Stereo mix and external mic won't turn on at same time

Hi, I’m trying to record audio from a VHS player hooked up via RCA out to mic in on an HP Pavilion Windows 7 laptop. I get sound and Audacity records, you can see it recording in the audio recording bar, but when I export the file or try and play it back on Audacity it doesn’t work, I get an error message. I googled around and saw that the input in the recording volume control panel on my laptop and in Audacity itself needs to be set to Stereo Mix but I can’t turn on Stereo Mix and the external mic at the same time and I can’t get audio when stereo mix is set as default. I can enable and set to default and everything but in order to have any sound from the VCR I have to have external mic set as default and when the external mic is set to default it says that stereo mix in unavailable.

I’ve used Audacity in the past with a Win XP desktop with no problems so I’m roughly familiar with how it works but I think I might remember having this same type of problem in the past with another Win 7 system and I think I might have just given up and not followed up with trying to fix it. Any ideas/suggestions?

Thanks a bunch for any help.

Probably not ideal. The signal level from a microphone is massively smaller than the signal from a VHS player’s RCA output, so you’re quite likely to get a badly distorted recording. Also, microphones are generally mono. However, some laptops are able to accept a “line level” signal (such as from a VHS player) so you may be lucky, but if the sound is dreadful then you may need to use a different sound card other than the built-in “mic” input.

Which is what?

Probably not.
“Stereo Mix” is for recording sounds that are playing on your computer, such as streaming audio from a web site. That’s not what you are doing.

Thanks for the reply. I just turned it on and recorded a sample to see what the error message was and it seems to be working now. Maybe the computer needed to be rebooted or something between installing Audacity + the mp3 encoder to get it to work or maybe I accidently flipped some switch while messing with it yesterday. It seems to be working now anyways, so thanks again for the help.

Make sure if you’re expecting stereo that you’re getting stereo. Make sure the left and right sound channels don’t match. Particularly that sound on the right in the video is present in the recording. This is a very common error.

Two things that happen are uncontrolled distorted sound and missing the right side sound in a stereo recording.