Mixer Toolbar Issues

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Revision as of 16:18, 14 January 2019 by PeterSampson (talk | contribs) (P1 for review fixed)
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Peter 03Jan19: This page needs a serious review. Being in the Wiki rather than the manual it receives much less editorial notice and attention. We should consider moving it to the Manual probably (or deprecating it). Note that there are several places in the Manual that link to this page.
  • Peter 14Jan19: Review done. New Manual page created "Windows: accessing the Windows Sound controls" - will be linked to oce 2.3.1 is out. Plus I fixed up the 2.3.1 Manual to refternce this mew page and to fo direct to the Mac and Linux issues pages.
Peter 15Mar14: ToDo-2 Potentially this page could be deprecated? Gale wrote of this page in an email on 14Mar14: "A lot of that material at the top of that is "legacy" but if the legacy version is 1.3.13 or later. then much of the page applies. Perhaps that means we just leave the page "as is" for sending a copy to a legacy Wiki ?"
  • Gale 02May14: The Windows sections for the control panels vistacp and xpcp are linked to every day from Forum answers.
  • Peter 4May14: A fair point Gale - but is it linked to for users of current Audacity or users of obsolete versions? If it's for current version users than this page could be moved to the manual - the obsolete legacy users can be pointed to the parallel page in the Legacy Wiki - that is what the Legacy Wiki is for, supporting obsolete users surely.

    The advice note below states "is mainly for users who need to use legacy Audacity 1.2.x or 1.3.x." that's why I was inferring this page could be deprecated from the main Wiki, which is for the current version of Audacity.

  • Steve 12May14: I would suggest leaving this page as is for the legacy wiki, and severely trimming it down for the current wiki. My impression is that if we remove the information that no longer applies, then the "Alerts" for modern Windows can be moved into the normal text flow. The "Windows Control Panel" section is very heavily linked to on the forum, though could perhaps be updated to put more emphasis on using WASAPI for recording sounds playing on the computer and much less emphasis on "Stereo Mix".
    • Peter 15May14: Of course it remains (and will remain) in Legacy Wiki - that is what the "Legacy Wiki" is for - users of legacy/obsolete versions of Audacity. My point here is that this looks like an entirely legacy page and can thus be deleted from current Wiki. Or am I wrong and there are sections of this page that should remain for current Audacity users?
      • And I'm not sure why we're still talking about XP now that Microsoft have discontinued support. It is some thing that imo we should actively discourage (as Gale does on the Forum). Effectively XP is now a legacy/obsolete operating system - so its presence in Legacy Wiki would be ok - but in current Wiki should be deprecated if this page remains here.
    • Gale 18May14: I changed this to PS. As Steve says, the #vistacp and #xpcp anchors here are linked to every day to give support for current Audacity. My suggestion is that this page becomes a Windows-only page called "Windows System Mixer" (though if we want to move the page, the #xpcp and #vistacp anchors will need redirecting in the .htaccess file on the server). I will need to go though the page above the Windows Control Panel sections and see what if anything to retain (so please don't just delete that content).

      The #xpcp anchor is mandatory while Audacity officially supports XP. My Forum dissuasions about it are only about security, nothing else.

      The Mac section is outdated and could be moved to Mac OS X or whatever becomes of that. I've rewritten the Linux section to be relevant to current Audacity, but Steve can check it over. That Linux section can then be moved to Linux Issues.

  • Peter 10Jun14: I transferred the Mac section to Mac OS X as Gale suggests. I have asked Steve to take a look ot the Linux section.


Warning icon This page contains important information for users of current Audacity on Windows about enabling inputs in the Windows Control Panel.

Mixer Toolbar issues and input device selection

In current Audacity, all available inputs are selected in Device Toolbar or Devices Preferences.

Recording Device

It is often assumed that Audacity controls the input sources displayed, but in fact the sources offered are governed by the drivers of the sound device that is currently selected in the Audacity 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. This may prevent the audio device linking properly to the system mixer, so you may end up always recording from line-in, or cannot apparently record at all (whatever input source you choose). Another issue may be that you won't see all the inputs that your device potentially offers.

