Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Windows 7: Recording Streaming Audio

I had previously tried, but failed, to get my system to record streaming audio.  The concept, in this mission, was that I wanted to be able to capture, in a file, the sound that I was hearing in my headphones.  Seemed like a simple expectation, and as I recalled it had been almost automatic on my previous system.  But it wasn't happening on my current motherboard, a Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H, so I searched for solutions.

The first requirement seemed to be to use the right software.  Not every audio program is capable of recording streaming video.  The free Audacity program could, so I was using that.  I found a video and a webpage that were supposedly going to help me, and probably I did incorporate some of their suggestions into the approach that eventually worked for me.  The only suggestion that I recall making a difference was that, as recommended, I was using the version 1.3.13 beta of Audacity, not an older one, though at this point I'm not absolutely certain that was necessary either.

Ultimately, I found two ways to record streaming audio.  One was to use a video capture program and convert the resulting file to audio.  I'd had tried a number of video capture programs, with very mixed results.  The only one that seemed to work reliably was Debut, and it cost money after its free trial period.  Ultimately, I did buy a copy of that.  For the conversion, I used Oxelon.

The other approach was to use an audio cable to connect the computer's headphone jack directly to its microphone jack.  Basically, I would be recording what the headphones were supposed to be hearing.  Sadly, this didn't work as advertised, when I used the actual jacks on the computer itself.  But I was able to make it work in a different way.  I bought a Syba SD-CM-UAUD USB-to-audio adapter.  No software required.  I just plugged it into a USB port, plugged both ends of the patch cable into it, and it worked.  Actually, to make that work, I had to set Audacity as follows: the audio host was Windows DirectSound; the output device was Primary Sound Driver; the input device was Microphone.

The Syba device gave me really loud volume.  Later, I had to fiddle with Control Panel > Sound to get all my devices back the way they were before.  But so far, it seemed worth it.