Problem solved: Bad ‘stereo mix’ quality while recording with HP Envy computer with IDT codec audio

HP Envy 700.  Credit: HP.
HP Envy 700. Credit: HP.

Although this is not necessarily DX-related, I figured I’d post a solution I have found to a very annoying computer audio-related problem I came across on my Hewlett-Packard computer, especially since I have not seen this workaround noted anywhere else on the internet.

Last month, I purchased an HP ENVY 700-074 desktop computer, which replaced a 2007 HP desktop model that has seen better days.  The computer comes with Beats Audio and has an IDT High Definition Audio CODEC on-board stereo audio card, with driver version 6.10.6457.0.

The computer can record CD quality (depending on quality of source) from the line-in jack like my old computer, however I was disappointed when I tried to record streaming audio using the ‘stereo mix’ audio source.

The resulted audio recorded in all sound-recording programs I have installed (Total Recorder, Wavepad, Goldwave, Windows Sound Recorder) sounded like it was recorded on a cheap telephone.  The audio clip below was what resulted when I tried to record a 320k mp3 song playing in my iTunes program:

Poor audio quality heard when recording song from ‘stereo mix’ input.  Test song: “My Number” by Foals.

Compare the above clip to the original 320k mp3:

Original audio from 320k mp3.  Test song: “My Number” by Foals.

I Googled the problem and saw I was not alone.  Although one solution may work for your computer, my HP ENVY did not have a ‘signal enhancements’ tab as described in the link.

I found a solution to the problem with Total Recorder, which is free to try and $17.95 to buy.  Purchasing is required for functional use as the trial version inserts noise to the recorded file.

While in Total Recorder, click on the ‘Parameters’ button.  The window on the right should appear.  By default, the audio recording source should be set as ‘Sound board.’  You would need to keep the program on this input if you want to record from a line in input.  However, if you click on ‘Software’ then click ‘OK’ at the bottom, the program should be ready to record anything you hear in full CD quality.  You can easily switch it back to ‘sound board’ depending on your audio needs in the future.

At this point, all you need to do is hit ‘record’ in Total Recorder, then hit ‘play’ on the audio source, be it streaming audio, video game audio, etc.  Total Recorder should be able to save the file in .wav (noted as PCM in the program), .mp3 and other popular audio formats.

The only downside to this workaround is that if you want to use the recorded audio in an audio editing program, such as Wavepad,  you would need to follow the above instructions then open the recorded file in the audio editing program.  This extra step takes moments (depending on audio file size) but will allow full-quality sound editing.  The only difference is you can’t record from the ‘stereo mix’ input then edit in the same program (like with other computers) if your computer exhibits the same audio quality problem I have.  Even with the aforementioned problem, Wavepad and similar programs still record from the ‘line in’ with CD quality, so you wouldn’t need to use this workaround if you only plan on recording from the ‘line in.’

This problem would also likely be solved by buying an aftermarket computer sound card that is not made by IDT.  I have not tested this with my computer so I cannot vouch for any possible results.  Also, Total Recorder is likely not the only program with a software audio recording function, so it may be wise to check some free audio recorders before purchasing Total Recorder.  In other programs, make sure it can record from more audio sources than the basic ones offered in Windows (“Stereo Mix”, “Microphone,” etc.)  If it does, then you may be able to save $17.95 and benefit from the aforementioned workaround.