Difference between revisions of "Windows Vista OS"

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('''No Mixer Toolbar input sources''')
(Audacity and Windows Vista: The current Audacity version is no longer supported on Windows Vista, it may well run - but we can no longer offer support for Audacity on Vista.)
 
(84 intermediate revisions by 15 users not shown)
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There is no separate or special Audacity download for Vista. You simply install from the normal installer from the site. Note that if you are installing the Beta version of Audacity (currently version 1.3.3), you need the Unicode version of Audacity marked as "Windows 2000/XP/Vista".
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{{Introrel|[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Vista Windows® Vista] was introduced by [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft Microsoft] on July 22nd 2005. It introduced significant technical changes to audio compared to previous versions of Windows.|Please use the [https://web.audacityteam.org/download/windows current Audacity ] version for Windows Vista. This page outlines computer requirements and possible issues using Audacity with Windows Vista.|[[Release Notes|Release Notes]]
 +
* [[Known Issues|Known Issues arising since release of latest version]]
 +
* [[Windows 7 OS|Windows 7]] - Many behaviors discussed here are also relevant to Windows Vista.  
 +
* [[Windows 8 OS|Windows 8]] - discusses differences between Windows Vista/7 and 8
 +
* [[Windows 10 OS|Windows10]] - discusses Windows 10 changes}}
  
='''Known Issues'''=
+
__TOC__
 
=='''Compatibility Mode'''==
 
  
Audacity may install on Vista in compatibility mode for Windows 95, and this may cause problems or error messages, or cause Audacity to crash when launching. If so, try disabling compatibility mode, and if any problems persist, run Audacity in compatibility mode for Windows XP.  To change compatibility modes, right-click over audacity.exe in Windows Explorer, then click Properties.
 
  
=='''Association with Audacity Project Files'''==
+
<div id="aims"></div>
 +
== Audacity and Windows Vista ==  
 +
The [https://web.audacityteam.org/download/ current Audacity version] is no longer supported on Windows Vista, it may well run - but we can no longer offer support for issues that occur when using Audacity on Vista.
  
When running the installer, you can optionally associate Audacity Project
+
== System requirements ==
(.aup) files with Audacity, so that double-clicking an .aup file will launch Audacity if it is not already running. However on Vista, the .aup extension does not get associated with Audacity as it should, and instead an "access denied" error occurs when double-clicking an .aup file. As a workround for now, you can right-click the .aup file > Open With > Choose Program, select Audacity and check the box "Always use the selected program...". This should be fixed in the current Beta (1.3.3) version but will still be a be a problem in Audacity 1.2.6 until the next stable (1.4.0) version is released. The fix is made by setting the association for each user on the machine, if association is requested when installing. As a result, should Audacity not detect the association with .aup for a particular user when launching (for example if it had been changed by another program), a warning will display that .aup files are not currently associated with Audacity, even if another user on the machine has already set this association.
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Here are the recommended memory (MB or GB of RAM) and processor speed (GHz) requirements for using Audacity with different versions of Vista:     
  
=='''No Mixer Toolbar input sources'''==
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{| style="border-spacing: 30px 0px" cellspacing="10px" /for IE/
 +
|-valign="bottom"
 +
|Version
 +
|Recommended RAM/<br>processor speed
 +
|Minimum RAM/<br>processor speed
 +
|-
 +
|<span style="color:#8B4513">Starter *</span>
 +
|<span style="color:#8B4513">512 MB ** / 1 GHz</span>
 +
|<span style="color:#8B4513">384 MB / 800 MHz</span>
 +
|-
 +
|<span style="color:#990099">Home Basic</span>
 +
|<span style="color:#990099">2 GB / 1 GHz</span>
 +
|<span style="color:#990099">512 MB / 1 GHz</span>
 +
|-
 +
|<span style="color:green">Other Vista versions</span>
 +
|<span style="color:green">4 GB / 2 GHz</span>
 +
|<span style="color:green">1 GB / 1 GHz</span>
 +
|}
  
On Vista, recording sources such as microphone, line-in and stereo mix are no longer treated as sources belonging to one device as they always were in previous Windows versions, but as individual recording "devices" in their own right. As a result, '''the Mixer Toolbar dropdown selector will be permanently greyed out''' and you cannot choose recording sources there. Instead, input sources are chosen in the Audio I/O tab of Audacity Preferences, in the "Recording Device" dropdown. The input volume however is still adjusted using the input volume slider (by the microphone symbol) in the Mixer Toolbar.
 
