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Several newer computers I've worked on (Dell, mainly) are using IDT or Realtek drivers which lack the Stereo Mix option in audio recording devices.

I've tried all kinds of methods including installing the drivers from third-party sources, but lately it seems to be missing on a chipset level rather than driver.

I frequently need to record the full mix from the computer, including microphone and other sources. I get the feeling that manufacturers are moving away from this support because they fear people are recording streaming/copyrighted content. Is this the case, or is there some other reason?

I've read that ASIO and WASAPI are possible solutions, or obtaining a sound device that's part of a USB package or similar.

Can anyone shed some light on this missing Stereo Mix problem?

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I'm fairly certain that is the case. I heard of people using the Stereo Mix function to rip music from streaming services like Pandora. It's annoying though, because there are legitimate uses for it. You might try getting a short stereo line cable, and plugging it from speakers/line-out to line-in, but that's a kludgy way and prone to loss of quality. Note that on devices that do support it, enabling Stereo Mix recording has changed between XP and Vista/7 –  TuxRug Jun 19 '11 at 5:06
    
An interesting article, citing that Microsoft DRM and Sigmatel drivers being partly responsible: faph.wordpress.com/2008/09/01/audacity-vista-stereo-mix-gone –  JYelton Jun 21 '11 at 21:30
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This Dell blog entry indicates that the RIAA is not putting pressure on the manufacturer to disable the option. –  JYelton Jun 21 '11 at 21:45
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7 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted
+50

The following thread has many explanations and workarounds :
Missing sound recording option "Stereo Mix" / "Record What you hear" / "Waveout mix".

One of them is :

Since Microsoft intentionally removes the Stereo Mix / Waveout Mix option from its drivers, you need to try to download the latest version of the sound card driver and install it. If you have an onboard sound card, go to the support section of the manufacturer of your PC (such as Dell/HP/Toshiba/Sony/Fujitsu/Lenovo/Acer) and download an audio driver for your model of the PC that works with your Windows version. Please note that the manufacturer doesn't support Windows 7, you can try to use Windows Vista driver, althouth there is no guarantee that it will work and will not damage your hardware.

Another remark is :

The problem is that you won't be able to enable the "Wave Out mix" ("Stereo Mix", "Record What you hear") on many computers with built-in sound cards. But you can use software that doesn't need the "Wave Out mix" ("Stereo Mix", "Record What you hear") recording option to record audio from your sound card:

Direct sound recording software allowing to record audio without Stereo Mix/Wave-Out Mix/What U Hear

  • Freecorder (Freeware) - sound recording program (Windows 7, Vista or XP),
  • Replay Music - shareware sound recording program that can split and tag songs automatically (Windows 7, Vista, XP or 2000),
  • Replay AV - shareware stream recorder that is good for scheduling online audio recordings (Windows 7, Vista, XP, XP, Server 2003; x32 or x64),
  • Replay Media Catcher - shareware stream recorder that can record audio from your sound card as well (Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, Server 2003),
  • Ask & Record Toolbar (Freeware) - sound recording program (Windows 7, Vista or XP)
  • All Sound Recorder - shareware sound recording program with a scheduler (Windows Vista or 7)

Screencasting software allowing to record video with sound even if you don't have Stereo Mix/Wave-Out Mix/What U Hear

  • WM Capture - shareware screen recorder that allows to record both audio and video (Windows 7, Vista or XP),
  • Replay Video Capture - shareware screen recorder that allows to record both audio and video (Windows 7, Vista or XP),

Virtual Sound Card software

  • Virtual Audio Cable - shareware software that creates a virtual audio device (Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2003; x32 or x64)
  • Virtual Audio Streaming - shareware software that creates a virtual sound card (Windows 7, Vista; x32 or x64)

As you can see, the programs work not only in Windows XP, but also in Windows Vista and Windows 7. In fact these programs can be the only way to record audio from your sound card.

Freecorder4, Replay Music, Replay AV, Replay Video Capture, Replay Media Catcher, Ask&Recorder Toolbar, WM Capture use a universal audio driver allowing you to record sound even on those computers that do NOT have a sound card!

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Good info, thanks. One program not mentioned is Audacity. Perhaps the virtual card software mentioned will work. –  JYelton Jun 23 '11 at 15:35
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When your audio device has Stereo Mix / Waveout Mix, virtual or not, any recording product will do. –  harrymc Jun 25 '11 at 5:26
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you can try to enable stereomix in the registry.

Look in the registry for stereomix. i found a voice called #rtstereomix. I just removed the "#" and the stereomix interface came up.

