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What Is Stereo Mix?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 March 2014
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Stereo mix is a recording option available on some sound cards that are used with Windows® operating systems. It allows for the output signal of the computer to be recorded, capturing live streaming radio for example, system sounds, gaming sounds and so on.

This feature is disabled by default on most sound cards. Navigation to the controls should be accessible by right-clicking on the volume icon located in the system tray, and clicking on Recording devices. The Recording tab window is where stereo mix will be listed once enabled. If it does not appear in this window, right-click on a blank spot to see a popup window for Show Disabled Devices and Show Disconnected Devices, making sure both boxes are checked. Stereo mix should appear if the soundcard is equipped for it.

Once this feature is listed in the Recording tab window, it can be highlighted and then chosen as the default device by clicking a button below in the same window. The Properties button gives way to a set of tabs, one of which is the Advanced tab where recording quality can be set as desired. Now that stereo mix is enabled and set as the default device, a recording program is used to do the actual work.

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Audacity™ is one popular freeware program that works well for this purpose. Under the Edit menu and Preferences, highlight Devices in the left navigation pane. On the right, the Recording Device is chosen; in this case Stereo Mix is available from a drop-down menu. Beneath that, the number of channels is chosen; or 2 Stereo. By highlighting Quality in the navigation tree at left, sampling rates can be configured on the right.

If Audacity™ or another recording program does not detect stereo mix even though it has been enabled, it might need to be chosen as the default input device within Control Panel’s Sound menu. Once enabled and configured properly, the recording software should be able to record the computer’s output using the configuration set for stereo mix. When saving the project in Audacity™, click the Export option to save in one of several formats from mp3 to FLAC.

Stereo mix is a handy tool for capturing any type of audio, but if the installed soundcard lacks this feature, third party software like Freecorder™, for example, can be used to capture streaming media. Since it works inside a browser, however, it is limited to capturing Internet-generated audio. Other types of software can be used to capture system sounds, such as the built in recorder that comes with all Windows® operating systems.

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Discuss this Article

Viranty
Post 5

@Chmander - Wow, really? Thanks for the advice. I'll be sure to check out the website as soon as possible. It's amazing what you can buy online when you look hard enough.

Chmander
Post 4

@Viranty - Have you ever been to a website called Overstock? It's a great site where all kinds of hardware and materials are sold. In fact, I had an issue similar to yours. Last month, my audio jack was acting very funny, and I couldn't listen to music. On Overstock, I bought a 3D sound card, which works like a flash drive. Plug it into the side of your laptop, and you're good to go. It only cost about five to ten dollars. Just make sure you have some headphones, and you'll be all set.

Viranty
Post 3

Funny, this article reminds me of when the audio jack on my laptop broke, last week. I still haven't gotten it fixed, as I don't have the money to take it to Best Buy. Does anyone know if there are any alternate solutions? Some advice would be nice.

Lostnfound
Post 2

I never really realized my computer wasn't playing some things in stereo mix, since I have two speakers.

I know what stereo mix is on a record or CD player -- it's the sound coming through equally in both channels. "Fake" stereo is where the bass is in one channel and the highs are in the other channel. Some records in the 60s are mixed in fake stereo because the technology wasn't as good as it is now.

Anyway, I digress. I'm not a gamer, and I listen to music primarily through my Windows Media Player, so it may be those files play in true stereo. I'll have to listen to a couple of songs to see if I need to turn on my stereo mix.

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