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How can i record better quality music with Audacity? Answered

I recently recorded some music through Audacity, but i am not satisfied with the quality. I don't see why Audacity would have bad quality. I'm thinking it is because i am using a oldish computer. Is that most likely the problem? Also, i am having trouble attaching my guitar to my camera. I still can't get clear sound from it either. Is it the camera?


I have an OLD desktop, E-Machine running a 433 Celeron with 256MB RAM using the onboard audio - Crystal Sound in Widows 98 SE blah blah blah, that records clean audio with Audacity. The key is using a good mic and a preamp that plugs into the LINE-IN jack on the computer.

Now, a good mic is not necessarily an expensive one. You can get a fairly inexpensive one at Walmart. It is a Phillips brand for less than $20 US. It is a dynamic mic which is key to this setup.

Next is a preamp. After pricing analog preamps at music stores (YIKES!), I decided that I could design and build something much better and infinitely less expensive. Find my design at the Nuts n Volts Forum, 5th post from the bottom. This is a stereo preamp that takes advantage of the stereo LINE-IN input on the computer. This one makes the 3rd "preamp" available. The other 2 are a Behringer mixer and a Radio Shack mixer. Of the 3, this home built is the most quiet in reference to noise. Since it is stereo, you can use 2 mics and record both your guitar and your singing.

As for Audacity, make sure you have your source set to LINE-IN, and adjust the levels so that they are below the red. You can always pull the levels up after recording, but you will have a very hard time cleaning up the distortion caused by a "hot" signal. Also check your settings to see if the sample rate is set to at least 44.1kHz and the bitrate is 16 bit. That is CD quality and probably the max your computer can do.

Now take some time and look at the related links (to the right->). Once you have read through them and gathered up what you need, you should be on the path to making your own really clean recordings.

From what you have described in your follow up post, you are using a patch cord from the guitar into an adapter into the camera. Have you verified the quality of the connections? Is the cord good? Is the adapter good? Many times you'll find problems are with the wires or connectors. It might even be the connector on the guitar or the camera.

If you cannot get rid of the noise, your best bet is just to record the audio on the computer and use just the video from the camera. You can sync it up in editing.

Good luck!


I had an older laptop with a power supply that induced noise when recording (I would have to unplug the supply to prevent it)... it actually would induce noise throughout the entire electrical wiring... (is there any appliance that could be causing your trouble?)... can you test the recording on audacity with just a mic? I'm amazed how having a good quality mic makes such a difference. I have used adapters for my guitar (acoustic with pickup) and again the quality of the cable (and any adapters) make a huge difference... I made up a connection to record my guitar track and it was noisy... I thought it might have been my pickup until I tried a good quality cable... audacity-wise... is it recording in stereo (is your mic stereo - I assume your pickup isn't?)... have you played with audacity's quality settings (edit-preferences-quality)... audacity quality really depends on what you give it... your pc... your cable... your guitar pickup... camera... externally induced noise... step your way through to track down the weak link... hope you find a solution...

The camera and maybe the PC will do better with a pre amp between the guitar and the camera/PC the output from many electric pickups is very small. Turning up the gain will also introduce noise.

You cans elect the recording quality level in the Audacity preferences.

To get some idea of the resulting sound quality start with a known good recording. You can copy and paste MP3's etc into audacity from Cd's

Wait a sec, are you telling me you're connecting your guitar through a camera? Do you mind being more specific about your current setup, please?

I really do not know how to be more specific. I have an electric/acoustic guitar that has a female phono jack that can be attached (through the use of a cord and 1/4th inch to 1/8th inch jack converter) to my camera microphone input. I don't see why a guitar, which is directly attached to my camera, would create so much static. It was a stupid question. It has got to be the camera.

Hmm, thinking it over some more, I believe it is the fact you are trying to put the guitar output into a micrphone input. Guitars can have a relatively high level (several hundred mV to over a 1 Volt for really hot pickups) whereas a microphone is looking for low level (5-20 mV) and may be injecting a DC voltage for a electret microphone. Your guitar cable should be a 2 conductor with a tip/sleeve plug. The camera cable may be a 3 conductor with a tip/ring/sleeve plug. The ring is used for supplying power. If you try to use this with a normal guitar cable, you run the risk of either shorting the power supply in the camera or injecting DC power into the guitar. In either case, it affects sound quality, both the DC and the hot signal.

Thinking aloud,

The camera is a separate thing. I want to record through the computer and then again through the camera's microphone so i can have video.

Oh, I see. Because of your computer being, "oldish," it might be that you don't have a very good ADC (analog to digital converter.) If you buy a separate one, such as this...


... you should have better sound quality.