

To investigate this, exit Audacity then right-click over the Speaker icon by the system clock and choose Recording Devices. This opens the Recording tab of “Sound” in the Windows Control Panel. Show then enable all the disconnected and disabled input devices. For detailed instructions, see Using the Control Panel on the Audacity Wiki.

Many new Windows laptop, notebook or netbook computers only have a single audio input port. This will often be a mono port only meant for microphones. On some machines this single port may also be able to accept stereo line level input which is essential to record from standalone cassette decks or HiFi systems. See “How to connect your equipment” before connecting high output devices to a sole input.


Why can’t I hear what I’m recording?

To listen while Audacity is recording, enable what is known as hardware or software playthrough as explained below. If you use software playthrough and want to listen to the input without recording it, you must also left-click in the right-hand (recording) section of Meter Toolbar to turn on monitoring.

Windows and Linux

Open the computer’s volume control panel. In the playback section, turn off the “mute” checkbox or button for your recording source (usually “microphone” or “line in”) then turn its volume up. This is known as hardware playthrough. You will be able to hear the recording with very little playthrough latency.

If this does not work, open the Audacity Preferences. In the Recording section on the left, put a checkmark in the “Software Playthrough” box and click OK. This type of playthrough has latency, so you will hear what you are recording a noticeable time afterwards. You could also experience audio breakup.

Mac OS X

Open the Audacity Preferences. In the Recording section on the left, put a checkmark in the “Software Playthrough” box and click OK.

  • If Software Playthrough has too much latency, you could try turning it off and enabling “Hardware Playthrough” instead. Unfortunately, with most modern Mac hardware, no audio is actually produced using this option.
  • If Software Playthrough does not produce audio, try the free LineIn application.
For professional multi-track recordings you may find that Audacity’s Software Playthrough has unacceptable latency.

  • If the computer’s built-in sound device lacks hardware playthrough, you can buy an external USB or Firewire device and hardware monitor through its headphones jack with near zero latency.
  • Alternatively, lower latency software playthrough may be possible using the computer sound device.

For details, see our Tutorial – Recording Multi-track Overdubs.


Why do my recordings fade out or sound as if they were made in a tunnel?

This issue is common on new Windows Vista and Windows 7 machines. It can also occur on other machines if the sound device is applying an effect or a corrective enhancement.

  • If the recording is fading out after a few seconds, look for a “Noise Suppression” setting you can turn off in the Recording side of the sound device settings.
  • If the recording sounds like it was made in a tunnel, look for an “Echo Cancellation” setting you can turn off.
    • If there is no echo cancellation setting or it doesn’t help, look for “Environment” sound effects in the Playback side of the sound device settings – these will affect recordings of computer playback and sometimes other recordings too.

To change settings on Windows Vista and Windows 7:

  1. Right-click over the Speaker icon by the system clock then choose Recording Devices to open the Recording tab of “Sound”
  2. Right-click over Microphone and choose Properties
  3. There will probably be an Enhancements tab where you can disable all or selected “Sound Effects” – if needs be, also look in the Levels or Custom tabs
  4. If you need to change environment settings, click the Playback tab in the main window of “Sound”, right-click over Speakers, choose Properties then click the Enhancements tab.

If there are no settings to change, or on older versions of Windows, go to the “Sound” or similar section of the Windows Control Panel and look for a custom control panel for your sound device.

Unwanted fading or poor quality can sometimes be caused by inappropriate or outdated sound device drivers. For help, see our Wiki page Updating Sound Device Drivers.


Why isn’t my new track in sync with the previous ones?

When you make a multi-track recording, there is an unpredictable delay between playback and recording. Audacity tries to correct for this automatically, but this doesn’t yet work on all computers. If a new track is not synchronized with the others, you can zoom in and use Time Shift Tool ( shortcut F5 ) to drag the track to the correct location. If you are doing a lot of overdubbing, try our Latency Test to set a custom value for Audacity’s latency correction which can then be applied in Recording Preferences.

This tutorial Recording Multi-track Overdubs gives a step-by-step guide for manually correcting for the latency delay.

