Stereo Mix + onboard speakers ALMOST works

Hello Audacity forum and happy Thanksgiving to anyone who celebrates. Not specifically an Audacity issue, but Stereo Mix is so fundamental and you guys have been very helpful in the past. Nvidia’s update today (check out the new beta driver for those interested) almost completely broke my sound. Their HD audio driver is tied to my monitor’s onboard speakers, while Realtek is tied to my motherboard audio. I already tried uninstalling and reinstalling both drivers individually to test if any conflicts between the two caused my issue. What my setup was before, as far as I can remember, is as follows. When I restarted my PC Stereo Mix got disabled so I can’t remember exactly.

I had Stereo Mix enabled and set as the default recording device. ‘Speakers’ was set as my default playback device. I have a cheap pair of earbuds plugged into the back of my PC and muted in order for Stereo Mix to function. Now where the confusion comes is which device I had Stereo Mix listening to. As strange as it may sound (it may not sound strange I’m just an audio noob), I think I had it listening to ‘Realtek Digital Output’. Using this now, Stereo Mix won’t even pick up sounds, let alone will my speakers play it, so I’ve opted to have Stereo Mix listen to ‘Speakers’ instead because at least with that setting Stereo Mix detects audio. The issue of course, is, I’m still not getting sound out of my monitor’s speakers, but I think I’m making progress. Here are some key facts when using the setup mentioned above…

Internet sounds DO NOT WORK but ARE picked up by Stereo Mix
MPC-HC sounds DO NOT WORK but ARE picked up by Stereo Mix
foobar2000 sounds DO NOT WORK and ARE NOT picked up by Stereo Mix (tried both MP3 and FLAC)
PC sounds kinda work. Adjusting the volume slider for the onboard speakers will make a sound, but otherwise, playing any Windows sound in the Sound menu doesn’t do anything.

Of course if I set my my monitor speakers as they, default playback device, all sounds will play seamlessly, but it breaks Stereo Mix, which is no good. If it’s of any significance, when I start messing with both the Speakers (earbuds) volume slider and Stereo Mix boost, I start hearing massive distortion from the earbuds if both sliders are relatively high. Using 8.1 Pro as well.

Thanks everybody, all the best.

One of the valid techniques of recording ‘Audio Playing On The Computer’ is to send the speaker feed back into the recording channel. Quite literally, anything audible in the system becomes part of the capture. You know you have this system because anything you do to the speaker feed affects the recording. To extend this, that means when you muted the earbuds, that’s probably where your recording went.

If you mentioned which Windows you have in that message I couldn’t find it.


I’m using Windows 8.1 Pro. In the past, I always had my earbuds muted and Stereo Mix still functioned while sound played through my monitor speakers.

That is “strange” (aka. a “bug”, probably a bug in the sound card drivers). “Stereo Mix” is supposed to record what is coming out of one of the analogue outputs.

So it looks like the old drivers were partly broken, and that the new drivers are also partly broken, but in a different way.
I don’t think that we are going to be able to help much.

What I would do is to revert to a clean install of the official drivers for your machine. (boot into Safe Mode to remove all existing audio drivers, then install the official drivers by strictly following their installation procedure - read the installation instructions before you start. The order that you do things is often important so read the instructions carefully.

If your computer is a branded computer, then the “official” drivers will be available on the manufacturers web site.
If your computer is unbranded, then or “on board” sound the official drivers will be available from the motherboard manufacturers web site.
If the sound card is separate from the motherboard then the official drivers will be available from the sound card manufacturers web site.

Once you have the official drivers installed, then play with the settings to find out how much functionality you have.

If you are still not happy with how the sound card behaves, then you can keep an eye out for upgraded divers (from the “official” source), or buy a new sound card.
I’d not recommend using “unofficial” drivers.

Thank you, I’ll try all of that. In simple terms though, there really is no easy way of hearing the same sound through two different outputs then, is there?

Update: I followed your suggestion and installed the drivers in safe mode. Stereo Mix will now pick up everything EXCEPT foobar audio and PC sounds. Meaning I can hear all sounds now at least, but Stereo Mix still doesn’t pick everything up.

hearing the same sound through two different outputs then, is there?

Computers don’t have “Output 1” and “Output 2” unless you specifically bought hardware or special multitrack software to do that. Computers are not Digital Audio Workstations.

There’s another point. Stereo Mix is not a guaranteed service. It doesn’t appear on the computer’s List Of Features and some computers can’t do this at all. The hardware and software just isn’t there. For this to work right, the soundcard, the driver software and the operating system all have to be willing and able.

For one common problem example, since USB microphones don’t go through the soundcard, they can get left out of Stereo-Mix. Skype is another famous example of scrambling Stereo-Mix.


Ahh I see. It all sounds incredibly convoluted in how audio is routed through a computer. I can be happy where I am now though since it’s working again for the most part. Here’s to hoping Windows revamps their audio interface sometime in the future. Thank you Koz and Steve, you both have been very helpful and informative. :slight_smile:

It all sounds incredibly convoluted in how audio is routed through a computer.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winah! I know how this works and I get lost.

Here’s to hoping Windows revamps their audio interface sometime in the future.

Actually they did relatively recently. There are fourteen people who want to record their sensuous alto crumhorn solo versus several billion people who want to Skype, so Microsoft canned the straight musical microphone in favor of Skype-style voice processing and echo management. Even Apple recently made overtures toward doing this on their Macs.

Stereo-Mix can confuse or distort conferencing and Skype (already confused enough), so it needs to go.