Audacity – listening to a backing track while recording your vocal

Donald from the UK is having trouble getting Audacity to play his backing track as he records his vocal:

Hi Kenny,
I have installed Audicity ok. But if I import an MP3 track and select microphone, then press Record, the microphone records but the backing track is silent. I will be thankful if you can help!

Hi Donald

If everything is configured correctly in Audacity, all you need to do is plug in your microphone and hit record. You will hear the backing track playing and your voice will be recording your voice at the same time.

Of course the key phrase in the above sentence is “If everything is configured correctly in Audacity…”!

So to check you’re all set up ok, go to Edit > Preferences > Audio I/O and make sure the Recording source is set to wherever your microphone is plugged in to.

Then ensure that the Playback device is set to wherever your speakers are plugged in to.

“Software Playthrough” should OFF and “Play other tracks…” should be ON.

That should do the trick.

There are another couple of things to be aware of, although depending on your setup, they won’t necessarily apply to you.

Some sound cards don’t support full duplex recording – full duplex simply means the soundcard is able to play sound AND record sound both at the same time. Most modern soundcards, even cheapie soundcards support full duplex nowadays so this is unlikely to be an issue unless you’re using a very old computer or one of the budget laptops or desktops.

Another thing to bear in mind is that recording vocals with a backing track needs to be done in two stages. First you need to go to Project >Import Audio and load the backing track in to Audacity. Then you need to record your vocals on to a new seperate track while listening to the music on the other track.