If a new track is being recorded at a different speed, it will progressively drift apart from the beat of the other tracks even if the latency correction is perfect. This issue can be due to hardware problems, sound driver problems or sample rate inconsistencies.

To fix this, try the following:

  • Use the same device for playback and recording.
  • Set the project rate bottom left of the Audacity screen to 44100 Hz (or if your sound card only uses a particular rate such as 48000 Hz, set the project rate to that). Look at Help > Audio Device Info to see the rates the device claims to support.
  • If you are on Windows 7 or Windows Vista, set the Audacity project rate to the same rate as the Default Format for your sound device. To view the “Default Format”, go to the WindowsControl Panel, select the Playback” and “Recording” tabs in turn, right-click over a device entry > Properties, and look in the “Advanced” tab. If the playback and recording format rates are different, make them the same. Also make sure the number of recording channels set in the Audacity Preferences matches with that specified in Default Format.
  • Select Windows DirectSound as the “host” in the Device Toolbar in Audacity and on the “Advanced” tab of “Sound” in the WindowsControl Panel ensuring both boxes for Exclusive Mode are checked.
  • Make sure the rate of the pre-existing tracks (as stated above the mute/solo buttons) is the same as the project rate. Select the tracks and click Tracks > Resample to resample the track to the project rate.
  • Ensure your computer sound device has up-to-date drivers specifically intended for your particular computer model and operating system, as provided by the motherboard or sound device manufacturer. Driver problems can cause speed and other recording issues.
  • If you are recording with a USB or Firewire interface, sample rates and number of recording channels must be the same everywhere. Match the Audacity project rate and the number of recording channels set in the Audacity preferences with those specified:
    • in the Windows Control Panel or Apple Audio MIDI Setup
    • in any software control panel the device has
    • on any hardware control the device has
  • If you receive crackling while playing and recording, try increasing the “audio to buffer” setting in the Recording Preferences.
  • If you suspect recording dropouts as the cause of loss of synchronisation, read our tips about managing computer resources
  • To fix recordings already made which are out of step with other tracks, you can use Effect > Change Speed; only a very modest speed change will be needed.


Why doesn’t recording from YouTube (or other streaming audio) work?

See this tutorial: Recording audio playing on the computer.

Rather than recording YouTube videos as they play, consider downloading the YouTube videos directly; search Google for how to do that.


Why do I get crackles, pops, or distortion when the recording is loud?

If you hear crackles, pops, or distortion when the recording is loud, or if the waveform is clearly touching the top and bottom edges of the track, you probably have clipping, which means that the signal has exceeded the maximum allowed level.

Try lowering the record level using the Audacity Mixer Toolbar or lower the volume of the input source (like the tape player or microphone, whatever is producing the sound, if it has its own volume control). Many sound cards and USB turntables/tapedecks also have an independent volume control for each of the input connections, which gives you another place to adjust the signal’s amplitude.

When recording try to aim for a maximum peak of around –6 dB or 0.5 if you have your meters set to linear rather than dB. You can always boost the level later with the Amplify or Normalize effects after you have completed your editing. Enlarging the Meter Toolbar by clicking and dragging on it may help to gauge levels more accurately.

Help with repairing clipping:
If there is only a little bit of clipping (just the tops of a few isolated peaks), Effect > Clip Fix can be applied to just the clipped sections. This will attempt to reconstruct the missing peaks by interpolating the lost signal. In other cases where there is mild distortion throughout a recording, using Effect > Equalization to reduce the higher frequencies can help to mitigate the damage. Sometimes a bass cut will help also by making the result sound less “muddy”.


Why do I see a lot of vertical red lines in the track I just recorded?

This is a visual indication that your recording has clipping. See the immediately previous FAQ above.

The vertical red lines show where the clipping has occurred; these clipping indicators can be turned on and off (Audacity default setting is “off”) by selecting View > Show Clipping.


How do I make a recording without small skips or duplications?

