I posted this in a different forum, but then realized that this one might be more appropriate.
I’m about to buy a new computer and I would like to know if there are some brands that allow you to record any sound playing through the sound card. I know that recent Dell machines have disabled that capability. What about other brands? I’m planning to buy a laptop with Windows 7. A couple of suggestions would be helpful.
(I can’t tell you which version of Audacity I had - my old laptop died and that is why I’m buying a new one. When I do, I will install the latest version of Audacity.)
You would think there’s a simple list somewhere, but self-recording is a dance between the operating system, the sound card and the soundcard driver software. If any one of then drops the ball, that’s the end of the story. Your only other options are adding software or hardware, software being the preferred option.
I think the latest Audacity version has software to make this process easier, but you would need to chat with a Windows person.
Then there’s the piracy problem. Another reason there isn’t a mad rush to give you this list – or even provide the service at all – is the capture process is in direct opposition to artists and companies wanting to be paid for their work. You weren’t going to steal anybody’s music, were you?
Unfortunately, even if the chip supports “Stereo Mix”, the motherboard manufacturer may still disable this functionality.
On modern Linux systems, this functionality is available for virtually all sound cards because the function is supported by the sound system (PulseAudio on most modern Linux systems). Windows users have been less fortunate because neither MME or Direct Sound provide this functionality so it has been down to the hardware and drivers to support it. However, Audacity now has limited support for WASAPI, which should provide this functionality for most sound cards, but this is still dependent on the sound card driver supporting WASAPI correctly. See here for more information: Audacity Manual
“Loopback” recording with WASAPI may not work properly for older sound cards and requires Vista or later. Work continues to overcome problems with buggy sound card drivers.
Even if you can’t get recording computer playback to work directly, there are other workarounds. See here: Audacity Manual
Thanks for all the responses. It sounds like it doesn’t matter which brand of PC I buy, since they’ve all disabled the “what-u-hear” (or stereo mix, etc) feature. And that there’s a solution to this problem for at least the main PC brands, soundcards and drivers. I’ll probably end up with either Acer, HP or Asus, depending on price and other factors.
My question: Do these suggestions apply as much to laptops as to desktop machines? That’s important, because I’d much rather have a laptop. But if the options for recording what’s playing are too limited with laptops, I might get a desktop instead.
A soundcard with Stereo Line-In and Stereo Line-Out – more or less directly compatible with each other. That makes the hardware/analog desperation method a bit easier, but that’s no guarantee, either. We had a run of bad sound cards at work and it screwed up production for weeks until we rounded them all up. Windows default, built-in soundcards have a terrific reputation for bad audio.
Desktops tend to be more expensive because you have to buy all the support stuff: monitors, keyboard, mouse, cables, etc. All that is built in for a laptop. Contrast that with the limited lifespan of a laptop. Apple will not offer extended “AppleCare” past three years because that’s when they expect their laptops to die. They don’t, the last three I owned are still running, but that’s when you’re most likely to dump one off a ladder into the punchbowl. You probably won’t be doing that very often with a desktop.
Just because I’m using WASAPI now (I’m a tester and a documenter) doesn’t mean that recording audio playing on the computer didn’t work under MME and WDS hosts. Both my older Dell XP laptop and my newest Toshiba Satellite laptop can do this party-trick . Curiously Mrs. Waxcylinder’s laptop that she bought at a time between these two could not be made to do it no matter how hard we tried *so she went out and bought TotalRecoder for 18 bucks to do the capture part of the task).
But WASAPI host available in 2.0.4 (and the up-coming 2.0.5) should allow W7/W8 PCs to record audio playing on the computer.
Easily worked around, if you need line-level input, by buying the relatively cheap Behringer UCA202 (or the UFI202 if you record from vinyl) - which has the advantage that as it is an external device it can be transferred for comport to computer.
Could I buy an external sound card and connect it to a laptop, hopefully via USB? (Or do you need to replace the original sound card with another internal one?) Either way, maybe I could bypass the whole problem, if I can find a sound card that has the right input and output ports (line in/out, etc.)
Then again, someone did say that some manufacturers disable stereo mix on the motherboard. Ugh. I have to say, not being anything close to a pro at this, I find a lot of it confusing. Right now, I just want to know that, whatever Windows 7 machine I end up buying (laptop, desktop, whatever manufacturer), there IS a solution. I can research the particulars once I have the new computer.