Newby trying to record from phones output

Just downloaded Audacity 2.1.2
Running Windows10 on an HP Envy notebook (1-year-old, supplied with Win10 pre-installed).
Taking signal from the ‘phones’ output 6.35mm jack socket of my CD player (or alternatively the ‘phones’ output socket of my amplifier).
Providing signal to the notebook through the only 3.5mm jack input (symbol is headphones with mic).
I’ve tried all combinations of Audio Host, Recording Device, and Playback Device but get no signal from the CD player (flat line when monitoring).
I do get signal from the built-in mic when configured for that though.
I right-clicked on the speaker symbol in Windows and selected ‘Stereo Mix’ under ‘Recording Devices’ but no progress.

Apologies if this is dealt with somewhere else, but I’ve encountered a deluge of information about Audacity, and everything I’ve looked at addresses something else. Don’t know where else to go.

Combined input/output ports are TRRS four-position, so you need such a plug at that end of an adaptor cable. Regardless, such an input is a microphone and totally unsuitable for recording strong CD signals.

If your notebook has an optical drive you can use an application like Windows Media Player to rip the CD to WAV. Then you have a perfect digital copy of the CD which you can import into Audacity for editing.

Some CD rippers let you rip partial segments of tracks, if that is your aim.

If your notebook has no optical drive, the best method would be to buy a USB interface that has a line level input suitable for strong signals then set Audacity to record from the interface.


Thanks Gale.
No optical input so it looks like an adapter is the way to go.

By “optical drive” I mean a CD/DVD tray where you can load a disc.

A suitable interface such as the Behringer UCA 202 should only set you back about $40 or less. Or for a similar price you can buy a USB CD/DVD drive to connect to your computer by USB cable. I don’t know how reliable those are.

You do not want an adaptor cable - even with the correct cable you only have a mic input and it’s unsuitable for accepting pre-amplified output such as from headphones or line out of a music centre/boom box.


No optical input so it looks like an adapter is the way to go.

Not an optical input… Does it have an CD/DVD drive? You said you want to record from a CD player. Most computers have 'em built-in and if yours doesn’t have one, I strongly recommend that you get an [u]external USB CD/DVD drive[/u] (or, maybe one that plays Blu-Ray too if you wish). Or, use a different computer if you have access to one with an optical drive.

A CD drive can give you an exact copy of the digital data (formatted as a WAV file) without the digital-to-analog-to-digital conversions. Plus, it’s faster… you can “rip” a CD in a couple of minutes. And, the CD ripping application can usually find the artist/title/album information, and sometimes the album artwork, online and automatically “tag” the file. That can be a huge timesaver.

Audacity doesn’t rip (digitally copy) or burn CDs so you may not need to use Audacity unless you want to edit the audio. There is some information about how to rip CDs [u]here[/u]. I’ve used EAC for a long time, and lately I’ve been using CUERipper which is easier to set-up and use. I understand CDex is also easy to use, but I haven’t used it. Windows Media Player can also rip CDs.

CDex unfortunately now bundles adware/malware and there are so many ads on their site it is hard to download. Don’t download CDex from them and don’t go there to update CDex.

Clean and safe copies of older CDex can be found at


Okay guys, I have a much better understanding now, and I’d like to express my appreciation for your help. My laptop has no optical drive, but that is beside the point really since I was testing the jack-to-jack cable on my CD player in preparation to digitize from a vinyl deck. Following your leads I looked at the Behringer device. Looks perfect. Can’t thank you enough.

in preparation to digitize from a vinyl deck.

That can present its own set of challenges. Is your stereo system set up to play records, and do you have a line-output or headphone-output that works with the turntable?

Most newer receivers don’t have a phono input so you might need a separate phono preamp or an interface with a phono preamp built-in. Or, if you don’t already have a turntable you can get one with USB.

Thanks Doug. I’m trying to find an appropriate setup to help a friend who has dusted off his old B&O system so that he can transfer all his old vinyl to his notebook. The Behringer device takes phono inputs (they call them RCA inputs, I’m assuming it’s the same thing). I guess I’ll just have to keep tackling the problems as they arise until I arrive something that works. It’s an interesting learning curve for me.

…his old B&O system

OK - With the Behringer (or something similar) you’re good to go!!!

If his system has a “Tape Output”, use that (it should also be RCA connections) If not, use the headphone output. With the headphone output you may have to turn-up the volume to “moderately loud”. Just adjust it so the Audacity meter stays “out of the red” and of course, don’t turn it up to the point of distortion. It’s no problem if the recording level is a little low. You can boost the volume after recording. (The tape output won’t be affected by the volume control.)


You can stop reading now, but I’m gonna’ keep writing… :smiley:

A phono pickup cartridge puts-out a tiny signal of a few millivolts and records are recorded with RIAA Equalization that boosts the highs and cuts the bass. A phono preamp is needed to boost the signal and apply the “reverse” RIAA playback equalization.

A “phono input” on a receiver goes to a phono preamp built into the receiver. An if the B&O is an all-in-one system, of course there is a phono preamp built into it. You can also buy a stand-alone phono preamp or a USB interface with a built-in phono preamp. USB turntables have a phono preamp built-in, and usually they have line-level outputs as well as USB. And, you may find some DJ turntables with a preamp built in.

RCA connectors are used for phono inputs as well as line-level tape or “aux” inputs/outputs. And just to keep things confusing, RCA connectors are sometimes called “phono” plugs/jacks, not to be confused with “phone” plugs/jacks which are used on headphones and were originally used on telephone switchboards.

Almost everything else* that has an RCA jack is a line-level connection, including the audio outputs on your TV and CD/DVD player. So, you can plug your TV’s audio into the tape input of an older receiver and it will work fine. Line level is about 1V, but the actual level varies with “loudness”, especially if there is a volume control in the signal-chain. And, the line-level output from a phono preamp can vary depending on the sensitivity of the phono cartridge, the gain of the phono cartridge and the loudness of the particular record.

Headphones usually get quite-loud with less than 1V, but a headphone output usually works fine into a line-input. (But, you shouldn’t connect headphones to a line-output because it’s not designed to drive the low-impedance headphones load.)


  • RCA connectors are also used for video and S/PDIF digital audio.

Hm… that might be my next obstacle then. His vinyl deck only has a flying lead with a 7-pin DIN plug (male) on the end, and I take it from your last post that this will be straight off the cartridge. I’ll have to investigate what the DIN connects to (presumably the amp) and what that piece of equipment provides in the way of outputs.

I can take an output from the headphones socket on the amp. Just need to buy a 6.35mm jack -to- double phono connection and it looks like we’ll be up and running. Thanks for your help Doug.