Audio recording Devices

May 13, 2016
Audio recording devices

Now that you know you're getting sound into the computer and you've made your Audacity settings, it's time to set up your recording device.

Setting up the audio host and playback device

Device Toolbar is displayed by default in a new installation of Audacity. If Device Toolbar is not visible, click on .

You may want to expand the size of the Device toolbar by dragging right on the drag handle.

Choose your preferred Audio Host, Recording Device and Playback Device from the dropdown menus. This selects the particular interface with which Audacity communicates with your chosen recording and playback devices.

The "Audio Host" is the interface between Audacity and the sound device. On Windows, the choice is between the following audio interfaces.

  • This is the Audacity default and the most compatible with all audio devices.
  • This is more recent than MME with potentially less .
  • This host only appears on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, it is the most recent Windows interface, that Audacity supports, between applications (such as Audacity) and the soundcard driver. WASAPI was first officially released in 2007 in Windows Vista. WASAPI is particularly useful for "loopback" devices for recording computer playback. 24-bit recording devices are supported. Playback is emulated using this host. As a result, the playback slider in Mixer Toolbar will only scale the system playback slider's current level up or down rather than directly manipulating that system slider.
  • On Mac OS X the only choice is Core Audio.

    On Linux there is often only one option: . Other options could be OSS and/or Jack Audio Connection Kit (also known as "Jack" or "Jackd")

  • On Windows XP (given a recent computer), DirectSound's much shorter path to the hardware should produce much lower than MME.
  • On Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8:
  • Windows DirectSound may by default have only slightly lower latency than MME.
  • Selecting Windows DirectSound or Windows WASAPI and enabling both "Exclusive Mode" boxes in Windows Sound allows Audacity to request audio direct from the device without .
  • For output device, choose the named sound device your headphones or speakers are connected to (not a device like Microsoft Sound Mapper that uses the system default device). If you are using a USB-connected guitar, microphone or keyboard on Windows, you may also need to reset the default system playback device to your computer sound device in order to hear audio in other programs.
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