Limited sound card?
January 26, 2012 9:17 AM   Subscribe

How do I make my computer stop using the built-in microphone when recording sound? Is my sound card so poor that it can't record from anything but the built-in mike?

I would like to record a few bars of film music from a DVD. The only available audio source in all the sound recording programs I have tried (including the "record anything" type) is my laptop's built-in microphone. This means that the only sounds I can record is myself coughing or tapping the keyboard. If I disable the microphone no audio recording is possible. I have searched through all the audio controls without getting any wiser. Is there really no way to grab the audio stream (music) that is passing through the sound card when I play the DVD?

I'm using Windows 7 Pro. My computer is a Sony Vaio laptop VPC Z21. There is no line in or external microphone jack. According to my device manager I've got Realtek High Definition Audio.
posted by Termite to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
You can use ffmpeg to strip audio from a DVD.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:19 AM on January 26, 2012

(Once you have the audio, you can use an editor (example) to cut out the bit you want.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:23 AM on January 26, 2012

If you want to capture audio rather than ripping it directly from the DVD, you could give Total Recorder a try. It includes an audio capture driver that appears to your computer as another output, but which captures everything going through that output to disk.
posted by kindall at 9:48 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are USB microphones, if you can find a plug-and-play one maybe your sound card will play nice?
posted by Wretch729 at 10:20 AM on January 26, 2012

The google search phrase that might help you is "sound card loopback". Basically, you're looking for some way to route the audio out right back into the audio in, right? On my Mac, I've used "Soundflower," but it doesn't look like they have a version for Windows. Total Recorder looks good, although it's not free. This guy seems to have found a solution, but I'm not sure if that's specific to his sound card. Generally, doing a search for "sound card loopback windows 7" leads to some good possibilities.
posted by Betelgeuse at 10:53 AM on January 26, 2012

It's been long enough that I can't remember exactly how I solved this problem on my Windws XP laptop, but the audio source option you're looking for is "stereo mix." A Google search for "record stereo mix windows 7" turns up some promising-looking results.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:38 AM on January 26, 2012

You don't mention what audio recording programs didn't work for you, but I do this using Audacity. Instructions are here (assuming you're playing the DVD on the laptop).
posted by coolguymichael at 11:47 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

The folks telling you that you need a stereo mix or loopback driver are correct.

You want to record the audio that would otherwise be output to the speakers. You need some hack of a driver that'll let you achieve that.

Unfortunately, if you're trying to do this from an actual DVD, you may find that it's impossible due to Windows Protected Media Path.
posted by Netzapper at 1:55 PM on January 26, 2012

As I recall, the command line that gets you the Recording mixer is sndvol32 /record (or just sndvol32 and navigate to the recording side of the mixer). It looks like the regular volume mixer, but windows only allows you to choose one source to be active at a time. Some of the "sources" are mixes sound sources, such as Stereo Mix, while others are single sound sources: Microphone, CD-ROM.

I have Win7 x64, and it's just "sndvol."

As I understand it, the items and the names of things in the Record mixer come from the sound drivers, so you'll have different items depending whether you have a SoundBlaster Audigy X-Fi soundcard or your basic on-motherboard audio. So, "Stereo Mix" may or may not appear.

But you should try all of them (there might be as many as 6) to see if you can't get one recording.

Totalrecorder is an excellent program for that sort of thing, but it loads its own sound driver to the mix, which can be fine except when it conflicts with some other sound-abusing applications such as games or .. I can't think of other examples. But now you know how to easily switch between recording sources, so it won't be a problem!
posted by Sunburnt at 6:35 PM on January 26, 2012

Oh, I also forgot, Microsoft Expression Encoder and Screen Capture 4 is free, and will do screen capture with audio. I haven't messed with it too much but there must be a way to make it encode audio only, and ditch the video. I think it does .mp4 at least. Download link is here (look for the free version, not pro).
posted by Wretch729 at 6:55 PM on January 26, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all your answers! AskMe is really the best place for reliable answers. Googling for "stereo mix" (a phrase I never would have thought of) gave me all the explanations I needed. The i-Sound recorder does just what I want. I also found out that external sound cards - perhaps a solution for the future - are cheaper than I thought. Case closed.
posted by Termite at 11:24 PM on January 26, 2012

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