If you've had problems trying to record audio (music, speech / voice, streaming audio etc) that’s playing back on your computer speakers when you're using software like the open source free audio editing / recording tool Audacity or the free dedicated sound recorder Freecorder, it’s not necessarily to do with your soundcard drivers or anything complicated – it could just be a “feature” of Vista where Microsoft seem to have decided to hide away most of your sound devices.
If you can’t record sound from your computer because you can’t see anything relevant in the dropdown list for Recording Devices in Audacity (or Freecorder, etc), and nothing that you try from the list of device options will work, here’s a tip on how to get the list to display properly. I finally found it on the Audacity wiki after many troubleshooting attempts and much time wasted.
- Bring up the list of recording devices on your Vista PC. The easiest way is to rightclick the Volume (speaker) icon in your taskbar, bottom right hand side of the screen, then select Recording Devices:
- In the Recording Devices tab, rightclick anywhere inside the window and select "Show Disabled Devices". The menu might look a bit longer than what's shown below if you right click on the name of something in the list instead of clicking an empty space below the list, but it doesn't matter, both will have this option. (While you're at it, if you want to you can also select "Show Disconnected Devices" so you have the full picture. Not shown below to avoid clutter.)
- You should now see your soundcard properly in the list of recording devices. It's called "Stereo Mix" (or maybe "Mono Mix"), just to confuse us all:
- Now, all you have to do is to choose "Stereo Mix" as your recording device in your recording software. There's a howto for both Audacity and Freecorder below.
Audacity - how to select recording deviceGo to the menu Edit, choose Preferences and you'll get something like this - in the Recording section on the right under Device, just select your Stereo Mix (or Mono Mix) and OK it.
If that didn't work, try in turn all the devices that magically appeared in Recording Devices when you chose to Show Disabled Devices, and hopefully one of them should do it.
For those new to Audacity, just start it recording by clicking the Record button (with the big red dot), then switch windows and start playing the audio you want to record, and click the Stop button in Audacity to stop recording. You can tidy up the recording by deleting the gap at the start afterwards, but editing is beyond the scope of this post.
Freecorder - how to select recording deviceClick the Settings button.
In the Sound & Audio Configuration section on the right, click the Sound Card drop down list and choose Stereo Mix and OK. You get the drift...
Other issues?If the above solution didn't work for you, there may be other problems such as needing to update your sound card drivers, fiddling around connecting your sockets etc (and see my post about how to troubleshoot and fix general problems with sound on Vista).
This post is just about what might be the quickest general fix for this particular annoyance, but obviously there may be other issues in individual cases. Good luck!