Recording “Stereo Mix” with Realtek

This is a technical post that will only be of interest to people who have been driven crazy by the same problem already. If you found this post by searching for something like “Realtek HD Audio Manager stereo mix” or “Realtek no stereo mix,” then you know what I’m talking about. (Just skip to the last paragraph for the solution.)

I recently bought a new Dell PC pre-installed with Vista. My verdict on Vista: It’s fine if you’re not doing anything fancy. But it’s a pain in the neck if you want to do any kind of audio-video work. Get ready to buy brand new versions of all your old software. Had I known, I would have stuck with XP.

Anyway, my new PC came with a Realtek soundcard that shows up as Realtek HD Audio Manager. For the longest time, I couldn’t get it to record in “Stereo Mix.” Stereo Mix refers to the sound that comes out of your speakers, no matter where that sound is coming from. In other words, Stereo Mix allows you to record streaming audio or internet radio stations. It’s also handy for recording audio magazines (or podcasts) because you can play background music through something like Winamp and record your voice through a Line-In or Mic input over the music, all through Stereo Mix. It’s very nice.

Good luck, though, trying to find the Stereo Mix option on the Realtek soundcard. Realtek simplified the soundcard’s interface by hiding away basic options like Stereo Mix that have been around for years. This is like putting the gas pedal under the seat of your car. Don’t you love these people? The solution is simple — if you know where to look. Here it is:

1) In the Control Panel, click on Classic view.
2) Click on Sound.
3) Select the Recording tab.
4) Right-click any of the devices that are listed.
5) Check “Show Disabled Devices” and “Show Disconnected Devices.”
6) Ta-da! The Stereo Mix option appears like it should have by default.
7) Save as your default settings.
8) Don’t buy a Realtek soundcard again.

Leave a Reply

  1. The options that you get in the Sound dialog depend on the sound card you have. Mine is a Sigma Tel and it does not have the Stereo Mix option. I’ve looked everywhere.

    I think this is the kind of thing that happens when Microsoft takes orders from the entertainment industry.

  2. Hi!

    On Vista x64 the Stereo Mix for RealTek is not hidden. However it’s ouput is always muted. There is no output. You can only record silence. I also tried Audigy 2 drivers with my Creative Labs and What you Hear is outputing 90% zeroed out signal.

    Does anybody know any sound card maker that allows unrestricted recording of digital input (SPDIF) and “What you hear” or stereo mix? What does the RIAA use in their recording studios? Linux?

    Atmapuri

  3. actually, in Vista, you don’t need to set the Control Panel to classic view. I was able to just skip that part of the step and managed to find the Stereomix under the disabled list. after testing the stereomix, it certainly doesn’t perform very well. I had better results from an ancient Soundblaster 16 card in my old computer.

  4. Hi Phillip…Please tell me how to do that on Windows XP SP2…I’ll be very thankful for any help

  5. Please tell me how to do that on Windows XP SP2…

    Sorry, I can only help you with what I’m working with, and that’s Vista.

    I had to re-install Vista and I forgot to update my realtek audio driver. I noticed even with my instructions, the StereoMix option wasn’t available. It became available once I updated the driver from:

    http://www.realtek.com.tw/downloads/

    I got it working again, but it’s still pretty damn crappy soundcard. It takes too much control away from the user.

  6. Dude your so helpful, omg damn realtek just had to hide it and mark it as disable. Thank you so much for this, it took me like 30 mins of searching, i just had to search using the right words and “stereo mixer option for realtek audio” took me to this. Thanks a bunch man.

  7. Hey,
    I am trying to talk and do music at the same time on vista with a realtek soundcard. After much searching, it looks like some of the volume levels are missing with my version. I just purchased the comp in may and the driver is up todate. But someone else has to have the same problem. When in Realtek HD audio manager, and you click the device advanced settings tab. where some people have record and playback…. i only have record. That keeps me from turning up the volume controls or unmuting them because they dont exist.
    What version should i have?

  8. I managed to find the stereo mix on my own, however when i play music or whatever that meter doesn’t move like it’s detecting any sound. I haven’t been able to record anything in sound forge or adobe audition either. What am I doing wrong?

  9. Thank you philip.

    I was mostdistressed that the shiny new Roxio Creator 2010 running in Windows 7 RC1 was going to fall short on something that could easily be done years ago.

  10. Bluesojuon

    when i play music or whatever that meter doesn’t move like it’s detecting any sound. I haven’t been able to record anything in sound forge or adobe audition either. What am I doing wrong?

    You might have to plug ONLY the device you’re using. If you have a webcam plugged in, for instance, the Realtek sound card might assume you want to use it as your audio source. So you might have to unplug it or configure the soundcard to ignore any other device that happens to be plugged in.

    I’m not sure about this though. I’ve given up on recording anything on my PC these days because some new headache is always popping up with the Realtek sound card. But I remember things like this happening a few times.

  11. Outstanding. Who can believe these Realtek assholes could design something like this. I would never have dreamed of this solution if I hadn’t read this post.

  12. This may be one solution for the problem you may be having with recording internet radio with windows 7.
    This may work for other computer systems, but it did work for my HP pavilion running
    window 7. with Realteck High Definition Audio. I been trying to get Audacity to record some internet audio. I went into the control panel and open the sound setting utility. clicking the recording tap. You may need to right click inside the box to see a window that shows the disable devices and the disconnected devices. Make sure that these boxes are checked. Now if you see the stereo mix, as one of your selections. make that your default device.

    When I did all of this, I still could not record any internet radio. I could hear the audio
    on my head set but could not record . So I tried to change the playback setting to speakers and my default device. Still nothing would record . One thing I did not do was to connect speakers to the plug in back of my system so I could hear the sound through the speakers default device . THAT DID IT! you need to have speakers connected to the speakers default device. I try to change it back to headphones settings, but could not record. I also found that If you are recording you can not mute or lower the volume control. This will stop you from recording. If your remote speakers do have a sound volume control. you can use that to lower the volume. but, do not disconnect your speakers that will stop the recording capability.
    Hope this solution works for you
    good luck
    Dan O.
    mackaus@yahoo.com

    • Dan O. you are the man! I spent all night looking for answers to this issue with stereo mix on my Pavilion on Windows 7 with Realtek HD Audio. Absolutely no love until something was plugged in to the speaker output (headphones in my case since I don’t have any speakers sitting around) and it was set as the default device. Thank you for your post!

  13. This is good information and it works, don’t resort to a plugin. Also remember to turn off all system sounds

  14. Just thought I would point out its not realtek but microsoft thats hiding stereo mix and causing the problem. Apparantly its a measure to reduce piracy and thats why using the realtek driver works-it replaces the microsoft driver

  15. Thank you so much! You solved my problem with your great advice. I don’t think I would have ever figured that out by myself!;-)

  16. Dear All

    I have a lenovo L420 and it has Realtek HD Audio card. I have enabled both “show diabled devices” and “show disconnected devices” but still the Stereo Mix does not show up. Any suggestions please. Thanks a lot in Advance.