forcing mono in nVidia shadowplay

Recently I’ve been recording some of my gameplay when playing Overwatch in an effort to see if there’s any obvious places where I’m screwing up, when I noticed something odd when reviewing the recordings. Whilst all the audio for the game as well as the audio from Discord would be coming through both channels in stereo, my voice was only being played back through the right channel. Since I’m not producing videos for public consumption, it really shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but it’s enough to annoy me enough to find out what on earth is going on.

So a quick look into my setup to see what on earth is going on here.

My microphone setup is rather convoluted as compared to the usual USB condenser setups, for the sole reason that I didn’t want to add another USB sound card into my system. I’m currently running a Presonus AudioBox 22VSL, which is a very nice USB 2.0 audio interface which has an MXL 550 condenser mic as my main microphone. In terms of bang for buck at the time, it’s serving me well. The AudioBox software also allows you to change the panning on the fly, which in most software is good enough to get a centred output.

The problem seems to have come up with Shadowplay, nVidia’s inbuilt streaming and recording software. For streaming, Shadowplay is far below par, with OBS knocking it right out of the park in terms of stability and customisation. However for recording game sessions, Shadowplay is actually the better option from my experimentation. The only problem is that Shadowplay uses a direct input from the communication devices to gather the local mic inputs – which the AudioBox software can’t directly utilise.

I did find a solution, and it is a bit of a hack, but it seems to work.

First and foremost, the mic you want to use must be plugged into the no. 1 input jack. I’ll explain why in a moment why this is important, but you can mirror any settings you wish on the hardware and it will be exactly the same.

Second you’ll want to go into your Recording Devices tab of the Sound properties in the Windows Control Panel. Easiest way to do this is to right click on the little speaker in the system tray and select it from there. You’ll get a window like this:

sound

Now there’ll be a couple of devices here, but you’ll want to right click on whatever device is going to be your input device, in my case it’s the AudioBox 22VSL Audio. This will bring up the line properties.

Lastly, select the Advanced tab and you’ll see this screen:

line2

The Default Format section is what’s of interest here, and the setting that’s found here is what needs to be set in order to force applications like Shadowplay to recognise the left channel mic as a single mono input. Here’s the reason why plugging the mic into input 1 was so important. With this option Windows will take only the first input and use it as a mono input. If you have anything on inputs 2 and above, Windows will just ignore them.

Apply all the changes and hey presto. You’ve got a single mono input that isn’t stuck on one channel. While this something that I’ve found that works with the Presonus AudioBox, I can’t guarantee that it will work with other USB ASIO interfaces. I’ll also recommend that you set things back to the previous settings if you want to use multiple inputs at once through ASIO. I haven’t run into issues, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The ideal solution would to have nVidia implement a Force Mono within the Shadowplay software, but until then, this workaround seems to work. I’ll also point out that I’m running Windows 7, so there may be some differences between this and Windows 8 or Windows 10, so again, your mileage may vary.

–J

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whoa it’s been a while

It really has been far too long. I’ve had a couple of people send me some really kind messages, and I don’t want to disappoint y’all. There’s been a lot of, shall we say,¬†interesting things happening in my life at the moment, and a lot of it got in the way of me being able to produce articles and content in a timely manner.

The biggest hurdle was the fact that my faithful main rig finally decided to give up the ghost and return to the PC gaming gods about two months ago. While I’d love to update purely from the 486, the march of web technology rendered that all but impossible. It would have been hilarious and the novelty factor alone was tempting, but it would have been as productive as posting from my mobile phone. I also considered that option, but phone keyboards are annoying enough for text messages, let along long form articles like I enjoy writing.

As for what went wrong, the best way I can describe it is a cascading failure of all parts after someone thought it was a good idea to try and push the creaking old girl far beyond what was ever meant to be achieved with such hardware. That someone was me. I’m not going to go into details, but in an attempt to get some decent performance when running Dragon Age: Inquisition, I disrupted the fragile balance the system had been precariously stuck in for the past two years. Remember that gag from The Simpsons where Mr. Burns is told he has every single disease, all at the same time? It was basically the same as that. I had spent a fair bit of time cleaning out all the physical components, but the years had taken their toll. The power supply was already near death, and the subtle tweaks to the BIOS I made did the opposite to what was helpful. Years of precarious patching and mayguyvering all fell apart ending with a bricked video card. Here’s where it got a bit depressing.

I was running an nVidia GTX 260¬†with a factory overclock from Gigabyte. 896meg video RAM, and uses a PCI Express 2.0 slot. Motherboard only had a PCIE 2.0 video card slot, however PCIE 3.0 is backwards compatible with PCIE 2.0, so I counted my coins and went and purchased a new nVidia GTX 960 with a factory overclock, this card manufactured by Asus this time. With 4Gb of VRAM I thought I could run that until I had the cash to upgrade the rest of the rig. If there’s anything to take away from this experience is that I am not a smart man at times. With a GTX960 running in a PCIE 2.0 slot, the excess information being sent from the graphics card to the CPU managed to bottleneck the entire system – to the point where the system was unusable in anything other than basic windows usage. It was a battle that was not going to be won without a major CPU upgrade, and considering the fact that I was running an ancient motherboard that only supported DDR2 RAM and PCIE 2.0, it was best to start again from the ground up.

Only problem is that I really don’t have that much money, so I had to spend a month and a bit completely without a modern computer. I had laptops that I could borrow from family, but in terms of a gaming, I was back to the 486 and my PS3/Vita. I sorta lost a lot of momentum and motivation, and let this little project wither for far too long. However, I did manage to save up enough to get the rest of the parts for a brand new rig, and I’ve managed to finally be able to play a lot of games that I was really looking forward to playing, as well as getting others running at respectable framerates whilst looking freaking amazing.

In other news, I’m going to be starting school again, doing a course in IT so I can’t guarantee updates, but if I put together any little projects, they’ll be put up here as well. Instead of being a pure retro gaming blog, I’ll be expanding it to cover anything that I find interesting, or things that I find neat that my mates are probably tired of hearing me bang on about.

–J