Guide to achieve best audio quality, performance and functionality for Realtek onboard audio cards.
Exact placement and availability of the settings could vary depending on Windows version, Realtek HD Audio Manager version and motherboard vendor customization.
- 07 Dec 2022: Article updated with the current recommendation to set playback "Default Format" to "24Bits, 48000 Hz". Upon redoing the RightMark Audio tests, opposite to my initial tests, I noticed better results for 44.1 kHz files. Might need a deeper driver to make a definitive conclusion.
In sound card application settings (Realtek HD Audio Manager, Realtek Audio Console):
Speakers and headphones settings:
- Under Speaker Configuration select the number of speakers that you have. For a 5.1 audio system select 5.1 Speaker. For a 2.1 audio system select Stereo. Selecting more channels than the number of speakers you have connected won’t enable you to hear more sounds or hear the footsteps and positioning of enemies better in games.
- Set playback Default Format to 24Bits, 48000 Hz this is generally good for most media (games, movies, music) which is sampled at 44.1 kHz, while video DVDs use 48 kHz. Increasing Sample Rate without having a source that’s sampled at a higher rate won’t improve sound quality, in fact, it might degrade it. Having the bit-depth set to 24 bit will slightly improve audio quality. You can find detailed information on audio bit-depth here.
- If your Realtek Audio solution has a dedicated headphone amplifier, set the soundcards output impedance/gain (Ω = ohm) to a value close to the headphones input impedance. Do not set the impedance much higher as it may damage the headphones.
Microphone and Line In settings:
- Set Microphone and/or Line In Default Format to 24Bits, 44100 Hz. The 44.1 kHz (44100 Hz) sample rate is the one used by most media (games, movies, music), while video DVDs use 48 kHz. Having the bit-depth set to 24 bit will slightly improve the recording audio quality.
- If you are using speakers and want to reduce speaker output from being picked up by the microphone then enable Acoustic Echo Cancellation option that's under Microphone Effects.
- Be careful which settings or effects you enable. The sound effects will slightly increase the DPC latency, which in turn could cause other problems like audio/video desynchronization or slow network/internet speed. You can read more on the impact of sound effects to DPC latency here. The sound effects also change the sound not always in a good way, you might like it for your music but it might harm the audio positioning in games.
- Windows 10: If you wish to emulate 8 channels surround on a 2 channel headphones/speakers you need to right-click on Windows Volume tray icon-> Spatial Sounds-> select “Windows Sonic for Headphones”. Optionally, you can also try "Dolby Access", "DTS Sound Unbound" or "Dolby Atmos for Headphones" options. Warning: Enabling this setting will change playback audio bit depth to 16bit and sample rate to 44100 Hz, and when disabling it windows will set will change playback audio bit depth to 24bit and sample rate to 48000 Hz.
- Windows XP: Don’t increase the Windows Audio Volume to 100%, instead set it to 80-90% max in order to decrease the effects of dynamic volume issue. Issue regarding setting volume to 100% is detailed here.
In audio/video applications:
- Enable the audio output/playback to 32bit or 24bit instead of 16bit, as this will slightly improve audio quality. This setting is application specific so you will have to search for it in application preferences/options. For example, in Winamp the setting is located in Preferences->Playback->Allow 24bit. If you have Windows Vista/7/8/10 then you have to enable 24 bit output in Windows Sound settings or Realtek HD Audio Manager as well.
- Windows Vista/7/8/10: Set each application volume at 80-90% in order to avoid dynamic volume issue. Issue regarding setting volume to 100% is detailed here.
In games options:
- Set Sound Quality to Medium or High depending on the importance of sound quality in that particular game. This setting affects CPU usage so if you have a slow CPU you should select Medium and if you have a fast CPU you can go with High. Setting this to High with a slow CPU might cause to much strain on your CPU and this in turn will affect the FPS of that particular game.
- Set the number of speakers you currently have connected is properly detected.
- Windows 10: If you’ve previously enabled “Windows Sonic for Headphones”, "Dolby Access" or "Dolby Atmos for Headphones" and "7.1 Virtual surround speaker sound" options in Windows settings, then set the in-game number of speakers to 7.1. The game needs to generate 7.1 sounds which will be processed and converted for 2 channels output.
- Auxiliary audio applications list - applications for enhancing the audio experience
- Windows 10 audio issues and fixes
- Realtek ALC4080, ALC1220, ALC S1220A, ALC S1220, ALC1200, ALC1150, ALC880, ALC882, ALC883, ALC885, ALC886, ALC887, ALC888, ALC889, ALC892, ALC898, ALC899, etc.
- ASUS ROG SupremeFX S1220A, S1220, etc.