What happens if you disable that playback device?
I tried disconnecting the monitor before starting Audacity, as well as rebooting windows without the monitor connected and starting Audacity, neither made a difference.
Who makes those drivers when you look in Device Manager? If they are made by Microsoft they are not the correct drivers.
If you have not already done so, the best way to check for audio drivers is to go to your computer manufacturer’s site, assuming you have a branded computer like Dell or Lenovo.
Yeah, they were Microsoft. I did some searching for a driver for a Lenovo Ideapad P500 Touch with Windows 8.1 64-bit, and the only relevant one from Lenovo was a driver for the soundcard, authored by Realtek. I now have the latest version they have. I didn’t find any compatible drivers for the microphone or speakers though, so those are still Microsoft. Problem is, now Audacity is taking 2 minutes to start up first time per reboot instead of 1.
What happens if you disable only the Windows Audio service in sevices.msc then hold SHIFT and click on the Power button to do a full shut down. Does Audacity launch in 2 seconds when you reboot?
Yep, disabling that service and rebooting makes Audacity start up in 2 seconds the first time.
I discovered something funny while troubleshooting: When I open up FL Studio after a reboot, it takes over 2 minutes (much longer than usual now), but then if I open Audacity, Audacity opens very quickly. But if, after a reboot, I were to open Audacity before FL Studio, Audacity takes 2 minutes but FL Studio opens much quicker, closer to its usual startup time. (Each time I waited a good while after the reboot to give my computer time to finish its startup group.) I wonder what the two programs are activating jointly. I’m not sure if this was the case before I installed the new driver.
EDIT: Okay, I think I’ve accidentally fixed the problem, although it’s hardly a solution. In Device Manager I rolled back the soundcard driver back to the previous, Microsoft version I had before. Now Audacity starts up instantly (~6 seconds) on the first startup. Reinstalling new driver reintroduces the problem, and rolling back again eliminates it.