What is VoiceMeeter Banana?

So, you’re streaming and have some audio needs that aren’t met with Windows’s limited mixing capabilities and are thinking of buying an expensive mixer to configure your audio setup?

There is an alternative- a software based mixer from VB-Audio called VoiceMeeter Banana.

VoiceMeeter Banana allows you to take input from up to 3 hardware devices and 2 software applications and mix them together, sending that output to up to 3 hardware devices and 2 software devices while also having recording functionality.  This should meet just about anyone’s audio needs, especially streamers.  Beyond that, the software also allows for patching the inputs through VST instrument and effect plugins for even more control over the way your audio sounds.  The best thing is that it is provided as donation-ware, meaning there is no up-front costs or limitations to the software, you give money to the author if you decide you find it meets your needs and to help further the software and new projects by the developer.

For those who use Virtual Cable, this software is written by the same author and provides a lot more control and functionality.  Virtual Cable does a quick down and dirty patch to literally create a virtual cable within Windows, but VoiceMeeter provides much more and should really be the way to go for anyone wanting to do professional sounding mixing or just want to have greater control over what is going on with the audio in their computer.  In fact, they can be used together to even FURTHER the capabilities of your audio system, Virtual Cables can be used as input and outputs in VoiceMeeter Banana.

Let’s take a quick look at my current configuration using VoiceMeeter Banana:

Voicemeeter Overview

I have a streaming PC that I use for my streaming.  One of the more annoying things about this configuration is getting audio from my gaming system to the streaming PC without going through a lot of cable splitting, mixers, etc.  Just game audio is fine, but if I want to add a Microphone?  I have to plug a microphone into the streaming PC and use it, which limits the ability to use the same microphone for Discord, in game chat, and any other needs I might have on my gaming PC.  With a microphone that has a 3.5 cable, I can use a splitter, but if my microphone is a USB mic?  It gets complicated.  I found the software because I figured someone has to have encountered similar limitations to Windows’s limited audio mixing capabilities and sure enough, someone had and they coded up a very good solution.

As you can see in my configuration I have an AudioBox USB device from PreSonus that allows for 2 inputs and sends the output to the PC via USB.  I happened to have this from some previous music recording needs, the microphone input could very well be any basic microphone or USB microphone, like a Blue Yeti.  This can be seen as Hardware Input 1.  My system sounds, including game audio, Discord voice communications, etc are all piped through Virtual Input Voicemeeter VAIO.  My outputs then go to Hardware out A1 (my speakers), A2 (my headphones) and A3 (my Avermedia card, sending the audio with my video card capture through HDMI to my streaming PC).

The buttons on the right of the Fader Boost levels can be selected to tell the mixer which output the sound goes to.  Right now, my Microphone is set to A3 (my capture card) only, while my system audio is going to both A1 (my speakers) and A3 (my Avermedia card).  With a click of a mouse I can change where my audio goes, adjust volume levels, set up noise gates, do basic equalizing, etc…   As you can see, this is very powerful stuff.

So the questions is how do you set all of this up?  If anyone has tried to install this before or has used Audio Cable before, you quickly realize that there is scant documentation, it installs ‘shims’ into the Device Manager on Windows to intercept audio within the system and isn’t really intuitive at all.  But it isn’t that hard once you really understand what is happening and what you have to do to make it work correctly.

How to Set Up VoiceMeeter Banana

First, you are going to install the software.  You will be told that you need to provide permission for some device drivers to be installed into Windows.  This is an important step, it allows the software to intercept system audio at a very low level in the system.

Once installed, that is when things need to change.  First of all, your DEFAULT Playback devices will need to change to point to the VoiceMeeter devices.

Playback settings should look like this:

Windows Sound

As you can see there are two ‘VB-Audio VoiceMeeter’ devices, one entitled AUX VAIO and one just VAIO.  There really isn’t any difference here until you look back at the software.  In the middle of the system you see those two devices under Virtual Inputs.  This actually provides an interesting capability, you can have the default audio output device be the regular input and then set your voice software (Teamspeak, Discord, etc) or any other audio device on your system that allows you to select the output device separately than your default to this other input on the mixer, allowing you mix them together, send them to separate outputs, adjust the levels of one without adjusting the levels of another, etc.

For me, right now, I’ve just got everything going to the simple VoiceMeeter VAIO as this wasn’t a need I had at the time.

For the Recording settings:

Windows Recording Devices

Set your Default device to your Microphone still.  I know, it sounds counter-intuitive.  But where you want your sound coming out of your speakers or going to other devices to have gone through the VoiceMeeter software first, you want your input to the VoiceMeeter mixer to be pure.  There are options here to use the virtual inputs we discussed earlier here, but these are for more complex situations.  Again, here is where there is a lot of functionality to the software but unless you need it the mixer doesn’t require you to go through those paths.  Additionally, this allows for your microphone hardware device to still be used by other applications on your system (in game chat, Discord, etc).

