How to fix a mic delay on audacity

Updated April 17, 2017

Mic delay occurs when you have a noticeable lag between the recorded audio and your computer's processing of the input. Mic delay is most noticeable when you use a microphone to "overdub," or record on top of an existing audio track. If you use Audacity to handle your audio editing tasks and you notice that your microphone's input is out of sync with your dub track, you can use the program's latency correction process to remedy mic delay problems.

Connect one end of a 1/8-inch-to-1/8-inch audio cable into the "Line In" port on your computer's soundcard. Connect the opposite end of the cable to the soundcard's "Audio In" or "Headphone" port. Alternatively, plug a USB microphone into a USB port on your computer, and place the microphone in front of your computer's speakers.

Start Audacity. Click on "Edit," select "Preferences" and click on the "Recording" tab in the Preferences menu.

Click to place a check mark next to the "Overdub" box, and remove the check mark from the "Software Playthrough" box. Type "0" into the "Latency correction" field, and click "OK" to close the Preferences menu.

Click "Generate" and select the "Click Track" option. Type "2" into the "Number of measures" field, and select the "Tick "option from the "Click Sound" menu box. Click "OK" to generate your click track.

Press the "Record" button to record the click track's audio to a new dub track. The new track appears below the click track and will stop recording at the end of the click track.

Click on the "Zoom Tool" in Audacity's toolbar, and click on either of the audio tracks to zoom in on both. Move the track window's scroll bar to the left to locate the first click in the click track's waveform. You'll need to compare the space, or "latency," between the first click on the click track's waveform and the first click on the dub track's waveform.

Click on the "Selection Tool." Move your cursor to the beginning of the click in the dub track. Drag the cursor from the beginning of the dub track's click back to the beginning of the click track's first click.

Click to remove the check mark from "Snap To" at the bottom of the Audacity window. Click to select the "Length" radio button, and click on the arrow button in the "Length" field's menu box. Select the "hh:mm:ss + milliseconds" option from the context menu that appears. The "Length" field will display the latency in your selection in milliseconds -- write down this number.

Click "Edit," select "Preferences" and click on the "Recording" tab in the Preferences menu.

Type your latency value into the "Latency Correction" field. Add "-" to the field to denote that the value is negative, and click "OK" to save your latency correction.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/8-inch-to-1/8-inch audio cable or USB microphone
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About the Author

Quinten Plummer began writing professionally in 2008. He has more than six years in the technology field including five years in retail electronics and a year in technical support. Plummer gained his experience in music by producing for various hip-hop acts and as lead guitarist for a band. He now works as a reporter for a daily newspaper.