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Record Microphone and Speakers via Stereo Mix into CamStudio in Windows 7 with Gain Staging

This question is perhaps one of the most often asked in the past on the XP systems. Here is how to do it in Windows 7. I have a RealTek HD Audio sound card, but the settings should be similar across any Windows 7 audio system, as they all share the new Windows 7 audio sub-systems.

Here’s a video, followed by the written text containing the same information (now HTML5 compatible):

Recording Speakers And Mic into CamStudio Using Stereo Mix in Windows 7

First, open the Sound control panel. There are 3 ways to do this: Start menu Control Panel Flyout, Control Panels Window, or Right-Click on the Speaker icon.

If you do NOT see “Stereo Mix” in your Recording tab, right-click on an empty area and make certain that both “Show Disabled Devices” and “Show Disconnected Devices” are checked. If this brings up the Stereo Mix input, be sure to Enable it by right-clicking on it and selecting “Enable”.

Now, ensure that “Stereo Mix” is selected as the default device in the Recording tab. Open it and set the Levels to 100.

Also in the recording tab, make sure your microphone input’s “Listen” tab has “Listen to this device” checked and is directed to the Speakers – not anything else, or it won’t work correctly. Set the levels between 10 and 100. My Line-in is very noisy with a whine from the motherboard, so that is why I have it set to 10 here, and since my mic is plugged in through a mixer going to Line In, I crank up the volume at the mixer to compensate and get better signal-to-noise levels.

Now with that done, very importantly, select the Playback tab, and make certain that Speakers are selected as the default device. If you have Headphones selected, even with no headphones plugged in so it falls-back to the speakers, the media player or game audio will not get routed to the Stereo Mix. Set the level to 100 on the main output slider, but then scroll down to the bottom on a RealTek HD Audio system, and turn the “Front” sliders down to between 40-50 to avoid overloads. The Stereo Mix receives its actual signal from this slider.

While I’m in this panel, I should mention headphone monitoring. In the RealTek HD Audio Manager, which is available from the Control Panels, you have the possibility of routing the mic or line-in to the front panel headphones via the “Device Advanced Settings” link in the upper right side. Check the first one to pass through your mic. Note that the “Line In” and “Microphone” sliders in the Speaker’s properties levels tab only control this pass-through volume and have no effect upon the recording levels.

While I’m in the RealTek HD Audio Manager, make certain you have your effects disabled (unless you want them) in the Speakers tab, and double check that there is no “Red X” over the mouth of the little guy in the Karaoke setting, or it will “scoop out” the mid-range audio and sound terrible. Also go through and ensure all your Default Formats are set to 16-bit 44.1 kHz Stereo, since that is what CamStudio uses.

You SHOULD do a check to monitor your levels over your headphones. This can be done by double clicking Stereo Mix to bring up its properties and check the box in it’s Listen tab, sending the output to your Headphones. There will be a 1/10th second or so delay to the microphone that is very distracting, so only use this to check your mix, then turn it off and rely on the RealTek advanced settings pass-through to monitor your mic. You’ll have to “fly by instruments” once recording into CamStudio, so rehearse your volume settings in advance to get them right, or enable and disable listening to the stereo mix at intervals when necessary.

You can use the Windows 7 Volume Mixer to adjust the media player volume. It gives numbers as you move the slider so you know where you are.

Remember that in order to hear your playback of your recording after you’re done over your headphones, you’ll have to set “Headphones” as the default. Remember to set it back to Speakers as the default to record additional takes.

Again, a synopsis of the gain-staging is:
Microphone – Level 10-75, in Listen tab, “listen to this device” checked ==> out to speakers
Speakers – main slider 100, “Front” slider 40-50, set to default Playback device
Stereo Mix – 100, set to default Recording device
Music source adjusted to be underneath the mic volume. This can be adjusted using the audio mixer sliders (right-click speaker and select mixer)

Finally, in CamStudio, be sure to have “Record from Microphone” selected and then under “Audio Options for Microphone” select “Stereo Mix” from the drop-down. That’s it!

I hope this helps you immensely. Please comment on what I might have left out here.

