sabato 19 luglio 2014

per-application volume (mute) control for Windows XP

Starting with Windows Vista, Microsoft has introduced per-application volume control in its operative systems.
I wondered what's the benefit to control application volume at the operating system level, as usually the applications that play audio have their own volume control.
But, besides the applications that make use of system notification sounds that are played at full system master volume (and they could be "scary" if it happens to be played when you pump up at max power your master volume control and your speakers to enjoy some music or a video with low audio signal level), nowadays is much likely to open web pages that automatically start playing some audio, usually advertisements, that is not quick and easy to locate on the webpage and stop it, and some may even not provide a volume control or a mute button.
So when dealing with notification sounds (like the one used by Facebook, Skype, and many other instant messaging applications) and "impolite" web pages, a per-application volume control is a handy solution.
So, good for whoever is using the latest Windows operating systems but how for the many that are still using WindowsXP for one of the many reasons that still makes an operating system upgrade a not convenient option?
The easiest solution is to buy a copy of IndieVolume ( at the cost of $24.95.
But if you are not really in need of a per-application volume control, and it's enough for you to just have one Internet browser "muted" while other applications or browser can still play sounds and audio, then I found a free of charge way I'm going to share with you... just follow me! ;-)

First of all download and install Virtual Audio Cable (
At present time the latest version is 4.14 and it's available for free only in "trial mode" (that's enough for the purpose here); click here to download the trial version.
To get it working without the limitations of the trial, a license fee of $25.20 have to be paid (click here for buying).
(There must be some older version still floating around in the Internet or file-sharing network. As far as I know the old ver. 4.10, though bugged, was still a full-featured freeware; I'm using it since 2011).
Once installed Virtual Audio Cable a virtual sound card, name "Virtual Cable 1" is added to the system.

Unless the Audio Repeater tool (that comes with Virtual Audio Cable installation) is running, all the audio output from any application that goes to the "Virtual Cable 1" isn't played through the real hardware sound card connected to the speakers, so the application audio output is like "muted".

So, in order to have an application "muted" we just need to have its audio output sent to the virtual sound card "Virtual Cable 1".

Many applications, like Internet browsers, don't let the user to choose the audio device that will be used to send their audio output; they will just use the "system default" that the application finds at the time that is started.

So, the key point is to select "Virtual Cable 1" as the system default audio output device BEFORE opening the application we want to be "muted".
The most convenient way to do it is to install and use a tiny utility called STADS (System Tray Audio Device Switcher
STADS is a program that allows you to easily switch between audio devices without going into the control panel by simply using a right click on the the tray icon. This will show the available playback devices and allows you to select one of as default, and if you click on “Show Recording Devices” it will let you select the default recording device.

You can download STADS from this very informative web page:

So, let's say I'm willing to watch a Youtube video but not be bothered by the Facebook notification sounds or other sounds it might suddenly start playing while I'm surfing; let's say I have both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome installed and Chrome is my favorite Internet browser.
I'll use Firefox to play the Youtube video and I'll mute Chrome.

Before opening the Chrome browser I'll use STADS to switch the default audio device to "Virtual Cable 1", then I'll open Chrome... that's all! :D

Now Chrome will send all its audio output to "Virtual Cable 1", so no audio will be actually sent to the speakers or headphones.
Don't forget to set the system default audio device back to the hardware one once the "muted" application is already open/running, or else all other applications that will be open thereafter will be "muted" too.
Be aware that if the "muted" application is closed, then next time it will be open again it will use the system default audio device that is set at the time of the opening.

By the way, Virtual Audio Cable can be a very useful application and it might worth to buy the full-featured version.

I used it to capture and record sounds and audio output from any applications as well to easily switch "on the fly", without having the restart the application playing the audio, the hardware output sound device by simply changing it on the Audio Repeater tool (handy, for example, when I connect my laptop to an HDMI TV, and I want the browser audio to be played on the TV speakers via HDMI, instead of the laptop speakers).It can also provide per-virtual-cable volume control, and, with multiple virtual cables, can be used to link together different audio processing applications where the output of one application can be sent as input of another.
For example, use two or more software audio players/generators/synthesizers/sequencers to produce audio streams, sending them to Virtual Cablet device and record a mixed stream from the same Virtual Cable device, using any recording software.

If you are interested on solutions for direct sound recording have a look at this post published at forum

Nessun commento: