Is there a way to use a system wide dynamics compressor from within Windows?

andrew732

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I have the fairly common problem that occurs when 5.1 mixes are converted to stereo mixes: there is way too much dynamic range in the sound. In other words, I have to turn the volume up to 100% just to hear the dialog, but then my ear drums get blown out when there are loud sounds like explosions. The solution to that problem is dynamic range compression.

I know that some software such as VLC Player, MPC-HC, WinAmp, and the Creative Labs "Creative Audio Console" have built in tools that are sort of like compressors. However, they all seem to be lacking the properties of a fully featured, high quality compressor, such as very fast and smooth attack times. Of course there are very high quality software compressors, but they are always plug-ins to professional audio software systems, so it is not practical for what I want. Is there some some kind of high quality, standalone compressor that can run in Windows XP and serve as a global, system wide compressor for any audio that is played in Windows?

Thanks for any help you can give.
 

getochkn

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Could maybe be done with software like virtual audio cable, and a free VSTi rack to run the plugins in. With virtual audio cable, it lets you route audio through a virtual sound device, so it would from like main outputs to phoneyinput1, that goes into the VSTi rack software, and out a phoney output that gets routed to the real output.

Or just buy a standalone dedicated hardware compressor for cheap. used, they are dirt cheap, and even new there are lots of little models that could work.
 

getochkn

Splendid
Moderator
Could maybe be done with software like virtual audio cable, and a free VSTi rack to run the plugins in. With virtual audio cable, it lets you route audio through a virtual sound device, so it would from like main outputs to phoneyinput1, that goes into the VSTi rack software, and out a phoney output that gets routed to the real output.

Or just buy a standalone dedicated hardware compressor for cheap. used, they are dirt cheap, and even new there are lots of little models that could work.
 

andrew732

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Those are both great ideas that I had not considered. Thanks!
 

getochkn

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I would go the external hardware if possible. Easy to route, less latency and headaches all around. lol.

I used to have an old TC-Electronic multi-effect rack mount, and it was great when I hooked up to my PC. Compressor, limiter, EQ, had a nice setup for sound and could easily flick a button on the front to switch saved presets.
 

andrew732

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Thanks for your replies.

I can see the advantages of the hardware route (I have an old Alesis 3630), but I ended up going the software route even though it is significantly more complicated. It just has so much more flexibility.

In case anyone comes across this and is interested in my software setup: I'm using the free VB-Audio Virtual Cable to capture the audio outputs of arbitrary Windows programs and the free VST Host with ASIO4ALL to process the audio coming from the virtual cable, apply VST effects, and then route it to my speaker outputs with minimal latency.
 
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