If it sounds like the recording is skipping or a second or a fraction of a second is occasionally missing, this means that Audacity is not able to write the audio to your disk fast enough to keep up with what it’s recording. Note that you may not be able to hear these skips while you are monitoring the recording but you will on playback.

Things to try:

Program interrupts

  • Redrawing the user interface uses up your CPU time. When you’re going to be recording for a long time, try these steps to make sure that your CPU is mostly being used for recording, rather than updating the screen:
    • Zoom out so that you can see at least the entire length you’ll eventually be recording; if you’re going to be recording 15 minutes, zoom out until you can see 20 minutes on the Timeline.
    • Make the Audacity window small.
    • Turn off display updating; click Edit > Preferences then click the Tracks section and uncheck CheckboxNotChecked.png Update display while playing.
  • Quit all other applications. For Windows users, this may include a lot of the programs that appear in the “System Tray” (in the task bar, near the clock). For example, you probably won’t be needing instant messenger programs or the like while you’re recording.
  • Beware of program automatic updates (such as Windows Update). They can make heavy demands on CPU or disk access at just the wrong time.
  • Disconnect the computer from the Internet when recording, so no interruptions are generated via the net.

Data size

  • Swtch to 16-bit Sample Format for recording, this uses half the data of 32-bit float. The Sample Format can be changed in Edit > Preferences > Quality.
  • Don’t record in stereo unless you have to. Stereo recording requires your machine to handle twice as much data. A single instrument or solo vocal track should usually be recorded in mono. You can position it in the stereo mix later, if required. The number of recording input channels can be set in the Audacity Device Toolbar
  • As the number of tracks increases the demands on the computer increase making it more likely for skipping to occur.


  • If you are using a USB recording device connect directly to a USB port not a hub
  • Regularly defragmenting your hard disk drive may help to avoid skips.
  • Upgrading your hardware can help; a faster processor, more memory or a higher-RPM hard drive might solve the problem. Also, make sure your hardware is optimized for performance (DMA for the hard drive, hardware acceleration for the video, no interrupt sharing for the sound card).

Operating System

  • If you’re using Windows 98, upgrade to a more modern operating system.
  • Windows 2000 and XP users can create different “hardware profiles“. Consider creating a recording profile that turns off all hardware not needed during the recording session. Turning off unneeded hardware keeps the drivers from being loaded, freeing memory and reducing CPU load overhead. Everybody’s requirements are different, but possible candidates are:
    • network interface
    • serial and parallel ports
    • Firewire
    • CD-ROM
    • USB (unless you’re using a USB sound device, mouse or keyboard)
  • If you are using a GNU/Linux system you may be able to fix this problem by running your programs with higher priority. By default, Linux programs run with medium (0) priority. The lower the number, the higher its priority is. Thus a priority 10 process is not as important as a priority -10 process. To set the priority of Audacity to be higher than normal, use a terminal (command line program) to start Audacity with the nice command. For example, to start Audacity with priority (-15), type nice -15 audacity
  • You can also run Audacity at a higher priority on Windows 2000 or XP by invoking the Task Manager (CTRL-ALT-DEL) and following these instructions: Click on the Processes Tab. Find the audacity.exe process and right click on it. Highlight Set Priority and set the process to AboveNormal. I don’t very often set it to “High”, the next highest priority unless I am going to walk away from audacity while it does whatever magic I want it to do and don’t care about possibly pre-empting any other processes on the PC.
Also see Managing Computer Resources and Drivers in the Audacity Wiki for a more comprehensive list of ways to avoid skips and dropouts when recording.


Why does my recording keep pausing automatically or why is my recording cursor stuck?

Sound Activated Recording The recording cursor can legitimately appear to be stuck in Audacity if you have accidentally enabled Sound Activated Recording in the Transport Menu and the current recording input is below the threshold level at which recording is set to start. You can tell this is the case because the blue Pause button will be depressed after you press Record.

To disable Sound Activated Recording, click the Transport menu and uncheck Sound Activated Recording (on/off).

To make a Sound Activated recording commence, increase the input level, or reduce the “Activation level” at Transport > Sound Activation Level….

