Sound disappears from computer after opening Audacity

I’m not a stranger to Audacity, I worked with it about a month ago on another computer on a university campus. I’m back home for the holidays but I have to continue working with Audacity so I installed the .exe installer on the family’s Windows Vista computer (32-bit). However I immediately got the error message “Error while opening sound device. Please check the recording device settings and the project sample rate”.

I checked FAQ and saw that I had to enable all input devices on the “Recording” tab of “Sound” in the Windows Control Panel. Which is what I did, I closed Audacity and changed the settings. I then also selected the “Rescan Audio Devices” on the program but nothing happened.

Not only that but Audacity causes all sound from the computer to disappear. Even after closing Audacity, the only way I seem to be able to restore sound is to restart the computer. When I restart the computer, the sound is back and everything is functioning normally until I open Audacity, at which point the sound stops working entirely and I have to restart the computer again. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled Audacity three times today and on the third attempt I installed Audacity using the zip version. But the sound continues to disappear when I launch Audacity, every time. And nothing in the settings of the computer seem to indicate why, according to the settings the sound should work but it doesn’t.

I really hope there’s a solution to this, this is the only computer I have regular access to and I need Audacity to work on my project.

You don’t reset Audacity by reinstalling it. Somewhere in the middle of the Windows install, it will ask you if you want to reset preferences as well. Say yes.

Rescan Audio Devices is helpful if, for example, you plugged in a USB Sound Device. If you plug it in while Audacity is running, Audacity will ignore it. Rescan, or restart Audacity since Audacity checks for sound devices by itself when it starts.

When Audacity starts it will look at the settings you have in the Device Toolbar and execute them.

One good way to silence a computer is to tell Audacity by accident to push speaker sound out to a USB turntable. Obviously, a turntable doesn’t sound like anything, so the sound vanishes (getting this wrong is easier than you think).

It’s possible on some computers that the sound services are so confused that Audacity can’t find the way. “Error opening sound device…” Make sure the computer sound drivers and software are up to date.


Do the reset of preferences in the installer and leave the host in Audacity Device Toolbar on MME. Leave the project rate bottom left of Audacity on 44100 Hz.

What exactly are you trying to record, using what device? If the error opening persists, have a look at

Note that weird sound device behaviour may indicate that the computer sound device doesn’t have correct drivers. See Updating Sound Device Drivers - Audacity Wiki.


Okay, so I reinstalled Audacity and made sure to click on reset preferences when I was given the option. I also left the host in Audacity Device Toolbar on MME and the project rate bottom of Audacity on 44100 Hz. The sound still disappeared when I opened Audacity. I went on Device Manager and tried updating the sound device drivers but I got the message that they were up to date.

Out of curiosity I uninstalled and reinstalled Audacity (resetting preferences) and before I opened the program, I started playing a youtube video to keep an eye on the sound. When Audacity was starting up, the sound started stuttering and when Audacity had completely opened, the sound disappeared. So I feel that there’s something between my computer and Audacity that simply won’t work and is causing the sound to disappear, but I don’t know what’s causing it. All input recording devices are enabled and the sound device drivers insist that they are up to date. I can’t change anything on Audacity without the sound disappearing the moment I open the program.

To answer Gale, I’m trying to record sound from video files. The files come in duplicates and half are “.exe” files and the other are “.sec” files when I click on their Properties. I open the video files by clicking on the “.exe” versions and they open up on a program called BackUp Viewer. This set-up didn’t cause any issues on the university computer so I don’t know what I’m doing wrong on this computer that Audacity is making the sound disappear.

That does not mean that they are necessarily the correct drivers. As it says on they may even be Microsoft drivers. Microsoft drivers will be generic drivers and explicitly not properly matched with your audio device.

In 99 out of 100 cases such behaviour will be a sound driver problem. Assuming this is a branded computer like Dell or HP, go to the web site of the computer manufacturer, look for your exact computer model and download the audio drivers for Vista. If you have 64-bit Vista, get the drivers for Vista 64-bit.

Then install the drivers and restart the computer.

You should do this even if you happen to have the exact same drivers installed already. Driver installations can get corrupted.

OK so I think you are using a proprietary Samsung SEC video format and video player.

There is a small chance that if you install FFmpeg from then drag the SEC file into Audacity, the audio from the video will import into Audacity. If that works, you don’t lose quality by trying to record the sound as it’s playing or risk recording system sounds at the same time.

But I don’t think that would help your audio problem. Please try installing or reinstalling the correct audio drivers to fix that.