Enabling the Stereo Mix device: What-You-Hear recording in Windows 7

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Introduction to the Stereo Mix input device

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It is recommended that VidBlaster should be used with an external audio mixer, which would take both Player audio from the PC and external sources like microphones, in order to obtain full control of levels and monitoring (as described in this Audio Overview). However, for some simple applications it is possible to route audio through the PC in Windows 7 using the Stereo Mix software device. This is a re-named version of the Windows XP "What-you-hear" function, but it usually remains hidden in Windows 7. Here's how to enable it.

How to change the settings in the Windows Control Panel

When you look in the Sound section of the Windows Control Panel, and click on Manage Audio Devices, and then look at the Recording tab, you may only see a couple of available Recording Devices (eg Line In & Microphone inputs).

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To enable any other devices that may not be showing up, right-click in the window and select both Show Disconnected Devices & Show Disabled Devices.

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This may reveal a Stereo Mix function, if supported by your soundcard. If you see a Stereo Mix option, right-click on it and Enable it via the pop-up menu.

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It will show as "Currently unavailable" until you select it and click on the Set Default button after which it will have a green Tick mark against it.

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At this point the Stereo Mix will become an available input option in VidBlaster Modules like the Recorder & Streamer. This should allow the Player audio from VB to be used as an input with no external wiring.

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Controlling the sources of the Stereo Mix

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Routing internal audio may be useful, but what if you want to add external audio as well? Go back to the Sound control panel and check under the Playback tab to see which of the playback devices is the Default. In this example it is the Speakers for the same SoundMAX hardware device as the Stereo Mix. Open the Properties for the Default device and go to the Levels tab. You should see level controls (sliders) for the other physical inputs (eg Line In & Microphone), but they may be muted via the speaker icon buttons next to the Balance buttons. To add the Line-in or Microphone inputs into the Stereo Mix, un-mute the channels and adjust the respective levels as required. You may have to use both these controls to get a reasonable balance, and even then it may not be possible to obtain satisfactory results, since these controls were never intended for this sort of purpose.

Conclusions

Note that this software Stereo Mix method is really no substitute for an external hardware audio mixer when anything other than a most basic set-up is required. Apart from the ease with which you can adjust individual levels using an external mixer, it is not possible to monitor any of the sources independently using the internal Stereo Mix device. If you are connecting a microphone in the manner, and wish to have loudspeakers connected to the PC to hear VidBlaster's Player modules, then the sound from the microphone will be included in that output which could result in feedback or sound colouration unless there is sufficient acoustic separation between them. However, for applications like the Remote Sign Interpretation example, when only the PC-generated sound is required to be streamed, it can work perfectly well.

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