Note: This plugin is currently broken in OBS Version 28. It still works in OBS Version 27 and earlier. There is a workaround for it using this experimental version, but it is unstable. I recommend steering clear of this workaround unless you can’t do without it.
An audio Interface, or mixer, is one of the most commonly used devices for music-based creators. The reason is that many audio devices utilize the XLR connection standard, a balanced audio connector that is more or less immune to electromagnetic interference. Many of these devices also implement the ASIO Standard
Some examples where ASIO is used:
- The possibility for true stereo audio utilizing two microphones
- Great for ASMR streamers
- Possibility for 7.1 Surround sound
- For musicians who stream, this can be great for your audience who has access to a 7.1 system.
- Among other reasons
Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
What is ASIO?
ASIO stands for Audio Stream Input/Output. You would be forgiven if you don’t know what ASIO is, as most people have never heard of the term before. This is because it is a specialized tool for specific needs, namely, music production.
It is an Audio Transfer Protocol developed by Steinberg back in 1997 and was last updated in 1999 to version 2.0. ASIO was developed for use by the music industry and allows Audio Interfaces to gain access to its full capability of the multi-channel sound devices embedded within the hardware.
With the proper drivers attached to your Audio Interface, and depending on the Interface you have, you can have anywhere between 1-20+ different channels that can be input into a PC for capture or broadcast.
Why Would You Need 20+ Devices?
Honestly, most people would only need a handful of devices, so something like a 20-input audio interface is definitely overkill. However, there are some use cases where a device like this is useful:
- A Live Music Concert –
- Microphones for each drum in a drummers kit
- Electric/acoustic guitar amplification
- Keyboard/piano capture
- Film Production – Recording true 7.1 audio
- Conventions with multiple speakers
- Business Meetings
As for whether you need an audio interface or mixer that supports a lot of input devices, that depends on what you intend to stream.
An ASMR streamer could benefit from an audio interface with two xlr inputs, like my Behringer UMC 204HD, and two microphones for true stereo audio.
VST on a Per-Drum basis – Why ASIO is amazing
If you had an interface with 7 Input signals. and 7 output signals, you can then control them on the pc. You gain the ability to apply Unique EQ to each signal, further enhancing the sound and getting closer to one that defines you as a drummer.
This is done VIA a VST Plugin. Virtual Studio Technology is a format that audio engineers, musicians, and even big-budget movie productions use to create high-quality sound effects by modifying the sound wave in various ways. One of the most common ways is Equalization.
You’ve heard of “Digital Remaster” before, right? Basically, they took the recording and applied some VST effects to it. Either that or the more expensive hardware studio technology that does the same thing as VST, but is a bit more stable, and is subjectively higher quality.
Those devices tend to be out of the budget range of a streamer, so instead, I’d opt for Free VST Effects and apply that to your audio to boost its quality in some way, maybe eliminating noise with a noise suppressor, or help prevent peaking using a compressor VST plugin.
Okay, So ASIO Expands the Functionality of an Audio Interface. What about ASIO for OBS?
Download ASIO for OBS
So, this plugin was developed by two people over on GitHub; Pkv and Andersama. Essentially, all it does is enable OBS to use ASIO devices as a source on OBS. You can do some pretty radical things with this setup, like a True Stereo microphone setup.
I have tested it extensively, and it is stable enough to utilize in your day-to-day operations. It is fairly straightforward.
Incidentally, using this method will also allow you to utilize a true stereo microphone setup if you have two microphones. One mic sends its signal to the left ear, and the other sends its signal to the right ear. Combined together, this gives the microphone signals an almost 3D feel to it. It sounds more natural to us.
If you don’t have two mics, Simply Set both OBS channels to 0 In 1 or 1 in 2, because otherwise, you’ll need to downmix to mono in the advanced audio properties window, and, that isn’t needed if set up properly.
Going further, Setting up a 7.1 audio for that drum kit
If you go into the settings in OBS and select the Audio tab, know that you can enable 7.1 surround sound capability, assuming you have the hardware necessary for it.
This solution isn’t for everyone. Most of your audience will be limited to stereo or even Mono(If it is on their phone) simply because a 4.0+ system is fairly expensive and bulky. However, those who use Virtual 7.1 Surround Headphones will see a difference, and will greatly appreciate it.
Why should I use the ASIO plugin for OBS?
Apart from the complicated 7.1 setups mentioned above, ASIO inputs tend to have lower latency than typical sound devices found onboard motherboard sound chips. Lower latency means you won’t have as much sound syncing to lips issues, once properly set up.
Using the Audio Interface itself, even without the full benefit of ASIO, will result in a higher “quality” audio signal, if you are using its speaker output or headphone jack.
What should these settings be set to?
You should select the Sample Rate that is what you set all of your audio devices to. The Limit for OBS is 48000, or 48khz. That is the format that DVD Audio is recorded in. I use 48Khz, but there is a negligible difference between that and 44.1khz, one that you can only perceive with speakers or headphones that are good enough to discern the difference. Whatever one that all of your devices support should be the one you choose.
I won’t go too in-depth on what sample rate is better (that is a major can of worms in the audiophile world.) but I can say that your buffer size should be set to 256 or 512. 8 is way too low, and causes occasional audible static noise. The reason is that your processor can’t process the audio signal fast enough, and as a result, it doesn’t do a good job of processing the audio. The result is audio artifacts in the form of popping.
The Data Format setting should be 32 Bit Float(If available), as that is the format that sounds best to us. You can play with these settings a bit to dial it in
Sticking to Stereo
Knowing you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. There is a saying in the web design world. “Keep it Simple, Stupid.” Basically, it means not to overthink and just go with what works. In this case, unless you are that Drummer streamer, and have a passion for audiophile quality with a budget to back it up, Stereo is all you need.
Any musician knows that having more than one microphone positioned around your instrument will add a greater audio depth to it, as sound can only be captured from a fairly small part of the wave per microphone. Adding more microphones captures more parts of those waves.
But do you need them to record a song or talk to your audience on Twitch or Mixer? Nope.
All you need, really, is just one good microphone.