The PC Tech Guy's Blog

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Program Review: Virtual Audio Streaming

+ 2 comments
September 2015 update: I installed this program over the summer on a new machine, and somehow an adware program was also silently installed along with Virtual Audio Streaming. This program screwed around with my network driver, so much so that when I attempted to brute-force remove it from my machine, I had also screwed up my network driver. I emailed the developer about this, and have not yet received a response for a couple months now. If anyone else can confirm this behavior, please leave a comment. I will test this program in the future and see if this behavior is still present.

You have been warned.

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When I someday turn my podcast into a LIVE podcast and add the ability to call in via TalkShoe (the live podcast provider) and Skype, I have to use a different audio setup.

What I did before was set my audio recording to "Stereo Mix" (records any sound your computer makes), and have anything I say through the microphone through my headphones. However, the problems with this setup include the possibility you may hear yourself (as I hear you via the headphones), and I cannot control my headphone volume, as it would adjust your volume as well.

I never thought of such a program that could have TalkShoe and Skype talk to each other, as well as the ability for me to input my voice as well. However, one day, on Give Away of the Day, there was a program offered called "Virtual Audio Streaming." I thought, "Maybe this could solve my problem!" and quickly got it. I thought I got it registered, but the voice saying "Trial" kept coming up. Luckily, after two replies, I was able to register the program.

Virtual Audio Streaming is very similar to Virtual Audio Cable (VAC), the only other program on the Internet I've found that does the same thing. Virtual Audio Streaming, however, is much simpler, and I believe costs less than VAC.

Usefulness: if you do not know much about computers, than you probably will be confused with the instructions/review below. This is really for people who have complicated or unusual audio setups, or know about audio, audio mixers, audio cards, etc. You can use this program to make copies of music that's DRM-protected, record computer game sounds/music, and obviously stream audio between two or more programs.

Intuitiveness: When first starting up Virtual Audio Streaming, it may take a while to find out how to connect applications to it. I first thought I had to do 2 steps, as it lists two steps in the "Stream audio to applications" and "Get audio from your computer." I kept clicking the button "Set Virtual Audio Streaming as the default..." only to get the Sound options dialog displayed. I later found out I had to set it -- it won't do it automatically, as the button seems to imply.

The "Online Help" part of the program directs you to the online FAQ page. It's not detailed, but it has a lot of graphics.

How to connect audio applications
There's two ways to hook up an application to record or output sound to Virtual Audio Streaming (which I will call as VAS in the remainder of this review). The first (and in my opinion, the best) way is to go to the program's options, and select Virtual Audio Streaming as the Microphone/Speakers input. As in my case for TalkShoe and Skype, I went to Skype, and selected Virtual Audio Streaming as the Microphone and Speakers.

The second way is to set up Virtual Audio Streaming as the main speaker and microphone. (Note that when you do this, you will not hear anything via your speakers. You'll have to enable the "Output audio to real sound card" in VAS. More on that later.) You may have to do this because the program you wish to configure does not allow you to change audio settings, like Skype does. In my case, TalkShoe does not have such an option, so I have to set my defaults to Virtual Audio Streaming. When you're done with VAS, be sure to re-set your audio settings to your sound card! Otherwise, you may be wondering why you can't hear YouTube videos...



To record your microphone or listen to output of applications connected to VAS:

Recording:
The default settings for recording your microphone are good enough. You may want to select only one audio channel, unless you know you've got a stereo microphone.

Listening:
The options here are fine as well, however, if you are recording as well, you may want to lower the buffer as low as you can; that is, before the sound gets all botched up. Otherwise, the default settings give a huge latency problem, most likely causing you to get so annoyed of hearing yourself as an echo, rather than in real time. You may also want to set the priority to Realtime, which may help reduce latency as well. Over time, you may have to Stop and restart the listening, as the latency slowly gets larger.

Bugs/Unwanted modifications

Upon startup of VAS, it changes my main speaker volume around the middle-high range. This could be because of the speaker setting in VAS. However, it should rather detect and then show the current volume, not change it. Although an annoyance, it can startle some, especially when using headphones.

Freeware alternatives

Actually, I have yet to find any. I have found some old VaCard somewhere floating on the Internet (you can ask me for it), which installs 3 virtual audio cards. However, you cannot listen to what is going on in these cards, or input your sounds via your microphone. It works as a direct audio cable, and nothing else.

My opinion

Overall, it is a great program. VAS is much simpler and more intuitive than VAC, but lacks the functionality in being able to have multiple sound cards/virtual audio cables, and able to directly control audio channel outputs. However, I don't need that stuff, maybe super audio wizards would.

I recommend VAS to those who need such a setup. It takes some time to set up, but once you do, it's pretty simple to operate. Eventually, with time (it is a new program), it will get better, as in terms of intuitiveness and support (help documents).
Download a free trial of Virtual Audio Streaming at the Virutal Audio Streaming homepage ( http://www.shiningmorning.com/VirtualAudioStreaming/ )


Update: I have realized I have not reviewed the recording feature of Virtual Audio Streaming. I will add this once I use this feature.

2 comments

Audio Streaming
February 6, 2011 at 8:33 PM

Virtual audio streaming adds a virtual sound card on our windows. It is very similar to virtual audio cable. Thanks for the information.....

Unknown
May 8, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I'm glad I stumbled across your review. My new laptop (Lenovo W520) does not include "stereo mix" not disabled but gone. Legal stuff with the recording industry. So......I've downloaded the full ver but have yet to get it dialed in. Routing seems confusing but am glad to hear that with time it will become intuitive

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