Bad sound using Stereo Mix

Win 7 Pro
IDT HD Audio Codec v6.10.6341.0 (supposed to be the latest/greatest)

My problem is, unlike lots of others, I am able to record via Stereo Mix. BUT in playing it back in Audacity, it sounds “flat” or tinny. No midrange, very little bass. I’ve made sure all settings match as far as sample, bit-rate, etc. I’ve spent the last few hours searching the forum with no luck.

Anyone have any ideas? I did notice that in the sound control panel under Advanced in the properties tab, that the default format lists 2 channel, 16bits, CD Quality. There are lots of other choices involving DVD quality and Studio Quality but whenever I select those I get “format not supported by this device.”

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Bill W

Just to cover the bases, so you have the Windows Conferencing Services turned off?

This can also be a symptom of your sound system being wired wrong.
The last segment is intentionally damaged to sound weird, if the third segment sounds weird instead, you have a sound system problem.


Well, that sounded ok. The last segment did sound “odd” but everything else seems to be ok.

Now to add to the mystery, I got freecorder and tried that. Awesome sound from that compared to the same recording in Audacity. Yet, audacity plays back the freecorder mp3 just fine. I can live with freecorder for now but would like to have “my audacity sound” back. I have a sneaky feeling the issue is this hP laptop. My previous HP laptop did fine. When I had to switch to the current laptop is when the sound got bad.

Sometimes i just hate computers…

Bill W

Do both the red recording meters and the green playback meters jump when you make a recording? Do you have Playthrough selected in Audacity Preferences? Koz

Your original description of the sound that you hear is typical of many laptops. Some models can deliver “reasonable” sound and others cannot. Have you tried plugging in some proper loudspeakers or listening on headphones?

Yes, meters move on both record and playback.

Yes, I’ve tried both good speakers and good headphones. Anything recorded with Audacity is “flat”. Anything recorded with freecorder (using the Aldian codec or whatever it is called) is terrific.

I’m baffled by it. Is it ok to post samples? I can whip some up if it is.

Bill W

Yes, that can be helpful. Try to keep them fairly short samples.
See here for how to post them:

Two files, one recorded via Audacity, one via Freecorder. Freecorder saved the file as mp3. I brought it into Audacity to trim it down to size and saved as a 16-bit PCM wav file. The Audacity recording was also trimmed and saved as a 16-bit PCM wav file.

I agree that the Audacity recording does not sound good, but it does not sound bad enough to indicate that you are doing anything wrong or that there is any actual “fault”. The difference between the two recording is, as far as I can tell, just the difference between the “sound card” that is being used.
Audacity uses your real (IDT HD) sound card, but Freecorder bypasses the sound card and uses a “virtual” sound card to record from.

Try applying the Normalize effect to the Audacity recording with these settings:

It sounds like Audacity is the “real,” flat-sounding, off-balance one (especially after you adjust the L and R levels) and FreeCorder has gone through one of the “Concert Hall” effects. I posted elsewhere that we had a new computer in the shop and everybody logged in to get used to it. One of the other techies left a concert hall effect running by accident and I tried to do critical sound tests. I failed.

“I’m not sending sound down the left channel, where the frog is it coming from?”

Avery Fisher Hall #2, I believe.


normalizing helped but the “Freecorder clip” still sounds the closest to the original–at least to my ears. Wish I could figure out how or if I should update the IDT HD driver. Oh, well. At least I have the freecorder and can edit those in Audacity.

Bill W

Did you go through the Windows Control Panels and look for special effects associated with your sound card? I wrote down where our Win7 machine put ours, but the notes are at work. I say that because it’s difficult or impossible to start with the Freecorder one and get to the Audacity version, but I have no trouble believing you can start with the flat, off-balance Audacity one and spiff it up artificially to get to the FreeCorder one. It’s one of our constants that Audacity doesn’t do anything in real time past record, play and certain timer functions, and it’s a complete slave to what the computer is doing.

You said Freecorder captures much like the original. How are you listening to the original? Through the same computer? Managing recursive sound pathways in a modern computer isn’t simple.


Unfortunately work has intruded onto the really important stuff. I should be able to look into in tonight.

As for the original. Streamed via Rhapsody in both instances. So I would record one. Shutdown Rhapsody. Start Rhapsody, record the second. Everything is playing through my “NATA Multimedia Speaker System” that I have had and used for years. They are certainly not Infinity or Klipsch or anything really good but they hold their own.

I’ll report back about the special FX stuff, hopefully tonight.

Excellent. Meanwhile I’ll paw through my notes that I made before they took the Win7 machine away from me. Koz

Win7-64 SP-1
Start > Control Panels > Audio Control Panel
[ ]EAX Effects (deselect)
[ ]CMSS-3D (deselect).

Start > Control Panels > Sound > Communications.
[X]Do Nothing.

Start > Control Panels > Sound Effects Manager > AC97 Audio Configuration.
Zero out, turn everything off or bypass the tools.

You may not have all these panels. You may have more.


Finally found it. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any type of effects that are applied during recording. There is Noise cancellation and/or Acoustic Echo cancellation. Both are unchecked.

Playback does have a bit of a cheesy equalizer but both recordings are played through that and through the same speakers so I don’t see how that could affect it.

Backed to being stumped.

Bill W
P.S. I just got another system put together today, a desktop. Need to load windows and then will try Audacity on that one to see if there is any difference. I’ll let ya’ll know how it goes.

…there does not seem to be any type of effects that are applied during recording.

Doesn’t have to be. Remember, you’re playing the work normally and running the record side at the same time to capture it. Both pathways at once and all the effects both directions are in the loop.

Does Stereo-Mix make your head hurt yet?


DOH! (forehead slap)

Yes, it does now. Geez what was I thinking? Right, so I’ll remove effects this evening and give it another whirl.

Bill W

Attached are recordings with EVERYTHING set to the defaults, which is basically no equalizing in or out. Audacity recording sounds even worse than before but the freecorder still sounds pretty good.

I don’t know where to go from here. Guess I’ll just use freecorder for catching snippets off the web and Audacity for editing. But I am still open to any suggestions.

Bill W

Where are you getting the work from, what’s the URL?