How to change the default playback and recording audio device in Windows - Page 2

How to change the default playback device in Windows

When you click or tap the Playback tab in the Sound window, you are shown all the playback devices that are available on your Windows computer. Each system is different, so what you see will reflect that. You can also see which devices are actually available.

As you can see in the screenshot below, some devices are not plugged in. Your current default device is indicated by a green check mark, as shown below.

You can click or tap on any available device, and then on Set Default. The selected device is now your default playback device in Windows. All playback audio is now routed through that device.

If you're happy with your new choice, click or tap OK and you're done.

How to set a different a different communications device

You can also set different default devices for communications. For example, you may want to use a headset or the speakers that are built into your monitor for Skype and your external speakers for everything else. To set this, first select the device you want to use, and then click or tap on the down-arrow on the Set Default button. You can then assign a device to communications (Default Communication Device) or general playback (Default Device).

You can see that the default communication device has a different green icon from the default playback audio device.

When you are done setting your default playback devices, click OK or move on to setting your default recording devices. The same principle applies to setting recording devices: for example you can set a default recording device for your communications from the one used for audio recording.

How to set a default recording device in Windows

Go to the Sound window as shown earlier in this guide, and then click or tap the Recording tab. Here you see the devices you have available to record sound. Again, your current default device is indicated by a green check mark. Choose your preferred device and click or tap Set Default, just as you did for playback.

You can see if the device is working by watching for movement in the bar beside each device when you talk, as if you are trying to record sound. If you don't see any movement, you may need to configure your device to make sure it is not muted or turned down too low to record. Click or tap on Properties and then choose the Levels tab.

If changing the levels doesn't work, select your recording device and click or tap Configure. This will take you to the Ease of Access window (don't worry, this works for all sound device configurations). Click or tap "Set up microphone" and Windows will walk you through a few simple steps to get your microphone working.

We covered the setup of microphones more extensively in our article: Working with Speech Recognition: Setup and Configuration.

Troubleshooting: Why I can't see my audio device listed?

What if the audio device that you want to use for recording isn't listed? We talked about this problem in our article: Troubleshooting Common Speech Recognition Problems. Remember, speech recognition devices are also configured through the Sound window. By default, Windows does not show you devices that are disabled or disconnected or those without their correct drivers installed. If your device is not listed, right click or press and hold anywhere in the blank space in the Sound window. You can then choose to see the devices that would otherwise be invisible, by clicking or tapping "Show disabled devices".

The same goes for showing disabled audio playback devices in the Playback tab of the Sound window.


As you can see, setting the default audio devices for playback and recording is a quick and easy process in all modern versions of Windows. You can change them any time you need to, to make the best of Windows' recording and playback capabilities. Have you had a good or bad experience with recording or playback defaults? Let's talk about it in the comments section below.