Out of resources If you have not activated Sound Activated Recording and the red recording cursor won’t move from the position where you start to record or stalls while recording, this usually means you are out of computer resources.

Rebooting the computer may solve the problem.

For an in-depth approach to resolving this please see the Managing Computer Resources and Drivers page in the Audacity Wiki.

Preferences: Audio to buffer Also check the “Audio to buffer” setting; click Edit > Preferences then click the Recording tab.

This should normally be set to the default of 100 milliseconds; very low settings will prevent the recording starting.

USB turntables and tape decks Reports of recordings from USB turntables freezing or having dropouts are not that uncommon. Generally they are not caused by Audacity, but by poor quality equipment and cables, or lack of sufficient USB bandwidth.

  • Check the Project Rate bottom left of the Audacity screen is set to either 44100 or 48000 Hz – setting a very high rate might overload the USB bandwidth and cause transmission problems
  • Check the USB cable for tightness at both ends and try using a different cable instead
  • Always use a spare USB port, not a hub
  • Limit USB bandwidth whilst recording by using other USB devices sparingly e.g. simply disconnecting from the internet may help if you use a USB modem for internet access.
  • Check for any system warnings (e.g. in Device Manager in Windows) about the Universal Serial Bus Controllers.
  • There have been isolated reports that recordings freeze up if they are attempted whilst the unit’s RCA cables are connected to an external input such as a home stereo, although concurrent recording and playing through external equipment is implied as being possible.

Generally, if you find you can record into Audacity without interruption from another source such as a microphone plugged into your computer’s microphone port, this implicates the turntable or USB cable. To check if other sources record satisfactorily, go to the Device Toolbar and change the Input Device to your inbuilt sound.

If recordings from sources other than the turntable are also freezing or have dropouts, there could be problems with insufficient computer resources, see above. Please see the Managing Computer Resources and Drivers page in the Audacity Wiki for tips on correcting this.

If you’re using “software playthrough”, it’s also possible that problems with your inbuilt sound device (used to play back your recording whilst you are making it) are disrupting the recording. Please look at our list of tips on the Updating Sound Device Drivers Wiki page for help.


Why do I get only a flat line and no sound when I try to record?

If the red recording cursor moves across the screen but no waveform is drawn behind it (only a flat line), you need to start from the beginning and set up your recording device and input source properly.

Step 1: input device

Select the input Recording Device you are using (such as microphone or line-in) in the drop-down selector of the Audacity Device Toolbar. The drop-down selector you need is the one with the microphone icon.

If you are plugging a microphone or line-in input directly into the jacks on the computer, or recording computer playback such as internet radio, choose the name of the built-in sound device or sound card.

By default, Windows Vista and 7 only enable the microphone input. You must exit Audacity, then go to “Sound” in the Windows Control Panel to show and enable other inputs before you can record from them. Instructions can be found here in the Wiki.

If you are connecting an external device to the computer, such as a USB sound card, USB microphone or USB turntable, choose “USB Audio Codec” or similar.

Detecting USB and Firewire devices:
If Audacity does not recognise the device, try exiting Audacity and relaunching it, or in current Audacity choose Transport > Rescan Audio Devices. If that does not help:

  1. Exit Audacity
  2. Unplug all other USB devices, then switch off and unplug the recording device at the USB connection and at the mains (on Windows, use the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon in the System Tray)
  3. Plug the recording device into a spare USB port (not a USB hub), and switch it on
  4. Wait a few minutes then completely shut down the computer and restart it
  5. When the computer has finished rebooting, launch Audacity.

Setting sample rates for USB/ Firewire interfaces:
It’s important to set the same sample rate in the project rate bottom left of the Audacity window, in the operating system mixer, in any settings in the device’s control panel and on any controls on the device itself.

Step 2: output device

Also in the drop-down selector of the Audacity Device Toolbar select the output devive you are using, usually this will be your computer’s on-board sound card. The drop-down selector you need this time is the one with the loudspeaker icon.

Step 3: channels

In the Audacity Device Toolbar set the Recording Channels to 1 (mono) or 2 (stereo) as required.

