Q. How can I record sounds playing on my computer with maximum quality?

A. Recently, I wanted to record some sounds to use as startup noises for my son's computer. I tried to record the sound from the speakers using a microphone and the sound quality was terrible.

One easy way to get a better recording is to connect the line out of your computer to the line in of your computer. Play the sounds with the line out as the default output device and record from the line in. The problem with this setup is that you can't actually hear the sound while you record.

I've found that most sound cards, including on-board sound cards, have another option if you install their full drivers (not the one that comes with Windows).

Open the Sound control panel applet and select the Recording tab. You may need to enable the "Show Disabled Devices" and "Show Disconnected Devices" options. You should see a "Stereo Mix" or "Wave Out Mix" option, as shown here. If you enable this option and then select it as the input for the recording software, your software should record everything your soundcard is generating.

Obviously, you need to make sure a device on that sound device is the output for your sounds and not some other sound device. For example, as shown in the screenshot, I use a Bose USB speakers for my default output, so the Realtek audio device would never get this sound. I have to set the Realtek card as my output.

Related Reading:

Check out hundreds more useful Q&As like this in John Savill's FAQ for Windows. Also, watch instructional videos made by John at ITTV.net.
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