So the first step towards rectifying input problems is to open the Preferences and choose Devices . Find out what inputs are available and ensure that the playback and recording devices are explicitly set to the correct device you want to use. For example you may have multiple sound devices such as built-in sound and an external USB device, so you need to choose between them. If you are on Windows and experiencing problems, choose your sound device explicitly, not Microsoft Sound Mapper (which is intended to map to the currently selected default Windows sound device, but may not always do so correctly).

Bulb icon Note that on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and later, initial driver setup typically disables all the inputs except for the built-in microphone. It is strongly recommended to use the Sound Control Panel to show and enable all disabled devices so that recording applications like Audacity can see them.

Device selection for inbuilt devices on Windows

Note that some sound devices have individual analog to digital converters (ADC's) for the different inputs such as microphone and line-in. Where this is the case, these inputs are treated as separate recording devices on Windows (for example, "Line-In: Realtek" or "Microphone: SoundMax"). These inputs can be most conveniently selected in Device Toolbar in current Audacity but in legacy Audacity before 1.3.13 they must be selected in the Audio I/O or Devices tab of Preferences and not in the Mixer Toolbar selector which will be greyed out.

Windows Vista and later always treat recording sources as separate "devices", so on these systems the Mixer Toolbar selector in legacy Audacity will be greyed out and inputs must be chosen in the Audio I/O or Devices Preferences.

USB and Firewire recording devices

Note that if your selected recording device is a USB or Firewire device, these normally do not have multiple input sources to choose from, so Device Toolbar or Preferences will only list the device as a single choice and the input selector in legacy Audacity will grey out. This is normal, and just means that input choices must be made in the device itself, or in any control software that comes with it. Examples of devices which will normally not allow input selection in Audacity are the Griffin iMic, USB turntables or USB cassette decks and a wide variety of USB and Firewire mixers and interfaces.

Multi-channel recording devices do allow limited input channel selection in Audacity where the drivers support this, though only a few devices on Windows allow recording more than a pair of two channels at once unless you compile Audacity with ASIO support.

Device already in use

Also check your sound device is not already in use. If you are on Mac or Linux and the sound device is already being used by another application, Audacity may not be able to access it for recording. As a result, Device Toolbar, Preferences or the legacy Mixer Toolbar input selector may be empty of devices. Generally, this is not a problem on Windows as long as you choose MME host in Audacity, though issues with some applications are known. For example, speech recognition in Word, Skype or the Fraps screen capture software may prevent other applications from using the sound device to record from a microphone.

Further help

If you've got this far and the problem is not solved, go to the appropriate section below your operating system:

and then if you still have problems, go to our page on Updating Sound Device Drivers.

Windows Problems

Warning icon We strongly suggest you obtain the current version of Audacity then read our further information about Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

Card Not Supported

Some high-end multi-channel cards on Windows systems don't use the standard Windows mixer interface and 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 soundcard. Recording should work as normal with the card however.

Recording Devices

In current Audacity select recording inputs at Edit > Preferences: Devices tab, in the "Recording Device" dropdown. In current Audacity, recording devices can also be viewed in Device Toolbar. To enable this toolbar, click View > Toolbars > Device Toolbar.

If selecting a particular input does not work, or you don't see the input you want, try selecting it in the Windows Control Panel (see the next section below).

Bulb icon Accessing the Windows Sound controls and trying to select your required input there may often allow you to record into Audacity, even if the input you want isn't in Device Toolbar or Devices Preferences, or isn't recording properly.

Windows 10 / Windows 8 / Windows 7 / Windows Vista

Peter 11Jan19: ToDo-1 Once 2.3.1 is released the Windows section from here onwards can be deprecated as it was transferred to the Manual for 2.3.1
  • Peter 14Jan19: but drop a link here for the new Manual page "Windows: accessing the Windows Sound controls".

On Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista, the quickest way to access the mixer is to right-click over the speaker icon in the System Tray by the system clock and selecting Sounds and then click on the Recording tab. Alternatively go to the Control Panel and choose Hardware and Sound > Sound.

Peter 07Jan19: ToDo-2 In W10 the Control Panel is now well hidden (Microsoft seem to regard it as an embarrassment). The modern way is via Settings.
Vistarec.png
Peter 02Jan19: we should have a W10 image to replace this.
  • Peter 07Jan19: Especially since it is missing the Communications tab
    • Peter 14Jan19: Not worth doing as this section is going to be deprecated in favor of the new Manual page "Windows: accessing the Windows Sound controls" once 2.3.1 is out.