Step 4: input signal level

In the Mixer Toolbar, adjust the input level using the input slider (the one that has the “microphone” symbol) in conjunction with the recording level meters on the Meter Toolbar to set the correct recording level before starting to record for real.

If the Audacity input slider does not control the recording level of the device, use the slider in the operating system instead. This is usually accessed by a loudspeaker icon near the system clock.

Further Help

  • Input source unavailable/unselectable, or records incorrectly: Try selecting it instead in the system mixer – see the help for Windows, OS X or Linux.
  • Recording computer playback: See the special help for Windows, OS X or Linux.


Why do I get a periodic noise every 6 – 12 seconds?

Audacity writes to disk roughly every 6 or 12 seconds, depending on your preferences settings. If you hear a funny noise in the background that’s relatively consistent every 6 – 12 seconds, it means that your soundcard is picking up the noise from your hard drive.

See Improving recording quality in the Audacity Wiki, because you’ll probably need to find a better driver or upgrade your hardware.


Why do I get an unbalanced stereo recording?

Is Audacity set to record in stereo?

If you are recording a stereo source and the left or right channel is weak or non-existent, first make sure you have Audacity set to record in stereo.

Do this by setting “Recording Input Channels” to 2 (stereo)  MenuDownArrow.png in the Device Toolbar. Your recorded track will then say “Stereo” in its Track Control Panel and two channels will be displayed when you press the Record image of record button button.

Make sure your physical recording connections (plugs and sockets) are tight and clean. Ensure that any balance controls, on for example your mixer or amplifier, are centrally placed.

Make sure the left and right channels are balanced in the system mixer. On Windows this is the recording section of Sound, Sounds and Audio Devices or similar in the Windows Control Panel (which you can access by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard), or on Mac OS X 10.2 or later this is Applications > Utilities > Audio-MIDI Setup: Audio Devices.


If you cannot correct the imbalance at the input stage this can be corrected after the recording has been made using the Normalize effect.

  • In Audacity, click on the Track Control Panel in the empty space above to select all the audio of the track, and click Effect > Normalize.
  • In the dialog box check CheckboxChecked.png Normalize maximum amplitude to: and type the amplitude level you require (-6 dB would be a good setting at this stage).
  • Then check CheckboxChecked.png Normalize stereo channels independently. Then press the OK button.

This will scale the volume of each channel independently to -6 dB (6 dB less than the distortion level) so they are at the same volume level.

Adjusting the Channels Independently

Alternatively you can click on the downward pointing arrow in the Track Control Panel to reveal the Track Pop-Down Menu and and choose Split Stereo Track from the menu. This enables you to separately edit and control the left and right channels.

Using the Gain Sliders Press the green Play button or Space and use the gain sliders Track Gain Slider on the Track Control Panels of the left and right channels to adjust the gain on each to your satisfaction as the track plays. Note this is not an edit of the waveform so it won’t change appearance, although the gain changes are respected when you export the audio. To edit the waveform itself so you can see what the exported waveform will look like, select the audio and useTracks > Mix and Render.

If you are changing the gain on the tracks with the gain sliders, make sure before you export the audio that you don’t apply too much gain so that the result distorts. You can check this by looking at the green VU Playback Meter in the Meter Toolbar.

Using the Amplify Effect If you prefer to adjust the gain on each track to a precise level avoiding any risk of output distortion, click in the Track Control Panel of the left channel to select it and then use Effect > Amplify choosing your requiredNew Peak Amplitude (the box underneath the slider). Then repeat for the right channel and amplify that to your chosen New Peak Amplitude. You must amplify both channels separately if you want to change the balance between them.

Unlike using the gain sliders this will edit the waveform and the result will show in the waveform display.

Remake the stereo track After the amplitude adjustment, you will need to rejoin the split tracks to make a stereo track once more. To do this click on the downward pointing arrow in the Track Control Panel for the top track of the two and in the drop-down menu select Make Stereo Track.


Why is the recorded waveform not centered on the horizontal line at 0.0?

