Get high-definition sound and music from your computer

With Windows Vista, you can now take advantage of advanced audio features that improve the sound quality of the music, movies, and other audio on your computer. When using a sound card that is supported by Windows Vista and which includes advanced audio features, you can set up your audio experience for 2 stereo speakers, 5.1 or 7.1 speaker systems, or even headphones.

Set up your speakers

To set up your speakers for the best sound, follow these steps:

  1. Open Audio Devices and Sound Themes by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking Sound.

  2. Click the Playback tab, select Speakers, and then click Configure.

  3. Under Audio Channels, select which speakers are present in your speaker configuration, and then click Test. You should hear a tone play in each speaker. Click Next, and then follow the directions to continue the configuration process.

Picture of Speaker Setup wizard
Use the Speaker Setup wizard to help get the best sound from your computer

Note

  • Your sound card determines which options you see during the speaker configuration process. For example, if you're using a mobile PC with internal speakers, you might only see Stereo in the Audio Channels section.

Set up audio effects

Now that you've set up your speakers, you can move on to adding effects that enhance the sound:

  1. Open Audio Devices and Sound Themes by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking Sound.

  2. Double-click the Enhancements tab. If you do not see the Enhancements tab, then your sound card either does not support audio effects or you have installed sound card software that replaced the Enhancements tab. For example, you might have a tab with the name of your sound card's manufacturer, and this tab might include different advanced features than are shown in the picture below.

    Picture of Enhancements tab
    Use this tab to help set up audio effects

This list describes audio effects and what they can do. You'll only see the audio effects that your speakers and sound card can support.

  • Speaker Fill. Use this effect to take sound that was designed to play on two speakers and play it on additional speakers, such as 5.1 and 7.1 speaker systems.

  • Room Correction. Using a microphone, this effect can optimize the listening experience for a particular location in the room—for example the center cushion of your couch—by automatically calculating the best combination of different speaker settings, such as delay, frequence response, and gain adjustments.

  • Virtual Surround. This effect simulates surround sound. This effect is ideal for using a computer with a 2-channel stereo sound card and a receiver that supports surround sound.

  • Speaker Phantoming. This effect can split sounds designed for multiple speakers into fewer speakers. For example, you might have three speakers instead of the five speakers typically used in 5.1 speaker systems.

  • Bass Boost. In computers that have speakers with limited bass capability—such as mobile PCs—this effect can boost the bass in the frequency range that the speaker can support. This can make the audio sound better.

Take surround sound on the road

In addition to taking advantage of high-definition audio with speakers, you can also get the best possible sound when you're listening to music or movie audio through headphones.

Windows Vista includes a feature called Headphone Virtualization that uses technology called Head Related Transfer Functions (HRTF). HRTF uses information about the physics of your head to create a virtual surround sound experience through your stereo headphones. When listening to music or movie audio with Headphone Virtualization, you might feel like the sound is transcending the headphones, providing a listening experience that includes hearing sounds from front to back, as well as side to side.

To set up Headphone Virtualization

  1. Open Audio Devices and Sound Themes by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking Sound.

  2. Click the Enhancements tab, and then click Headphone Virtualization.

Note

  • Your sound card determines which options you see in Sound in Control Panel.