33 Responses to Record Microphone and Speakers via Stereo Mix into CamStudio in Windows 7 with Gain Staging

  1. Yes, here is the important part from the URL you shared:

    “Symptoms #1 and #2 were caused by a design change agreement between Microsoft and the audio chip hardware supplier. The new change drops the support of mixed-stereo function and direct playback of microphone. The change in design calls to have these function implemented in application level in future. The goal of this design change is to begin standardizing the audio industry. The design change affected all PC vendors worldwide. In the future, Microsoft and audio vendors expect individual applications developers pick up these functions.”

    Note that they leave out any pressure existing from the RIAA, and instead claim that this is part of an attempt to “standardize the audio industry”. Well, it DOES need standardizing (Microsoft’s handling of audio has been pretty awful to audio purists and folks who need professional quality audio for recording), but the fact of the matter is that the hardware folks and their driver developers are the ones ultimately to blame. So, you are being forced to acquire an outboard audio system (like a USB or audio hardware upgrade) to have a Stereo Mix like function. Well, laptop buyers beware — this is becoming more and more common.

    Terry

  2. Unfortunately, many manufacturers are no longer including Stereo Mix on their computers. There is a video on YouTube that discusses using or changing a registry key to make it visible if it has merely been disabled, so take a look there and search on “stereo mix registry fix” or something like that. Good luck, though! If you have line-out and either mic or line-in, you may be able to use the attenuating patch cable from Radio Shack – item number 42-2152 http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103841

    Terry

  3. When i turn ”listen sterio mix” option on i can record mic and win sound same time. But it stars making acho .. :/

  4. Unfortunately, it is a limitation of the Windows audio system that you have to turn the speaker’s external volume down to just about nothing to get rid of the echo. You could try plugging headphones into the actual speaker-out jack for monitoring (not the headphone jack – Stereo Mix needs the output from the speakers to be the playback).

  5. When i turn all the way down Sterio mix sound to 9-10 there is no more echo. But this time my voice like almost unheareble.

  6. How did you make the baffles? Will they remove the bad room sounds? I will be recording in a small room about 11 x 11. I have bass traps etc. already but I know small rooms are horrible for recording acoustic guitar. If I use bass traps, put an acoustic absorber cloud on the ceiling and build these baffles will I be able to eliminate the bass buildup etc. inherent in a small room from reaching the mic? Would if be better to build bigger baffles?

  7. I have a pretty dead room to begin with, but have been intrigued by the wrap-around style baffles such as the Sterling VMS Vocal Mic Shield ($109 at Guitar Center), the Primacoustic Voxguard P3000100 for $100 there, but especially the SE Electronics SERF Reflexion Filter 3.5, which, though it costs $299, seems to be the most sturdy and elaborately engineered one out there that I’ve seen. Google for those or visit the Guitar Center web page to check them out – read lots of reviews first!

    Terry

  8. Hello, I have been checking tutorials on youtube on how to make the microphone and stereo mix work together. I have been following all the steps you mentioned in this video, but it seems that only one of the two (stereo mix and microphone) will work as input, of which is the selected default device. When stereo mix is selected, nothing is picked up by the microphone, and vice versa. I really need help on this.

    I am running a x64 Windows 7.

    -Chies

  9. The big trick is to “listen” to the microphone from the “Listen” tab. Direct it to “Speakers” (analog ones, not digital – you may have to plug a headphone into the speaker-out jack to enable this option).

    Terry

  10. You would only need it if RealTek was the manufacturer of your soundcard. What features you have are the at the discretion of your sound card’s manufacturer and the driver software they included or supply for download.

  11. I’m on Win8 and I can enable Stereo Mix and record what the PC is playing. The problem that I have is that the moment Stereo Mix is set to Default Device, it turns off the mic. I tried the Listen To option but that’s not working unfortunately. When I plug in my headset (mic & headphone plug, plus usb for power) in the front panel, I have at least “Default Communications Device” under my Microphone (when I plug it into the back panel, it tells me that the mic is not ready once Stereo Mix is set to Default).

    So right now the mic has the light blue bars, but no sound is being picked up. Any ideas?

  12. The Default communications device doesn’t really matter here. The important setting for the “Listen” tab of the microphone is to be certain you have only your analog speakers selected from the drop-down choices, as that mix-bus is where Stereo Mix is getting its signal from.

