Stereo Mix Record Functionality and Dell


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Stereo Mix Record Functionality and Dell

Stereo mix record capability in sound cards and audio chips is the source of many discussions and much confusion in the blogosphere. A post from Chad Lakkis over at a while back sparked some conversations on other sites like Gizmodo and Techdirt.

Truth is that there’s a lot of confusion about this issue. Part of the confusion is that stereo mix is also referred to as different things. People also call it things like "record what you hear" or "waveout mix." Desktop and notebooks equipped with sound cards (or with integrated sound components) generally have a few different ways to record audio:

  • through a microphone
  • from the line-in port
  • stereo mix/ WAVE out

Before I get into the broader discussion about what’s going on, I want to be clear: Dell did not disable stereo mix functionality due to pressure from the Recording Industry Association of America. That speculation is simply not true.

Here’s what happened: there are two ways for stereo mix functionality can be enabled: at the hardware or software level. Long before Vista was here, we supported stereo mix at the hardware level for integrated audio and in desktops. Back during Vista's development, Dell made decisions to remove stereo mix functionality at the hardware level based on Microsoft's initial Vista software requirements. Those requirements were later changed by Microsoft, but too late for Dell to add that functionality back at a hardware level in products nearing launch.

Due to customer feedback, we’ve re-assessed things and have made the decision to enable stereo mix functionality in hardware on new notebooks starting with the Studio 15 and Studio 17 laptops. There will be many other notebooks coming in the future that will support stereo mix at the hardware level. Devices that support stereo mix functionality at hardware level will work with Vista and Windows XP. 

If you want to dig a litte depper into this topic, take a look at these threads on our community forums for more information.


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  • vga/sound

  • Thanks so much for the update -- one of the most disappointing things about my E1705 is the lack of stereo mix recording functionality, so it's good to hear that Dell's re-enabling it in future notebooks.

    Now hurry up and release a 17 inch notebook with stereo mix and a modern video card that outperforms my E1705, and I'll be first line, money in hand. :-)

  • That's all well & good but what about bringing back into Vista drivers for *existing* owners?

    I have an m1710 and a m1330. Apparently there are XP drivers which have Stereo Mix functionality, so the hardware clearly supports it at the hardware level, so why won't Dell put the support back into the Vista sound driver for these existing notebooks. It doesn't matter to me what Dell does in the future - if support isn't forthcoming for existing products - I shalln't be buying Dell again in the future.....

  • Thanks for the article. I'm happy to see Dell's reason for why my inspiron 1520 w/ Vista doesn't have this option, but I do have one question:

    If the lack of a stereo mix option is truly a hardware limitation on the pre-Studio notebooks, then why is it that on some notebooks like my 1520, stereo mix can be enabled (and activated via the sound panel) by simply installing the XP version of the drivers (available on Dell's website) without any additional software?

    Sorry, but I don't believe that the hardware these notebooks have is what is stopping Dell from enabling Stereo Mix. If the XP drivers can have stereo mix, then so can the vista drivers (especially on the same hardware). I look foward to your response.

  • If I find out I have no recoring of sound out because of an operating system I have never used in my life, I may cry.

  • The above is interesting. I have a Dell desktop machine with a Create X-Fi Extreme Music sound card. This was purchased 3 weeks ago. Can you provide a clear answer as to whether the lack of Stereo Mix / What u Hear is due to: - a fault within Vista
    - a concious decision by Microsoft to disable it in Vista under the guise of preventing copyright violation
    - a specific version of the Drivers being issued for Dell machines that disables it under the guise of preventing copyright violation
    - Creative no longer support it even in the retail versions of their sound cards for the above reasons.

    Please see my message below:

    Why does it currently not work and what can be done to make it work?????
  • Please release the Dell Mini.

    Sign Everyone...

  • Well I have good news.I am happy to have stereo mix on my inspiron 9400 or E1705.It works on Audacity and I am very postive that all those who have dell laptops or desktops can get stereo mix instantly

    Good Luck and Thank you Dell

  • @Nigel Smith & @notaloop:

    Thanks for your responses. 

    This is a hardware limitation.  However we were able to work around this limitation with a software solution which enabled us to release the driver update for XP.  Within Vista, the audio driver infrastructure is signficantly different from XP. As a result, such a work around that would enable us to release a verified signed Vista driver, may not be possible.

    It's my understanding some customers have been able to install the XP driver with limited Stereo Mix functionality, on Vista laptops using "XP Compatability" mode.  This installation is not supported by Dell, and really isn't a true fix or ideal as the same hardware challenges in regards to Vista are still in place, but being avoided by "XP Compatability" mode installation.  If that makes sense.

    The community has really be outspoken in regards to this, and as Lionel said above, moving forward you will see this feature enabled in more and more notebooks. =)

    Chris Byrd
    Dell Digital Life Liaison

  • Hi Chris

    Interesting.  So what about me?  I don't have a Dell laptop - I have a Inspiron 530 desktop with Vista.  Is there any way I can get Stereo Mix / What u Hear working on my X-Fi Extreme Music card?   Is the fact that it is unavailable because the card doesnt support it?  Creative seem to indicate that that it does support it, although admittedly they are rather vague.

    If I were to buy another soundcard that was stated as supporting What u Hear, is there anything in the architecture or Build of my machine that would prevent it from working?

  • This is great news, for future customers. Kudos on a long over due decision. 

  • Something doesn't add up here.

    I have a XPS1530 and I can force the newer Studio drivers to install on my laptop and get StereoMix. I can force other IDT drivers to install on my laptop and get StereoMix.

    If there is indeed a hardware limitation (reading the release notes for the Intel IDT drivers certainly makes me doubt this), then it seems that there is a simple software solution to this problem. The drivers already exist, allow them to be installed on the hardware you are selling to your customers

  •   I can't believe a hugh company like Dell is not making this a Number 1 priority. I paid alot of money for my particular XPS 720 Desktop system and it is worthless for my work. Where is the "can do attitude"? Why are you so slow to move? What departments are working on this situation? When is an expected day of an update comming out? Must I buy a non-dell copy of Vista for it to work? Why can I not change the properties of "soundrecorder.exe"? Why can't "Creative" make a driver for you if you can't or won't? Do you care if people will never come back to Dell again? Why does customer support NEVER call back on this issue? Why are your support techs not updated on this particular issue? Why is customer resolution so ignorant about this issue. What restitutions will be made for Dell customers?  At this point we all require and deserve answers for everybody is is personally affected with this issue. Maybe I should work for you to shake things up there.

  • I suppose a lot of people bought the unit thinking "naturally, this must have a line-in jack" only to be later surprised to find they had none at all!  I wonder how often this was mentioned to customers during orders, and how they might have been able to gain knowledge of this fact on

  • I can't believe i have limited hardware, and as we advance in time, we go back in technology capabilities.

    What Dell did is just inadmissible. I encourage everybody denouncing Dell wherever they can and returning their limited systems. This was not a legal act since it wasn't noticed in the purchase form.