Cause and impact

This off-setting of a signal from zero is known as DC offset; a signal with DC offset would appear in the Audacity default Waveform view not centered on the 0.0 horizontal line.

A sound that has DC offset will not be at its loudest possible volume when normalized or ampli (because the offset consumes headroom). This problem can possibly extend to the mix as a whole, since a sound with DC offset and a sound without DC offset will have DC offset when mixed.

DC offset can cause inaudible low level distortion (which becomes audible when other filters are applied or if the sound is compressed upon export). It can cause clicks at the start and end or distortion after running effects.


If this is the case with your recording, to remove the DC off-set use Effect > Normalize.

Put a check mark in the CheckboxChecked.png Remove any DC offset… box but leave the CheckboxNotChecked.png Normalize maximum amplitude.. box unchecked and then press the OK button.

Hardware upgrade

The normal cause of DC offset is a faulty, or poor, sound card. So it may be worthwhile considering upgrading your computer’s on-board sound card or purchasing an external sound card.


How can I record in stereo?

Audacity by default should already be set to record in stereo. If this is not the case, use Device Toolbar to select the output and input devices and to set the channels to “2 (stereo) Input Channels”.

Alternatively you can open the Audacity Preferences, choose the “Devices” section on the left, then in the “Recording” panel, change the number of recording channels to “2 (Stereo)”.

Windows Vista and 7: Many USB recording devices, even if stereo, are seen as “microphones” so set by Windows to record in mono. If Audacity is set to record in stereo this will cause both channels to have the same content as one of the channels. To set Windows to record the device in stereo:

  1. By the system clock, right-click over the Speaker icon > Recording Devices then right-click over USB Audio Codec > “Properties”
  2. On the “Advanced” tab, in the “Default Format” section, make sure the drop-down menu is set to “2 channel 16 bit 44100 Hz”.


What is an optimal recording level to aim for?

Try to aim for a maximum peak of around –6 dB on Meter Toolbar (or 0.5 if the meter is set to linear scale). This should ensure that clipping will be avoided. The recording will only show a maximum peak of around 0.5 on the default waveformdisplay, but given how the ear hears sound, this is actually much louder than apparent “half volume”.

You can boost the level if necessary after recording and editing by using Effect > Amplify or Effect > Normalize.


How do I record from vinyl records, cassette tapes or MiniDiscs?

  1. Set Audacity to record in stereo.
  2. Plug one end of a stereo cable into the “Line Out” or “Headphone” connector on your tape deck, MiniDisc player, or stereo system. Plug the other end into your computer’s “Line In” port. If you do not have a suitable cable, you can find one at an electronics store.
  3. Choose “Line In” as the input source on the Audacity Mixer Toolbar, or in Audacity Preferences (Windows Vista/7) or Apple Audio-MIDI Setup (OS X).
  4. Press the red Record button. While Audacity is recording, start playing your tape or disc. When you have captured the audio you want to record, press the yellow Stop button. You can also press the blue Pause button to pause recording, and Pause again to resume recording on the same track.

For a detailed tutorial, see Copying tapes, LPs or MiniDiscs to CD. This covers all the steps from recording your records, cassettes or MiniDiscs to exporting as an audio file and burning to an audio CD.

Vinyl or shellac records can also be recorded into Audacity with a special type of turntable that connects to the USB port of your computer. These turntables need to be set up differently from those that connect to line-in. See Recording with USB turntables for setup instructions, then Basic Recording, Editing and Exporting in the main tutorial.

Connection hints:

  • Do not connect a turntable directly to your computer. The signal from a turntable must be passed through a phono pre-amplifier or a receiver with a “phono” input that provides phono amplification. Otherwise, it will be too quiet, and sound “tinny” due to incorrect equalization.
  • Do not plug stereo equipment into your computer’s “Microphone” port. This port is usually designed only for low level, mono microphone input. It will produce distortion if you connect phono amplified output. Use the “Line In” port if you have one (on some laptops or other portable computers, the “Mic” port can be switched to a line-level input). See further help.


Can I play a track while recording a new one on top of it?

