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Audio Device Management – OBS and you

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Open Broadcaster Software is a fairly complicated software with a plethora of powerful features. Today, we are going to cover a powerful feature having to do with organizing your sources. This is what I like to call “Audio Device Management.”

How to properly set up your devices using Audio Device Management in OBS

The first step to this process is actually kind of counter-intuitive.

  • Open OBS
  • Click settings
  • Click Audio
    • Disable ALL audio devices in this section. These are global Audio devices, available in all scenes. This is not what we want, as we lose control using global devices.

Confused yet? That’s okay, I’ll explain why we did this.

In OBS, we have what is known as a Scene and Source manager. A Scene is a sort of saved “Template” of sources, used to create different presets for your production material(Stream/vod/YouTube video, Podcast, etc.) Without the ability to save these templates, you would have to, in a live performance, fiddle with overlay elements. It is a very important feature.

Within the sources selection menu…You can ACTUALLY import any scene as a source! This is EXCEPTIONALLY POWERFUL.

Scenes as sources – Include a “Audio Scene”

The Audio Sources in my setup are microphone, Headphones, Game Sounds, Discord, And Music. The Basics of Audio Device Management is including all the sources you need here.

We are going to cover in detail on how to set up an Audio only scene. We can use this to embed our common audio devices into various scenes, as global audio devices of sorts.

For this, we will be focusing on the “Sources” window.

Creating the source Structure of the scene:

  • In the scene window, Create a new Scene called “Common Audio Devices”(CAD for short) or whatever you want really by clicking on the “+” symbol.
  • Within the CAD sources manager, Create a new “Audio Input Capture” source, and select your microphone device. In my case, it is my Behringer UMC204HD Line in source
    • Click Okay, ignore device timestamps
  • Create a new “Audio Output Capture”
  • Optional – Create a new “Audio Output Capture”
    • Example – Name it Discord
    • Select the device you have not used for your “Main” source above, and not your headphones if possible.
      • You may or may not have enough physical devices for your pc. If you have monitors with built-in speakers connected via HDMI, you can choose that. Within the monitor, be sure to mute the speakers. OBS will piggyback on the device and be able to output discord to stream using your monitor speakers device.
      • Alternatively, you can download Virtual Audio Cable and use the virtual audio devices created by it(for a total of 3 virtual devices if you donate for it. 1 device is free)
      • If your pc has SPDIF Optical output, you can also use that as well.
    • In discord, select the device you chose in its settings window
      • Alternatively, you can open the windows 10 Application specific audio mixer by typing “Sound mixer options” into your search panel(A feature added in Windows 10 1803 update) and choose the device here
  • Repeat for any number of programs you wish to isolate here, choosing a new device each time that is Not your headphone device.

Adding the scene to your “Primary Layout” Scene…

Audio Device Management is easy with OBS and Windows 10 using a few powerful sources in OBS

The next step is very simple. All you have to do is create a new scene, Call it whatever you want. For this example, we will call it “Primary Layout”.

In the sources manager, Add the Scene source and Select “Common Audio Devices”. Work complete.

Why do it this way vs using a global audio device?

Say you want to create an AFK Scene, and you want your microphone to be muted. You would normally have to mute the microphone yourself upon switching the scene over. Instead, all you need to do is simply not add the Common audio devices scene to your AFK scene and omit the microphone source from the custom audio devices of that scene. Maybe include a VLC audio track specifically for this scene. Using this method you can, while still retaining the ability to include your common audio sources via the Scene source to other scenes.

This is an incredible amount of control over your audio in a production environment and is the way we recommend all streamers handle their audio device management needs.

Again, if you visit our other tutorial blog post on Advanced Audio Properties, you will learn how to listen to all these sources(Or omit them) from your headphones for you to hear.

A little bonus:

Using this Scene source technique, you can do the same for common overlay elements, such as alert boxes, tip jars, or whatever really, including just a scene source vs having to recreate the overlay again and again. Get creative, and have fun with it!

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