Windows 7 OS

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Windows® 7 is the latest version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, officially released on October 22, 2009. It is based on the previous Vista version of Windows. Audacity's support for Windows 7 is currently provisional and is being developed in the Beta 1.3 series of releases.
Please use the current Audacity Beta version for Windows 7, not the 1.2.6 Stable version. This page outlines computer requirements and possible issues using Audacity 1.3 with Windows 7.
Related article(s):

Audacity and Windows 7

Our present aim is to announce full official support for Windows 7 when we release a new 2.0 line of Audacity to replace the elderly 1.2 line. The current Beta version of Audacity works well with Windows 7, and we will make further improvements in future Beta releases.

  • Please subscribe to our announcements mailing list to be notified of new releases containing improvements for Windows 7 as we make them.
  • Please let us know of any reproducible problems you encounter with Audacity Beta and Windows 7. Before writing, please check this page, the Release Notes for the current Beta and Known Issues for any issues discovered since release of the current Beta.

System requirements

Windows 7 system requirements quoted by Microsoft are as follows for all versions of Windows 7, including the "Starter" edition with least features that is shipped with many netbooks.Unlike the Vista Starter Edition, Windows 7 Starter does not have a limit of three programs running at a time. For a comparison of features in different versions of Windows 7, click here.

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit), or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
For best performance if you are recording, editing or playing a large number of long tracks, we recommend twice the stated processor speed and RAM.

Sound Device driver requirements

You must have appropriate sound device drivers intended for your particular computer model and for your version of Windows 7, as provided either by the manufacturers of the motherboard or by the device manufacturer. Sometimes, new computers may only come with generic Microsoft sound device drivers. See Updating Sound Device Drivers for help.

On a 64-bit system, the sound device drivers must be 64-bit.

On older machines upgraded from Vista or XP, Windows 7 sound device drivers for your particular motherboard or sound device may not yet be available. In that case, the best general recommendation is to use drivers meant for Vista, because Windows 7 is largely based on Vista. If in doubt, seek advice from your motherboard or sound device manufacturer.

Known Issues

Installation or launch

  • On launching Audacity, "Runtime Error Program:(location) R6034" may occur. This seems a rare occurrence but as a workaround, right-click over audacity.exe, click Properties and change compatibility mode to Vista SP2 or XP SP3.
  • There has been a report that 1.3.11 hangs on a first install while scanning for VST Plug-ins. This prevents the launch completing. You may need to use ALT + CTRL + DEL to force quit Audacity. Check if you have any VST plug-ins in locations where Audacity looks for them. If so, you can see if removing individual plug-ins stops the hang (this is the most likely explanation), or rename the VST folders or paths. You can also minimise all other windows before launching Audacity, to make sure the scanning window is visible, then cancel the scanning dialogue if it is visible for long enough. Please let us know if you identify any plug-ins that cause Audacity to hang.

Recording and playback

  • Select inputs in Devices Preferences: In Windows XP and earlier, recording inputs such as "microphone" or "stereo mix" could be selected in the Audacity Mixer Toolbar. Currently, the newer audio API in both Windows Vista and 7 means that inputs must be selected in Audacity at Edit > Preferences: Devices.
  • Error opening sound device (incorrect input selection): Audacity is subject to Windows 7 and driver behaviour that can cause recording inputs to be hidden by default. Also, physical input ports such as microphone or line-in ports will not be automatically listed by Windows if there is no input connected to them. As a result of these behaviors, an error may be received when trying to record.

    To solve this, go to "Sound" in the Windows Control Panel, show the disabled and disconnected inputs, then enable and make default the required input. Make sure a physical input such as a microphone or line-in is properly connected to the computer. For more detailed instructions, see our Mixer Tooolbar page. If you have problems finding or enabling the "Stereo Mix" or "What U Hear" input to record computer playback, see the "Help with recording computer playback" panel directly above the image of the system mixer.

    Note: some previous Beta versions of Audacity caused a crash if no audio devices were available. To correct this, use the current Beta version.