  
The inputs will be shown in the Audio I/O tab as an appropriate source for each physical device. So if you have more than one physical device (e.g. inbuilt sound and an external USB soundcard), you may have more than one line-in or microphone source to choose from, as in this example 
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{| width="75%" style="border-spacing:30px 0px"
 +
|-
 +
|valign="top" |<span style="color:#8B4513"> * </span>
 +
|<span style="font-size:95%">Windows Vista Starter ships on lower-cost computers sold by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Microsoft OEM distributors in 139 "non-developed" countries outside USA, Europe, Japan and Australia. Only three programs may run at a time.</span> 
 +
|-
 +
|valign="top" |<span style="color:#8B4513">**</span>
 +
|<span style="font-size:95%">Maximum 1024 MB </span>
 +
|}
  
<ul>
 
<li>Line-In: Realtek High Definition Device
 
<li>Microphone: Realtek High Definition Device
 
<li>Line-In: USB Audio
 
<li>Stereo Mix: USB Audio
 
</ul>
 
  
 +
Note that the minimum system requirements as defined above (i.e. those that allow the operating system to run, ignoring what is required to run applications) are much greater than for Windows XP.
  
Note that the "Recording Device" dropdown can only show devices that are enabled in the  Windows Control Panel. If the input you require is not listed in the dropdown, or is not apparently recording properly, try going to the Windows Control Panel to enable and select it. To do this, right-click over the speaker icon in the <span  style="background-color: #CCFFCC"><font color="#a0522d">System Tray > Recording Devices</font></span>. Or click <span  style="background-color: #CCFFCC"><font color="#a0522d">Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound</font></span> (if you're using "Classic View" there's a direct link to "Sound" in the Control Panel), then click on the "Recording" tab.  
+
If your computer does not significantly exceed these minimum requirements then you may have problems doing more intensive tasks in Audacity such as recording for long periods or editing a large number of long tracks, or may need to close other programs and processes before you can do so. Please be aware that the cheapest "deals" for new Vista machines may well only include the Vista Home Basic Edition and system specifications little in excess of the Vista minimum requirements.
 +
{{Hint|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 Vista, except that 1 GHz and 2 GB of RAM should be sufficient for Vista Home Basic 32-bit or 64-bit.}} 
  
[[Image:Vistarec.png|440px]]<br clear="all" />
+
Memory is now very inexpensive. For best performance of the computer as a whole, install the maximum RAM that your motherboard supports.  
  
 +
<div id="audio"></div>
 +
== Audio architecture ==
 +
Many changes were made to audio architecture in Vista, which have persisted in [[Windows 7 OS|Windows 7]] and [[Windows 8 OS|Windows 8]] and [[Windows 10 OS|Windows 10]].
  
