Muddy Sound When Recording In Audacity

Just bought a new Windows 7 PC recently and everything works fine except for recording audio (as in “record what you hear”) in Audacity. I have checked all the settings on the new computer against the old computer (Windows XP) and my laptop (Windows 7) and can find no variance in any of the settings. Both of the other computers were running Audacity Audacity 1.3.13. On the new computer I installed Audacity 2 at first, but when I encountered the problem I reinstalled 1.3 like the other computers to see if that was the problem, but it still persists.

When I record something now, whether it be a song playing on my media player, or a radio rip from a streaming website, the sound is all muddy and faded, almost as if you were recording audio on a cell phone. On the other 2 computers the sound was very good quality when recording this way. This is not just a problem with the export settings, even in Audacity when playing back the recording the sound is distorted, and the same thing if you export it as WAV or MP3. I have checked Audacity settings and my sound card settings (IDT High Definition Audio CODEC) and cannot for the life of me figure out any differences that could be causing this.

I have attached a clip of a recording of “Street Fighting Man” as an example of the sound problem.

**Moderator note:**Please don’t double post it only annoys the forum elves (alll of whom are unpaid volunteers) as it wastes their time. I have removed the second post for you. And please be patient the elves dwell in several different timezones around the world so you query takes a while to ripple around.

Have you checked your Windoze sound settings in the Control Panel?

W7 and W8 normally come pre-configured to enhance conference calls skype etc. Try turning that junk (sorry set of enhancements) off.


and see this FAQ in the manual:


Thanks, but these options are not available when you follow these steps in the manual you quoted, I have already checked through the sound settings for these type of options, but they do not appear. There is no “enhancements tab” or sound effects to disable, nothing in Line-in or Stereo Mix either. Any other ideas?

To change settings on Windows Vista and Windows 7:
Right-click over the Speaker icon by the system clock then choose Recording Devices to open the Recording tab of “Sound”
Right-click over Microphone and choose Properties
There will probably be an Enhancements tab where you can disable all or selected “Sound Effects” - if needs be, also look in the Levels or Custom tabs
If you need to change environment settings, click the Playback tab in the main window of “Sound”, right-click over Speakers, choose Properties then click the Enhancements tab.
If there are no settings to change, or on older versions of Windows, go to the “Sound” or similar section of the Windows Control Panel and look for a custom control panel for your sound device.

But in your case youre not recording withe the microphone (or I hope you’re not).

For recording sound playing on the computer you ned the Stereo Mix (or equivalent) - double click on that in the recording section of Windows Sounds dialog and turn off effects in there. - also check the speakers settings in the playback section.

This tutorial may help you:


Yes I know, I’m recording with Stereo Mix. There is no enhancements settings on that either though. The tabs are General / Listen / Levels / Advanced. Again, I’ve cross-referenced all these settings with my laptop, and everything is the same.

Your screenshot appears to show that you do not have Stereo Mix enabled (no little blue bars to the right as there are with your Mic and Line-in) so I suspect that you may actually be recording from your onboard mic.

Right click on the Stereo Mix in the control panel and enable it


Hmm not sure what happened there, but it is enabled and there are the bars beside Stereo Mix. I’ve just disabled and reenabled it to double check. Closed everything down and reopened and still absolutely no difference in recording quality.

Shouldn’t the green checkmark be next to Stereo-Mix?

Whether I make it default device or not, the same result, the same bad sound quality like I recorded it off a 90s cell phone :neutral_face: lol

What do you have set in the Device Toolbar?

Same as on previous 2 computers which worked perfectly fine:
MME / Speakers/Headphones IDT / Stereo Mix IDT / 2 Stereo

Does your sound card have a control panel?

There is an HP Beats Audio control panel (see attached). Under the “Recording Experience” tab, there are only 2 options “Noise Cancellation” + “Acoustic Echo Cancellation”. Neither of these options are checked. There are no other options to do with noise reduction or anything else similar in the control panel.

Your levels are way too high - you have an oversaturated signal which is clipping. The waveforms should not touch the top&bottom of the dispaly like that. A good level to aim at for recording is 0.5 which corresponds to -6 dB on the meters.

Do yourself a favour and enlarge the meters by clicking and dragging (I have mine stretched across the whole width of the Audacity window).


And why have you got overdub checked on? From your post it doesn’t sound like you are attempting overdubbing, just simple recording.


This isn’t a levels issue. A lot of new tracks (especially in dance music) touch the top & bottom of the waveform when you open them. Again, it’s the exact same settings as on the previous 2 computers which worked fine. When I record in Audacity whether it be a streaming audio or a track playing in my winamp, the recorded sound is distant and extremely low quality. The comparison I can give you is that it sounds like what it would sound like if you used a shitty cell phone you were holding in your hand to record music coming out of your speakers, without a line-in connect. It sounds distant and there’s virtually no bass or treble present and sounds as if you were listening to a very low quality mp3 (it’s not an exporting issue, I always export as 320mp3 or WAV and this is BEFORE I even get to export stage).

I’ve just recorded a few seconds of radio broadcast again to show you the quality (check attached). And it’s not the overdubbing option, if I click that on or off it’s the same result.

It seems it must be an issue with my soundcard or control panel, or some annoying default Windows settings, I just can’t figure out what setting could be causing this as I’ve trial and errored all the settings as I’ve shown in the posts.

I have the identical problem (with Windows 7 64-bit)–see my post from Friday “Need Help With Recording Quality” ( ), and I’m following your discussion with great interest. I don’t have Stereo Mix; I’m recording through a USB port and have, of course, tried multiple ports as well as disabling anything in the recording and playback settings that could have any effect on the recorded sound, and my Audacity settings are the same as yours. Great job with the screenshots, btw.
I have updated my audio driver and don’t believe my sound card (or yours) is the issue; I use a video editing software, and the recorded sound from it is fine. If you get this figured out, please post on what it was. Thanks.

If you looked up Windows Enhanced Services in the dictionary, this clip would be the lead example. It starts out loud and decreases in volume and sounds like intense compression artifacts or you sang a song with your head in a barrel.

And yes, like a bad cellphone call for the same reason.

More globally, it’s environment suppression typical of a voice conferencing service trying really hard to get rid of room air conditioning noise.

I guess it’s possible since we seem to have multiple people suffering with the same thing that in this case Windows doesn’t bring out the controls for it and Environment Suppression is just always running. We have voice conferencing equipment like that. You can listen to room rumble get quiet as the gear realizes that it’s not someone trying to speak. There’s no control panel, I’ve never found a way to turn it off, and, no, you can’t send music through that.


One more note. Audacity doesn’t apply effects in real time, so it’s not something Audacity is “adding” to the show. In general, whatever bitstream is presented to Audacity by the computer is what gets recorded. It seems to me the only variable between the video software that appears to work and Audacity which doesn’t is sound routing inside the computer. Computer sound is traditionally upper-case “M” Magic. Koz