recordings don't have stereo separation on playback

I am new to this and not particularly good at computers. I used to record from LP to cassette, and have finally given in to updating my vinyl to record on a USB so I can have access to listen in my new car.
I have a Windows 10 system on my laptop (Asus) and purchased from Best Buy a TEAC TN-200 analog turntable, which has a cable to plug into the USB on the laptop.
The Audacity screen shows the microphone as “realtek high definition”, speakers as “realtek high definition”, and “2(stereo) recording”.
However, once I’ve recorded a number of tracks, saved them and moved it to my USB, when I play it in the car, it sounds like mono, and when part of the music is specifically a left or right track (mostly right), the sound is either non-existent or very muted, certainly not what it sounds like through my home stereo system.
Is this a simple fix with easy to follow instructions for a lay-person to follow?
Unfortunately for me, I’ve put over 100 songs on the USB and all have the same issue, so I fear I will have to do them all over again, never thinking I would be faced with this problem.
I look forward to receiving a (hopefully easy) solution to this.
Thank you, in advance.

specifically a left or right track (mostly right)

How about all right? One common error is to put Left music on both tracks instead of Left and Right. You know you’re in trouble when the Audacity sound meters match. They can either match exactly and both sound meters look like they’re been glued together, or they can be different, but always seem to have exactly the same motion. Either of those conditions indicate bad sound management.

The really bad news is the quality of the turntables isn’t the best. They have impending end-of-life the instant they’re made. You weren’t planning on leaving your turntable to your children, were you? You were going to get the last record off and put the whole thing in the bin. So the makers are turning out pre-trash turntables.

You should be Exporting your record archive as WAV (Microsoft), not MP3. Yes, it’s not as efficient and the files are much larger, but the quality is better. You can easily convert a perfect quality WAV into anything else including MP3, but you pick up extra damage when you try to convert an MP3 to anything else.

Make sure the Windows services are in stereo. Right-click the little speaker icon lower right > Audio Devices > Recording. Then it gets fuzzy. I’m not a Windows person.


The Audacity screen shows the microphone as “realtek high definition”, speakers as “realtek high definition”, and “2(stereo) recording”.

You should have selected the USB turntable as your recording device… (It should say “USB… something”.) Maybe you were recording from the microphone built-into your laptop??? You shouldn’t be recording through the Realtek soundcard, although you should be playing-back/monitoring through the soundcard.

, when I play it in the car, it sounds like mono, and when part of the music is specifically a left or right track (mostly right), the sound is either non-existent or very muted, certainly not what it sounds like through my home stereo system.

You’re playing the same exact files as the USB drive?

My apologies on the original posting - I just realized an error. The microphone setting is listing as "Microphone (USB Audio CODEC), and NOT as I had previously indicated, as “Microphone Realtek”
My apologies again and hope this helps in diagnosing my original concern. (I had inadvertently disconnected my laptop earlier and realized I didn’t have the USB from the turntable connected when I started this question - see what I mean about missing the good ole days of recording vinyl to cassette?)
Oh, and why can’t I hear the music off the laptop speakers while recording? I basically have to listen to the sounds off the turntable to guess when a track is ending. (speaker setting is also USB Audio CODEC, by the way)

Sometimes Windows thinks your USB device works for recording and playback. Using those settings, it’s trying to send sound back to the turntable. You can change that setting to your built-in speakers.


Appreciate both responses.
To clarify for Koz, this is a newly purchased turntable (about a year ago) specifically as it was recommended to plug into the laptop in order to record. TEAC actually suggested Audacity as the recommended program to take my vinyl to USB. I still have a high-quality pure analog turntable for those rare times I want to listen to an original recording, but it’s packed away in a box for now. And those songs I’ve done so far were a WAV file, not MP3
Regarding the second for DVDdoug, I had just posted an update on the settings for the microphone, as I had neglected to plug the turntable in via the USB when I started this inquiry, so the mic setting is USB CODEC.

