dell/vista can only record with microphone

This post echos some of the problems listed already in a recent post titled “recording ram files” (I think). I want to record audio from a web page – like the news. I bought this dell inspiron laptop about 2 weeks ago. I downloaded Audacity last night.

When I click “record” Audacity gives me a recording from the built-in microphone. I need to switch the input to cause Audacity to record what is coming through the speakers, not what is going into the microphone. The mixer tool bar drop down menu is grayed out. I go to the sound setting on my computer by right clicking the speaker icon in my system tray. The recording tab only shows the “microphone array”, which is enabled (there is an addtional option called “microphone/line in”, but it shows “not plugged in”). Right clicking to “show disabled” and “show unplugged” does not turn up any addtional options.

Going to the Control Panel and “sound, video and game controller” device manager I see only “SigmaTel High Definition Audio CODEC”. Retrurning to Audacity I go to “Audio I/O”. The two recording devices listed there are the Microsoft Sound Mapper and that Sigma Tel microphone array. The drift of what I’m getting from the tutorials is that I should be seeing more options than just the microphone array in the “Audio I/O”.

I am also sensing that the problem is with Vista. In other words, when I go to the Recording Tab in the sound settings of Vista, I should see more than just this “microphone array”. If this is true, what question should I ask the Dell technician when I call him? What information does he need to hear in order to force Vista to show more options to Audacity? By the way, I’ve used Replay Radio on my desktop XP for years to record sound from the web with no problems. But Replay Radio costs $100 or something. I would much rather use Audacity if I can get it to work.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

Hello, and welcome to Vista!!


Thanks Koz. I have visited the wiki link you suggested. I still am not able to get audacity to work for me. Please let me emphasize I only want to record the sound that comes out of the built-in speakers on my laptop. After visiting the wiki page I can report the following:

  • my new dell inspiron has the recommended RAM/processor speed for vista basic
  • vista was factory installed so sound card is vista specific
  • the sound card driver is specific to sound card (sigma tel) (not microsoft generic)
  • audacity does not have a problem launching on my computer (it just doesn’t record the speaker sound)
  • the only working device offered on the Recording tab is the microphone
    (shouldn’t I see more there? should there be a device for the sound card itself? I’m guessing I should see a separate device driver for the built in speakers)
  • I just installed an updated driver for sigma tel yesterday
  • Edit > Preferences > Audio I/O tab in the “Recording Device” gives 2 recording devices: MS sound mapper and sigma tel microphone

I have no idea why I can’t record the sound from my built-in speakers. Can anybody get me on the right track?

Thanks in advance,


I’m having the exact same problem with my Dell laptop.
I’d just like to warn you about the soundcard driver. If you re-install it, you will loose the use of your webcam and microphone. I managed to get the webcam to work again but had to do a vista re-install to breathe life into the mic.

I’m still looking at ways to record off the sound card. I don’t think there are any software solutions.
I think in the end I will buy a lead with a 3.5mm jack on each end and connect the line out to the line in. Then I will be able to record off the line in as if it were a microphone.
It’s a ridiculous solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist but it’s better than nothing.


Hi All,

I’m having the exact same problem too. I’m working with a DELL Latitude D620 using XP Professional, I think this isn’t an exclusive VISTA problem.
In my case I’ve three options in audacity, “Internal Mix, Exernal Mix and Line In”, I can use only mic to save.
I already downloaded R122161, (Sound Drivers), from DELL and it doesn’t fix the problem. (De-install old drivers and install the new one). Sigmatel was checked from control panel too and nothing to change there.

Well, thanks in advance, just to share, any good new to fix this problem it’s welcome.



Fix it.

  2. Product Support (Red bar navigation)
  3. Device Driver (left)
  4. Product select “Notebook”
  5. Subject “sigmatel” and press button “Search”

Four drivers are listed:

  1. [Sound/Vista] LG Notebook(V1/V2) SigmaTel Sound Driver Ver V1
    V2 Windows Vista 28K

  2. [SOUND/2000/XP] XNOTE(V1) SigmaTel Sound Driver V1
    Windows 2000 Windows XP 94,472K

  3. [Sound/2000/XP] SigmaTel Sound Driver Ver XNOTE(LE50) LE50
    Windows 2000 Windows XP 4,601K

  4. [Sound/2000/XP] SigmaTel Sound Driver (LE50) LE50
    Windows 2000 Windows XP
    DBSGAUXK06.txt 20,522K 3K

Select to download the file that matchs with your operating system, in my case I used the 3rd.

After installation this un-stable operating system requires boot, after, audacity shows the correct input selections to record, in my case are:

CD Audio
Stereo Mix

Enjoy, :smiley:

Jose Valerio

I tried downloading the vista version of the previous post and when I clicked on the eve file it does nothing. How do I install it?

If you guys are still having trouble accessing the “Stereo Mix” (or whatever) option from your sound card, then the problem is probably that the drivers you’re using don’t supply that input option. There’s nothing Audacity can do to force it, it’s entirely dependent on the drivers. The wiki does state this quite plainly.

If you really need to, your best bet is probably to buy new hardware with proper drivers. The current state of Vista audio is terrible and some companies don’t seem to want to write proper drivers for their hardware.

I have found a solution to the problem. I am sending my Dell computer back and getting a full refund. Anybody out there with a Dell computer suffering from this problem can send their computer back for a full refund if you do it within 21 days from the date you received your computer. How can you sell a computer in the 21st century that does not have the ability to record the speaker sound? That’s like selling a car without a radio. I hope Dell’s customers vote with their feet until the problem is resolved. It will be a long, long time before I buy another Dell.

