User:BillWharrie/Device and Input selection on Mac

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Revision as of 19:11, 13 December 2010 by Galeandrews (talk | contribs) (reply to Bill about Windows mixer docs)
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Warning icon This page is a demonstration of the interaction between Device selection and Input selection on Mac. Specifically how the Input Selector on the Mixer Toolbar reacts to different device selections.
I'll talk about the Device Toolbar, but selections made in Devices Preferences, Recording, Device are the same.
Screenshots and discussion are of 1.3.13-alpha December 9 2010
This page will be deleted when this discussion is finished.

This also relates Bug 11

Mac G5 Dual 2 GHz 10.5.8

1) When selecting "Core Audio: Built-in Audio" in Device Toolbar, the Input Selector in Mixer Toolbar is active and selectable.

2) When selecting anything other than "Core Audio: Built-in Audio" in Device Toolbar, the Input Selector in Mixer Toolbar disappears.

iMac Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz 10.4.11

1) The choices in Devices Toolbar:

2) When "Core Audio: Built-in Microphone" is selected as the input Device, the Input Selector is active but has only one choice:

3) When "Core Audio: Built-in Input" is selected as the input Device, the Input Selector is active but has only one choice:

4) When "Core Audio: USB Audio CODEC" is selected as the input Device, the Input Selector disappears:

Note: This iMac has S/P-DIF optical inputs and outputs, however it appears that the "Digital Input" option is not displayed unless an optical digital device is connected.

PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz 10.4.11

1) The choices in Devices Toolbar:

2) When "Core Audio: Built-in Audio" is selected as the input Device, the Input Selector is active and has the following choices:

3) When "Core Audio: USB Audio CODEC" is selected as the input Device, the Input Selector disappears:


Although the iMac and PowerBook are running 10.4.11, the "Built-in" inputs are handled differently. This could be down to different sound hardware in the two machines. The iMac uses an Intel chipset, while the PowerBook uses a TI chipset.

While the display of the Input Selector on the iMac when only one choice is available may be non-optimum, I don't think it rates a P2 bug designation.

  • Gale:13Dec10: What you see on iMac in Device Toolbar (aggregation of <built-in Device> with <built-in input>) is exactly what happens on Windows Vista/7; the difference is in the Mixer Toolbar selector which here is visible with an indication of what the current selection is, as opposed to Vista/7 where it's either absent or shows something meaningless like "Master".

    I think the different skill level on Windows, the XP > 7 migration situation and the fact that no Win Vista/7 users at all will be able to select inputs in a new Audacity installation with the initial interface suggests a higher rating for the problem on Windows than Mac. The daily questions about this from Windows users when there is already targeted FAQ and Wiki help bears this out.

    Maybe if the input selector was always there on a new Windows installation, it could be given a tooltip, but there is no guarantee there will be an input selector.

  • Bill:13Dec10: OK, now I understand the Vista/7 issue. Despite reservations on the part of some of the devs, it seems that turning on Device Toolbar by default would at least provide a place for users of Intel machines (including Mac) to select inputs and outputs. The aggregation of device and input on Windows 7 can be seen on the manual Device Toolbar page.
  • Later that day... I've had a look at the wiki help pages on this issue. [1] [2] [3] The third one is, I think, the best as it includes screenshots of the control panel.
    From the front page of the wiki it is not clear where to go for this help. "Tips and Troubleshooting / Recording Troubleshooter" seems logical but is no help. You have to go to "Operating Systems / Windows 7 and Vista". Given the number of help requests on the forum (where the Windows elves have to tell people again and again how to find the "disabled devices" in Windows control panel) suggests to me that a dedicated page on the wiki would be useful. This page would have screenshots and step by step instructions on how to (at least) get the mic/line input working, and get "streaming" working. Another common issue is users attempting to overdub using the "system mix" as their input.
    Simply turning on the Device Toolbar will not help if the devices are not enabled by the system. It seems we need to provide this Windows 7/Vista setup help somewhere.
  • Gale:13Dec10 Thanks, Bill for those comments. The best link from front page of Wiki is I think Windows System Mixer. That gives them the most common issue (wanting stereo mix but which is never enabled by default) right in front of them - they can scroll down for the Vista/7 Control Panel. I've tweaked the front page to highlight the purpose of "Windows System Mixer". The link to use if people just want to list/enable Vista/7 hidden devices is further down the same page. I think that has to be there so another page seems like duplication to me (unless we split it to a new page)? As regards Troubleshooting Recordings, it does say "Note: By default, Vista/7 only enable the microphone input. You must exit Audacity, then go to Sound in the Windows Control Panel to show and enable other inputs before you can record from them." I'm not sure how to improve that as it has to be a page to fit all problems.

    I think the differences between Vista and 7 are so small as regards audio that Windows Vista OS and Windows 7 OS could now be combined, given Audacity teething problems specific to 7 are largely gone. That's a lot of work to do, though.

    As you suggest, the Win problem is twofold a) nowhere to choose inputs in newly initialised Audacity and then b) when you figure that out, you only see "Mic" (if anything). b) is a problem because although it's kind of related to a) it doesn't have a specific FAQ whereas a) has a FAQ. I've been unsure whether to extend the FAQ text for a) or make a new FAQ for b) but at the moment I've only got extended text for a) in the works.

    However I do think that unless Device Toolbar is turned on in the first place (or some other solution to make input choice visible), a lot of Vista/7 users may give up and use another program before even getting to b). We know this happens. For streaming audio, download Freecorder instead. Download a "Quick Record" program and it will probably record from mic with no further input choice needed (or possible) within the program. This does not always happen in Audacity even though it initialises to the system default which should be mic - it throws "error opening sound device". I'm not clear why this happens - it seems sometimes Audacity needs you to go into "Sound" in the Win Control Panel and list/enable disabled devices even though there is a single enabled mic device which is marked as "default" (by definition as it's the only enabled device). I had this issue on my Win 7 netbook when I first tried with 1.3.12 alpha. All I can say is there are fewer reports of this now than there used to be.