Now, once this part of the configuration is set up, simply go into VoiceMeeter Banana and set up the input and outputs.

In my configuration, I clicked on the Hardware Input 1, when you do so an option list will present itself:

Voicemeeter Banana Hardware Input

Here you just select the Hardware device that you have configured as the Default Recording device.  Unless you have a specific reason, select the WDM version (Windows Device Manager).

At this point, you have all of your system audio going to VoiceMeeter VAIO Virtual Inputs and your microphone going to Hardware Input 1.

All that is left is setting up your Hardware Out:

Voicemeeter Banana Hardware Output

Select A1 and choose your system speakers.  You can set up other output devices (like your headphones or external capture card) as A2 and A3.

At this point you may still not have any sound coming out of your speakers and are worried.  Don’t be, there is one last thing to verify before moving forward.

Under Virtual Inputs – VoiceMeeter VAIO, make sure A1 is selected as the output for that device.  That will send all system/game sounds to your speakers configured on A1 output.

Under Hardware Input 1, make sure A1 is NOT selected, this would send your Microphone to your speakers.  We all know this is a VERY bad idea.

At this point you are basically configured.  Further configuration is going to depend on your specific needs. 

More configuration of course can be done if you have more output or input devices, there is really a lot here that can be done with this software mixer.  I’ll just give a quick overview of some of the basic features.

Hardware Input

Voicemeeter Banana Controls

On the right side dial you see the Noise Gate.  This functions much like what is set up in OBS but I find it gives far more control.  Just a word of warning about this and all dials in VoiceMeeter however.  You don’t ‘spin’ them as you would think you do, you literally just click on the dial and go straight up or straight down to adjust the dial.  It takes a second to adjust your head around it, but it works just fine.

On the left side dial you see Comp.  This is a compressor system that allows you lower volume levels for really high sudden occurrences (like if you scream during scary games) without blowing out your listener’s eardrums.  Play with it as you desire.

The Intellipan is interesting, the main panel shows how you can put brightness or some ‘echo’ into your mic.  If you right-click on the screen you are presented with a few more screens and you can cycle through them.  Most of them are for the really deep audio engineer that wants to tweak everything to get ‘that perfect sound’, if you are feeling adventurous go ahead and play with them, but otherwise they aren’t really needed.  Each hardware input has their own individual settings for all of these for more control.

Voicemeeter IntellipanVoicemeeter Intellipan ModulationVoicemeeter Intellipan Position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fader Boost does what you would expect, raises or lowers the db level of the audio on that device before sending it to the selected outputs.

You can also set the input to Mono and Mute the input as necessary.

Virtual Inputs

Voicemeeter Virtual Inputs

 

 

Virtual inputs operate much like the hardware based ones, for example the default playback device of your system is sent to a virtual input since we configured it that way, sending the system audio to go through VoiceMeeter VAIO.  As explained earlier you can set your Discord voice settings to go to VoiceMeeter AUX and have separate control over that audio in the mixer.

Here you can do basic things like set the equalizer of the input, adjust the left, right, front and rear focus of the audio and adjust the db levels before sending the audio to the output device selected.  This is also where you set your output device for each virtual input.

 

 

 

Hardware Out

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Here is where things can get real funky.  Your hardware outputs are setup here in A1, A2 and A3.  You can adjust the stereo and EQ for each output device, and even mute them if you need to do a quick mute for something.

You can also set up some Virtual outputs.  Let’s say you want all of your mixing being done before it goes to an audio recording software or even Discord or possibly even OBS running on a single PC streaming setup.  You set that up as a virtual output to that software and then set the INPUT for that software to that virtual output device.  For single PC streamers using OBS on their game system, this is how you would configure it If you are sending this virtual output to OBS, you would then need to set your audio input devices in OBS as follows:

OBS Voicemeeter Settings

This configuration would have your mic going through the mixer and being sent to B1, which is your VoiceMeeter Output.  Selecting this output as your input in OBS will ensure that your mixed microphone settings are being used and not just raw microphone input.

Finally, the big Cassette Tape.  I’m not sure how many people still remember Cassette Tapes, but it’s basically just a big representation of some additional audio functionality.  You can either record everything going through VoiceMeeter to a sound file OR you can select an audio file and add that file into the mix, to play along with everything else being manipulated.  I personally don’t find much use for this, if I want to add audio, I just do it with an application on my system and send it to the mixer with all other game/system audio (Groove Music, Spotify, Pandora, etc), but I can see the interesting possibilities.  Again, something you can play with.  The one use I do have for this is recording everything to a file for a ‘check’ of how the configuration sounds, so I don’t have to send my mic audio to the *gasp* speakers or to my headset (to incur the horrific delay mind game) just to test my levels and mix.  Just record a bit of audio and play it back to check what it sounds like.

