Sound Devices and Interfaces

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Revision as of 13:40, 26 June 2009 by DOStradamus (talk | contribs) (Realtek AC883 onboard HiDef Audio: Its near, perhaps total driver support for all Win since 2K, includes audacious OFFICAL support of the Win7 Release Candidate.)
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This article is intended as a summary of known information on using specific sound cards, recording/playback devices or audio interfaces with Audacity.


The main purpose here is to list devices that have been reported to work well with Audacity. Information may also be added in the last section about devices that are known not to work with Audacity, or to do so only with major restrictions.

Information is mostly based on user reports and unless stated otherwise should not be taken as representing official endorsement by the Audacity Team. Pricing information should not be added to listings.

The following codes are used in operating system information:

  • For Windows:
    • (MCX) XP Media Centre Edition not supported, or untested
    • (V) Known to work well with Vista
    • (VU) Vista support unknown
    • (VQ) Vista support problematical (see text)
    • (VX) Vista not supported
  • For Mac:
    • (PPC) Power PCs only
    • (U) Supported on Intel Macs and Power PCs

Playback Devices



M-Audio Audiophile 2496: 

Compatibility: Windows 98 SE and later (MCX, VU), Mac OS 9.2.2 and later, OS X 10.2.6 and later.

24 bit/96 000 Hz, 2 x 2 Analogue I/O and 2 channel S/PDIF digital I/O.

User report: Works well with Audacity. When used with a slow CPU computer (approx. 500 MHz), there is a lag if you're trying to record in Audacity in sync with a wave file being played back by Audacity. However, with a CPU running at around 2 GHz, no latency was noticed. The audio card handles feeding of audio output from one application into another and simultaneously playing while recording.

Realtek ALC883 High-Definition Audio:

Compatibility: Windows 2000 Pro/Server, XP Pro/Home, 2003 Server, Vista, 2008 Server, "Windows 7". Drivers for 64-bit Windows XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, and "7" are available (MCX,V)
Compatibility Opinion: Probably works with XP MCE. See Discussion Page

I/O Highlights: (as installed on Asus P5N-D Motherboard)

  • Outputs:
    • 8-Channel (7.1) Surround Sound (Analog)
    • 2x (2-channel) Line Out/Speakers (Analog)
    • S/PDIF (Digital) with both coaxial and optical jacks
  • Inputs:
    • 2x Analog Line In
    • Microphone

User report: No problems at all so far. One minor annoyance, as it properly belongs posted as a New Feature Request ("next task"), but will look like a "bug" to those unfamiliar with the way media devices are handled by current versions of Windows, it is discussed here:

Make sure that whatever you will be recording from (or playing to) is plugged in BEFORE you start Audacity, or you won't be able to select it for use in Preferences->Audio I/O. Windows detects when media devices are connected and disconnected, and properly adds and removes them from the list of available devices, correspondingly, from the list of what's available. Audacity runs with a copy of that list, that it retrieved when launched, and that list never gets updated during the entire Audacity session. Some apps (i.e. VLC Media Player), have a button where you can tell it to check again, but a Feature Request is due out shortly that not enly eliminates the need for "that button", it also does something necessary for use as a (saved) program preference.

User's System:

OS: Windows 2008 Server, SP2, 32-bit, with "Desktop Experience" package loaded (adds Full Vista Desktop (+Aero) and WMP 11)
Mobo/RAM/CPU: Asus P5N-D, 4GB RAM, Intel C2D E6850 (3.51 GHz)
Misc: 4 monitors off of 2 PCIe16 cards (Almost 6000 px across!), 3 500GB SATA2 drives (95% full)
Primary used for: Software development Secondary use: Multimedia

USB Interfaces

Tascam US-122L: 

Compatibility: Windows XP 32 bit SP2 or later (MCX) and Vista 32 bit, Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Left and right XLR microphone inputs with phantom power and left and right analogue line inputs (right hand is switchable to high impedance for use with guitars etc.). Line input does not provide phono pre-amplification, so is unsuitable for direct connection to a turntable. Installation of the latest Tascam drivers from their web site is essential, then update to their latest firmware - you can do both here . An operating manual is available here .

Xitel Inport: 

Compatibility: Windows 2000 or later (V)

RCA inputs primarily intended for recording LPs and cassettes. It connects to phono amplifiers, cassette decks or other line-level sources but does not provide phono pre-amplification, so is unsuitable for direct connection to a turntable. Can also be used with its own recording software. An independent review of the device can be found here .

USB Microphones


Compatibility: Windows XP (VQ), Mac OS X (U)

USB mono condenser microphone with unusual circular design and choice of cardioid, cardioid with -10dB reduction and omnidirectional patterns. Product Manual is here . Many (not all) users report problems under Windows Vista on the Snowball Forum . One Audacity user reported a problem on Windows XP where turning up the input volume slider in Audacity caused the Snowball "mute recording" switch to turn on in Sounds and Audio Devices in the Windows Control Panel, but that using the Beta 1.3.3 version of Audacity solved this.

Devices not working well with Audacity

Digidesign mbox : USB or Firewire interfaces. Widely reported not to work with Audacity under Mac OS X due to very different interface and non-standard Core Audio drivers compared to usual OS X audio devices.