Input and playback settings

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Input and playback settings

Post by Meginoz » Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:45 pm

Hello folks, long time no see, apologies for my lengthy absence. So I'm grovelling back for help now that I need some assistance :)

I have been working through digitizing a whole bunch of old cassettes and vinyl, using the following setup - run from the line out on the cassette player or amp into the computer's microphone input, and record using Audacity. I then had a line going from the computer's headphone outlet into the amp to hear it back through the speakers. Was doing this on my old XP laptop, and then when it started playing up, on an old XP desktop computer, which has now completely died. On both of these, I only heard the playback while it was recording, so I was hearing good sound, and exactly what was being recorded.

I've now tried the same setup on another XP box and on my new Windows 7 laptop, and I'm hearing the playback even when Audacity is not recording, and the sound is awful. I don't want this, I only want to hear when Audacity is recording, so I can hear exactly what's being recorded.

(I do, however also use the computer for playing my iTunes library through the hi-fi system, and in that case the sound is fine. The sound quality is only bad when the signal is coming into the computer and then out again - sound played directly from the computer is fine. So I want to hear the output only when it's coming straight from the computer. If it's coming into the computer from somewhere else, I only want to hear it when Audacity is recording - which is how it was on the old setup. Hope that makes sense.)

So, I'm guessing there must be some setting somewhere that controls this, but I'm out of my depth with this stuff. I've looked under sound devices in the Control Panel, and none of it makes much sense to me. Any ideas?
"I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best." - Marilyn Monroe

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Re: Input and playback settings

Post by Peanut » Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:45 am

It sounds like there could be several places to check. Forget trying to record anything at this time. Plug in your devices like you described (Line in to the computer is line out of the playback device. Line out of the computer is line in to the external amp/speakers.)

First, I would start with the basic Windows volume/sound settings. Open that sound panel and make sure all the sound plays the way you want or expect it to sound. Assuming you have those adjustments made and are happy with them move on to Audacity.

Second, open Audacity and get your files ready for processing/recording. Within Audacity you should be able to sample the music as if it was recording (without actually recording anything ) - kind of like a preview mode. Do this and if necessary make sound quality adjustments within Audacity's many sound enhancement features.

Now try recording.

Any luck? If not, go backward through the steps and find out where the sound quality falls apart. If it is at Step 1 (the basic in/out jacks on the computer, it probably means the sound card is not a very good one. You can buy a new high quality sound card for a desktop computer pretty cheap and put it into an open PCU slot. You may even be able to find PCI sound cards that specialize in the type of connections you are doing with external amps.

Based on your description, I am betting on a poor quality sound card on the new machine. But I may have easily misunderstood the new setup too. Good luck.
- Peanut/Larry

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