OS related: real time output channel monitoring

I’m sorry if the title is a bit confusing, but I really don’t know what the thing I want would be called.

In Windows 10, you can view the average power output from the system to the “speakers” in the Playback devices dialog… But it’s just a combined channel output level display. And almost as accurate as saying “Wow, that’s loud.” or “Is this thing on?”

With Audacity, well, you only get L/R channel output and display.

All this is great as long as you are strictly dealing with stereo… but what if you are dealing with surround channels? I know for a fact that VLC is properly putting out 5.1, and I’ll be testing 7.1 eventually, but I’m pretty sure it’s solid with that as well. But using my individual speaker controls to test if each channel is getting a proper output is really inconvenient and not always feasible.

Is there any software out there that will actually display the power level output on a per channel basis (for more than 2 channels) in real time (or as close as is truly reasonable) for Windows 10? Doesn’t have to be super-fancy, but more options wouldn’t be hated. It would be really handy to be able to get a visual indication quickly sometimes.

I keep trying Google, but apparently I’m not accurately naming what I’m wanting, so…

Thanks a ton!

Audacity can only play mono or stereo, but you can create and edit multi-channel audio files.
To export a multi-channel audio file requires enabling the “Advanced Mixing Options”: http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/advanced_mixing_options.html

Audacity also has a “Mixer Board” that allows monitoring multiple channels: http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/mixer_board.html

That would be a “meter”. Traditionally, that would have been a [u]VU meter[/u]. Now they are usually LEDs or some kind of digital display and they are calibrated to show the peaks (which is different from a true VU meter). Still, sometimes they are called “VU meters”.

The easiest thing would be hardware meters but they tend to be expensive. The cheapest one I know of is [u]this one[/u], which is $50 USD for two channels. (There are some cheaper kits if you know how to solder.)

There are lots of VST meter plug-in’s for DAWs (digital audio workstations) and many are free (and DAWs come with meters). There are meters on every input-recording channel and a DAW can be configured for 5.1 or 7.1 channel output, and there should be a meter on every monitor-output channel. But, a DAW is NOT a convenient audio player.

You can get a [u]VST host[/u] which allows you to use VST plug-ins without a DAW. So you might look for a VST meter plug-in and a VST host, but I have no idea if that would work or how you’d set it up.

Heh, so my search was not as bad as I thought. Bummer. You would think this a common thing for an OS or compatible hardware to provide visibility to programmatically, since at some point it must know what the signal is that it is sending to each output. Nevertheless, it’s always easier sitting in the la-z-boy than it actually is on the field, so “that” for what I think. I remember the good ol’ days when this feature was a selling point for soundcards. ROFL

I actually was hoping to avoid additional hardware, especially for this, since I’d ultimately end up beating it to death or loosing it. I was, however, unaware of the possible software solutions you offered and will certainly look into it. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to live with adjusting each channel on the otherwise provided controls and monitoring by ear, when I feel the urge to go to the trouble.

As for DAW’s, I have SoundForge, but am considering moving over to MixCraft since it supports 64bit and is actively being developed, while SoundForge can’t seem to keep an owner let alone stay in development. Nothing against the free tools out there, including this one for sure, just sometimes you need a bigger hammer and that’s the only way to get it if you can’t program.

Really, thanks, DVDdoug! I’ll look into that VST host concept. If I can get it working, I’ll post back.

And so, using a bit better terminology, Google quickly led me to this free tool. No VST host or plugin required.

This works for me, maybe others will find it a handy thing.