Recording in Audacity while it's not the active program?

Hi everyone,

I’m new to using Audacity and this is what I want to use it for:

I like to make game videos and commentaries while I’m playing.
I use FRAPS to record video and game sound, but I want to use Audacity to record my voice so I have 2 separate streams to work with and edit if necessary.

If I wanted one stream I could easily just use “Stereo Mix” in my standard Win 7 recording options, and set my mic to be audible through my speakers (headset), then set FRAPS to record stereo mix, however then I can hear my own voice through my headset while I’m talking, and I will only have 1 audio stream.

I can easily set my headset mic as the input in audacity, and I set the keyboard shortcuts for recording as F12 to start recording (The same as FRAPS so the audio can be synced) and F11 to stop (Only because Audacity will not stop recording if I assign F12 to Stop as well, so I have to use a different key). It should be easy enough to press F11 and F12 simultaneously when I stop recording seeing as they’re right next to each other on the keyboard.

The problem is, I can’t figure out how to use the controls in Audacity while I’m in game. I have no idea how FRAPS accomplishes this. Even if I set FRAPS to not be “always on top” the controls still work. Is it possible to do this with Audacity?

If it is not possible, does anyone have any recommendations for audio recording software that is able to do this? It is imperative that I be able to start recording both things at the same time while in game because it makes my life easier when I’m editing them later, not only that but it would be incredibly annoying if I had to alt-tab in and out of the game every time I wanted to stop/start recording audio, which would be often.


I doubt that this can be done.

Fraps uses “virtual sound card” technology to integrate tightly with the game and to do this it needs to dig deep into the sound system. That approach is fine for a program such as Fraps because it is specifically designed for this one job. On the other hand, Audacity needs to be able to work on three different platforms (Windows Mac and Linux), and record from a wide variety of sources (internal sound cards, USB sound cards, Firewire sound cards…). To do this it integrates lightly with the computer sound system by requesting a data stream from the sound card via the operating system.

To be honest I’m pleasantly surprised that you have been able to get as far as you have with recording games with Audacity - a lot of modern computers don’t even have the “Stereo Mix” option.

If I understand correctly, you are currently able to record the game with Fraps, and record your voice with Audacity, both at the same time, but what you are not able to do is to start both recording at the same time?

If that is the case, then a possible workaround would be to start Audacity recording first, then start the game (and Fraps). When you press F12 to start Fraps recording, ensure that your microphone is close enough to the keyboard to pick up the “click”. It is then a trivial matter of deleting everything in the Audacity recording that occurs before the click. This will at least ensure that the two recordings start together, though there is no guarantee that they won’t gradually drift out of sync.

An alternative approach would be to record your voice on a second machine (OK if you are listening through headphones and have some way of splitting the microphone signal to go to both machines (a mixing desk would be the correct way to do that).

AFAIK no and I don’t know any other app that does it. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

There might be some tool that will capture keyboard shortcuts and forward it to another program. I don’t know of any, but I never searched for it.

A possible workaround: If you have two PCs then you could run the game on one and send its output to the second PC for recording in Audacity.


Thanks for the replies guys.

The reason I’m able to get Audacity to record my Mic to a different stream is because I am using a USB Headset, which actually adds another “device” to my audio properties for both playback, and recording. So I’m able to select the headset separately, same goes for the USC mic for choosing an input. The problem with that though is that I’m not able to use Stereo Mix with the USB headset, so I’ve gotta plug in my other standard headset with a mic, and use that while I record stuff.

I have even tried messing around with Virtual Audio Cable to get things going how I want, but it’s not quite working for me.

I CAN use the “Stereo Mix” option, I just hate hearing myself talk, and I can’t figure out how to make the mic louder than the computer sounds.

Starting Audacity before going into the game could be an option, but for how often I start/stop recording, it just isn’t an option for me.

For now I guess I’ll have to just go with Stereo Mix and try to figure out how to make the mic louder until I can afford a better sound card with multiple input/outputs.

Everything would be solved if FRAPS was able to use non-standard sources for audio input, because with Virtual Audio Cable I can send sound to different “virtual” cables and would be able to split up the sound/mic that way. Being restricted to Stereo Mix and default windows output kind of sucks, but all the other software for recording video in games sucks hard compared to FRAPS, so I’ve gotta compromise I guess.

EDIT:: I don’t have another computer to output to. Great suggestion though!

Second Computer…

That’s also the desperation method of recording both sides of a Skype call.

Audacity is a really simple program and likes running on really simple computers. It has simple connections into the OS and will not survive odd delays and control sharing. There’s no shortage of people wanting to run Audacity over a network. See: ‘will not handle delays.’

All this is a cousin to the problems people have trying to produce a real-time podcast on one computer. “Three microphones with computer music playback, stingers, bumpers, and Skype interviews.”

Good luck with that.

Nobody’s mentioned Audacity 1.3.12 yet. Are you on Audacity 1.2? Stop doing that. Audacity 1.2 is old and not particularly stable on a good day.


Yeah I guess I basically will not be using Audacity to record anything, I may still use it to edit though!

I’m running 1.2.6 and I haven’t had any problems with stability shrug

Thanks though!

I rarely use Audacity for actual recording - usually I use a hard disk recorder, a Zoom H2, or at work ProTools, but I do the majority of my editing in Audacity.
There’s a lot of other reasons to use Audacity 1.3.12 rather than 1.2.6 - almost everything has been enhanced in one way or another. You can have both version installed on the same machine as long as you are aware that they will not run simultaneously, and Audacity 1.2.6 cannot open projects that have been saved by Audacity 1.3.x