Balancing backing tracks and vocals in Audacity

I was asked a question by a customer called Jan recently about getting good signal levels and balancing the volumes between the backing track music and the vocals in Audacity, our free recording software program. Here’s Jan’s question and my answer:

Hi Kenny
I can’t get any sense out of the recording when it comes
to listening to the backing while recording my vocals.
I cant find anything about it in the manual. What do
I have to do?
Many thanks

Hi Jan

You need to change the volume of the backing track music and the vocal track until they sound the right balance while playing together.

When you’ve got both tracks playing, keep an eye on the meter to make sure the signal isn’t clipping (distorting).

If the signal is too high the meter will turn red and stay like that. If the meter is showing red, turn down one or both of the tracks by, say, 3dB and the clipping should then stop.