Recorded audio from PC sounds flat, very low quality

I can hear the sound playing out of my PC being quite good: a total range from highs to lows. I playback this sound, record it, and it sounds flat, no range whatsoever, as if I am playing it back on a 20-dollar cassette player from the 70’s. This is true whether I use MME or Windows Direct sound as my host. I just don’t get it. How can what I record from my PC sound like what I hear from my PC? (BTW I don’t understand how Windows WASAPI works. I tried it, clicked on the Record button and nothing moved hence I don’t know how it works)

Audacity ver. 3.2.0
Windows 10 ver. 21H2 (19044,2006)

You can get poor, flat quality if your computer is recording your built-in microphone listening to the laptop speakers rather than a total electronic recording.

Recording computer sound is not natural or easy. The machine has to manage two different sound directions at the same time and not damage anything while it’s doing that. Macs have never been able to easily do this. We have to use separate applications.

All that and nobody is rushing to fix it, either, because of copyright, security, and marketing considerations.


Hi. Please take a look into for instruction on how to use Windows WASAPI to record desktop audio. There is a note in Step 3 which mentions that Audacity will record only when audio is being played back through the selected device.

Hope this helps. Please let us know if you find a solution to your problem or if you have additional questions.

You didn’t say how the cassette player is connected to the computer…

Normally, you should connect the cassette player’s headphone-out to line-in on a soundcard (usually blue). Then make sure to select line-in as your [u]Recording Device[/u].

If you have a laptop you probably don’t have line-in and you should get a USB audio interface with line-inputs.

The microphone input can “work” but you won’t get the best quality. (It shouldn’t sound any worse than what you’re hearing from your computer speakers.) If you have a newer laptop with a single microphone+headphone combo-jack, you’ll need a appropriate adapter to make the microphone connection. And of course, make sure to select the external mic input, not the computer’s built-in microphone.

BTW I don’t understand how Windows WASAPI works

WASAPI works just like the other hosts except it has an additional option of “loopback” which records the sounds coming out of the soundcard. Loopback is normally used for recording streaming audio where there is no physical input to the soundcard. In your case, you have a physical input and you should choose it as your recording device.