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How to enable “Stereo Mix” in Windows and record audio from your PC

Have you ever needed to record something on your computer exactly as it comes out of your speakers? Enabling “Stereo Mix” will allow you to do just that, and here’s how to do it. This will work on Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7.

Today, most sound cards have the ability to record anything that is played. The only problem is accessing that recording channel. Depending on your PC, the recording channel may be called “Stereo Mix”, while on other devices it will be called “What U Hear” or something very similar.

Enable Stereo Mix or What U Hear

You can’t control your system’s sound devices very effectively through the sound options in the Settings app; for this, we need the previous sound settings window found in the Control Panel.

If you’re using Windows 10 or an earlier version of Windows, all you need to do is right-click the audio icon on your taskbar and click “Sounds.”

The “Sounds” option is not available in Windows 11. Right-click the audio icon on the taskbar, then click “Sound Settings”.

Scroll down until you see “More sound settings” and click on it; that button opens the legacy sound settings window.

Innuendo: Sound settings can be accessed through Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound in any version of Windows. If Control Panel is set to show “Small Icons” or “Large Icons”, you are only looking for “Sound”, not “Hardware and Sound”.

In the panel, right-click in a blank area and make sure “View disabled devices” and “View offline devices” are checked. You should see the “Stereo Mix” or “What U Hear” option appear.

Right click “Stereo Mix” or “What U Hear”, then click “Enable” to use it.

Why is Stereo Mix or What U Hear not available on my PC?

The short answer: your sound card’s audio drivers don’t support them, or your own sound card doesn’t support them. Usually there isn’t much you can do about it, unless you find a different version of the drivers that have those features, or write your own drivers.

Stereo Mix has been sidelined for years and isn’t present on many newer PCs. What U Hear is more common, but it’s also not universal, so how do you record your system audio if none is available to you?

You need to use a third party program. Audacity makes it easy to record the audio coming from your PC, but Open Broadcast Software (OBS) will work too.

RELATED: How to record sound coming from your PC (even without stereo mix)

How do I use this?

With “Stereo Mix” enabled, you can open your favorite recording program and select it instead of your microphone before recording. If you don’t see the option, or your program doesn’t allow you to change the recording device, you can disable or disconnect your microphone and make “Stereo Mix” or “What U Hear” the default recording device.

This works well when you want to capture audio for a screen sharing session or record audio from streaming sources, like live webcasts, that don’t necessarily allow you to download content right away.

Open the recording app of your choice (such as Audacity), find the option to select your input device, then select “Stereo Mix” or “What U Hear” as the input. It will probably be selected automatically if you set Stereo Mix or What U Hear as the default device.

Select

If you don’t have Stereo Mix, What U Hear, or something equivalent, you’ll need to use other methods to record your PC’s audio.

RELATED: How to record sound coming from your PC (even without stereo mix)


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