Simply click to highlight the input device you want to use. Then make sure its input volume is turned up. To do this, click the Properties button bottom right, then the Levels tab, move the volume slider to right, and click OK.  
+
* Unlike previous versions of Windows, Vista treats individual recording sources such as line-in, microphone and "stereo mix" as recording devices in their own right. Here is an example of recording inputs in [https://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/device_toolbar.html Device Toolbar] for two different physical devices (an inbuilt sound device and an external USB soundcard):
 +
** Microphone (Realtek HD Device)
 +
** Line-In (Realtek HD Device)
 +
** Microphone (USB Audio)
 +
** Line-In (USB Audio)
 +
** Stereo Mix (USB Audio)
 +
* Individual output volume sliders for each application. Note the Audacity output slider on [https://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/mixer_toolbar.html Mixer Toolbar] controls the overall system output slider, not its own application slider provided by the system. 
 +
* A new audio stack called [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Audio_Architecture Universal Audio Architecture].
 +
* A new WASAPI Audio [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface API], isolating audio more from the system kernel. This has the advantage that a problem with an audio device driver now does not crash the whole computer as could often happen on previous versions of Windows. The downside is that the two audio APIs supported by Audacity, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MultiMedia_Extensions#Multimedia_Extensions MME] and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directsound DirectSound], are now "emulated" - they can only access the audio hardware indirectly through WASAPI. DirectSound under Vista has thus lost the advantage of having theoretically lower [https://manual.audacityteam.org/index.php?title=Glossary#latency latency] compared to MME. <p> Direct hardware access in Vista and 7 is available under WASAPI through a new  "WaveRT port driver", but Audacity can't support this until the [[PortAudio]] audio interface we use fully supports the WASAPI Audio API. </p>
 +
* A new [http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd316551(VS.85).aspx loopback recording] feature for [https://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/tutorial_recording_audio_playing_on_the_computer.html recording streaming audio]. Audacity uses this feature from version 2.0.4 onwards.
 +
* The concept of a "Default Format" for the audio device, set in the [[#cp|system mixer]]. Problems can arise with [https://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/digital_audio.html#Sample_rates resampling] if the Audacity project rate (bottom left of the window) does not match with the Default Format.
 +
* An audio device can be "shared" with other applications, or it can allow applications to take "exclusive" control of it. Choosing the '''Windows DirectSound''' API in Devices Preferences in Audacity will allow Audacity to take exclusive control of the device, if this is set in the system mixer. To set this, right-click over the audio device, click Properties, then the "Advanced" tab, then put a checkmark (tick) in both "Exclusive Mode" boxes.  Using DirectSound and Exclusive Mode avoids problems with resampling if the Audacity project rate does not match the Default Format, but you still need to make sure the chosen project rate is supported by the device.  
  
If the input you want is not shown, you can view all the potentially available inputs by right-clicking over any device in the list, and put a check mark by "Show Disabled Devices" and "Show Disconnected Devices". To enable a particular  device, right-click over it and put a check mark by "Enable". All devices so enabled should be listed in Audacity's Audio I/O tab, but may still show as "currently unavailable" in the Windows "Recording" tab if they do not have an active input.
+
For more reading, see:
 +
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_features_new_to_Windows_Vista#Audio Technical features new to Windows Vista]
 +
* [http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?sid=25937 Creative.com support article] on audio in Vista
  
If you have enabled and selected the input you require in the Control Panel, go back to Audacity and if necessary, exit and restart it. The input you want to record from should now be selected in the "Recording Device" dropdown, and should record. If it does not, you may need to update your sound device drivers (see the following section on "Vista Sound Device Drivers").
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<div id="drivers"></div>
  
='''Vista Sound Device Drivers'''=  
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== Sound Device Drivers ==  
 +
Drivers are the piece of software that tells your computer how to talk to the specific hardware you have installed or connected to your computer. These are normally made by the manufacturer of the sound device or motherboard, and not by Microsoft. If you only have Microsoft sound drivers (for example because no Vista drivers matched to your hardware were available when the system was built), these will be generic drivers which won't be specifically matched to your hardware, and may cause problems sooner or later.
  
It is essential to have dedicated drivers for your computer's sound device which are both specifically meant for Vista and specific to your computer hardware. Drivers are the piece of software that tells your computer how to talk to the specific hardware you have installed or connected to your computer. These are normally made by the manufacturer of the sound device or motherboard. If you only have generic Microsoft sound drivers (e.g. because no Vista drivers matched to your hardware were available when the system was built, or if you've installed Vista over a previous XP installation and are using the drivers meant for XP), you may encounter problems, or Audacity may not even launch.  
+
On Vista systems it's especially important to have dedicated drivers for your computer's sound device which are both '''specific to your computer hardware''' and '''specifically meant for Vista'''. This is because the drivers on a Vista system need to communicate with the hardware and the operating system differently than they do on earlier Windows systems, and so need to be designed for Vista.
 +
If you've installed Vista over a previous XP installation, ensure you don't use the drivers meant for XP that will probably be on the drivers CD that came with the computer.
 +
((alert|Make sure that if you have a 64-bit version of Vista, the sound device uses 64-bit drivers}}.  
  
