Audacity error while opening sound device when recording

Updated: 05/19/2017 by Computer Hope

AudacityThis issue usually occurs when there are no recording devices available. For example, if you click Edit, Preferences, and then under Devices, there would be no options available to select in the Recording Device drop-down list.

The error may also occur when Audacity is configured to use a sample rate for recording that the sound card in your computer does not support. Audacity may also be trying to record more channels than the sound card can support.

To fix this error, try the steps below.

Note: These steps are for the Microsoft Windows operating system only.

  1. Close the Audacity program.
  2. Access the Control Panel.
  3. Open the Sound option.
  4. Click on the Recording tab.
  5. Right-click anywhere in the box where the devices are listed and select the Show Disabled Devices option, so that there is a check mark next to it.
  6. This displays any device that has been disabled on the computer. If no new devices are found, it's likely there is something wrong with the sound card or sound card drivers. We'd suggest reinstalling your sound card drivers or downloading and installing the latest drivers for your sound card.
  7. If a new device is displayed, right-click on the new device(s) and select Properties.
  8. In the 'Device usage' drop-down menu, select the Use this device (enable) option.
  9. Click OK until all other windows are closed.

After following the steps above, try opening and recording in Audacity. If you still receive an error, check the following.

  • In Audacity, check the sample rate being used. It is displayed at the bottom left of the Audacity program window, labeled as "Project Rate (Hz)". 44100 Hz and 48000 Hz are the two most commonly used sample rates and supported by most sound cards. If a different sample rate is being used, try changing to 44100 or 48000 to test if that works for recording.

Audacity Sample Rate setting

  • Most standard sound cards support 1 or 2 channels for audio. If Audacity is trying to record more channels, it can cause an error to occur. In the Audacity menu bar at the top, click Edit > Preferences, and under the Devices section, verify the Channels option is set to 1 or 2.

Audacity Channels setting

If the above troubleshooting options do not resolve the issue either, the sound card in your computer may not be functioning properly or Audacity is not able to detect it. You can try removing the sound card and installing it again in the computer, then test with Audacity to see if the error is resolved or if it persists.

You can also try uninstalling Audacity, then download and install the latest version of Audacity, to fix possible corruption or bugs with the Audacity software currently on your computer.

If the error still persists, you may need to replace the sound card with a new one. If the sound card is integrated into the motherboard (onboard sound card), you need to install a new sound card and disable the onboard sound card by accessing the BIOS.

Additional information

  • See our sound and sound card definition for further information and related links on this term.