The “audacity error opening sound device” message means that there is a problem with the Audacity, sound device, or even operating system settings. In other cases, audacity can crash as a result of a recording or playback software problem. 

You can also get this error message when there is no recording device available on the computer. This means that different methods may be used to resolve the problem. For instance, you should ensure that the external sound device is connected and enabled, disable Software Playthrough in Audacity, or update the audio driver. 

You may also need to check whether the Audacity audio device settings are well configured or be required to restart the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder service. Get to know what causes this error and the various methods you can use to fix it. 

What is Audacity? 

Audacity is a renowned audio editor that is available in the leading systems, including Windows and Mac. Think of it as a free virtual studio software that may be used to record, play, and even edit music files. 

Additionally, the editor may be used to accomplish other complex tasks on music files. Whether on Mac or Windows, you may encounter an error opening sound device in Audacity. This error message may be triggered by a number of things, as explained below. 

Error Opening Audio Input Device Possible Causes 

Normally, you will get the “Audacity error opening sound device” error message when you do not have any recording device available on the computer. It may also be triggered by a permissions issue, especially after an update of the operating system. 

In most cases, the error message will ask you to look into the recording device or playback device preferences. Discussed below are several other things that can also lead to the audacity error opening sound device during playback: 

Recording Device Problem 

If the error message is telling you to check the recording device preferences, the problem is most likely the operating system, Audacity, or the recording settings on your sound device. 

Playback Device Problem 

If the error message is pointing to the playback device as the problem, you need to look into the playback preferences on your computer. Such an error message could also mean that you are instructing the device to do something that is currently out of its limits. 

For instance, you could be instructing it to record on more channels than it can support. It can also happen when attempting to overdub—a scenario where you are playing a track and recording another one on top of it—using the device. 

Recording Devices not Available 

In most cases, the “audacity error opening sound device” error message appears when some of the sound input devices on your computer are irresponsive to Audacity. In such a case, it will not allow audacity to begin recording, simply because the recording devices are unavailable. 

To check whether this is the problem, click on Edit, and then navigate to Preferences> Devices. If this is the problem, there will not be an option in the Recording Device drop-down list. 

Improper Audacity Configuration 

You can also get this error message when the Audacity settings are not configured properly. For instance, the Audacity may be configured to use a recording sample rate that is not supported by the sound card on your computer.

How to Fix the Audacity Error Opening Sound Device 

As mentioned above, this error message may be triggered by several things. As such, the right solution will depend on what is causing the issue. Whether you are getting this error on a Mac or Windows computer, several methods may be used to fix the problem, some of which include: 

How to Fix Audacity Error Opening Sound Device in Windows 10

If you are getting the audacity error on a Windows computer, you may use these methods and procedures to resolve the problem:

Method 1: Allow Audacity to Use the Microphone 

The Audacity error opening sound device error may be triggered by the inability of the Audacity software to access a recording device on your PC. To fix the problem, you need to change the privacy settings, and allow the software to access the microphone. 

This option is meant to remain tuned on at all times, but recent app installations/updates may have switched it off. To switch it back on, right-click on the Windows Start menu, and select Settings. Next, select Privacy on the Settings menu, and then navigate to the microphone section. 

Locate the ‘Allow apps to access your microphone’ option and click on it to toggle it back On. Now select the ‘Choose which apps can access your microphone’ option, locate Audacity and toggle it on. This operation allows the Audacity software to access and use your microphone as the recording device. 

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

In some cases, another application may be currently using one of your sound devices, making it impossible for another program to access the sound device. Choosing the built-in voice recorder on your Windows OS may fix such a problem. 

This is mainly because the in-built voice recorder has better permissions than any other third-party app in its category. The following procedure will help you achieve this: 

Step 1: Open the Voice Recorder 

To open the Voice Recorder, you can search for its shortcut using the search bar on the Start menu. Alternatively, you can launch it using a command prompt. In this regard, search for Command Prompt on the Start menu. Once you get the search results, right-click on the first entry on the list and select ‘Run as Administrator’.

Now type the following command into this command prompt, and press the Enter key to execute it: 

explorer.exe shell:appsFolder\Microsoft.WindowsSoundRecorder_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App

Executing this command should open the Voice Recorder on your computer. 

Step 2: Start Recording 

On the Voice Recorder window, click on the microphone button to start recording. You may now close the Voice Recorder window, and launch Audacity to check whether the error has been fixed. 

Method 3: Check Whether the External Sound Device is Connected Properly

This method is only applicable to computers that have an external sound device connected, such as desktops. If you are using such a computer, ensure that the sound device, such as external speakers, is plugged into the right port. 

Now check to see whether the external sound device has been recognized by your computer. You can check this from the Taskbar. If you notice a red x on the speaker icon on your taskbar, the external sound device is either not connected or not recognized by the computer. 

To resolve this issue, unplug the external sound device from the computer and then reconnect it once again. If the device is still not being detected, check whether it has been disabled and enable it, as explained in the following method. 

Method 4: Enable the External Sound Device on Your PC

You may encounter the ‘Error open sound device’ message just because the microphone or external sound device has been disabled. In this case, it is advisable to check whether the device is enabled on your computer and enable it manually, as follows: 

Step 1: Right-click on the speaker icon on your System Tray, and select ‘Playback devices’ from the context menu that appears. This should show a list of the connected playback devices and whether or not they are currently enabled. Find the external sound device to see whether it is enabled. 

