Echo Problem

Hi and thanks for helping me here. I cannot figure out a method to eliminate an echo which is created when I record. Here are the details.

I am running Windows 7 on a Dell Vostro 3450 laptop. I am recording audio as it plays from lecture videos on the internet, various sites. On my older laptop and with an older version of Audacity, I was always able to figure difficulties out. But now I cannot. I am using Audacity 2.0.3, downloaded via the .exe file. Basically I just use a cable to connect the headphone jack to the microphone jack, both 3.5 mm. In the past, I would fool around with settings, monitor the input, and successfully record.

I have read every relevant page in the manual, searched all through the forum, and read all the FAQs. I have tried every possible combination of settings, including playing with the sound function on my laptop. I think the problem is that I really don’t understand what any of this stuff is really for, I just try suggestions that I see.

Bottom line, can anyone please help me to get my settings correct? I am not recording from Skype or YouTube or any site that has some sort of protection involved. Just simple, academic lectures. The noise I get is an echo, where a I hear things twice, just a second or so apart. I did try fooling with the stereo settings, but no luck so far.

Thanks so much for any advice.

You may be reading too much. I think you installed both the regular, high quality method, and the desperation method. The two methods run at slightly different speeds in the computer and that gives you the echo.

I would not be using that cable between Headphone-Out and Mic-In. Those two are not directly compatible with each other. That’s the desperation method. When you can’t get anything else to work and it doesn’t matter if it sounds very good or not.

The 10,000 foot view is to tell Audacity to record from a “device” called Stereo-Mix. It’s not really a “device” that you can taste, touch or throw at the cat. It’s a software device. A program that acts like a piece of hardware. Stereo-Mix’s job is to make all the sounds on the computer available for recording. You tell Audacity to record from Stereo-Mix and then anything you do on the computer, including internet shows, becomes part of the recording.

That was the good news. I’m not one of the Windows elves. They’re all off trying to bring out the next Audacity version, so I can’t take you step by step through the system. The best I can do is point you to the wiki we wrote on how to do this.

About a third of the way down, there is a branch which talks specifically about Windows. Win7 likes to hide things it doesn’t think you need, so it can be interesting to set up recordings like this.

Two Important Notes:

– Your service may not be called Stereo-Mix. It may have another name.

– You may not have this service at all. Some computers don’t, but since you have an overabundance of sounds, I don’t think you’re going to have that problem.


Thank you for the suggestion, and I will most definitely look into it and see if I can find a way to make it work. Just for the record, I never really intended for the cable to be a desperate move. I found the idea years ago while first learning to use Audacity, and it has been perfect for me. The quality has been good, and I can record all day without having to listen to what I am recording. Apparently this method is not the best, but I actually did not know this until now. Here’s hoping the thread you pointed me to has the answer.

If your older computer had three connections like this…

Then yes, it’s perfectly valid to plug the Green connector into the Blue one and get self-recording that way. Those two are both high level stereo, one in and the other out.

Not so the pink one. The pink one is designed to do this…

…or this which is more to the point…

Newer computers are corporate communications devices, so you can conference-call Skype back to the home office in London. The pink connector is for the special computer microphone and the black one is for the headphone. The two sound levels are very different and you can damage the system by crossing them.


Thanks for this Koz. No, I had just two jacks, the same as I do now. So for an update - when I clicked the link you originally posted for me, it took me to a page I have read many times. I have also followed all the links it presents. However, I saw something I somehow overlooked all of these times, which is the need to uncheck the ability to hear play-through as it causes an echo. I did this and it worked! So thank you for redirecting me back to the page with my answer.

Right now I have my computer set to use stereo mix, and I have to use the mic-in setting for audacity because line-in, which I used to use, somehow undoes the stereo mix on my computer. The rest does not seem to matter, though I have not tried all combinations yet as I am just happy to have one solution. I will continue to see if I can manage it without a cable, though nothing I have read has helped me thus far. Having said that, I am still open if anyone has suggestions on how to do this better. I would prefer to upgrade my method if possible.

Thanks again for the feedback. Oh an by the way Koz, I was able to see your website from your links. Looks like you are quite the technical wizard, very impressive.

Thanks. I’ve just been doing it for a long time. It looks more impressive if it’s not organized very well.

There’s three hero ones:

One various tech stuff:

One Audacity and sound related:

And this one that I live in called Handy Web Sites. I have to be able to navigate quickly no matter which computer I use including Not Mine, so I found it handy to collect all my Frequently Visited Places as my own web page. I don’t know how many other people visit it, but I wear it out.

My joke is I can tell when I visited a computer before because because this site is link is still up in the navigation bar. It’s gold if you’re trying to do this on a cellphone or iPad.