Windows Vista Audio Playback - Setup Guide
Benchmark's Guide for Audio Playback using Windows Vista
A simple guide to configure your computer for optimal audio quality
*this article was researched using Windows Vista Beta 2. Some information in this article may not apply to newer versions of this operating system. Email us to report any errors or discrepancies, or if you would like more information on this topic.
Overview: Windows Vista Audio
Windows Vista, unlike its Windows predecessors, requires the user to set the sample-rate for streaming audio. Windows 2000 and XP simply streamed at the sample-rate inherent to the audio file and/or media player being used.
In our testing, we found evidence that Windows Vista always sample-rate converted the audio, even if it was configured to match the sample-rate of the audio being played. However, the sample-rate conversion within Vista performs extremely well, only causing very small amounts of distortion (on the order of -120 dBFS).
This article will guide you in properly configuring your operating system and media player.
Guide to Configuring Windows Vista
Follow Sweetwater's Guide to Vista Optimization
Keep all digital volume controls at 'unity gain' (100% or 0.0 dB)
- This applies to digital volume controls in media players, Windows Volume Control, or any others
- If any digital volume control is used, we recommend the Windows Volume Control, as it causes very little distortion
- We recommend always using an analog volume control (post D-to-A)
- Read more about the effects of digital volume control to see why this is important
Set "Default Format" to the sample rate and word length (bit depth) of the audio you are playing
- Vista will convert the audio even if this feature is used. However, the performance improves slightly, so we recommend setting this feature. To set this, open your "Sound" window from within the Control Panel and continue as follows:
"Playback" -> Select the device for which you would like to configure -> "Properties" -> "Advanced" -> "Default Format" -> change the sample rate to the appropriate setting.
- Read more about the effects of sample-rate conversion to see why this is important
Turn-off operating system sounds
- System sounds could compromise the quality of your audio (as well as being incredibly annoying!). They will interrupt bit-transparency and could cause clipping.
- To turn system sounds off, open "Sounds", which is located in the Control Panel. Continue as follows:
"Sounds" -> "Sound scheme" -> 'No Sounds'
Keep all DSP and plug-ins turned off
- Certain players and devices have various audio effects such as "EQ", "Surround Sound Simulations", "Bass Boost" or "Sound Enhancer". It is highly recommended to disable all of these audio DSP and plug-ins.
- Read more about the effects of DSP and plug-ins to see why this is important
Guide to configuring media players for Windows
- Follow the guide for setting up the Media Players for Windows that you use with Windows
Articles about Computer Audio Setup
For more articles about specific media players and/or operating systems, see the Category:Setup Guides list of guides.