I know this isn’t helping, but generally, adapting your original sound system to computer capture is recommended way before trying to force a USB turntable to work.

This is a very good quality stereo to USB converter/adapter. The UCA-202.

Substitute your sound system for my sound mixer on the right.

With your amplifier in the system, you can carefully adjust the volume for different disks. I don’t think there are any adjustments on most turntables.

If you continue to have problems with your turntable, that may not be a bad way to go.

One thing I’m still not clear on… Do those files sound OK when played-back on your computer? Or, is it only a problem in the car. I know you said it sounds OK on your stereo system, but are you listening to the WAV files or the analog turntable-output?

Use external speakers or plug-into your stereo system… It’s hard to judge quality with laptop speakers. Or, headphones are better than laptop speakers but headphones can hide a (relative) phase/polarity inversion of one channel.

TEAC actually suggested Audacity as the recommended program to take my vinyl to USB.

Your choice of recording software is not critical (as long as it works). Audacity simply has to “capture” the digital audio data from the drivers and send it to the hard disk. (BTW - Sometimes there are Windows “enhancements” that can mess-up the sound but Audacity can’t do any processing in real-time while recording.)

Your choice of software can make a difference when it comes to noise reduction, EQ, or other effects. I use a couple of specialized programs to clean-up vinyl “snap’, crackle”, and “pop”.


And those songs I’ve done so far were a WAV file, not MP3

After you get your sound quality issues worked-out…

WAV is good because it’s lossless. However, tags (embedded metadata) is not standardized or well-supported for WAV. If your car-player can display the artist/album/title information, and possibly the cover artwork, you might have to use one of the compressed formats. Tagging is standardized for all of the popular compressed formats.

FLAC and ALAC are lossless compression but many players will not play them. A lot of people like to keep a FLAC or ALAC archive even if they are listening to MP3s because it’s lossless, it’s supports metadata and the files are almost half the size of WAVs.

MP3 and AAC are lossy but at high quality (high-bitrate) settings they can often sound identical to the uncompressed original (in scientific, blind, listening tests). They will play just about anywhere and they are about 1/5th the size of a “CD quality” WAV.

You may have more than one problem. Pulling the sound file into Audacity and watching the meters is the only certain way to tell whether Left and Right are the same. As above, if the two sound meters are glued together, you have two track mono, not stereo and something is broken. Even if Left and Right are not the same size, if their motion is the same, you don’t have stereo.

It’s also completely possible you have some playback systems that force mono. These systems tend to sound OK until you mess something up or are depending on stereo separation to enjoy a production.

This is a stereo test I produced. I bounce back and forth between left, right, mono and phase damaged and I announce as I go. It’s 39 seconds. Put that in your playback systems and see which ones fail.


Heavy sigh - as I feared, this is all getting really complicated for me. I don’t understand the terminology you guys are using about lossless files and things like that, nor could I tell you what a WAV file even IS. It just happens to be the format set up by Audacity, I guess. As mentioned from the outset, unfortunately, I am not very computer savvy, but can get by simple stuff. And I’m not going to spend a ton of money to buy additional equipment and sound mixers that I probably won’t figure out how to use, or have time to use. I’m not looking to remove crackle or pop as I consider those natural sounds from the vinyl anyway. At 56, my collection dates from the mid to late 70’s through to the very early 90’s, and it was easy to record vinyl to cassette.
I’m just looking for the most simple solution to be able to get channel separation like the vinyl originally had, and get that when downloading through Audacity onto my USB, and would think there should be a button to click, or maybe I’m just missing something on a set-up screen, so I can hear it the way it was recorded.
I appreciate your efforts, but this is getting way to complicated for what I was hoping was going to be a simple solution/fix.

A lot of that is trying to figure out what’s wrong.

That “plug it in and it just starts working” is fine for a lot of people, but if that doesn’t work out, you may need to get down into the grease and figure out what happened.

