Capture of internet streaming content has very poor fidelity

[ I am capturing for fair use purposes, I am not pirating or redistributing content. ]

Samples captured from streaming sources do not match the original source sound. I’ve done this multiple times, varying the capture/export settings, the sources used, and the method of playback monitoring, but always have the same problem. Here’s what I’m doing:

Problem: Compared to the original source, the capture is tinny, muted, and generally sounds like a reduced quality capture from an AM radio source. This change is not hugely dramatic, but is sufficient to ruin all captures.

Test Sources: Dell Lattitude 7410, Windows 11, Spotify app, YouTube on Chrome.
Playback listening methods: Laptop Speakers, Sony SRS-Z750 speakers attached to audio port, Bose Soundsport wifi earbuds.
Playback software: The original source compared to 1) Audacity playback, 2) export played with MediaMonkey, 3) export played with Windows Media player.

Captured playback sounds the same regardless of playback method, its just lower quality and does not match the source.

Audio Settings:
Host - Windows Waspi (PortAudio V19.7.0-devel, revision unknown)
Recoding Device - Speakers (Realtek Audio) (Loopback) Stereo
Project/Default Sample Rates - 48000 Hz, 32-bit float
Latency Buffer 100ms, Compensation -130ms

Real-time - Best Quality, Dither None
High-Quality - Best Quality, Dither Shaped

Export MP3
Stereo, 48000Hz, Bit rate Preset, Quality 320 kbps

Thanks, Your help is very much appreciated!

That’s weird… “loopback” should give you an accurate digital capture.

And you didn’t apply any effects after recording, right? You just recorded and then exported?

MP3 is lossy (WAV and FLAC are lossless) but at 320kbps it should sound very-much like the uncompressed audio, if you can hear any difference at all.

Does it sound OK when played-back from Audacity before exporting?

Windows “enhancements” can mess-up the sound during recording, but I don’t think they work with loopback.

Just FYI - You’re not supposed to steal from Spotify (or YouTube, etc.). There’s a reason they don’t give you a “download” button. :wink: The artist gets paid a fraction of a penny every time you stream but of course they don’t get anything after you steal it.

I am not knowingly applying any effects. As noted above, Audacity playback has the same problem as the export playback.

Using windows 10 on an older Dell Lattitude laptop (and therefore also an different audio chip, and no WASPI) and using a different capture app (not audacity), I do not have this problem. I’m trying to move to using the new laptop.

DELL computers can have a second layer of audio enhancements called MaxxAudio.
The “enhancement” is baked-in to audio recorded from the computer speakers …

  1. MaxxAudio is NOT installed on the test laptop.
    This is a clean install, not a package install from Dell, and I double checked the dell drivers I used. The Dell docs about MaxxAudio also say it is not a hidden driver, it installs as an app and would show up in the install list (it does not), and could be uninstalled if so desired.

  2. Are you saying that its a known issue that Audacity is incompatible with MaxxAudio?

Just because"Maxx Audio" does not appear the install list does not mean it’s not installed …

Try searching your computer for “Dell audio”.

If enabled, Maxx Audio enhancements & Windows audio enhancements are baked-in to the audio recorded from the computer speakers. You need to turn all audio enhancements off if you want a faithful recording.

Also, I tried installing MaxxAudio, then ran tests - same problem.
Uninstall MaxxAudio, run tests - same problem.
Reinstalled Audacity and reset all options, then reconfigured as noted in my original post - same problem.

You don’t need to uninstall, you just need to switch it off.
Same for Windows audio enhancements.

Neither Dell or Realtek audio consoles are installed on my laptop. The dell console does not appear to be available for Win11 and its unclear if the Realtek one (that I can find) is the same as pictured or compatible with Win11. Anyway I’m giving up on Audacity for this particular purpose - I want to capture with high fidelity to the actual delivered sound so will just use one of the standard capture apps.

Thanks for trying!

There are a couple of other hardware & software solutions on this page.

For hardware loopback you’ll need a USB interface (such as the Berhinger UCA202) with a line-input to connect to your headphone-output. It’s also handy to have a Y-splitter cable so you can plug-in headphones/speakers at the same time.

Thanks to the people who attempted to get this working for me!

I give up. While Audacity is clearly a better app for many audio tasks, capturing streaming with high fidelity to the actual delivered sound is not so great on Win11 with my particular setup. Assuming the final suggested fix would work, disabling various audio drivers each time I need to capture something is too much of a work around. It’s easier to use one of the simpler capture tools and import the results to my audio editing tool.

Just curious if you got any other recording software to capture the audio. OBS is the first try, as most find it reliable enough, as far as audio goes, Audacity offers more.

I do much the same, but I am recording from the TOSLINK source. this is far less influenced by the systems loading it down or the circuitry inserting EXTRA STUFF. But even at that, I am getting some low-level subaudible noise. I will start looking at items that I have added in the past like the PS Audio Hum’0’, to see if these items are the cause.

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