Mixer Toolbar Issues

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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 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 7 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 and Windows 7.

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).


Accessing the Windows Sound controls

See Windows: accessing the Windows Sound controls in the Audacity Manual for full details - this former Wiki section has been transferred there.

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.


macOS /OS X specific issues

See the macOS page.

Linux specific issues

See the Linux System Mixer page