Thursday, August 28, 2008

Recording speaker audio (what you hear, or "Stereo Mix") under Vista

Ever since I put Vista on a Dell Latitude D810, I've had issues recording speaker audio on that machine. I didn't think much of it, since I used to use another XP machine as my main machine anyway, but it recently came to a head when I got rid of my XP machine and needed to actually record webinars on a Dell Precision M6300 with Vista on it, and I once again was painfully reminded that it doesn't work.

First I thought it was Camtasia's fault, but not at all. It's Dell that is disabling the functionality in their Vista drivers.

After hours of searching for a solution, I gave up and just used a cable ($5) between the head phone and microphone jacks. Worked great, except for the fact that you can't monitor what you're recording (unless you feed it through a head phone splitter or mixer).

Several nights later I was determined to find a solution for Vista, because I grew to hate the ridiculous cable, and after hours and hours of digging through web sites that made McAfee go insane :p I found the solution!

Install the XP driver on the Vista box in XP compatibility mode. Works like a charm!

Simply save the XP audio driver (in my case Dell's XP driver for Sigmatel) on the desktop, right click on the file and go to the Compatibility tab and select XP Service Pack 2 for instance. Then install the driver. In my case the installer would fail on Vista, but it works just fine in XP compatibility mode.

After the driver is installed you may have to go in and actually show the disabled devices and enable Stereo Mix under the Recording tab in Sound properties.

If this helped you, please feel free to leave a comment saying so. :)

24 comments:

  1. Could be that Dell disabled speaker recording in the Vista driver to 'fix' this security hole: a web site can play any audio when you visit it, the audio could be something like 'format c drive', which could potentially be received and interpreted by Vista's voice control interface.

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  2. For Camtasia (and Podcasts and even acoustic guitar recordings) I use a Samson C01 USB Condensor mic that should be available at under $100. Sound quality is professional broadcast quality. Highly recommended.

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  3. I will give that a shot. Thanks for the tip. Now I just need to find XP drivers. I have an HP and it has the same problem.

    It is my understanding that the reason this feature is disabled is because people can use it to record protected audio. It is like the analog hole. Although the wire you used is almost as effective.

    Security "features" only annoy people and do very little to make things more secure.

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  4. I second what Victor just said. I had the same problem with a Samsung X11, standard Vista audio drivers. I too suspected this was done on purpose which then made me try and switch to Ubuntu. Not that audio is great in Ubuntu (it is a complete mess) but at least nobody actively restricts you from doing something :)

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  5. This may be of interest:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/larryosterman/archive/2008/07/11/whatever-happened-to-wave-out-mix.aspx

    Seems you can use the WinAudio SDK sample application to capture directly from Vista's post-mix audio end point thereby removing the need to install old drivers.

    Sounds like there must be scope for a dedicated utility app in there somewhere!

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  6. Thaddy: The problem isn't broadcasting my own voice. The problem is to capture what you hear from the speaker audio and capture a webinar's audio.

    Jim: Yes, I know. I didn't want to mention a specific 4-letter acronym. It's so silly it's not even funny. Actually stereo mix is pretty much exactly the same as my cable solution. It goes through an DAC -> ADC.

    Malcolm: I'm sure this application (if it works) only allows itself to capture audio. I need Camtasia and anything else to be able to capture audio. So AFAICT the working driver is my only option.

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  7. Daniel: Victor was kidding... Of course it was done on purpose... For anti-piracy reasons. Dell caved to the RIIA or something to that effect. It seems really silly since it's so easy to work around with a $5 cable...
    Hok: Try doing what I did. Find a Windows XP driver for yous sound card and install it in Windows XP compatibility mode.

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  8. Try this before installing Xp drivers...

    Right-click speaker icon, choose recording source, right click blank space
    in window, choose show disabled devices, right click 'Wave Out mix' , enable, right click again to select as default.

    Looks as if the functionality is hidden rather than removed.

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  9. HMcG: I'm glad it was that easy on your system. Trust me, this was one of the first things I tried.

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  10. Anders: According to that MSDN site it was removed to make it easier for users. It was not about piracy. Hard to believe, but probably true. Well anyways...I don't really care anymore as I don't use Vista anymore.

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  11. Daniel: I understand that Vista disables the functionality by default, and that's fine as long as you can enable it if needed. However, Dell *specifically* removed functionality in their driver making it *impossible* to enable if needed. Therefore forcing me to use the XP driver.

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