Mixer Toolbar Issues
Input selector greyed-out, lacking the expected choices, or apparently not recording from the indicated source
One of the common problems encountered with the Mixer Toolbar is that its input selector can appear greyed out, thus apparently preventing the user choosing the recording source. The purpose of the selector is to link to the current mixing device (assuming this device offers a choice of input sources) and thus save the user going through a series of system menus to choose the source.
It is often assumed that Audacity controls the sources that are displayed, but in fact the displayed sources are governed by the drivers of the sound device that is currently selected as the recording device on the Audio I/O tab of Preferences. Drivers are a big issue on Windows machines, and it often happens that machines purchased new will only be supplied with generic Microsoft drivers. These may prevent the input selector from displaying all the possible inputs the device has (or any at all), or from linking properly to the system mixer (so that for example you always record from line-in, or cannot apparently record at all, whatever source you choose on the input selector).
The first step towards rectifying Mixer Toolbar selector problems is to go to the Audio I/O tab of Preferences and check that the playback and recording devices are explicitly set to your sound device. Similarly if you have multiple sound devices (e.g. built-in sound and an external USB adaptor), you need to choose the ones you want to use in the Audio I/O tab. If you are on Windows and experiencing input selector problems, choose your sound device explicitly, not Microsoft SoundMapper (which is intended to map to the currently selected default Windows sound device, but does not always do so correctly).
Note that if your selected recording device is a USB or Firewire interface device, these normally do not have multiple input sources to choose from, and so Audacity's input selector will grey out. This is normal, and just means the selector is not needed. Any necessary configuration should be done on the device itself, or in any control software that comes with it. Examples of devices which will normally not require use of Audacity's input selector are the Griffin iMic, the Numark and Ion USB turntables and a wide variety of USB and Firewire mixers and interfaces.
Also check your sound device is not already in use. If you are on OS X or Linux and the sound device is already being used by another application, Audacity may not be able to access it for recording and the Mixer Toolbar input selector will appear greyed or minimised. Generally, this is not a problem on Windows.
If you've got this far and the problem is not solved, then read on below.
OS X-specific issues
OS X has a very different audio hardware interface to most other operating systems. As a result, there may be no (or greyed out) Mixer Toolbar, or only one audio recording source available to Audacity, which will be identified as "Default Source". You will need to click on the MAC hard disk and then click on Applications > Utilities > Audio-Midi Setup and select your required recording source (e.g. line-in) as the default one you want to use. In OS X 10.0 and 10.1 there was no Audio-Midi Setup, so choose your recording source at System Preferences > Sound in the Apple Menu.
If you are on OS X 10.3 or higher and want to try our Beta version (1.3.2 at the time of writing) this has a later version of our Portaudio interface and may enable you to select sources in Audacity's input selector or possibly in the Audio I/O tab of Preferences.
Problems mainly applying to Windows
- Card Not Supported
This applies mainly to high-end multi-channel cards. Many of these cards don't use the standard Windows mixer interface and Windows volume control, but instead supply a custom mixer application which Audacity can't hook in to. In these cases you need to select the recording settings and levels using the custom mixer application shipped with the sound card. Recording should work as normal with the card however.
- Windows Control Panel issues
If the sound device you are selecting as recording device in Audacity's Audio I/O tab is presenting only one input source (or none at all) to Audacity, its input selector will grey out. However it may still be possible to go into the system mixer, select the input source you want there, and record with Audacity.
On Vista, the quickest way is to right-click over the speaker icon in the system tray > Recording Devices. Or click Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound (if you're using "Classic View" there's a direct link to "Sound" in the Control Panel), then click on the "Recording" tab, and click and highlight the input you want to use.
On XP or earlier, click Start > (Settings) > Control Panel > Sounds, Speech and Audio Devices > Sounds and Audio devices (or right-click over the speaker icon in the System Tray > Adjust Audio Properties). Then click on the Audio tab, on "Volume" under the "Sound Recording" panel, and select your input.
