SteamVR 1.8 Update Adds Major Improvements to Audio Management

Most virtual reality (VR) headset owners who use Steam will likely have come across issues with the audio at some point, most commonly when switching between PC to VR. To rectify the audio management as well as other issues, Valve has released SteamVR 1.8, ‘The Audio Update’.

Valve Index

The main addition which should delight most SteamVR users is that the software: “will now select the appropriate input and output audio devices for the active headset on startup. Upon exit, SteamVR will restore audio devices to their previous state.” Furthermore, users will also be able to customize audio settings if they so wish.

This default audio selection currently supports Valve Index, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro and Oculus Rift/Rift S. Where Windows Mixed Reality head-mounted displays (HMD) are concerned, their audio is managed by the Mixed Reality portal but is compatible with this update.

Other audio improvements include:

  • Audio input and output devices can still be overridden in settings. The settings UI has been updated to reflect these changes.
  • Fixed multiple causes of audio settings being forgotten after driver updates.
  • Audio input and output settings are saved per HMD type. Switching between multiple HMDs will preserve the audio settings from each HMD, and using a new HMD for the first time will default to using the appropriate audio devices for that HMD.
  • Audio mirroring can be directed to the Default computer device or any specific output device. When mirroring is enabled and Default is selected, sound from the VR headset will also play on whatever audio output was default when SteamVR launched.
  • Fixed some bugs that would prevent audio mirroring from functioning when the default device was changed unexpectedly, or would require the mirror device to be re-selected.
  • In Windows, the default communication device is changed along with the default device, so voice chat programs that use the default communication device will work in VR without changing extra OS settings.
  • On exit, SteamVR restores audio settings their prior state. There is no longer a requirement to select “exit” devices in settings.
  • The Vive HDMI gain reduction setting is hidden for all other HMDs.
  • When Index HMDs are used for the first time, or after an audio driver update, the volume level defaults to 40% instead of 100%.

Oculus Rift S 2

SteamVR 1.8 isn’t solely about audio. Controller models and icons for HTC Vive Cosmos have been added to SteamVR Home, sound and notification feedback for SteamVR screenshots is more responsive and the dashboard has been refined with minor updates to in-headset visuals.

As Valve continues to improve SteamVR, VRFocus will keep you updated.