Windows 7 OS

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Windows® 7 was introduced by Microsoft on October 22, 2009.
Please use the current Audacity version for Windows 7. This page outlines computer requirements and possible issues using current Audacity with Windows 7.
Related article(s):

Audacity and Windows 7

Current versions of Audacity are not supported on Windows 7, They may well run - but we can no longer offer support for issues that occur when using Audacity on Windows 7.

System requirements

Windows 7 minimum system requirements cited by Microsoft are as follows for all versions of Windows 7, including the "Starter" edition with least features that is shipped with many netbooks. For a comparison of features in different versions of Windows 7, click here.

  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster x86 32-bit or 64-bit 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 working with an hour or more of audio or multiple shorter tracks, we recommend 2 GHz processor and 4 GB of RAM on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7.

  • Note: Windows 7 Starter is 32-bit only and does not support more than 2 GB of RAM. Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium will recognize only one physical CPU, but support multi-core processors as do all versions of Windows 7.

Sound Device driver requirements

Sometimes, new computers only come with generic Microsoft sound device drivers, but you should ensure you have sound device drivers intended for your particular computer model and particular version of Windows 7. The drivers should be provided either by the manufacturer of the motherboard or by the sound device manufacturer. This is especially important if you are upgrading an older machine from Windows XP to Windows 7. See Updating Sound Device Drivers for help.

Warning icon

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

Features and Known Issues

Recording and playback

  • Select inputs in Devices Preferences or Device Toolbar: The new audio stack makes each input source on the sound device a separate input, so requires that inputs be selected in Audacity at Edit > Preferences: Devices or Device Toolbar.
  • 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 may 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, ensure physical inputs are connected, go to "Sound" in the Windows Control Panel, show the disabled and disconnected inputs, enable and make default the required input, then restart Audacity or use Transport > Rescan Audio Devices.

  • No "silent" recording of computer playback using stereo mix: Windows 7 and later have no "Speaker" or "Master" system volume slider independent of the "Wave" or "Device" output slider. Therefore on Windows 7 and Windows 8 you cannot record computer playback using stereo mix while turning down the output volume (for example, if you want to work). If you need to do this you can do the following.
    • Unplug or turn down your external speakers.
    • Plug a pair of headphones or a headset into the audio out and turn the volume down, or plug in a 1/8 inch (3.5 mm) minijack plug with no lead attached.
    • Use Windows WASAPI loopback recording which records at a fixed level even if you turn the audio device output level down to zero.
  • Inputs seen by Windows as "microphones" default to mono recording: While most microphones and microphone inputs are mono, some external microphones such as USB microphones or microphones connected through external mixers or interfaces may be stereo. However any input regarded by Windows as a "microphone" (including not just USB microphones but USB turntables and cassette decks) will default to mono recording. If this happens, recording a stereo device with two input channels chosen in Audacity's Device Toolbar will merely duplicate one channel into both channels of the track, making it dual mono. To make Windows send stereo input to Audacity:
  1. In the Windows System Tray (by the clock), right-click over the Speaker Icon > Recording Devices or click Windows Start, navigate through the Control Panel to "Sound", then click the "Recording" tab
  2. Right-click over the device you are recording from and choose "Properties"
  3. On the "Advanced" tab, in the "Default Format" section, change the dropdown menu to one of the "2 channel" options ("2 channel 16 bit 44100 Hz" will usually be the optimal choice).
  • Recordings fade out or sound as if they were made in a tunnel: Many Windows machines (especially laptops and notebooks/netbooks) have recording features designed to minimise distortion when recording internet calls. These features are unsuitable for high-quality audio recording. You can turn them off by following the steps in this Frequently Asked Question.
  • Playback suddenly becomes quieter, especially when recording over an existing Audacity track: This is a Windows 7 setting designed with internet calls in mind. To fix it, right-click over the speaker icon by the system clock > Sounds, click the "Communications" tab, then choose "Do nothing" for adjusting sound levels.
  • Default Format (Shared Mode) / Exclusive Mode and sample rate selection: These modes are new features of the WASAPI audio API. The two modes 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 for sample rate do not apply (but Default Format's number of channels does still apply). The audio program and device exchange audio data directly, without intermediate processing by the audio engine and without 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 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: Windows 7 supports 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 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.

  • Emulated output and input: In Windows 7 and Windows 8 (but not earlier versions of Windows) the MME and Windows DirectSound "Host" choices in Audacity 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.

    Exclusive Mode under WASAPI does in principle allow bit-perfect audio transfer without emulation, but this is not yet possible in Audacity. The Windows WASAPI "Host" choice introduced in Audacity 2.0.4 only allows emulated output. As a result, the Device Toolbar output slider only scales the system output slider's current level up or down rather than directly manipulating that system slider. The only WASAPI input available so far is for loopback recording of computer playback. Although 24-bit loopback recording is possible, the sample rate of the input is fixed at 44100 Hz.

Interface issues

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