    Remember, you set Stereo Mix to be the default device, but then set the listen tab of the microphone (without having to set it to default nor necessarilly as communications device) to point to the speakers (not headphones or anything else…)

    Let me know how it goes for you after checking that.

    Terry

  13. Glad to say this all worked like a charm, but now I have a more personal problem. No matter how hard I try, I end up slowing down my speech every time I hear myself speak twice (first time is actual speech, second is the slightly delayed playback) which annoys me to no end. Is there any way I can speak into the mic and not hear myself while still actually recording from the microphone?

  14. I plug in-ear headphones into the speaker-out jack. You should not be hearing the voice, though – make sure you are not checking the box in the “Listen” tab of the Stereo Mix – only the “Listen” tab checkbox in the microphone section should be checked.

  15. The listen checkbox is checked for microphone and not Stereo Mix, but I didn’t elaborate on what I was using: a USB headset microphone.

    Now that I think about it more, I might be asking for something that just might not be possible with what I’m using…

  16. hi i have hp dv6 pavilion laptop it has idt sound driver with beats audio. it has stereo mix the problem is i coudnt use both music and my voice together i wanna sing with stereo mix but when i enable my karaoke only playing. so my Friends cannot hear my voice in chat room i have done all the settings as per Ur video but still not able to do that. i have idt sound driver i don’t have realtek please help me with this

  17. The Karaoke settings can be confusing – on mine, if a red “X” is appearing over the mouth, then the Karaokeis on (I thought that would mean it was turned off, but they got me!) The Karaoke settings may be in a separate control panel, so check your control panels to see if you have a separate audio control panel in addition to the system’s audio one. I have a very rough video on my channel that shows my setup for recording Skype calls including my voice, so see if that is helpful. Let me know what you find out!

    Terry

  18. Just like @Eren serier, when I turn the volume down to do away with the whistling echo sound, my camstudio recording becomes in audible. The tones are so low you can barely hear anything.

  19. Ah… that is likely because you do not have a separate volume control for the “Front” like I had – you must have only one control. Still, the speakers volume should be kept down to no higher than 30 to keep the Stereo Mix from overloading. The only way around this predicament may be to have headphones plugged in, though that may switch your system out of “analog speakers” which is required for sending a signal to Stereo Mix.

  20. helo I am a newbie in using camstudio,How can camsudio record sound from pc speaker @ thesame time when recording

  21. I would use the program called “Voicemeeter” (that is the correct spelling) found at http://vb-audio.pagesperso-orange.fr/Voicemeeter/index.htm. That allows independent monitoring of the microphone and PC audio (I always turn off the monitoring of the microphone, since I can hear myself talk, after initially monitoring it for tests to adjust the EQ, then i would monitor levels via the meters after that.)

    It has separate “send” buttons A and B, “A” being for “Audition” or monitoring that goes to your headphones or whatever you use to monitor with, and “B” is for “Broadcast” which goes to CamStudio.

    After installing Voicemeeter, just be certain to set your Windows Audio settings so that Voicemeeter is both the default playback device AND default recording device while you are making your recording. (That is the easiest route.)

    Then use “Record audio from Microphone” in CamStudio (NOT “record audio from speakers, as counter-intuitive as that sounds).

    I have several videos on using Voicemeeter in various contexts, including a full video version of the manual, here at YouTube.

  22. I cann’t find Stereo Mix in my Windows 8 laptop. Is there any alternative to Stereo Mix? I used to record my sound and video with acethinker free screen recorder, it works well. Share it here as an alternative method.

  23. I now recommend using Voicemeeter (either regular or pro “Banana” versions) rather than Stereo Mix, as you can control monitoring much better.
    http://vb-audio.pagesperso-orange.fr/Voicemeeter/index.htm
    http://vb-audio.pagesperso-orange.fr/Voicemeeter/banana.htm
    Donation-ware. Free to use with no strings attached, but do support the author if you can.
    I have several how-to videos on using it at my YouTube channel, some of which are also featured at the author’s site at the bottom of each associated page.
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLADO0ZcWBBb7h0BGoMjHEJMiTEnXHAtoV

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