Now that we’ve gone over the best ways to get sound into your computer, we’re going to talk about audio output.
We’ll also talk a little about headphones.
VoiceMeeter: Awesome Audio Output
VoiceMeeter is a small virtual soundboard specifically for fine-tuning the audio output in podcasting and gaming. It’s free to download, but they do take donations, and I would encourage you to throw them a little something because it’s clear a lot of hard work went into designing it. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing else like it. It has become extremely popular in the podcast community because it’s simple in design, and while it doesn’t seem to have a lot of bells and whistles, there are many hidden options for tweaking it to your liking.
The only thing I mess with are the volume levels and the EQ settings. I leave all the advanced settings at default because I don’t hear a need to mess with them. It really depends on how in-depth you want to get, but you don’t need to become a professional sound engineer to learn how to use it well. I’m not saying there isn’t a learning curve–you will have to do research for setting it up on your computer and configuring your internet chat and gaming sites. Admittedly, that can be a little frustrating, but just have a little patience, take a deep breath, and keep trying. Trust me, it’ll be worth it!
I highly recommend going to YouTube and search for tutorials. You’ll find quite a lot, and each one may offer something different to help you out. FYI, there are a few different versions of VoiceMeeter, so you will want to ignore the ones for Potato or Banana.
Look for videos with this in the preview:
Some of the videos will tell you that you need to install another (free) piece of software by VD-Audio called Virtual Cable. You don’t need this. VoiceMeeter works just fine without it, and unless you’re involved with more sophisticated audio applications, it’s not for you. Another thing to mention is quite a few videos tell you to make changes in the system settings. Depending on your OS, you may not have to, but you’ll want to check anyway. Either way, don’t let it intimidate you. You got this!
As an added bonus, VoiceMeeter comes with a 15-band virtual equalizer. That alone is worth any hassles because you will be amazed at how much it improves not only your gaming audio, but also the sound of your music and video streaming services. My only beef with the EQ is that it has a bypass button that lights up when you turn the EQ off, which seems backwards to me, but it’s not really an issue because of how well it works. Honestly, I was stunned by how much YouTube robs us of quality audio! The difference is amazing, and if you aren’t EQ savvy here’s a pic of my settings for you to try:
One thing I recommend is adding VoiceMeeter and the EQ to your startup folder in Windows. That way, when your computer fires up, they’ll already be running so you don’t have to remember to turn them on manually. (It can be a bit frustrating when you go to watch a video and you can’t hear it and have a freak out because you think your audio is broken.)
Before we close, I want to briefly touch base on an important component of audio output: headphones. I personally use the Sony MDR-7506 because I’m a snob when it comes to sound, but the cost is $99 so they are not quite as budget friendly. I mean, some headphones can cost as high as $120,000, so in the grand scheme of things $99 ain’t so bad. Also, they are affixed to a curly cord which is great if you need to move around in your space, but not so great because they tangle easily. I have a love/hate relationship with them. You old-schoolers who had corded telephones know the struggle I’m talkin’ about!
Since we’re talking budget, there are plenty of brands to choose from. For gaming, you don’t really need high-end. The main thing you’ll want is comfort. I highly recommend staying clear of closed-back headphones because they can get pretty warm during long sessions, especially in the summer. So get on the internet and have fun shopping for wired or wireless headphones that suit your budget! In my opinion, Sony has the best sounding headphones on the market. Even their el-cheapo stuff seems to sound great, but in the budget-friendly range most brands are all pretty much on an even playing field.
These are, of course, only my opinions. Audio preferences will vary from person to person. I’m sure there are many people who completely disagree with a lot of things discussed here. Don’t just take my word for it; do your own research. The more you know, the easier it will be to get an audio setup that works for you. Either way I hope that enhancing your audio makes gaming/online chatting/video streaming/etc. a better experience for you. Good luck, and cheers!
Disclaimer: I am not sponsored or have any affiliations with any of the brands and websites mentioned.