I have received many requests from readers asking how to quickly change the default audio device in Windows. This can be useful as many computers now have various audio devices which can be used. For example, you may want to use one playback device which is connected to PC speakers for playing games and Windows sounds, and another playback device which is connected to a sound system for music or movies.
Windows lets you change the device that audio is sent out of, in the Sounds and Audio options within the control panel. While this method works, it can be tedious to navigate to, especially if you want to change your playback device regularly. Many individual programs also let you choose which audio device will be used for playback, but then changing the playback device within the program requires a separate set of preferences to navigate through.
I came across a couple of tools that make switching the default playback device much easier, and that offer much more control over your audio devices. These tools are System Tray Audio Device Switcher (STADS), and Quick Sound Switch (QSS). Both are great utilities, but they do things slightly differently, and both offer slightly different features.
In this article, I will run through what they both do so that you can decide which one is best for your needs.
System Tray Audio Device Switcher (STADS):
STADS sits in the task tray. It lets you change both the default recording and output devices quickly from its extremely easy to use interface.
When launched, it shows you the playback devices available on your system, but you can change to recording devices by clicking on Show Recording Devices.
There is not much extra to this program. It is just very simple to use.
STADS is 2MB in size, and it requires installation.
QSS can be used the same as STADS, but it also offers a whole bunch of extra options that I can see as being very handy.
QSS offers a tool to make shortcuts to change the default playback device. You can even make shortcuts to individual programs, which will select the playback device that the program will use. Using this method, you can easily have one programs sound come out of one playback device, and have another programs audio use a different playback device.
Another feature that may interest you is hot keys. You can setup hot keys that will change the default device. These use the ctrl+? format.
It is tiny at only 108kb, and it does not require installation.
Which tool is right for you?:
As you can see, QSS has a lot more features than STADS, but some of these extra options may get in the way with day to day use. There is no reason why both of them can’t be used side by side.
I am going to use STADS to change the default device for Windows, and then use QSS to change the output of particular programs, through shortcuts.
The only thing that these programs can’t do is switch the audio output while sound is coming out. It will not crash the system, but the audio will remain coming out from the same device. This is because most programs decide which default device will be used on launch. Because of this, most programs will need to be restarted for the selected device to take effect. This is the same for the inbuilt Windows options.
System Tray Audio Device Switcher is available for free from here.
Quick Sound Switch is available for free (donations welcome) from here.
I hope you have found this article useful. Please stick around and check out some other useful utilities at Inspect My Gadget.