5 Ways To Change Sound/Audio Output Device In Windows 11

Select Sound Audio Device Windows 11Select Sound Audio Device Windows 11

On a Windows 11 PC, the sound output automatically switches to the device you plugged in or connected, whether a Bluetooth/wireless audio device, a wired headset, or any external speakers. Before that, if your PC has built-in speakers, the sound is transmitted through those.

But what happens when you have multiple audio output devices connected to the same computer? Do they all play the sound simultaneously?

The answer is “no.” The Windows operating system is designed to give output to only one audio device at a time. Thankfully, you can choose which audio device the sound should come from when multiple devices are connected. This allows you to switch devices without unplugging or disconnecting the rest.

There are multiple ways you can switch your sound output device on a Windows 11 PC. You can also change your default sound output device, which means that the selected device will play the sound even if you restart your PC.

How to Switch Output Audio Device in Windows 11

From Quick Settings Menu

The “Quick Settings” menu is the flyout that appears when you click on the area on the taskbar containing the network icon, sound icon, and battery icon. If you have multiple devices connected, you can change your sound output preference using this menu. Here is how:

  1. Click on the Quick Settings menu to expand it from the taskbar.

    Open Quick Settings menu
    Open the Quick Settings menu
  2. From the flyout, click on the arrowhead labeled “Manage audio devices” in front of the volume control slider.

    Manage audio devices
    Manage audio devices
  3. From the next menu, click on the audio device you want the sound to play on.

    Select output aido device
    Select output audio device

The system sound will now play through the selected device. Note that this does not configure the selected device as the default output device.

From Volume Mixer

The volume mixer in Windows 11 gives you different options to manage, such as individual volume levels for different apps, etc. You can also manage the output sound device from the mixer. Here is how:

  1. Navigate to the following to open the volume mixer :

    Settings app >> System >> Sound >> Volume mixer

    Alternatively, you can also right-click on the volume icon in the taskbar and open the volume mixer.

    Open volume mixer from taskbar
    Open volume mixer from the taskbar
  2. The volume mixer Settings page will then open. Expand the drop-down menu in front of “Output device” and select your preferred device to play the sound.

    Select output audio device
    Select output audio device

From the Sound Settings Page

Another way to go about it is through another Settings page that lets you choose your output sound device in Windows 11.

  1. Navigate to the following:

    Settings app >> System >> Sound
  2. Click on “Choose where to play sound” to expand the menu, then select the output sound device from the options under it.

    Select output audio device 2
    Select output audio device

Using Xbox Game Bar

This method changes the default output audio device.

The Xbox Game Bar provides various widgets for you to optimize your gaming experience. The Audio widget allows you to manage your audio output device. Perform the following steps to manage your sound output device using the Xbox Game Bar:

  1. Launch the Xbox Game Bar using the Windows Key + G shortcut keys.

  2. By default, the Audio widget should open. If it does not, you can open it by clicking on the volume icon in the main Xbox bar.

    Open audio widget
    Open audio widget
  3. From the Audio widget, click on the drop-down menu under “Windows default output” and select the output audio device you would prefer.

    Select output audio device 3
    Select output audio device

From Sound Applet

This method changes the default output audio device.

Another way to change your output audio device is through the Control Panel applet named “Sound.” Note that changing your output device using this method switches the device from where the sound is coming, and also sets it as the default device.

  1. Open the Sound applet by typing in mmsys.cpl in the Run Command box.

  2. From the Sound applet, in the “Playback” tab, select the output audio device you want to switch to, then click Set Default.

    Set default audio device
    Set default audio device

This will now switch your output sound device, and also configure it as default.

Closing Words

Now you do not need to disconnect your devices from your computer to get the sound from your preferred device. Instead, simply control it from Windows’ UI and switch any time you want, as many times you want, without using third-party utilities.

That said, there are ample free third-party tools that also allow you to switch the output audio sources, but they won’t be needed as long as you are using Windows 11, or even Windows 10.

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Subhan Zafar is an established IT professional with interests in Windows and Server infrastructure testing and research, and is currently working with Itechtics as a research consultant. He has studied Electrical Engineering and is also certified by Huawei (HCNA & HCNP Routing and Switching).


  • Octavian

    Can you please tell us how to change the sound device on which the Windows 11 system sounds will be played? I’ve seen that the only solution is to play the system sounds on the default sound card, which I don’t want, because I need to play other things on that card. More exactly, I need to play the music with VLC Media Player, and it needs to use the default sound card, because if I set another sound card in VLC Media Player, it is not remembered after it is closed.

    • Subhan Zafar
      Subhan Zafar

      Windows 11 gives the user the option to change its per-app sound output. Meaning, you can select different output sound devices for different apps. The system sounds are also considered an app in this case. You can manage the individual output sound devices per app from Settings >> System >> Sound >> Volume Mixer (Under Advanced settings). Here, expand “System sounds” and then you can select the output device to a different sound card from the drop-down menu.
      We would like to add that in order to manage the output sound devices of other apps, the application(s) must be running so that the system can register them, and then you will be given the option to manage their output devices.
      You can also refer to our other post that gives multiple ways to route your audio from individual apps to specific output devices/cards:

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