"What you hear" no longer available in Vista??

I have used Audacity for many years, though only occasionally under Vista.

I am trying to record using the “What you Hear” input option. This had been available last time I used it, about a year ago. At least I’m pretty sure it did. Now the “What you hear” input option is no longer available.

I’m sure this is NOT an Audacity problem, but does anyone know what to do?

I’ve tried:

(1) Control Panel > Sound > Recording > (Right Click) > Show Disabled Devices > (Enabled)
The only thing it shows is the microphone.

(2) Control Panel > Device Manager > Sound … > High Definition Audio Device
(a) The General tab says the device is working properly.
(b) The Driver tab shows that none of the driver files have changed since 2009.

(3) Audacity > Windows DirectSound > Primary Sound Capture Driver
Still records from the microphone.

(4) Audacity > MME > Microsoft Sound Mapper - Input
Still records from the microphone

(5) Windows Task Bar > Speaker Icon > Mixer
It shows only
(a) Device – Speakers
(b) Applications – Windows Sounds

Thanks for any help,

I’m glad you realised that - saves a couple of messages.
Support for “Stereo Mix” (also known as “What U Hear”) is increasingly being dropped both by Microsoft and sound card manufacturers.

If it is available, it is often hidden and disabled.
On this page you will see how to un-hide and enable the option if it is available on your computer, and some suggestions of workarounds if it is not available:


Thank you for your prompt reply.

I’ve tried everything suggested in the link you provided. Still no-go.

Since this last worked, there have been many Microsoft updates and many “deep” cleanings of the registry and other things. And I’ve taken to deleting the rollback files after updates, thinking that I would never need them. (Ha!).

My best guess at this point is:

Oh well.

This is still working on Windows XP. I’ll use that for the task at hand.

Now I’m really wondering if I ever did indeed have “What you hear” on Vista.

Thanks again,

It’s possible that you did but that a driver update disabled the feature. On the other hand perhaps you just had it on XP.
The term “What U Hear” is only used by Creative Labs (SoundBlaster) as far as I’m aware. Other manufacturers use the term “Stereo Mix”, “Mix”, or something similar.

Yes, “What U hear” is an option using the SoundBlaster, which I do not have on the Vista PC.

So “What U hear” is probably not the name that I selected from the menu, but certainly I could record without the microphones. Alas. No longer.

Thank goodness it is functional with Soundblaster under XP.

Does anyone know if this will work with Ubuntu?

Anyway, thanks for taking a look at it.


Recording sounds playing on the computer is possible on Linux, in fact there are several ways to do it on Linux.
One method is to use “PulseAudio”. There is a detailed description for Ubuntu 10.04 / 10.10 here: http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Stereo_mix_with_Ubuntu_10

Do you have a reason for specifying “Ubuntu” rather than any other Linux distribution? In my experience more recent versions of Ubuntu are becoming increasingly sluggish and difficult to customise.

The only reason I mention Ubuntu is because I have some familiarity with it from using in my last job.

Is there a preferred (for Audacity use) distro? And is there a suitable dual-boot available?


Do you know which version of Ubuntu you used?
Ubuntu has gone through some pretty radical changes since version 10.x

Not really. Audacity should run on any version of Linux provided that the necessary dependencies are met (so that includes just about all modern Linux distributions). However there are features that can help Audacity.

Personally I’d recommend going for stability rather than bleeding edge. Linux is mature enough these days to provide a feature rich and high performance experience without the need to run experimental or testing versions. In terms of support, Debian based versions are a pretty good option as many of the Linux users on the forum use Debian based distributions. They are also widely supported on the Internet generally.

Dual boot is available for most (all?) Linux distributions, though some distros are easier to install and set up than others.

My personal favourite is Debian Squeeze (the stable branch of Debian). It’s not the easiest to set up (but not too hard), but it is extremely stable and an excellent platform to customise to suit your needs and preferences.

Ubuntu up to and including 10.10 was very easy to set up and use, though the adoption of the Unity Desktop in later versions has put off many of its old users (including myself). Please keep in mind that when talking about operating systems you will never get an unbiased opinion :wink:

Mint is another very popular distribution - it’s based on Ubuntu but so far they have stuck with the Gnome Desktop, so that is probably the most similar to Ubuntu 10.x

Probably the most important part of installing a dual boot system is to take care when you partition the hard drive. If you accidentally overwrite your Windows partition it will totally wipe Windows. The easiest and safest way to install a dual boot system is to install a second hard drive (quite easy and not too expensive if you have a desktop computer). Put the new hard drive into the computer as the Primary Master and install Linux to it. That will leave the Windows installation untouched so reverting to Windows is a simple matter of removing the new drive. You don’t even need a big hard drive (though plenty of space for data is useful when working with audio). Linux will run quite happily on 10 GB or less.

If you think that you may want to switch distributions (and I’d recommend try different ones to see which you like) it is helpful to make your home folder a separate partition from the main system partition. There are guides on the Internet for how to do that. The benefit is that you can then easily install a new distro without overwriting the user data that is on your home partition.

Probably the easiest (and least risky) way to try out different Linux distributions is to use a “Virtual machine”, though performance will take a bit of a hit. (see Virtualbox https://www.virtualbox.org/ ) This is also a good way to “practice” installing Linux.


That was some reply. Thanks.

At the last job I used Ubuntu 11.4. I, too, did not care much for Unity, so I disabled it and stuck with the Gnome desktop.

Good idea about virtualbox. I am currently running Ubuntu 11.10 under it, mainly for xephem. Works like a champ.

Does Linux use its own drivers for the sound cards? I suspect the inability to record from the sound card under Windows is intended to impede piracy. Understandable. But bogus none the less.

There are so many things competing for my time I don’t know if I’ll mess with (non-virtual) Linux at home. But that may change if I need to record from the sound card again.


Sound card driver support is usually provided by ALSA.

Problem solved. A driver update (Conexant High-Definition Audio) from HP fixed the problem.

I never thought of checking that. Automatic HP updates were disabled because system performance was occasionally slow as a glacier after waking up. Likewise for Windows updates, but at least those were manually checked periodically.

Steve, thank you for all your replies and the info on Linux.

I feel so much better. Not only is Audacity now working as before, but it shows that Microsoft did not deliberately disable this feature.


it shows that Microsoft did not deliberately disable this feature.

For you this time.

If you move up to Win7, you may find yourself using special software instead of the missing Stereo-Mix. Recording internal sounds and music gets in the way of business communication and conferencing and that’s what these machines are used for now. So Microsoft has been leaving out the self-recording tools.


If you move up to Win7, you may find yourself using special software instead of the missing Stereo-Mix.

You’re right. I tried Audacity on my Windows 7 PC at work and could not get the Stereo-Mix option.

I’ve used Replay Media Catcher to record audio before I got the driver issue resolved. It worked well. Looks like I’ll have to use it on Win 7.