I hope to see you all back here when I get my new HP (don’t tell me HP’s have the same problem).

How can you sell a computer in the 21st century that does not have the ability to record the speaker sound?

Mix Vista and a cheap motherboard sound card. It’s not a hard recipe, and almost every commodity computer maker is doing the same thing.

It’s not a problem with Dell, it’s a problem with the people who wrote the drivers for your sound card. Don’t go blaming Dell for this problem, that’s ridiculous.

You’re just as likely to have the same problem with an HP computer as you are with any other computer running XP with a crap sound card (I’m not saying you will have this problem).

okay I accept the problem is with SigmaTel and not with Dell (except that they chose SigmaTel), but I understand that my only recourse is to go to an “external” sound card. Does this mean I have some component flopping off of a USB cable, or does it mean I can use the “ExpressCard” slot? Having some loose component plugged into my USB port defeats the idea of a “portable” computer. That’s unacceptable. Running a wire from my line-out port to my line-in port is also unacceptable. If an after-market sound card that permits “stereo mix” recording will fit into my ExpressCard slot, then I may decide to keep the Dell. Does anybody know if this is the case?
Thanks in advance

Certainly Dell should not be using Sigmatel chips, but it’s never been a foregone conclusion that people would be able to recording their speaker outputs. It’s simply not an issue for the average computer user. If you disagree, then by all means go with a company that uses a different chip (in fact, I applaud you for this). It appears from a quick search that HP uses the Sigmatel chips in some of their models, but not all of them (I believe this is the case with Dell too).

It also appears I was a hasty in saying that Dell isn’t to blame here. It looks like Sigmatel is really just an IC manufacturer and they state explicitly that companies using their chips are responsible for the software needed to run them. That Dell isn’t offering the software to fully make use of these chips is sad. I wonder how often things like this happen in the computer peripheral world…

Moving on, I can’t say anything about ExpressCard slots, I’ve no experience with or need for laptops.

I can tell you that if you can’t get the drivers to work right in Vista your only options are to wait for proper drivers to be written or to use a USB interface (which I can fully understand not accepting).

Normally you’d be able to use software like Total Recorder (which would get you higher audio quality than any sound card is capable of when recording the speaker output), but it’s not yet Vista compatible. I don’t know if there is similar software that Vista users can use.


you may wish to consider using an external soundcard - two that get mentioned favourably on this forum are the Behringer UC202 and the Edirol UA-1EX. The Behringer is a little cheaper - the Edirol has more functionality. I personally have been iusing the Edirol for several months now with good results.

OK so they “flop off a USB cable” - but note that these devices are very small - and one key benefit is that you get a portable soundcard that you can move between computers.


Has anyone gotten this to work? Jose–how did you install the download?

Well guys I’ve done a lot of research on this problem. It seems that most newer Dell Laptops and other brands that have Vista already installed on them are going with the Sigmatel Soundcards and codecs to thwart people from downloading streaming music off the internet. Most software like Audacity, goldwave, ect… were origionally made for musicians so that the could record their music and layer it by playing samples back and recording with them. Well musicians have let the secret out that you can record Copywrighted music off the internet without getting into trouble because it was streaming and you didn’t have to download it via Limewire or torrent. Well they figure if you don’t have the capability to record “what you hear” problem solved which has really screwed legit musicians. There is a few far and in between solutions to this problem. The best advice I’ve seen so far is is getting a double sided 3.5mm jack and plug one into your mic and one into your headphone jack as ajthegray described above but that still doesn’t help you if you are trying to record with a sample recording. My advice is to either get a different sound card or if it’s a laptop then “SORRY” your kind of stuck. Mine is a Dell XPS M1530 laptop with a Sigmatel High Definition soundcard and had the same problem as you guys. If anyone finds a solution, codec , ect to this problem then please eamil me at I say screw Vista and props XP.

I found a solution to this here:

  • Select sound from the control panel.
    Select the recording tab.
    Right click on the background of the tab and choose “show disabled devices.”
    Right click on Wave Out Mix and click enable.
    Now it should work the same way as Wave Out Mix in Windows XP, allowing you to record any sound your computer makes.

Above does not offer a fix for my XPS420. When you show disabled devices, nothing more comes up to work with. Dell told me so sad too bad. I need to order an external one. I want to know why they would sell a high end station like xps420 with media center and not have a decent sound card.

I too have a Dell XPS 420 and I have the same problem. Dell said they couldn’t do anything about it, so I thought that maybe a different sound card would solve the problem, so I purchased a Creative SB X-Fi, however I might as well have saved my money because there is no difference whatsoever. I have searched the internet and it seems that the problem is with Vista, not the sound cards. Various suggestions can be found but none work, so when I saw that Audacity was available for Vista I thought my problem was solved; but, no, it wasn’t to be.

The best advice I’ve seen so far is is getting a double sided 3.5mm jack and plug one into your mic and one into your headphone jack

Which most times doesn’t work, either. Windows PCs are designed for business communications, not entertainment. That means the Mic-In is extremely low level and easily damaged or overloaded. It has battery voltage on the connector and the sound is mono.

But outside of that…

I have a license for PC “Total Recorder.” It adds a sound driver into the pathway and will record anything passing through your PC. I think it has a scheduler although I’ve never used it, or it’s been so long I forgot. The Mac version is WireTap.