As you can see there is a LOT you can do here.  BUT, there is one more thing I wanted to discuss that I recently found out about that really extends the functionality of this piece of software.

Advanced

If you select Menu and go to System Settings/Options, you will be presented with this screen

Voicemeeter Banana Options

Ok, now that looks very intuitive, doesn’t it?

Now, for most users you probably will never need to go in here.  Some audio engineers may see this and get excited but I’m sure the majority of you will be like me and shy away from this screen completely.

But I had a problem.  See, my voice is not as ‘loud’ as other people’s, partly because I have a bit of a baritone voice and those levels are a bit hard for many people to hear.  Basically, I’m a quiet talker.

But whenever I would increase the fader boost input (you can see mine is set pretty high on my configuration) you would hear a bunch of room noise in the audio, hissing and such.  Not Good.  For months I played with trying to get the right levels just to be frustrated and annoyed that it was hard to hear me on the stream.

This is where this really comes into play.  Needing to do something to the audio above what is built into the system.  On the bottom of the screen you see Patch Inserts.  Each input device has ‘virtual patch inserts’ to turn on.  Just turning them on does nothing obvious, but what it basically does is ‘turn on’ virtual plugs.  Think of it as adding mic and headphone jacks to a piece of equipment, you could plug in a cable, send the audio somewhere else and then from there back again into the mixer.  This is exactly what this allows you to do, just virtually inside the system.

You just need somewhere to send it.  Basically any VST host program will let you put in little effects plugins and you can route that audio stream through there to do further manipulation to it.

And I found just a great program for this called Minihost Modular.  It is a free piece of software that has an additional ‘hook’ into VoiceMeeter Banana, so the configuration is minimal.

What I’ve done here is patched the IN #1 (my microphone) to turn on those virtual jacks.  Then, in the Minihost Modular application I’ve run the audio stream through a VST plugin that allows me to cancel out that background hiss.

Minihost Modular

Now, since this is about getting VoiceMeeter Banana up and running for you, and because I am NOT an audio engineer or someone who has a lot of knowledge on VSTs and that wonderful world (others are far more knowledgeable than I), I am not going to get into the nitty gritty here.  I’m including it more to illustrate the power behind this software mixer and how it can really be used to get the audio stream that you not only want but deserve.  All without having to spend a ton of money on hardware equipment and cables and frustration in setting it up, not to mention putting it all somewhere without it looking like a broadcast studio for a 50,000 watt radio station. For those interested in slightly more advanced compressor settings, or getting rid of background noise, we will have some guides using Minihost Modular coming up!

Conclusion

So, we’ve talked about how to set up VoiceMeeter Banana on a very basic level with a hint at streamer needs, walked through the important features and discussed some of the more advanced features at a very low level.

What to check out next: Our Virtual Compressor guide and our background noise cancellation guide.

However, I may not have hit upon something specific that you have come across or you may still have questions.  Hopefully I haven’t made you even MORE confused.  Some people prefer to read through instructions, and others would rather see it being done and follow along via YouTube.  There is actually good bit of information out there about this software on YouTube and blog postings, I’ll add a couple of good resources here in this article to point you in the right direction.

Using Voice Meeter Banana for Lets Play/Streaming – Houser

VoiceMeeter Video Manual – an in-depth how-to tutorial – Terry Leigh Britton (very extensive 1 hour tutorial using the basic VoiceMeeter program, which has fewer default input/outputs and no recording functionality but works basically the same)

How to use VoiceMeeter to control your PC sounds – Epic Reset ({art 1)

VoiceMeeter + OBS + Spotify Tutorial – Bamse

VoiceMeeter Banana and OBS – GridM0nkey

And as always, if you have any questions I can always be messaged on Twitch at https://www.twitch.tv/rhineholdtv

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great post – if it’d gone up a day earlier it would have saved me a lot of headache 😛 I am wondering on your reasoning for keeping the default recording device as your mic though? It is kind of a minor thing but some apps can’t change from default in/out.

    • To be honest, thinking about it I can see the advantages of converting default input to be the second virtual output and send my mic, after going through those settings, to that virtual output. But honestly I was just trying to keep things as simple as I could for people who hadn’t dealt with the software before and since my streaming is to a second PC there are things like this that I haven’t really played around with yet.

      It is definitely something that you can do, especially once you start really adding plugins to make the voice/mic input more to your liking to make sure it is better for those other programs.