Recording Quality Questionable [SOLVED]

Using Windows 8.1 - Audacity 2.0.6.

I am able to record using Audacity without a problem, but I believe the quality is substandard and can be improved, I just don’t know where to start and what settings should be adjusted first. I test the recording quality by using HD sound quality videos from YouTube. When I play the YouTube videos the sound is excellent on my speakers. When I play the same video recorded on Audacity the recording is marginally acceptable, but the richness and depth from the original is not there.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


I’m not completely clear what you’re recording. What’s the show and where is it coming from?

When you record Stereo-Mix, the sound has to go through the computer twice, once in the playback side and once again in the record. Windows naturally has “sound enhancement” software on both pathways. It’s not unusual for people to have to go on a witch hunt and turn it all off.


I’m just using YouTube videos with HD sound quality to see if Audacity will capture at the same quality under it’s current settings. Currently it does not. When I select other options, other then Stereo Mix I am unable to record at all, so I’m assuming it must stay set to Stereo Mix. I’m also assuming you are saying that the problem is with Windows sound enhancement software, not with the default settings that Audacity was installed with? If it is a Windows issue, why would the sound quality be excellent when I listen to the YouTube videos that I have not recorded?


I got stuck once with a computer whose speaker feed was stuck in “cathedral” setting and nobody told me. I was new to that service and it took a while to run it down. On the other side, yes, Windows Enhanced Services appears on the record side. That can actually work well as long as you record voice and never record music. Windows Enhanced Services hates music.

Those are the known software problems. You can have hardware ones, too. Stereo Mix sometimes runs the sound all the way out to the speaker connections and then brings it back in. That means it picks up all the distortions and noise the whole length of both pathways. It can actually get worse if you turn one down and the the other up to compensate.

Aren’t you supposed to be using WASAPI drivers or something like that which avoids some of those problems? I’m not a Windows elf.


It is very easy to check to see if Windows sound enhancements are active. They are all turned off on the playback and recording side.

I’m not dealing with any distortion or noise problems. It’s simply a matter of quality. The only way I can describe it is that the HD sound on YouTube is rich and has lots of depth, giving me flashbacks to when I used to listen to LP’s with my big tower speakers. The same HD sound recorded in Audacity is there with no distortion or differences in volume. It just lacks the “weight” the original has. The Audacity recording doesn’t carry the same punch.

I’m not sure what a WASAPI driver is or whether messing around with different drivers is among the first actions I should take. From my understanding, you are suggesting the issue I am having is entirely related to Windows and not the settings in Audacity.

Do you know of anyone out there more familiar with using Audacity with Windows 8 that can verify this?



As Koz said, stereo mix is not a like for like recording. You are converting the digital audio on YouTube to analog, then back to digital to record it into Audacity. Two conversions. Even so, there is no reason it should sound significantly worse if recording enhancements are off and assuming your Audacity project rate bottom left is at 44100 Hz or 48000 Hz.

If you don’t have the correct drivers for your built-in sound device then that can and will cause quality problems. See Missing features - Audacity Support.

WASAPI is an audio “host” choice in Audacity. Did you read the link Koz gave you: Audacity Manual?

If you use the WASAPI method that is believed to be entirely digital. The input volume level is not changeable so to modify the achieved recording level, change the output level in Windows and in the YouTube player.

If you are really concerned then assuming you have copyright holders’ permission to record, download the video instead. Then it will be the exact same copy that is being streamed. You can download the video using browser extensions or by visiting certain web sites. Use your favourite search engine to find out how.


Problem solved:

As I suspected it wasn’t a computer issue, but the incorrect options used in Audacity. After choosing Windows WASAPI for a host recorded sound quality was identical to what I captured from.

Thank you for time and help


OK, I’ll mark the topic solved and lock it then, but if you record from other inputs of the built-in audio and it sounds wrong, you probably will have to investigate what drivers you are using for built-in audio. Stereo Mix should not sound that bad, and a few people prefer it because you can manipulate the recording level directly.