Error while opening sound device.

Hi, I’m having a problem with Audacity randomly stopping working. I’m recording from a VCR to a Win7 laptop via RCA to 1/8" headphone jack via microphone line in. Audacity will record fine, you can see/hear that sound is coming through and being recorded, and sometimes everything goes fine from beginning to end- I can record, edit the silence at the beginning and end of the recording, save project and export mp3. Other times after stopping the recording, when I move the cursor thing in Audacity (that tells you where you are in your recording) and press play to line up when to delete the last minute or two of silence after the tape ends, I get an error message saying ‘Error while opening sound device. Please check the output device settings and the project sample rate’.

It’s completely random when this error happens- some times it will happen the first time I use Audacity (I thought maybe I started Audacity up too soon after booting the computer and it didn’t have time to register all the hardware or something so I rebooted my computer and waited a minute before starting Audacity up), other times I can use Audacity several times and the error only happens after doing several tapes. I don’t change any settings, flip any switches, etc, I just do the same thing every time (power up VCR, insert tape and start recording in Audacity) and sometimes it works and sometimes the error message happens when I press play after stopping the recording. Even if I record a small sample at the beginning to see if it’s going to record or not or if I record several tapes before hand, it’s only after recording a whole hour long tape that the error message comes which is fairly frustrating. It doesn’t work to save the project and try to edit it again, the same error happens when I hit play. Any ideas as to what could be the problem? Thanks a bunch for any help.

Are you running out of room? Even Win7 computers fill up their hard drives. Audio take up a lot of room on the hard drive and it’s easier than you think to fill them up.

Start > My Computer > right-click c: > Get Info or Get Properties.

There’s a fuzzy rule that you need 10% to 20% of your hard drive free to do audio production.


Do you have any other programs running that may be taking exclusive control of your sound card?
In particular do you have Skype and other voip program running (even minimised in the background)?

Unless Skype or some other program blocking access to the audio device is the cause, we’ll need to get to some basics.

Make sure you are using the current Audacity 2.0.5: .

What device you are using for playback? Does it have correct drivers?

What host are you choosing in Audacity Device Toolbar ? MME is best if other programs are using the sound device.

What project rate are you using?

I suggest you go carefully through this FAQ: and see whether it helps.


Hi, thanks a bunch for the replies. I don’t think it’s an issue of running out of room as I have a little over 20GB free on a 128GB SSD. I record either a whole or a half of a box of VHS, depending on the length of the tapes inside, and then offload all the audacity project files + mp3’s onto an external hard drive so that my hard drive doesn’t fill up. The thing is that it makes no difference whether I’m at the beginning or end of a box of VHS when the error occurs. For instance just now I had an error occur when I was starting on a new box and had just offloaded all of the Audacity data so there should have been plenty of room.

Nothing else is running on my laptop as I have it set on a desk and it’s being sole-purposed for getting the audio off the VHS tapes.

I think that my playback device is just my laptop speakers so the drivers should be ok. I’m using MME as a host in Audacity. Project rate is 44100.

I’m not sure what version of Audacity I’m running as I’m trying to record a tape right now, I’ll check and update if it’s not the latest. It’s probably the version just before 2.0.5 if it’s not 2.0.5 as I just downloaded it a month or two ago.

Thanks for the FAQ, I’ll go down the list and see if anything helps.