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How to manage sound settings on Windows 11

Windows 11 Change Sound Settings
Windows 11 Change Sound Settings (Image credit: Windows Central)

Although audio output devices are virtually plug and play on Windows 11, sometimes, you may still need to manage the settings to make sure that sounds play correctly or as intended, depending on the content.

For instance, if you have multiple output devices like stereo speakers and gaming headsets, you can connect both and tell Windows 11 which one to use as the default. Spatial sound offers a more immersive audio experience that makes it feel like the sound is playing around you and not directly from the speakers. You can enable mono audio to convert stereo sound into a single channel. You can configure special sound features to improve the audio quality. In addition, you can customize various other settings and fix the most common problems quickly.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the steps to manage the sound settings on your computer.

How to change default audio output on Windows 11

On Windows 11, you can choose a different set of speakers, headphones, or headsets for the entire system or per application.

Choose default output for system

To change where the computer should play sound on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

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  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Choose where to play sound setting.
  2. Select the speakers, headphones, or headsets you want to use.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Alternatively, you can also change the default output device by opening the Quick Settings flyout (Windows key + A keyboard shortcut), clicking the Manage audio devices button next to the volume slider, and selecting the device.

Choose default output per application

To set the default output device for a specific application, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Advanced" section, click the Volume mixer setting.

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  1. Under the "Apps" section, select the app.
  2. Use the Output device setting to select a different output device.

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Once you complete the steps, Windows 11 will play sounds in the output device you selected.

How to enable spatial sound on Windows 11

To enable or disable spatial sound, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Speakers setting.

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  1. Under the "Spatial sound" section, select the Windows Sonic for Headphones option for the "Type" setting.

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  1. (Optional) Select the Off option for the "Type" setting.

After you complete the steps, you will hear a more immersive sound experience on Windows 11.

How to enable enhanced audio on Windows 11

Windows 11 provides additional features to improve the sound quality with more bass, virtual surround, room correction, and loudness equalizer.

Enable enhanced audio features

To enable and configure enhanced audio on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Speakers setting.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output settings" section, turn on the Enhance audio toggle switch.

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  1. Click the Advanced option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the sound enhancement feature for Windows 11:
    • Bass Boost — Boosts the lowest frequencies that the device can play.
    • Virtual Surround — Encodes audio for transfer as stereo output to receivers with a Matrix decoder.
    • Room Correction — Compensates for room and speaker characteristics. When selecting this option, you'll need to complete the correction wizard.
    • Loudness Equalization — Uses an understanding of human hearing to reduce perceived volume differences.
    Quick note: If you select "Bass Boost" when clicking the Settings button, you can adjust the frequency and boost levels. If you choose "Loudness Equalization," you can change the release time by clicking the Settings button.

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  1. Click the Apply button.
  2. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the audio enhancements will improve the audio quality.

These features don't apply to everyone. If they are causing problems, it is best to turn them off with the steps below.

Disable enhanced audio features

To disable enhanced audio on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Speakers setting.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output settings" section, turn off the Enhance audio toggle switch.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, all the audio enhancements will turn off immediately.

How to disable audio output on Windows 11

At any time, you can enable or disable the system's and apps' access to an output device without disabling the driver.

Disable output device

To disable an output device on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Speakers setting.

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  1. Under the "General" section, click the Don't allow button for the "Audio" setting.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Don't allow button again.

Once you complete the steps, Windows 11 will no longer play sounds on that specific set of speakers, headsets, or headphones.

Enable output device

To enable an output device on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Speakers setting.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "General" section, click the Allow button for the "Audio" setting.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, the output device will again be available on the computer.

How to check audio driver version on Windows 11

To check the audio driver version, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Confirm the output device driver in the top-right corner.

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In addition to the version number, the page also shows the driver date and provider information.

How to enable mono audio on Windows 11

To enable or disable mono audio on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Turn on the Mono audio toggle switch to enable the feature.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. (Optional) Turn off the Mono audio toggle switch to disable the feature.

Once you complete the steps, the stereo sound will be converted into a single channel, letting you hear everything.

How to pair audio output device on Windows 11

To pair a new set of speakers, headphones, or headsets to Windows 11, make the peripheral discoverable, and use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Add device button for the "Pair a new output device" setting.

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  1. Click the Bluetooth option.

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  1. Select the wireless speakers.

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  1. Continue with the on-screen directions (if applicable).

After you complete the steps, the wireless output device will connect to Windows 11.

How to control system volume on Windows 11

To control the system sounds and apps on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, use the volume slider to control the system volume.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Advanced" section, click the Volume mixer setting.

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  1. Under the "Apps" section, use the System sounds slider to control the volume for the system sounds.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Use the slider to increase or decrease the volume for a specific app.Quick tip: If you have multiple sets of output or input devices, you can click the app to select which speakers or microphone the app should use.

You can also increase or lower the volume by using the dedicated audio buttons or shortcuts in the keyboard, opening the Quick Settings flyout (Windows key + A keyboard shortcut), and using the volume slider. Or you can click the speaker icon to mute the system.

How to rename audio output device on Windows 11

To rename an output device on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Speakers setting.

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  1. Click the Rename button in the top-left corner.

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  1. Confirm the new name for the speakers.
  2. Click the Rename button.

Once you complete the steps, the new name will appear on the device (top-left side of the page) and across the system.

How to test speakers or headphones on Windows 11

To test speakers, headphones, or headsets on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Test button in the "Format" setting.

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After you complete the steps, you will know whether the output device is working or whether troubleshooting is needed.

How to manage sound balance on Windows 11

To adjust the left and right sound balance on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output" section, click the Speakers setting.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Output settings" section, click the Advanced option for the "Enhance audio" setting.

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  1. Click the Levels tab.
  2. Click the Balance button.

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  1. Change the left and right volume settings (as needed).

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  1. Click the OK button.
  2. Click the Apply button.
  3. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the audio should play more balanced in the output device.

How to fix sound problems on Windows 11

To fix the most common sound problems on a laptop or desktop running Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Sound page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Advanced" section, click the Output devices option for the "Troubleshoot common sound problems" setting.

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  1. Click the Yes button in the "Get Help" app to launch the troubleshooter.

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  1. Continue with the on-screen directions (if applicable).

Alternatively, you can also run the sound troubleshooter directly from the Troubleshoot settings page.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.