<span style="color:green; font-size:88%">'''HINT:''' If Audacity does not launch the first time you start it, make sure first of all that your system default device is set to one that Audacity can work with, which probably means your inbuilt sound device. Click</span> <span  style="background-color:#CCFFCC; font-size:88%; color:#a0522d"> Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound</span><span style="color:green; font-size:88%">, then choose a "working" device offered by your inbuilt sound device; and click the "Playback" tab and choose "Speakers" for your inbuilt sound device. Try launching Audacity again. If this works, go to the Audio I/O tab of Preferences and explicitly choose the same devices you just chose in the Control Panel.</span>     
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<div id="update"></div>
   
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=== Updating the sound device drivers ===
 +
Even if you don't have any immediate playback or recording problems, it's strongly recommended on any new Vista machine or any system upgraded to Vista that you try to update your sound device drivers, using Windows Device Manager. If Device Manager cannot obtain drivers other than from Microsoft, or if you are having recording or playback problems even with the latest non-Microsoft drivers, seek appropriate drivers direct from the sound device or motherboard manufacturer.   
  
Ensuring you have appropriate sound drivers is an issue on all Windows operating systems but it is even more crucial for Vista because of the different system architecture e.g. the new user-mode audio stack called Universal Audio Architecture. Put more simply, the drivers on a Vista system need to communicate with the hardware and the operating system differently than they do on earlier Windows systems, and so need to be appropriate.  
+
Access Device Manager by clicking the {{menu|Windows Start Button > Control Panel > System and Maintenance}}, then scroll down and click on {{Menu|Device Manager}}. If you have "Classic View" enabled, there is a direct link to Device Manager in the Control Panel. Then expand {{menu|Sound, Video and Game Controllers}}" by clicking on the {{menu|+}} sign, right-click over the sound device and click {{menu|Update Driver}}.  
  
Therefore on any new Vista machine (or any system upgraded to Vista) you should try to update your sound device drivers, first using Windows Device Manager, and then (if drivers other than from Microsoft cannot be obtained, or if you are having recording or playback problems) by seeking drivers direct from the device or motherboard manufacturer.
+
After the update (even if more recent drivers were not found), you should right-click over the device again, click {{menu|Properties}} and then on the Driver tab to check the "Driver Provider". As stated above, you don't want drivers from Microsoft. So, if you have now got updated non-Microsoft drivers, try them and see if they work fine or if any problems you were having are cured. Otherwise, note the name of the Driver Provider (if it's Microsoft, note the name of the sound device you right-clicked over), and visit the manufacturer's website. You can search Google or Yahoo to find the correct internet address of the manufacturer.
  
To access Device Manager on Vista with its default view: click <span style="background-color: #CCFFCC"><font color="#a0522d">Control Panel > System and Maintenance</font></span>, then scroll down and click on Device Manager. With Vista "Classic View", there is a direct link to Device Manager in the Control Panel. Then expand "Sound, Video and Game Controllers" by clicking on the + sign, right-click over the sound device and click "Update Driver".  
+
If you have a PCI or external soundcard you would go to the website of the soundcard manufacturer. If you have integrated motherboard sound, try first at the website of the Driver Provider or stated manufacturer of the device. If this manufacturer does not offer driver downloads, go to the site of the motherboard manufacturer for assistance. When you visit the motherboard manufacturer's website, you will need to know details of your motherboard. If you don't have details to hand, the [http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html CPU-Z utility] will help you gather relevant information.  
  
After the update (even if more recent drivers were not found), you should right-click over the device again, click Properties and then on the Driver tab to check the "Driver Provider". As stated above, you don't want drivers from Microsoft. So, if you have now got updated non-Microsoft drivers, try them and see if they work fine or if  any problems you were having are cured. Otherwise, note the name of the Driver Provider (if it's Microsoft, note the name of the sound device you right-clicked over), and visit the manufacturer's website. You can search Google or Yahoo to find the correct internet address of the manufacturer.
+
Always look for a driver update which is '''specific to your computer model and to your version of  Vista''' (for example, 32- or 64-bit). Be sure to uninstall the old drivers of the device (right-click over the device in {{menu|Device Manager > Uninstall}}) before installing the new ones.
  
If you have a PCI or external soundcard you would go to the website of the soundcard manufacturer. If you have integrated motherboard sound, try first at the website of the Driver Provider or stated manufacturer of the device. If this manufacturer does not offer driver downloads, go to the site of the motherboard manufacturer for assistance. When you visit the motherboard manufacturer's website, you will need to know details of your motherboard. If you don't have details to hand, the <span class="plainlinks" >[http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php CPU-Z utility]</span> will help you gather relevant information.  
+
Unfortunately Windows Vista (and any version of Windows) may only come with a pre-installed, generic Microsoft driver for the motherboard sound chip. This Microsoft driver may not offer a "stereo mix" or similar device to record computer playback, and/or lack other functionality.
  
