Cannot Record Sound From Computer

I know that this is a common enough issue that it is addressed in the Audacity Wiki, but I was not able to remedy this issue using the Wiki.

I have Windows 7 on an 8-month old Lenovo Ideapad. I read somewhere that Lenovo Thinkpads have an issue with recording sound coming from the computer and am curious as to whether Ideapads also have this deficiency.

I am using a Plantronics Audio 355 microphone headset that claims to be “Studio Quality.” I understand the basic A-to-B issue of “the sound is in your ears and the physical microphone is in front of your mouth,” so I am not totally ignorant.

I have tried to adjust the devices within Audacity, but it does nothing. My computer has a built-in RealTek microphone, but I have no idea whether I should be trying to use both at once (or if that is even possible), or what.

I am VERY new to Audacity and have yet to attack any advanced functions. I just record and go. I’m a former sport talk radio blowhard who has now been hired to podcast for a network of Web sites with no production team. I have some basic equipment, so I told them I can do it myself.

I have been incorporating intro songs, but I have literally been playing them on my iPod and some external speakers that sit next to be on the table. Not exactly supreme audio quality. I also want to be able to drop in audio clips from YouTube, etc.

I am trying to learn on the fly.

We have gotten a couple podcasts posted that don’t sound like complete trash and the force of my personality seems to have carried them a little bit. Either that or it is that situation where people listen because they hate me.

Nevertheless, I would be massively appreciative of any assistance and thank you all for providing this forum for issues such as mine.

<<<We have gotten a couple podcasts posted that don’t sound like complete trash and the force of my personality seems to have carried them a little bit.>>>

We tell people all the time that an announcing voice is not easy to achieve a: in real life or b: with software. People still pay for that.


Forget Audacity. If Windows can’t figure out how to manage the microphone, Audacity isn’t going anywhere. You need to go into the Windows Control Panels and find the headset device and select it for recording – and maybe playback, too, since it does have heaphones.

This headset system is analog and I’m guessing you have the pink “microphone” connection plugged into Mic-In and the other color connection plugged into the Headphone Out.

New Windows computers have interesting settings you need to make to avoid conferencing distortions in your voice. I need to come back and discuss them because I need to go do weekend things right this second. The post is going to close…


I have tried various Control Panel settings, to no avail. And you are spot on about my setup.

Here’s the specifics from someone kind enough to write down what he did.

As we go…


That’s not what you’re doing. You are using an approved pathway: Microphone > Computer. What they’re talking about is using the computer to record or capture YouTube or other on-line music. It’s the computer’s job to play the music from YouTube to you. What they want is to capture the music already inside the computer – to “borrow” the sound on the way to your ears and make a file out of it. Effectively, they’re setting the machine to play and record at the same time. Many newer computers will not do that for a number of reasons.

Are you totally sure you’re recording from your headset and not the laptop built-in microphone? Scratch your microphone boom microphone and then scratch around the surface of the laptop. Which is louder?

You wouldn’t be the first to be recording the wrong microphone.

I’m taking this completely scattered as I think of things.

While I’m sure that’s a wonderful microphone, the ad is clear it was designed for Skype and other communications work. That’s the polar opposite of Quality Audio. The specifications for a communications microphone are stunningly bad. Never capture any bass. Boost 3KHz (Like a telephone). Restrict the loudness range so people at the other end can hear you. Distortion is OK as long as it helps suppress room echoes and computer feedback.


You can certainly get headset microphones that sound reasonable…

Note down in the specifications that the response only goes down to about 200 Hz or so. That’s where “Announcing Voice” lives.

Can we hear a sample of what you’re doing? Sometimes in fifteen seconds we can solve problems by listening. Don’t bet the farm, however.


Here are my podcasts:

I tried to monkey around with the mic settings and now it sounds even worse than it does in those 'casts.

I know I need to buy a better mic, but I needed an emergency fix on short notice and this set was in the house.

I will work with those instructions, but I now have another problem, as well. While the podcasts housed at the previously pasted link don’t sound incredible, I monkeyed around with some mic settings and now anything I record is totally horrible. There’s no way I would waste my time listening to anything of that low quality. I don’t know what I did to mess up the clarity, but I desperately need it back.

Ugh. Trial by fire is killing me.

That didn’t go well. The podcasts will not play live and downloading crashes. Are they working on the servers – this being Sunday night?

Anyway, we can’t do anything with “It Sounds Terrible,” so record four or five seconds, Tracks > Stereo Track to Mono, and Export as FLAC. Post it here using the Upload Attachment instructions and panels at the bottom of this page.

We’re not crazy about MP3 because we never know if the damage is from the poster or the MP3 process itself.


I’m going to be giving you instructions for Audacity 1.3.12. Audacity 1.2 is very out of date and can be unstable. You can install both of them, but only use one at a time. Audacity 1.3 projects will not open in 1.2.