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Capture Application Specific Audio in OBS Studio
Capture Application Specific Audio in OBS Studio

How to Capture Application-Specific Audio in OBS Studio

OBS Version 28 has brought many changes to the broadcasting program, but one of the least talked about additions to the update is the ability to easily capture application-specific audio.

For a long time, the ability to capture audio from specific applications has been possible; however, doing so required a series of complex steps and helper software to accomplish. This is because setting up your audio chain properly required the help of multiple audio devices, and that required something like Virtual Audio Cable to add to your system if you didn’t have enough hardware devices to latch onto.

In fact, I have an old guide designed to teach you how to do it the “classic way,” but you don’t need to do it this way any longer. Now, you just need to add an Application Audio Capture (BETA) source and select the program you want to send to your scene.

Hassle-free, super easy, and quick to implement. What more could you ask for?

Setting up the Application Audio Capture Source

Here is a quick rundown on how to add an application audio capture source:

  1. Left-Click on the + Sign under Sources
Application specific audio capture in OBS
  1. Select Application Audio Capture (BETA)
OBS Source list - Application specific audio capture pointed out with an arrow
  1. Name it whatever you would like. I like to name them what application it is capturing. For my example here, that would be Discord (Join our Community Discord Server!)
  2. Under Window, select the application you want to capture
OBS Window audio source capture

And you’re done! The next step is to brush up on your OBS audio filters and start taking advantage of application-specific benefits!

Why Bother Capturing on a Per-Application Basis

There are several advantages of setting up your audio to be on a per-application basis, as well as some drawbacks:

Pros:

  • High level of control over what your stream hears
  • The ability to add application-specific VST Audio Filters
  • Using Equalizers on your music playlists
  • You can omit certain sources from your stream but still hear them in your headphones (AKA, you can listen to copy-protected music while streaming, and they won’t hear it unless you use speakers.)

Cons:

  • It is a little bit more cumbersome to set up than just capturing your default audio device.
  • As this is a beta feature at this time, you may experience issues with it. I haven’t run into any yet, but that doesn’t mean you won’t.

Judging by the popularity of a Reddit post I made a few years back, that first and fourth point in the pros list is pretty desirable for people, and this new method is far easier to do. That makes it a win in my book.

My Personal Experience – Benefits to Capture Application-Specific Audio

As I stated in the list above, one of the advantages of setting up your audio in this way is to be able to gain access to Per-Application equalizers. I love listening to music, so being able to EQ my music is a huge benefit to me while leaving all other sounds as they were. I’ll admit that I am a low-key audiophile, though, so YMMV.

But hey, if I have the ability to improve my listening experience for free, why wouldn’t I make it better? (Subjectively speaking, of course.)

I basically can’t go without it, as music is my constant companion in my writing journey. If you share this same passion for music that I do, I think you’ll love setting your system up in a similar way.

Conclusion – Audio is Fun

I like to tinker with things to learn how they work. Once you understand the fundamentals, you can alter variables to achieve alternate, sometimes unintended, functionality. Audio has been one of those journeys of discovery for me, and I’ve fallen down so many rabbit holes in my research and experimentation. Now, I share those discoveries with you.

Hopefully, this quick how-to helps you get the desired sound your looking for! Just be careful not to overdrive your sound system – there are no checks or safety measures in place to stop you from pushing your hardware past its limits with VST filters. My advice is to make small tweaks rather than sweeping changes.

If you ever catch an itch to understand how something works, I encourage you to follow it. You never know what you might learn!





2 thoughts on “How to Capture Application-Specific Audio in OBS Studio”

  1. I found this because I’m trying to understand the plugin better. I have so far encountered 2 issues.
    1. I can hear my spotify through OBS, but my audience cannot hear it. I don’t know why that would be. All other audio sources I use this plugin on works as expected.
    2. I have sound clips on my stream deck and I cannot get them to play to the audience when I use them. Streamdeck.exe is apparently the wrong source. Have you tried this?

    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Connor, this article intentionally sets up OBS to allow Spotify playback without the audience hearing it. I recommend setting it this way, as copyright protection is a serious issue with Spotify music. You aren’t legally allowed to use music you don’t have broadcasting rights to – radio channels have to pay quite the fee to play music on the air. As an online broadcaster, you are subject to those same laws (at least if you plan to stream on Twitch.)

      That doesn’t mean there aren’t playlists cleared for broadcasting use, like Harris Heller’s Stream Beats on Spotify. You are safe to use that even if Spotify is used to play it. The problem comes when you play songs by popular bands like Metallica. This is why I simply recommend listening to the music yourself, with a dedicated playlist of stream-safe music playing to stream that YOU don’t hear. You get to listen to whatever you want to, and the stream gets its own broadcast-safe music.

      I’ve got an entire article dedicated to Stream Safe music you might find helpful for this purpose.

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