Need to record voice over mp3!

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Happy Marsden, May 27, 2015.

  1. Happy Marsden macrumors member

    Sep 5, 2014
    The Mac is the "multimedia" monster machine, right? So you'd think this would be easy! Well, it isn't in the slightest. I am running SL on a 2011 iMac. I would like to simply record my vocals over an mp3 music file. I need to be able to hear both my vocals and the music at the same time, while recording. I used to be able to do this on my old Windows comp.... on a Mac, I've never succeeded.

    Yes, I know about Audacity. It's a non-starter. When set to hardware monitoring (play through), my voice can't be heard along with the music track. It only works when set to software monitoring. Except, there is a latency problem. That is, my vocals have a delay of a fraction of a second, as I sing. This screws everything up. I have played around with the latency settings in Audacity, it does nothing.

    I've tried a few other programs for the Mac that purport to be able to record vocals over mp3. Some are "karaoke" programs, but none have worked properly, as described above.

    Surely there must be a way to accomplish this media task on a Mac??
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Do you have Garageband?

    You'll need some kind of digital audio workstation software (DAW).

    Import the mp3 as one track.

    Add another (as-yet empty) track for the vocal.

    Set it up so that the mp3 track is on playback and the vocal track is recording.

    Record the vocal part.
    (tip -- create more than one vocal track, and do several "takes", then pick the one you like best)

    Then -- "mix it down" as desired.

    Then -- "export" it as an "aif" file.

    Then -- convert back to mp3 if you wish.
  3. Happy Marsden thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 5, 2014
    I don't have Garageband, as I don't think it comes with Snow Leopard. Perhaps I can obtain it. I still don't know what "DAW" is though, and if this is a program I need to work with GB, and if so, what a popular example might be.

    If I obtain and install Garageband, will it allow me to hear my
    vocals and the mp3 track at the same time, while I am recording the vocals?

  4. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    If your Mac came with Snow Leopard, then it should have Garageband. Check your Applications folder.
  5. dyt1983, May 28, 2015
    Last edited: May 18, 2018

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    edit: to remove personally identifying information not relevant to the thread.
  6. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
  7. Happy Marsden thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 5, 2014
    Thanks, I have now given Reaper a shot. It's promising perhaps, but I have a few major problems with it:

    I can't get it to work with my external microphone, but it does record using the iMac's built in mic. However, I can't hear my voice as I record. I need to do this, this is important.

    For this reason, I can't even begin to record vocals and the mp3 at the same time. Instead, I have to record vocals, import the mp3 file, then try to match the timing of the vocals to the mp3. This is not good! With Audacity, the vocals were laid down precisely over the mp3 music file.

    Reaper is complicated, so I don't know if it can do what I describe. If not, does Garageband work like Reaper or like Audacity? If the former, then is there a program like Audacity that allows me to hear the mic as I record, and record a mix of both the vocals and music file at the same time, that can then be combined into one?
  8. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    In Reaper (like other DAW apps), if you pull down on the bottom of a track's "Control Panel" it resizes the height of the track and might expose more controls. Here is where you should find the Input Monitoring button.

    I don't know what external mic or sound device you might be using but you should be able to choose the device/input in Reaper's prefs.
  9. Happy Marsden, Jun 3, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015

    Happy Marsden thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 5, 2014
    Thanks for your assistance, Brian! I couldn't find any track-based "control panel" in Reaper, but from poking around looking for it, I did finally find the elusive "monitor" button I read about. That turned it on so I could hear the mic and record my vocals over an mp3 music track. Reaper does a better job of that than Audacity, because there is no delay when recording vocals. However, it does not work with any mic that I plug in, and I've tried several! No matter what I set the "Audio Device" to, including NONE, it always and only uses the iMac's built-in microphone!

    Anyone have any clue as to how to fix this?

    Update: This may be a clue... in the iMac's sound preferences, when I switch to the Audio Line-In port in order to set an external mic for sound input, the sound level meter does not register and the mic does not work. However, I can hear the built-in mic working! When I switch it to the Internal Microphone setting, then the level meter registers input. (The mic is indeed being plugged in to the microphone jack and not the headphone jack on the back of the iMac). I'm not sure what this indicates!

    Update 2
    : Now I really don't know what's going on!... I can no longer hear output from the iMac's internal microphone, whether on speakers or headphones! However, I can see the microphone working, because the sound level meter changes in System Preferences when I speak. I have no idea why this would change all of a sudden, as I did nothing that might cause it to. I've shut down and restarted the iMac and even switched to another drive; same thing. It's weird because I do get sound from other sources, such as YouTube or clicking on the alert sounds in Sounds preference. But when trying to hear sounds off the internal microphone, whether in Reaper or the Sounds preference pane, I only see the meter moving, but can't hear output any longer! (Regardless of whether an external mic is plugged into the Line-in jack or not). Of course an external mic plugged into Line still doesn't do anything.

    So for the moment, I'm worse than I started off with before fiddling with all of this!....

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8 May 27, 2015