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Multiple sound cards to play different sources

Posted on 2013-11-08
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Last Modified: 2013-12-03
Hello experts!  Is it possible to use more than 1 sound card in a windows 7 machine.  Here is the hopeful goal.  In my business, my machine acts as the SONOS music controller.  Streaming audio from either a local library on my system or streaming over the Internet Pandora, iTunes Radio...etc.

However, when I want to listen to any personal audio (voicemails, videos, etc), it comes out of the SONOS Speakers!

Is there a way to have one sound card be the default device for one program (SONOS) and have a different sound card to use for all other needs.

Or is there some other clever way to have multiple "outs"?  Thanks in advance!
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Question by:kevingibbs1
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Assisted Solution

by:piattnd
piattnd earned 167 total points
ID: 39633889
http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-pictures/output-to-2-sound-cards-simultaneously/4e57dd01-a68c-4ffe-af3e-66d7f895584b

The way the operating system works, you cannot take (for example) Internet explorer and tell it to play the sound out of your headphones, while windows media player sends sound out your speakers at the same time.  All sound is directed to the active device, 2 devices cannot be active at the same time.  To redirect sound to another output, you have to tell the operating system to use that device.

While it is not IMPOSSIBLE to do, it's very unlikely that a program does not use the built in operating system handles for access to sound devices.  If a program is written all the way down to the device driver level and interacts with the device directly, it would be possible to do what you're describing, though I've never heard of or seen a program that went through this trouble.
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LVL 70

Assisted Solution

by:garycase
garycase earned 333 total points
ID: 39634004
Actually that's not true.   Some programs do allow you to choose an output device other than the "default".    If you select the default device, then that is indeed the same device Windows uses for its sound output.

But if you have multiple devices available, and are using a player application that allows you to select from them, they'll work just fine.   Windows Media Player, for example, lets you choose from all available audio devices => in my case I can choose from "Default Audio Device", "Digital Audio (SPDIF) device", "AMD HDMI output device", etc.    I can have one window open with a movie playing through my headphones; and another window open with a different movie playing through the HDMI output.

It does, however, require that your applications allow you to choose the devices.    Since what you want to do would entail multiple different programs (i.e. voicemails, music, etc.), it would probably work best if you had the default audio device set to your desired output device (e.g. headphones from a 2nd sound card);  and the Sonos output specifically directed to another output.    Look carefully to see if Sonos allows you to select an output different than the default device.
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Author Comment

by:kevingibbs1
ID: 39634072
Thanks Gary.  Let me do a little digging in SONOS and see.  I may call them too.
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Author Comment

by:kevingibbs1
ID: 39662895
Gary, sorry for the delay.  Afraid there doesn't appear to be a way to do this Within SONOS, I think if its going to work it has to be some sort of magic that would occur within Windows.  Any other ideas out there.  I feel like this has to be a common need for anyone with this situation.  I have to believe there is a way to solve this.  Hmmm?
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LVL 70

Accepted Solution

by:
garycase earned 333 total points
ID: 39663287
Interesting that SONOS doesn't support selection of the output device.

On my HTPC I can stream music through my whole-house audio setup from WinAmp by choosing the speakers output (which is connected to the amp), while watching a movie or TV via Media Center, which is set for the HDMI output.
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Author Closing Comment

by:kevingibbs1
ID: 39692621
Thanks for all your help everyone.  We took a completely different route to handling this issue.  I appreciate all of you help.
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