Always look for a driver update which is '''specific to your computer model and  to your version of  Vista''' (e.g. 32 or 64 bit). Be sure to uninstall the old drivers of the device (right-click over the device in Device Manager > Uninstall) before installing the new ones.
+
To find out if you are running the Microsoft default audio driver, check Windows Device Manager in the Control Panel. Look for the section "Sound, video and game controllers" then right-click and select Properties to check if the driver is from Microsoft. If some generic name without a manufacturer's name is listed (like "High Definition Audio Device"), then you should update this driver to a driver that is provided by your sound chip or motherboard manufacturer.
  
='''Vista system requirements'''=
+
This is how the generic Microsoft audio driver looks:
  
The minimum system requirements for Vista (i.e. those that allow the operating system to run, ignoring what is required to run applications) are much greater than for XP , and are
+
[[Image:VistaDefaultAudioDriver.png|440px]]
<span class="plainlinks">[http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/systemrequirements.mspx here]</span>. Be aware that the cheapest "deals" for new Vista machines may well only include the Vista Home Basic Edition and system specifications little in excess of the Vista minimum requirements. As such, this may cause problems when running a CPU-intensive application like Audacity. Ensure the computer you are running Vista on is well in excess of Vista's system requirements in terms of processor speed (MHz) and RAM (MB).
+
 
 +
This is an example of how it should look once a matching audio driver for your specific sound chip is installed (of course your sound chip may not be by Realtek):
 +
 
 +
[[Image:VistaCustomAudioDriver.png|440px]]
 +
 
 +
Updating the driver may be a bit challenging, because you will need to uninstall the Microsoft driver and install a custom driver without rebooting inbetween (otherwise the Microsoft driver will reinstall silently). To easily update to the correct Non-Microsoft driver, download the matching driver from your audio chip or mainboard manufacturer's website and unzip the driver package. Then right-click the Microsoft "High Definition Audio Device" driver or similar, select "Update Driver Software..." and then point to the path of the unzipped drivers you just downloaded and install them. '''Note:''' Uninstalling the Microsoft drivers first is potentially safer, but updating gives an easy right-click option to "roll back" to the generic drivers without reboot if there is any problem with the new drivers. 
 +
 
 +
Another alternative if you have a drivers CD that came with the computer is to install manufacturer's audio (and video) drivers from the CD. You can always search periodically on the web in case updated drivers are now available.
 +
 
 +
<div id="cp"></div>
 +
== Using the Control Panel to show and enable recording devices==
 +
'''On Windows 7 and later, initial driver setup typically disables all the inputs except for the built-in microphone.'''  If the input you require is not listed in Audacity (or is apparently not recording properly) try going to "Sound" in the Windows Control Panel to show, enable and configure it as required.  
 +
 
 +
The quickest way to access the Control Panel is to right-click over the speaker icon in the {{menu|System Tray > Recording Devices}}. Or click {{menu|Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound}} (if you're using "Classic View" there's a direct link to "Sound" in the Control Panel), then click on the "Recording" tab.
 +
 
 +
Once you have enabled and selected the input you require in the Control Panel, restart Audacity (or if Audacity is still running, you can use {{menu|Transport > Rescan Audio Devices}}).  
 +
{{note|
 +
* '''For complete help working with the "Sound" Control Panel''', please see [[Mixer Toolbar Issues#vistacp|instructions for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8]].
 +
* '''For help recording audio playing on the computer''', please see [[Mixer Toolbar Issues#cp|Help with recording computer playback or streaming audio]]. }}
 +
 
 +
[[Category:Windows Platform]]

Latest revision as of 17:27, 18 May 2019

Windows® Vista was introduced by Microsoft on July 22nd 2005. It introduced significant technical changes to audio compared to previous versions of Windows.
Please use the current Audacity version for Windows Vista. This page outlines computer requirements and possible issues using Audacity with Windows Vista.
 
Related article(s):


Audacity and Windows Vista

The current Audacity version is no longer supported on Windows Vista, it may well run - but we can no longer offer support for issues that occur when using Audacity on Vista.

System requirements

Here are the recommended memory (MB or GB of RAM) and processor speed (GHz) requirements for using Audacity with different versions of Vista:

Version Recommended RAM/
processor speed
Minimum RAM/
processor speed
Starter * 512 MB ** / 1 GHz 384 MB / 800 MHz
Home Basic 2 GB / 1 GHz 512 MB / 1 GHz
Other Vista versions 4 GB / 2 GHz 1 GB / 1 GHz


* Windows Vista Starter ships on lower-cost computers sold by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Microsoft OEM distributors in 139 "non-developed" countries outside USA, Europe, Japan and Australia. Only three programs may run at a time.
** Maximum 1024 MB


Note that the minimum system requirements as defined above (i.e. those that allow the operating system to run, ignoring what is required to run applications) are much greater than for Windows XP.

If your computer does not significantly exceed these minimum requirements then you may have problems doing more intensive tasks in Audacity such as recording for long periods or editing a large number of long tracks, or may need to close other programs and processes before you can do so. Please be aware that the cheapest "deals" for new Vista machines may well only include the Vista Home Basic Edition and system specifications little in excess of the Vista minimum requirements.

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 Vista, except that 1 GHz and 2 GB of RAM should be sufficient for Vista Home Basic 32-bit or 64-bit.

Memory is now very inexpensive. For best performance of the computer as a whole, install the maximum RAM that your motherboard supports.

Audio architecture

Many changes were made to audio architecture in Vista, which have persisted in Windows 7 and Windows 8 and Windows 10.

  • Unlike previous versions of Windows, Vista treats individual recording sources such as line-in, microphone and "stereo mix" as recording devices in their own right. Here is an example of recording inputs in Device Toolbar for two different physical devices (an inbuilt sound device and an external USB soundcard):
    • Microphone (Realtek HD Device)
    • Line-In (Realtek HD Device)
    • Microphone (USB Audio)
    • Line-In (USB Audio)
    • Stereo Mix (USB Audio)
  • Individual output volume sliders for each application. Note the Audacity output slider on Mixer Toolbar controls the overall system output slider, not its own application slider provided by the system.
  • A new audio stack called Universal Audio Architecture.
  • A new WASAPI Audio API, isolating audio more from the system kernel. This has the advantage that a problem with an audio device driver now does not crash the whole computer as could often happen on previous versions of Windows. The downside is that the two audio APIs supported by Audacity, MME and DirectSound, are now "emulated" - they can only access the audio hardware indirectly through WASAPI. DirectSound under Vista has thus lost the advantage of having theoretically lower latency compared to MME.

    Direct hardware access in Vista and 7 is available under WASAPI through a new "WaveRT port driver", but Audacity can't support this until the PortAudio audio interface we use fully supports the WASAPI Audio API.

  • A new loopback recording feature for recording streaming audio. Audacity uses this feature from version 2.0.4 onwards.
  • The concept of a "Default Format" for the audio device, set in the system mixer. Problems can arise with resampling if the Audacity project rate (bottom left of the window) does not match with the Default Format.
  • An audio device can be "shared" with other applications, or it can allow applications to take "exclusive" control of it. Choosing the Windows DirectSound API in Devices Preferences in Audacity will allow Audacity to take exclusive control of the device, if this is set in the system mixer. To set this, right-click over the audio device, click Properties, then the "Advanced" tab, then put a checkmark (tick) in both "Exclusive Mode" boxes. Using DirectSound and Exclusive Mode avoids problems with resampling if the Audacity project rate does not match the Default Format, but you still need to make sure the chosen project rate is supported by the device.

For more reading, see:

Sound Device Drivers

Drivers are the piece of software that tells your computer how to talk to the specific hardware you have installed or connected to your computer. These are normally made by the manufacturer of the sound device or motherboard, and not by Microsoft. If you only have Microsoft sound drivers (for example because no Vista drivers matched to your hardware were available when the system was built), these will be generic drivers which won't be specifically matched to your hardware, and may cause problems sooner or later.

On Vista systems it's especially important to have dedicated drivers for your computer's sound device which are both specific to your computer hardware and specifically meant for Vista. This is because the drivers on a Vista system need to communicate with the hardware and the operating system differently than they do on earlier Windows systems, and so need to be designed for Vista. If you've installed Vista over a previous XP installation, ensure you don't use the drivers meant for XP that will probably be on the drivers CD that came with the computer. ((alert|Make sure that if you have a 64-bit version of Vista, the sound device uses 64-bit drivers}}.