I have no real idea why some places sound OK and some don’t. I can think of many things that could be wrong. If you’re not comfortable with the complexity, maybe you’re the candidate for getting someone to set it up for you.


I have the same problem: No L-R separation on playback, using audacity 2.3.3 on Windows 10 64 bit.

In my case mediocre channel separation during recording was not possible:

I created with audacity an artificial stereo signal for measuring purposes: On one channel a same amplitude two tone mix of 975 and 1025 Hz sine waves to be later looked at on my oscilloscope. On the other channel a 50 Hz square wave for triggering the scope with, as this type of twotone signal is not intenally trigerrable. The picture would always move. Onyl by the extra triggering signal I get a standstill picture of the twotone wave on the scope. You may see the singnal and it’s use on

This works perfectly fine, if I don’t use Windows 10, but instead a CD-Player with a CD (burned on windows): Both channels are 100% separated.
I think I remember that in earlier Windows versions (XP) it worked, too. But it’s long ago and I am not 100% sure about it now any more.

But using audacity 2.3.3 on Windows 10 does not seem to enable this type of full separation, no matter, what I do:
I can get rid of the mixture only if I mute one channel. But then I lose that signal completely on playback.

Imho this is a windows 10 problem, but at present I don’t know how to solve it.
The same problem also exists using other audio players like the Windows media player.
At least I so far found no audio playback program with two properly separeted channels.

How comes, and what can I do?

I created with audacity an artificial stereo signal for measuring purposes…

I’m really not understanding your experiments. If I wanted to test stereo playback I’d make a recording/file with sound in the left-channel only and another with sound in the right-channel only.

It’s not clear if you have a recording problem or a playback problem…

In my case mediocre channel separation during recording was not possible:

I don’t understand what that means either. But are you also recording from a USB turntable?

I will try to be more understandable:

In fault-finding we need to isolate a problem that has more than one possible cause:

  1. “crosstalk” (or a program fault) at recording time and/or
  2. “crosstalk” (or a program fault) at playback time.

My post nailed down the problem to definitely be a playback issue.

It does not answer, however, whether or not your signal also has any additional record time crosstalk and if so, why and how much.

In the bottom line:

In windows 10 definitely there is a playback channel separation problem, independant of how and what you recorded.

Problem solved:

In Windows 10 go to:

Settings → Ease of Access → Audio → Activate Mono Sound → Switch to “OFF”.
This did restore my settings to true stereo playback with full channel separation.

My (translated from German to English) windows commands may be somewhat
different in your real english windows nomenclature. Their meaning should be ok.

Old thread but…seems I have the same issue as and marawder and L-R Separator (had originally)
Again…Win10, 64bit and running on two different machines, one in my sound room and the other in my loft where I’m wkg on files…however in both cases the ‘Activate Mono Sound’ is already 'OFF". Also, on record I show for both Mic and Spkrs as ‘USB Audio CODEC’ and Stereo 2-Channel, and Audio Host is MMI.
My project is conversion of over 35 10" reel tapes to file and then FLAC.
‘Monitor’ listening on the Behringer DAC while recording to Audacity sounds perfect . Five minutes later, playing back the same track, and I have a mono recording.
I’m guessing this is a recording rather than a playback issue? Because, as has been mentioned by others, the L/R Audacity meters appear identical on record, and the L/R graphic displays of audio also look identical.
What am I missing?
This has to be a simple, common issue…no?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Changing a Windows setting cures the problem, see …

Yep, yep…thanks.
I knew that and I’d set it correctly early-on in my project.
Why, on earth, did it not hold?
I’ll have to de-do alot of work now…and guess I’ll be rechecking that again before each and every tape.
Frustrating…but I guess my bad for not checking my work as I went along.
I was monitoring as I worked, and all sounded great…but the file was garbage mono.

Windows updates can reset it to default, which is mono.