Stereo mix is a recording option available on some sound cards that are used with Windows® operating systems. It allows for the output signal of the computer to be recorded, capturing live streaming radio for example, system sounds, gaming sounds and so on.
This feature is disabled by default on most sound cards. Navigation to the controls should be accessible by right-clicking on the volume icon located in the system tray, and clicking on Recording devices. The Recording tab window is where stereo mix will be listed once enabled. If it does not appear in this window, right-click on a blank spot to see a popup window for Show Disabled Devices and Show Disconnected Devices, making sure both boxes are checked. Stereo mix should appear if the soundcard is equipped for it.
Once this feature is listed in the Recording tab window, it can be highlighted and then chosen as the default device by clicking a button below in the same window. The Properties button gives way to a set of tabs, one of which is the Advanced tab where recording quality can be set as desired. Now that stereo mix is enabled and set as the default device, a recording program is used to do the actual work.
Audacity™ is one popular freeware program that works well for this purpose. Under the Edit menu and Preferences, highlight Devices in the left navigation pane. On the right, the Recording Device is chosen; in this case Stereo Mix is available from a drop-down menu. Beneath that, the number of channels is chosen; or 2 Stereo. By highlighting Quality in the navigation tree at left, sampling rates can be configured on the right.
If Audacity™ or another recording program does not detect stereo mix even though it has been enabled, it might need to be chosen as the default input device within Control Panel’s Sound menu. Once enabled and configured properly, the recording software should be able to record the computer’s output using the configuration set for stereo mix. When saving the project in Audacity™, click the Export option to save in one of several formats from mp3 to FLAC.
Stereo mix is a handy tool for capturing any type of audio, but if the installed soundcard lacks this feature, third party software like Freecorder™, for example, can be used to capture streaming media. Since it works inside a browser, however, it is limited to capturing Internet-generated audio. Other types of software can be used to capture system sounds, such as the built in recorder that comes with all Windows® operating systems.