Updating the sound device drivers

Even if you don't have any immediate playback or recording problems, it's strongly recommended on any new Vista machine or any system upgraded to Vista that you try to update your sound device drivers, using Windows Device Manager. If Device Manager cannot obtain drivers other than from Microsoft, or if you are having recording or playback problems even with the latest non-Microsoft drivers, seek appropriate drivers direct from the sound device or motherboard manufacturer.

Access Device Manager by clicking the Windows Start Button > Control Panel > System and Maintenance, then scroll down and click on Device Manager. If you have "Classic View" enabled, there is a direct link to Device Manager in the Control Panel. Then expand Sound, Video and Game Controllers" by clicking on the + sign, right-click over the sound device and click Update Driver.

After the update (even if more recent drivers were not found), you should right-click over the device again, click Properties and then on the Driver tab to check the "Driver Provider". As stated above, you don't want drivers from Microsoft. So, if you have now got updated non-Microsoft drivers, try them and see if they work fine or if any problems you were having are cured. Otherwise, note the name of the Driver Provider (if it's Microsoft, note the name of the sound device you right-clicked over), and visit the manufacturer's website. You can search Google or Yahoo to find the correct internet address of the manufacturer.

If you have a PCI or external soundcard you would go to the website of the soundcard manufacturer. If you have integrated motherboard sound, try first at the website of the Driver Provider or stated manufacturer of the device. If this manufacturer does not offer driver downloads, go to the site of the motherboard manufacturer for assistance. When you visit the motherboard manufacturer's website, you will need to know details of your motherboard. If you don't have details to hand, the CPU-Z utility will help you gather relevant information.

Always look for a driver update which is specific to your computer model and to your version of Vista (for example, 32- or 64-bit). Be sure to uninstall the old drivers of the device (right-click over the device in Device Manager > Uninstall) before installing the new ones.

Unfortunately Windows Vista (and any version of Windows) may only come with a pre-installed, generic Microsoft driver for the motherboard sound chip. This Microsoft driver may not offer a "stereo mix" or similar device to record computer playback, and/or lack other functionality.

To find out if you are running the Microsoft default audio driver, check Windows Device Manager in the Control Panel. Look for the section "Sound, video and game controllers" then right-click and select Properties to check if the driver is from Microsoft. If some generic name without a manufacturer's name is listed (like "High Definition Audio Device"), then you should update this driver to a driver that is provided by your sound chip or motherboard manufacturer.

This is how the generic Microsoft audio driver looks:

VistaDefaultAudioDriver.png

This is an example of how it should look once a matching audio driver for your specific sound chip is installed (of course your sound chip may not be by Realtek):

VistaCustomAudioDriver.png

Updating the driver may be a bit challenging, because you will need to uninstall the Microsoft driver and install a custom driver without rebooting inbetween (otherwise the Microsoft driver will reinstall silently). To easily update to the correct Non-Microsoft driver, download the matching driver from your audio chip or mainboard manufacturer's website and unzip the driver package. Then right-click the Microsoft "High Definition Audio Device" driver or similar, select "Update Driver Software..." and then point to the path of the unzipped drivers you just downloaded and install them. Note: Uninstalling the Microsoft drivers first is potentially safer, but updating gives an easy right-click option to "roll back" to the generic drivers without reboot if there is any problem with the new drivers.

Another alternative if you have a drivers CD that came with the computer is to install manufacturer's audio (and video) drivers from the CD. You can always search periodically on the web in case updated drivers are now available.

Using the Control Panel to show and enable recording devices

On Windows 7 and later, initial driver setup typically disables all the inputs except for the built-in microphone. If the input you require is not listed in Audacity (or is apparently not recording properly) try going to "Sound" in the Windows Control Panel to show, enable and configure it as required.

The quickest way to access the Control Panel is to right-click over the speaker icon in the System Tray > Recording Devices. Or click Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound (if you're using "Classic View" there's a direct link to "Sound" in the Control Panel), then click on the "Recording" tab.

Once you have enabled and selected the input you require in the Control Panel, restart Audacity (or if Audacity is still running, you can use Transport > Rescan Audio Devices).