  • Default Format (Shared Mode) / Exclusive Mode and sample rate selection: These modes are new features of the Windows Vista and 7 WASAPI audio API. They are set at Sound in the Windows Control Panel by right-clicking over the sound device > Properties, then choosing the "Advanced" tab. Default Format sets the specific sample rate and number of channels for the sound device when running in "Shared Mode". This mode in principle allows the audio program (such as Audacity) and the sound device to have different sample rates, the conversion between rates being done with the Windows Shared Mode PCM audio engine.

    In Exclusive Mode, the "Default Format" settings do not apply. The audio program and device exchange audio data directly, without any intermediate processing by the audio engine and without any mixing in of other outputs. Therefore the audio program must use a sample rate that the audio hardware explicitly supports, or the audio stream will fail. Exclusive Mode is supported in Audacity by choosing Edit > Preferences: Devices and setting the "Host" to "Windows DirectSound".

    It follows that appropriate sample rate selection is very important on Windows Vista and 7 (both in the sound device and in Audacity), otherwise speed variance/audible distortion or "Error opening sound device" may occur. Sample rate in Audacity is chosen at "Project Rate" (bottom left of the window, in Selection Toolbar).

    • Choose a project rate that the device supports, and use that same rate everywhere. Check your sound device manual or choose Help > Audio Device Info... in Audacity to see the rates the sound device supports. For example, if you set 48000 Hz in project rate, the Audacity tracks should be at that rate, as should "Default Format" in Sound (if you are not running in Exclusive Mode), and as should any settings in the sound device control panel or any physical switches on the device. If you need to change the rate of a track to the project rate, select the track, then choose Tracks > Mix and Render.
    • If there are still audible problems, choose "Windows DirectSound" as "Host" in the Audacity Devices Preferences, and in "Sound" in the Windows Control Panel, put a checkmark in both "Exclusive Mode" boxes.

  • Input/Output sliders:
    • Application-specific output volume: Vista and 7 were the first Windows systems to support volume sliders for each application. However, the Audacity output slider currently operates directly on the WAVE output of the audio hardware, so it controls the overall system output volume. Audacity does not yet have the ability to control its own application-specific volume slider. The Audacity application slider appears in the system mixer. You can access and adjust it by right-clicking the speaker icon in the system tray (by the system clock) and choosing "Open Volume Mixer".
    • Greyed out input slider: If Audacity Beta does not have proper control of the system input slider, the Audacity input slider will grey out on maximum volume. This is intentional. If Audacity does not have proper control of the system slider, turning it down won't actually stop input distortion if the system slider is set too high. All the Audacity slider would do in that case is scale down the distorted signal - it will be quieter, but still distorted. Use the system slider instead.

      To give Audacity control of the system slider, try updating your computer sound device drivers so they are specifically intended for your particular computer model and operating system, as provided by the motherboard or sound device manufacturer.

    • There may be an issue as of January 2010 where the input and/or output sliders for the inbuilt sound device won't work if you have an external device connected. The sliders may be active, but do not affect the volume. In this case you may need to use the system sliders or disconnect the external device.
    • The Audacity input/output level sliders may act independently of or incorrectly with system level sliders. In particular, the achieved recorded level may only match the level indicated on the Recording VU meter if the Audacity input slider is at 100%. This seems to have been largely fixed in current Betas.
  • Emulated output and input: In Vista and 7 (but not on earlier versions of Windows) both the MME and Windows DirectSound "Host" choices supported by Audacity Beta are emulated on top of WASAPI. This means they may have greater latency than under earlier versions of Windows. Also the emulation is believed to be 16-bit, which would set the noise floor at -96 dB. WASAPI is not yet supported by Audacity as a direct Host. Therefore while Exclusive Mode under WASAPI does in principle allow bit-perfect audio transfer without emulation, this is not yet possible in Audacity under Windows Vista or 7.

Interface issues

  • File open or save dialogues do not contain special Windows 7 features such as "Search" and "Organize"

The following problems evident up to and including Audacity 1.3.11 Beta are fixed in the latest Beta version:
  • File filtering was broken so that:
    • File open or save dialogues displayed all the files, whatever filter was chosen
    • Clicking in a file open or save dialogue could cause the files or some folders to disappear from the list
    • Creating a new folder could make the window perpetually scroll to the bottom without creating the folder
  • Modern mice with high resolution scroll-wheels could cause a freeze or crash in Audacity
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