Build your own Audacity for Windows with ASIO driver support
Note, if you have come here from a video the instructions for installing the tools have now changed.
Due to licensing rules Audacity cannot provide a prebuilt version with ASIO support. But you can build your own and this guide makes it easy for you to do so.
Note that this builds Audacity 3.2.3. Audacity 3.0.0 introduced a new project file format so you will hit compatability problems if you try to use Audacity 2.x.x to open projects saved with this version.**
The Audacity program is the "go to" solution for many audio recording and editing tasks. However, unlike many more advanced DAWs, it doesn't support Windows ASIO drivers "out of the box". Fortunately, Audiacity's standard MME support is fine for most uses. That said, common reasons for needing ASIO are using digital audio or music equipment that only comes with ASIO drivers, such as Behringer mixers (which actually use the ASIO4ALL ASIO <> WDM bridging driver). Another common reason is to take advantage of the low latency or multiple channels supported by ASIO.
While it is possible to build your own Audacity with ASIO support this usually requires considerable technical skills.
To reduce this requirement, the instructions provided here make it easy to build your own version of Audacity with ASIO support on a Windows PC. The instructions for the few manual steps should be straight forward to follow. A script checks everything is installed and builds a 64 bit release version of Audacity for you.
NB. If you do use this to build Audacity with ASIO support you must not redistribute it due to the ASIO SDK licensing terms - see below.
Unfortunately, it turns out the Audacity ASIO build has limited multi channel support. For example, the peak meters always show channels 1 & 2 and to record channels 3 & 4 requires recording 1, 2, 3 & 4. So While Audacity still works really well for simple recording tasks, you might want to eventually switch to a full DAW with AISO support. I'll probably use Reaper.
Here's a brief blog post explaining why I needed ASIO and it includes a screen shot.
Since writing that, I discovered my McMillen K-Mix digital interface mixer facilities alow routing of inputs 3 & 4 to the main outputs on 1 and 2 so can use the default MME Audacity build after all. For playback from PC, I found the HiFi Driver and ASIO Bridge from VB Audio lets me re-route PC audio out to channels 3 & 4 on the K-Mix, Leaving Channels 1 & 2 free for instruments and Mics.
The reason for Audacity's lack of ASIO support is licensing, not technical. Steinberg do not alow the ASIO SDK to be redistributed (as required by open source projects). In addition, Audacity is GPL licensed and so is incompatible with the ASIO SDK licence redistribution rules.
Note for developers: These instructions assume a clean dev. env. If you have existing installations of the tools you may hit errors due to differing versions. Perhaps use a VM (difficult with Windows licencing) or a Windows container.
This video by @Renamesk walks you through the process, but the tool installation method has changed.
- ensure you have a PC with modern Windows installed. 11 and 10 are known to work but 7 and 8 should too.
- install "Git For Windows" - click the "download" button.
- make a new folder
- click on the 'raw' button at the top of the script (below) in this Gist.
- use the browser Save As feature to save the script as
\projects\build-audacity.cmd(be careful there's no ".txt")
- open a new Windows cmd terminal (Windows + R keys and then type
cd \projectsand enter key
- install required tools by typing
build-audacity.cmd --installand enter.
- NB for Visual Studio, make sure you check the "desktop development with C++" workload
- if you have a non English Windows or Visual Studio then you must also install the VS English language pack.
- when the install completes open a cmd temrinal again and start the build by typing
- come back later - it will take at least 10 minutes
- Audactiy will be launched to test it was built correctly
- to it run again see the program location printed out at the end of the build
- or copy the specified folder to where you want to run Audacity from, optionally renaming it
If you have any ASIO drivers installed you should find ASIO is now available in the the Audacity driver selection combo box.
When things go wrong
As with any complex software build there are many moving parts (including Windows itself) and things can sometimes go wrong. Here are some tips if you hit build errors.
- make sure you have latest script
- run the script with
--cleanalland try again
- uninstall all the tools (Python, cmake, Visual Studio and its installer) and then reboot before trying again
- note having other versions of any of the tools installed may well cause problems - remove them
- read the error output - clues are often buried in reams of impenetrable text
- disable any Anti Virus - the built-in Microsoft one is usually not a problem
- @diogodh for finding and fixing the bug with conan installations
- The Audacity team for an fantastic audio tool.