It is common on Vista and later that not all recording inputs are automatically enabled in the Recording tab. This means they are invisible in that tab, and also invisible to recording applications like Audacity. So you need to make them visible, then enable and make default the main one you want to use, following the steps below.

Warning icon All the settings below are specific to each recording or playback device. Therefore after enabling, making default and adjusting settings for your main recording and playback devices, it is best to enable and adjust settings for each other device you want to use.

Recording Settings

  1. Right-click anywhere inside the empty, white space, of the Recording tab and choose "Show disabled devices" then right-click again and check "Show Disconnected Devices".
  2. For a device having a physical input like line-in or microphone, connect the required cable and make sure it fits tightly - a physical device not connected may show as "currently unavailable".
  3. Right-click specifically over the input device you want to record with (for example, line-in or "Stereo Mix"), and if visible, choose "Enable".
  4. Right-click once again over the input device you want to record with, and choose "Set as Default Device", this will not show if you only have the one input device.
  5. Right-click once again over the input device you want to record with, click Properties then the Levels tab and ensure the volume slider is turned up.
  6. Right-click once again over the required input device, click Properties then click the Advanced tab and set the required format (channels and sample rate) using the dropdown menu for Default Format
    1. Set Default Format to mono or stereo to match with the number of "recording channels" in Audacity's Device Toolbar or the Devices tab of Audacity Preferences.
    2. Set the sample rate in Default Format so that it's the same as the project rate bottom left of the Audacity screen. 44100 Hz is a safe choice if you are unsure. Now click the OK button.

Playback Settings

Now choose the Playback tab:

  1. Right-click over your desired "Speakers" or "Headphones" sound device and if visible, choose "Set as Default Device". If the right-click menu also shows "Set as Default Communication Device", choose that as well, then by default all applications will use that device.
  2. Right-click over your desired device again, choose Properties then the Advanced tab, and set Default Format to a stereo choice with the same sample rate you chose in step 6.2 of the "Recording Settings" above.
  3. To ensure the soundcard does not add unwanted playback or recording sound effects like "Cathedral" or "Closet", look for Levels, Custom or Effects tabs and turn off all effects that are not required. Click the OK button to close Windows "Sound".

Communications Settings adjustment (even if you don't make Internet calls)

Windows sound settings are often optimized for VoIP (Internet calls or video conferencing) using applications such as Skype, but these settings can interfere with high quality microphone recordings of music.

  1. Look for and turn off all sound enhancements and any other sound effects unless you need them. To do this, right-click over "Microphone", choose Properties then look for an Effects or Enhancements tab where you can disable all effects.
  2. On Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 7, also click the Communications tab, then under "When Windows detects communications activity:", choose "Do nothing". This should prevent unwanted playback volume changes when recording computer playback or when recording over playback of another track.
  3. If you do make Internet calls and require to use specific devices for calls, proceed as follows.
    • To use a particular microphone only for calls, right-click over that device and choose "Set as Default Communication Device" (a green "telephone" icon will appear by the device).
    • Similarly, to use for example headphones as playback device for calls and speakers or other devices for music, choose the Playback tab at the top of "Sound", right-click over the device to use for calls and choose "Set as Default Communication Device".
    • If you want to use a headset for calls, choose "Set as Default Communication Device" for the headset on both the "Recording" and "Playback" tabs.

Alternative settings if crackly recording or playback occurs, or if recordings made while playing other tracks are not synchronized

  1. Open Windows "Sound", choose the Recording tab then right-click over your chosen recording device and choose "Properties". Click the "Advanced" tab, then put a checkmark (tick) in both Exclusive Mode boxes.
  2. Choose the Playback tab then right-click over your chosen playback device, choose "Properties," click the "Advanced" tab and similarly enable both Exclusive Mode boxes.
  3. Restart Audacity or use Transport > Rescan Audio Devices then choose Windows DirectSound host in Device Toolbar or Devices Preferences.
    • In Exclusive Mode, the sample rate selected in "Default Format" no longer applies, so be sure at bottom left of Audacity to choose a project rate that your device supports.}}

Audacity restart and settings

To make Audacity aware of all the changes in Sound, restart Audacity or use Transport > Rescan Audio Devices.


macOS /OS X specific issues

See the macOS page.

Linux specific issues

See the Linux System Mixer page