If not, click on the Enable button to enable it. If you are using a laptop computer, you may need to enable the microphone device as well. 

Step 2: Right-click on the speaker icon on your System Tray, and select ‘Recording devices’. On the list of displayed devices, check to see whether the microphone is enabled. 

Step 3: If disabled, right-click on the microphone device in question and select Enable from the context menu that pops up. 

Method 5: Turn off Software Playthrough of input in Audacity

For you to record a sound on your computer, the Software Playthrough feature needs to be disabled. If enabled, you may end up getting the “audacity error opening sound device” error message. To fix the problem, you need to disable Software Playthrough on your computer before you can record. 

To do this, open Audacity on your computer, click on Edit on its Menu bar, and select Preferences. On the Preferences menu, choose Recording and then navigate to Playthrough. Check to see whether the ‘Software Playthrough of input’ option is checked. 

If checked, uncheck it by clicking on the checkbox once. Now click on the OK button to save the changes and exit the window. 

Method 6: Configure Audio Device Settings in Audacity Accordingly 

The “audacity error opening sound device” message could also mean that your audio device settings are not configured correctly. If so, you need to adjust the audio device settings in Audacity accordingly to clear the error message. 

To do this, open Audacity on your desktop. Now open the Edit menu option from the Menu bar of the Audacity window, and select Preferences. Next, click on the ‘Devices’ option, and ensure that the Host is set to ‘Windows WASAPI’

Having set the host to Windows WASAPI, you should be able to see device field values under playback, and the recording device will change automatically. Click the OK button to save changes and exit the window. Now launch Audacity and try recording once again to see whether the issue has been resolved. 

Method 7: Restart the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder Service

If the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder service on your computer is faulty, you may also get the “Error opening sound device” message. If this happens to be the problem in your case, restarting the service should restore it to its working order, and clear the error message. 

Press the Windows + R keyboard shortcut to launch a Run dialog box. Type services.msc into this box, and press the Enter key. This operation will open the Services window displaying a list of all the services running in the background. 

Find the ‘Windows Audio Endpoint Builder’ service on this list, select it, and click on the Restart button. Now follow the on-screen prompts to restart the service. Once done, close the window and try recording once again. 

Method 8: Update the Audio Driver 

An outdated or corrupted audio driver can also trigger the “audacity error opening sound device” message. If the above-discussed methods have not fixed the problem, the issue is most likely the audio drivers on your computer. 

In this case, you should navigate to your sound card manufacturer’s website and download the latest, compatible sound card driver files for your computer. Having downloaded the installation files, you need to open the Device Manager on your computer to install the sound card, as illustrated below:

Step 1: Right-click on the Windows Start Menu, and select ‘Device Manager’ from the context menu that appears. Scroll down the list to find the ‘Sound, video and game controllers’ category, and expand it. 

Step 2: Select the ‘High Definition Audio Device’ entry and right-click on it. Select the ‘Update driver’ option from the context menu. 

Step 3: When prompted, choose the ‘Browse my computer for driver software’ selection, and then select ‘Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer’.

Step 4: Click on the ‘Have a Disk…’ button and then select Browse.

Step 5: Now navigate to the download folder that holds the extracted driver files, and select the INF file.

Step 6: Follow the on-screen prompts by the installation wizard to complete the driver software installation process. 

Once done, restart the computer and check to see whether the audacity error opening sound device problem has been fixed. 

How to Fix Error Opening Sound Device in Audacity on Mac

Although the issue is prevalent on Windows computers, you may also get the “Audacity Error opening sound device” message on a Mac computer. As you can imagine, the Windows 10 solutions discussed above will not work on a Mac. 

The following methods will help you fix the Error opening sound device issue on your Mac computer: 

Method 1: Close Other Audio Applications

Closing other applications that may be using the audio device can fix this issue. To begin with, you need to close Audacity. Now proceed to close all the other audio apps that may be using the audio devices in the background. 

Once done, launch Audacity once again and check whether the error message has cleared. Closing the other applications that may be denying Audacity access to the audio device has been proven to fix the problem in a considerable number of cases. 

Method 2: Configure the Audio Device Settings 

Open Finder, and navigate to Go > Utilities > Audio Midi Setup.app. Next, configure the appropriate Recording and Playback devices under Audio Devices. While at it, ensure that you set the Format to the same bit-depth, sample rate, and the number of channels, as set on the Audacity settings. 

Method 3: Change Audacity Settings 

Having opened Audacity, navigate to its settings, and set the Project rate to anything between 44100 Hz and 48000 Hz. Next, click on Edit, and select the Preferences option. Under the Device section of the Preferences menu, set the number of channels to either 1 or 2. 

Method 4: Reinstall Audacity

If these solutions do not resolve the audacity error opening sound device issue in your Mac computer, you should consider reinstalling Audacity afresh. To do this, press the Command + Shift + G keys combination on the keyboard. 

Enter this command and run it: ~/Library/Application Support. Move the Audacity folder from this location into the Trash. Follow the manufacture’s instructions to download and install Audacity afresh. This should clear the error message. 

Final Verdict 

If you are getting an error message when you attempt to open and use Audacity, you have an audio or playback device problem. In most cases, Audacity is just unable to access the recording device on your computer. 

In other cases, the problem could be Audacity settings or even corrupted/outdated installation files. Whether you are using a Windows or Mac computer, this guide will help you fix the audacity error opening sound device issue once and for all.