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Please note that the Stereo Mix (virtual) device only works if the audio goes to that specific audio card. If your audio is coming out of the HDMI connector, or a USB device, then Stereo Mix won't work. Let me explain my setup:

Playback devices configuration window, showing the TV as the default device and playing audio, but the Realtek analog speakers are not plugged in, and the Realtek digital outputs are disabled

In the picture above, I have audio coming out of the HDMI connector and playing on the TV. This goes directly to the NVIDIA video card, and thus does not pass through the Realtek audio card. Since Stereo Mix is provided by the audio card, it won't work.

Solution? Plug in some analog speakers or earphones, or enable the Realtek digital output and select it as the default playing device. When this is done, then the audio can pass through the audio card, and the driver can finally provide Stereo Mix.

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The implications of this are that you can't use stereo mix to play to 2 HDMI outputs (only sound card output and one other). –  user2714915 Dec 22 '13 at 14:16
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I ran into a similar problem.

I switched from a totally analog output solution to a home theater system. The Home Theater system used a digital optical output. So there were no longer any connections to any of the analog outputs. For some reason the drivers thought that since I wasn't using the analog output any more, then it would shut off all analog audio. This caused the stereo mix to go silent.

I discovered that if you plug something (anything) into the front right and left output, the Stereo Mix signal returned. However it interacted with the speaker output control, this in turn seemed to be fed to the digital optical output. So, the speaker control affected the stereo mix, and the digital optical output also affected the stereo mix volume.

After fiddling around with all the audio controls a bit I was able to get good sounding audio, and a good sounding stereo mix to come out of the digital optical output. I was able to record what I was hearing on Audacity.

So now back to the thing I plugged into the analog front left and right output. I used a pair of ear buds plugged into the Front R/L 1/8 inch jack. They worked perfectly, and made the analog audio sound card driver think that the analog output was in deed really needed, and keep the Stereo Mix alive.

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i've had the same problem with my DELL Vostro 1720, Win 7 Home Premium. No Stereo Mix, only Micro, no hidden/deactivated devices. SiSoft SandraLite indicated a REALTEK HDA-01 onboard-soundchip (or driver?), but i was not able to install a working DELL Driver for it and by trying an original Realtek i ended off with a bad windows bluescreen shutoff.

Thanks to the fact that numerous users discussed the fact that DELL company prevents its systems to provide the Stereo Mix, and that some 3rd party drivers are sometimes able to solve the problem (e.g LG drivers for DELL Sigmatel Audio Chips), i tried a different solution:

A buddy of mine has a similar DELL Vostro 1720 with Win 7 Professional. This one indicated an IDT (Integrated Device Tec) High Definition Audio Codec for Stereomix. I used h i s DELL Drivers CD and by running it, an "IDT 92HD8xx" was indicated as audio device driver for my system! No problem to install and - it works! So - never give up trying even if you are a lucky DELL client without serious customer support.

P.S. The IDT 92HD8XX, published 03.11.2009, Version: A036.10.0.6224 should also be available on the DELL support driver and downloads site. It's a VISTA / XP driver!

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It is my opinion that regardless of what companies say, it is related to two things.

1) Copyright infringement/protection
2) Charging more for hardware audio mixing equipment

My solution? Use linux/unix. You can do all types of things with software mixing using ALSA, piping audio output with JACK, alsa-loop interfaces, and other even more complex solutions. If you must do it with windows, I would look at a custom audio device inside of Virtualbox OSE. It's just silly that they try and strip features that people found useful for whatever reason, specifically with virtualization products going the way that they are.

I don't mean to be trite and say windows is fail. I mean to say that I migrated for this among other reasons and don't plan to go back. I do still HAVE to use some windows applications(notably project and visio). I do this inside a VM.

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I can't give you a reason, but quite probably a solution. I've been having this issue since the Windows Vista. Stereo Mix is still alive and kicking, you just have to give it a good push through the door.

First off, you'll probably need the full driver package (not the drivers Windows installs when it detects the chip.)

From there, it's usually pretty straightforward - Stereo Mix, you see, is not actually missing, but it's deactivated and therefore hidden in the Windows' audio configuration. To reactivate it:

  1. Show hidden devices (sorry for the German screenshot, but the places should be identical) enter image description here

  2. Stereo Mix should reappear - activate it.

This is at least how it works on the Realtek HD chipsets - but I assume it's the same with other major onboard sound chipsets.

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I am specifically asking about chipsets/drivers which do not have it. It's not hidden or disabled, it's missing entirely. –  JYelton Jun 21 '11 at 21:27
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I see. Wasn't sure because of the Realtek mention - recent Realtek chips I've used worked just fine. –  Tobias Plutat Jun 22 '11 at 10:01
    
Thanks... even though the original poster asked for chipsets which do not have it, as he did not say that he confirmed using the method you specified, it could well be that would have mistaken, especially because of the Realtek mention. –  KalEl Apr 9 '13 at 2:47
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