If the input source you want does not exist in the Windows Control Panel, or if you want the convenience of selecting your source in Audacity's Mixer Toolbar, see "Updating the Sound Device Drivers" below. However on Windows XP or earlier it's often the case that input sources are available to use, but hidden. To check this, click "Volume" under the "Sound Recording" panel again, then Options > Properties. Select your sound device in the Mixer Device panel, and ensure all the boxes in the window below are checked. Click OK. If the source you wanted was in the window list, it will now be available to select in the recording Volume Control, and you may find Audacity's Mixer Toolbar has now been re-enabled.
- Updating the Sound Device Drivers
If your problem is not yet resolved, the sound drivers must be updated to the current version for your computer model produced by the card or motherboard manufacturer. These are often available by going to the manufacturer's website, however Windows users are recommended to try updating their drivers via Device Manager in the first instance. To access Device Manager on Vista with its default view: click Start > Control Panel > System and Maintenance, then scroll down and click on Device Manager. With Vista "Classic View", there is a direct link to Device Manager in the Control Panel. On XP and earlier, click Start > (Settings) > Control Panel > System, click on the Hardware tab, then on the "Device Manager" button on the Device Manager panel.
Then expand "Sound, Video and Game Controllers" by clicking on the + sign, right-click on the sound device and click "update driver".
After the update, right-click on the device again, click Properties and then on the Driver tab to check the "Driver Provider". You don't want drivers from Microsoft as these are only low quality generic drivers. If you can only get Microsoft drivers, go to the websites of the sound device or motherboard manufacturers for assistance. Many will offer driver downloads. You should look for a driver update which is specific to your computer model and version of Windows. If you are on Vista, it's essential that the drivers are specifically intended for Vista.
- Input Selector and input/output sliders missing
If Audacity's entire Mixer Toolbar (including the output and input level sliders and the input selector) is missing this usually means that the version of Audacity you have installed has been built without PortMixer support. The could be because your Audacity version was built wrong, or because it's using an (experimental) v19 version of PortAudio which hasn't got PortMixer support. Help > About should give you both a version number and a list of which libraries were enabled at build time. To enable Audacity's Mixer Toolbar, you can either install from a package which has PortAudio v18 or compile Audacity from the stable source code using PortAudio v18. For instructions on using the source code to compile Audacity, see CompilingAudacityForBeginners.
If you do want to compile Audacity with Portaudio v19 (which gives native ALSA support) and have a Mixer Toolbar, you need to use the unstable 1.3.2 version of Audacity. There may not be a 1.3.2 package yet for your particular distribution, but you can compile Audacity from the unstable source code. You can also compile Audacity 1.2.6 with Portaudio 19, but this is no longer supported, and means you will have to choose your input source and the input/output levels in ALSAmixer.
- Input selector minimised (so unable to select any sources)
If the selector just appears as a small lump but you have the input and output volume sliders, this usually means that there is currently no audio device available to, or recognised by Audacity for recording on your system. There are various possible causes for this. They include:
1. Another audio program like XMMS is using the sound device
2. A sound daemon like esound (ESD) or aRts is using the sound device
3. You have system sounds turned on in a desktop environment like Gnome or KDE
4. You don't have the correct permissions to access the sound device
5. OSS emulation modules for ALSA are not installed. (If you are using audacity 1.2.x).
6. The recording device you currently have selected on the Audio I/O tab of Preferences only has one input source, and so there is no choice that can be made. Many USB and Firewire Input/Output devices fall into this category.
So, any other applications using the sound device must be disabled. Or if you are using the OSS device and aRts, you can use the wrapper provided by aRts and run $ artsdsp audacity (some users report recording issues when doing so).
If you use OSS, you need to check that /dev/dsp (the OSS device) is present. If you use ALSA, you need to get the OSS emulation for ALSA installed, unless you are using Audacity 1.3.2 which supports ALSA natively. You can launch Audacity from the command line as
$ aoss audacity
which will load OSS emulation modules for ALSA if you have them installed.
On many distributions you need to add your user to the "audio" group so they have permissions to access the sound devices.