Overdubbing: Not hearing live vocal playback in USB headset

Audacity 2.0.5
Windows 8.1 64bit
Gateway NE56R41u laptop
Plantronics 655 USB headset

I’ve started out by using stereo mix as the microphone to record streaming audio playing through my sound card. Then by following the tutorials I have been able to use a USB headset to add vocal tracks on top of the initial recording (pretty cool :sunglasses: ) but I can’t hear myself singing back through the headset while I’m making the new track. Maybe it’s not possible with my setup. Also the recording volume of my voice seems really low even though the slider with the microphone icon at the top right of the main window is all the way up. Not sure if there’s somewhere else I can adjust this maybe.

An additional issue I’m having is that after I plugged in the USB headset I can no longer record the initial tracks using stereo mix even though I switched the recording device back in Audacity. It records just dead silence, flat wave. I tried unplugging the headset but still doesn’t work and I get this error message when I press the record button. “Error while opening sound device. Please check the input device settings and project sample rate.”

:mrgreen: not sure who Mr. Green is but definitely I have very little idea what I’m doing here. Learning as I go. Hopefully I haven’t missed something too obvious in the tutorials or forum posts. Thanks in advance for your patience and any help.


I think that’s normal when using a headset. (Headsets are usually used with Skype and similar, and then you don’t want to hear yourself through the headphones). That should not be a major problem as you should be able to hear yourself acoustically (many singers prefer to work this way even if they have the option of hearing their own voice through the headphones - that’s why you sometimes see a singer in a studio with headphones only over one ear).

Have a look in the Windows Sound Control Panel.

You may need to check the settings in the Windows Sound Control Panel. Audacity has very limited control over the computer sound system - it’s basically a slave to what is set up in the sounds control panel.

Some expensive gaming headsets have that ability - essentially low latency hardware playthrough with a control to adjust the level of the playthrough.

I expect if you right-click over the speaker icon by the system clock, then choose “Recording Devices”, right-click over the headset then choose “Properties”, there may be a “Listen” tab. If there is, then you should be able to send the input to the headset by choosing it as the playback device. But that’s software playthrough and you probably won’t like the latency - you will hear yourself late.


Ok yes spot on. with “Listen” checked I can now hear myself through the headset while recording. There’s a slight delay, I might play around with the latency settings. Think I saw instructions for that somewhere. But you’re right it’s actually a little distracting so maybe better to just stick with acoustics for hearing my voice.

On the second issue I had of not being able to record with Stereo Mix again after plugging in the headset I don’t see anyway of switching it back in the Sound Control Panel settings. I tried making Stereo Mix the default recording device but no luck there and I’m concerned anyway that might negatively affect my audio settings in other programs. But anyhoo, I’ve found that if I unplug the headset, close down all instances of Audacity completely then reopen again it works. For what I’m trying to do this is an acceptable work around.

I’m happy.

Thanks much Gale.

I don’t think there is any way to adjust the “Listen” latency.

You “should” be able to leave Audacity set to record from “Stereo Mix” without it mattering if you plug in the headset. If you plug in the headset after launching Audacity then by definition Audacity won’t know anything about the headset because it does not check for new devices automatically.


Yes this is correct. Plugging in the headset does not mess up recording from Stereo Mix initially. But it does after I rescan the devices and then switch to the headset to record a vocal track. After than I am not able to record again from Stereo Mix (eventhough I switch it back to the recording device) unless I unplug the headset, shutdown Audacity and then reopen and start fresh without the headset plugged in.

Like I said this is not a huge deal for me, just wanted to clarify what I am experiencing.

On a quick side note, I’d like to add another vote for making a global hot key to start recording without Audacity in front. It would be helpful for me to catch impromptu live performances in video chat rooms. If it were something that could be enabled optionally then no worries on it unexpectedly clashing with other programs or games.

I feel pretty silly for not trying this earlier. There’s a super simple solution. Unplug the headset and File Menu>Transport>Rescan Audio Devices. This way you don’t have to shut down all instances of Audacity.

In what application are you playing what you record using stereo mix? If that application can only use the Windows default sound playback device, then you “should” be able to set Realtek output as default Windows playback device, leave your USB headset plugged in all the time, then just switch the Audacity recording device between stereo mix and the headset.

To make sure when you do remove and put back the headset that it does not become default playback device, set Realtek as default playback device while the headset is connected, then disconnect the headset while Realtek is still default playback device.

If you want the headset to be default Windows playback device, then you can record computer playback from the headset by changing Audacity to “Windows WASAPI” host then choosing the “(loopback)” input as recording device. To change to recording the headset mic, change back to MME or Windows DirectSound host and to the USB mic input.

By the way, Audacity only runs once instance at a time (without special tricks). Multiple project windows are all running off the single “audacity.exe” process.

OK, I’ve added your vote. Thanks.


It’s difficult to directly answer that question here after checking T0S (yikes.) But the result seems the same there as it does through Camfrog Video Chat, YouTube videos playing in Firefox and System Sounds. With these settings I can leave the headset in and easily switch the recording back and forth between Stereo Mix and the USB headset. Problem though, these apps then won’t playback through the headset. In Windows Sound Mixer I see a dropdown for playback devices with both Realtek and the headset but with the headset selected all the open application volume sliders disappear and all sound continues to play through my speakers. Camfrog let’s me choose between audio devices but still changing playback to the headset doesn’t seem to work.

I would be curious to see if this setup works with my type of system but for me personally it’s not going to be ideal. As a general rule I like the headset automatically taking over when I plug in and I’m often low on open USB ports.

Playback options I’m still curious about while working this way but the WASAPI is definitely working for me to record from Stereo Mix with the USB headset plugged in. Neato.