Fix: Audacity ‘Error while opening sound device’

Please check the recording device settings and the project sample rate

Audacity is a free virtual studio software for Windows computers and it’s a great tool to edit music files for free. However, some users have reported having problems when trying to record or play their files using Audacity. The error message read “Error opening sound device” and it has bugged users all over the world.

Audacity Error while opening sound device
Audacity Error while opening sound device

There are a couple of causes and methods which can be used to solve the problem and we recommend you follow through the rest of the article to find out just what to do to solve the problem.

What Causes Audacity “Error opening sound device” Error?

It’s usually a permissions issue which started to appear after a specific Windows Update because it has reset some permissions settings for apps which are allowed to use your microphone.

Solution 1: Let Apps Use Your Microphone

This little option may have always been turned on before but it might have been changed by new programs being installed or by a Windows Update which might have turned it off for various security reasons. This solution is the simplest and it can save you hours of pain so make sure you don’t skip this method.

Windows 10 Users:

  1. Click the gear icon in the lower left section of the Start menu in order to open the Settings app. You can also search for it.
Windows 10 Settings
Windows 10 Settings
  1. Scroll down until you see the Privacy section and make sure you click on it. At the left side of the window, you should see the App permissions section. Scroll down until you reach Microphone and click on this option.
  2. First of all, check if the Microphone access for this device option is on. If it’s not, click on Change and set the slider to on.
Microphone Permissions in Windows 10 Settings
Microphone Permissions in Windows 10 Settings
  1. After that, switch the slider under the “Allow apps to access your microphone” option to On and scroll down in the list of installed apps on your computer to locate Skype. Switch the slider next to the Skype entry on the list to on.
  2. Reopen Audacity and check to see if the problem persists.

Further Troubleshooting for Windows 10 and Older Versions of Windows

It’s possible that one of your core sound devices may have been disabled by a program or by a new Windows Update. Also, this can fix the problem if there are other similar tools installed on your computer which might try to access sound devices at the same time as Audacity.

  1. Right-click on the volume icon located at your taskbar and choose the Sounds option. If this icon is not located at your taskbar, you can locate Sound settings by opening Control Panel, switching the view to Category and selecting Hardware and Sound >> Sound.
Sound in Control Panel
  1. Check to see if your microphone is enabled under the Recording tab. Switch to this tab by clicking at the top of the window and locate the Microphone you are using. It should be located at the top and be selected.
  2. Click on it once and click the Properties button at the lower right part of the window. In the Properties window which opens, check under Device usage and set the option to Use this device (enable) if it wasn’t already and apply the changes.
Speakers Properties
Speakers Properties
  1. Navigate to the Advanced tab in the same properties window and check under Exclusive mode.
  2. Uncheck the boxes next to the “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device” and “Give exclusive mode applications priority”. Apply these changes as well and repeat the same process for your Speaker device in the Playback tab before you close these windows. Reopen Audacity and check to see if the error persists.

Note: Even if you are a Windows 10 user, you should still try out the second set of steps as they managed to solve the problem for some Windows 10 users when the above has failed.

Solution 2: Use the Built-in Voice Recorder and Switch to Audacity

It’s quite possible that a third party app is hogging one of your sound devices and it’s almost impossible to take ownership of it once more. The reason why opening Voice Recorder which is built into your Windows OS might work is because this app is verified by Microsoft and it has better permissions than any third-party app.

The Voice Recorder is available on all versions of Windows so make sure you use it to solve the Audacity “Error opening sound device” error!

  1. Search for Voice Recorder’s shortcut on the Desktop and double-click it, or search for it in the Start menu. If you struggle finding it, you can use the command below.
Voice Recorder in Start menu
Voice Recorder in Start menu
  1. Search for “Command Prompt” by typing it either right in the Start menu or by pressing the search button right next to it. Right-click the first entry which will pop up as a search result and select the “Run as administrator” context menu entry.
Command Prompt via Run box
Command Prompt via Run box
  1. Type in the command below in the window and make sure you press Enter after typing each one. Wait for the Voice Recorder window to open to know that the command worked
explorer.exe shell:appsFolder\Microsoft.WindowsSoundRecorder_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App
  1. Click the microphone button in order to start a recording. Close Voice Recorder and reopen Audacity to see if the problem still appears.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.