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I use headphones and a pair of screen-mounted speakers each for different tasks at various times during the day, and I have them both always plugged in (speakers use HDMI socket, and headphones in front audio plug). What I'd like is a faster and more reliable way to switch audio output between them than the sound properties in the control panel (the way I currently do it).

Requirements:

  • Offers some kind of shortcut to switch between audio devices. I'm okay with it being a desktop widget, a tray icon, or a global keyboard shortcut
  • Runs on Windows 8.1
  • Free or inexpensive (< 10€)

Good to have:

  • Keyboard shortcut is customizable. I'd like to put Scroll-lock to good use
  • Ability to assign a default output device for each for each stream/application. For example, a video game would automatically output to the headphones, while a music track is directed to the speakers
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AutoHotKey

Since there didn't seem to be any applications for that, here is an AutoHotKey script that does the trick. It opens the playback devices window and then simulates the keyboard presses required to switch the default audio device.

#Persistent
#NoEnv 
SendMode Input 

sc046::
Run, mmsys.cpl
WinWait,Sound
ControlSend,SysListView321,{Down}
ControlGet, selectedDevice, List, Focused, SysListView321
Loop, Parse, selectedDevice, %A_Tab%
    if a_index <> 3
        continue
    else 
    {
        if A_LoopField <> Default Device
        {
            ControlClick,&Set Default
            ControlClick,OK
            WinWaitClose
            SoundPlay, *-1
            return
        }
        else
        {
            ControlSend,SysListView321,{Down}
            ControlClick,&Set Default
            ControlClick,OK
            WinWaitClose
            SoundPlay, *-1
            return
    }       
}
#x::ExitApp

Features:

  • Maps a customizable global keyboard shortcut to switch default audio devices (Scroll lock in this case)
  • Runs on Windows
  • Free and open-source

Cons:

  • Unable to assign individual streams to output devices
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Headphone Speaker Switcher 1.2 (Rainmeter Skin)

Headphone Speaker Switcher is a desktop gadget that allows the user to switch audio output devices with a single click. It is a Rainmeter skin and therefore requires the Rainmeter toolkit to be pre-installed

It works by simply clicking on the name of the desired target device

Features:

  • Free and open source
  • Runs on Windows
  • Is a desktop gadget and therefore easily accessible

Cons:

  • Unable to assign individual streams to output devices
  • Requires fiddling with the configuration file if you have more than 2 output devices, or if the devices are not in the correct order, though its language is relatively straightforward
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AppAudioConfig and SoundVolumeView can help you achieve what you want.

Both are gratis and without any bloat. They are portable except when they need to modify the Windows registry to make the required changes. I have personally used both, and found them to be excellent. As such, I can recommend them.

This a good description of AppAudioConfig:

Starting from Windows Vista, you are allowed to change the sound volume of every application separately, and after you exit from the application, the last settings are saved in the Registry under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\LowRegistry\Audio\PolicyConfig\PropertyStore so in the next time you run the application, your last settings are used. This tool displays your current audio settings of every application on your system, and allows you to easily change the setting of multiple applications at once. You can change the mute/unmute status, the sound volume level, and the right/left audio balance of the application.

Source: https://www.nirsoft.net/utils/app_audio_config.html

And this is a good description of SoundVolumeView:

SoundVolumeView is a simple tool for Windows Vista/7/8/2008/10 that displays general information and current volume level for all active sound components on your system, and allows you to mute and unmute them instantly. SoundVolumeView also allows you to save a sound profile into a file, containing the current volume level and the mute/unmute state of all sound components, as well as the default sound devices, and then later, load the same file to restore exactly the same volume levels and settings. There is also extensive command-line support, which allows you to save/load profiles, change current volume of every sound component, and mute/unmute every sound component, without displaying any user interface.

Source: https://www.nirsoft.net/utils/sound_volume_view.html

These two great tools can be used together, or individually by themselves.

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