This is known as recording an overdub to create a multi-track recording. It makes it possible to record harmonies with yourself, or add new instruments or vocals to an existing recording. To do this in Audacity, follow these instructions:

  1. Select the recording input you are plugged into (probably microphone or line-in) in the Input Device menu in Device Toolbar
    • If you do not see your required input, enable it and make it default in the operating system’s mixer, then in Audacity, choose Transport > Rescan Audio Devices
  2. Import or record the first track
  3. Choose Transport > Overdub (on/off)
  4. Press the Record button Record button image .
If you are recording from a microphone, make sure you use headphones so that the microphone picks up only what you are recording. Detailed, illustrated instructions on how to make overdub recordings are in Tutorial – Recording Multi-track Overdubs.


Can Audacity record YouTube, internet radio or other streaming audio?

  • With most Windows and Linux audio devices, it is possible to record whatever sound the computer is currently playing, including internet radio streams.
  • Mac OS X users can capture streaming audio using a program like Soundflower (free, open source) or Audio Hijack.

See the Recording audio playing on the computer tutorial for details.



How long can I record for?

Audacity does not restrict recording length or how many times you can record, beyond some specific technical and practical limitations. Recording takes space on your drive so you can only record while the drive still has space available. When you start to record, Audacity shows a “Disk space remains for recording” message in the Status Bar at bottom left of the window giving the current recording time available.

To get more recording time:

  • Delete your old files and folders (especially your old Audacity Project files and _data folders when you have finished with them)
  • Select an alternative disk that has more space in the Directories Preferences
  • Record in mono instead of stereo (settable at “Input Channels” in Device Toolbar or in Devices Preferences)
  • Set the “Default Sample Format” in Quality Preferences to 16-bit instead of 32-bit (this is a good choice for a “quick recording” which you export at once without editing).
Warning icon Very long recordings (over 13.5 hours at 44100 Hz Project Rate and shorter for higher rates) cannot be saved as a single Audacity Project. Before quitting Audacity, the recording can be split to multiple projects or exported as one or more audio files (subject to any file size limitations for the format). The Wiki has more details about long recordings.


Can I set Audacity to record at a certain time?

Yes! See Timer Record in the Transport menu.

You can also make Audacity stop recording after a certain time limit without using the Timer Record feature, by following these steps:

  1. Turn on “Overdub: Play other tracks while recording a new one” in the “Recording” section of the preferences.
  2. Choose “Add new > Audio Track” from the Tracks menu.
  3. Zoom out if necessary, then click and drag to select the amount of time you want to record.
  4. Start recording. Audacity will stop recording automatically when it reaches the end of the selected area.


Can I record from a multi-channel device (more than stereo)?

Yes, but this is not simple; typically this does not work “out of the box” on Windows consumer systems, and always requires use of appropriate hardware and device drivers. There are some known Audacity limitations in channel selection and channel-to-track allocation. It is essential that sample rates are matched in all places (Audacity, the operating system and the device). See this Wiki article for more details.


Can I record from two microphones (or even two sound cards) at the same time?

Audacity can only record from one sound device at a time, but here are some solutions.

  • If your sound device has separate left and right mic inputs, connect the separate microphones to those inputs.
  • Connect the separate microphones to a mixer and record from the mixer.
  • If these are dynamic microphones that don’t need extra power, buy an adaptor that has two inputs for the microphones with a single 1/8 inch TRS connector for the computer microphone port (this will usually only give you a combined mono input).
  • Record each track to different computers.
  • If you have two USB microphones or any other separate sound devices you can aggregate them as a single device.
    • On Windows you can use Virtual Audio Cable (not free) to route two devices to one stream. It may also be possible on Windows Vista or 7 (with lossy results) to right-click over the speaker icon by the system clock, choose “Recording devices”, right-click over the first USB device, choose “Properties” then “Listen” and set “Listen to this device” to play the microphone through the computer speakers. Repeat the steps for the other USB devices. You could then use the “stereo mix” feature on your sound card (if it has such a feature) to record the computer playback.
    • On Mac OS X you can use Audio MIDI Setup to aggregate devices .