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You have multiple sources of audio running at any given moment on your PC, but no convenient way to manage them all. Yes, Windows has plenty of advanced audio settings, and the volume mixer is there, but none of it is accessible, which led many people to using third-party solutions. Microsoft doesn’t seem content with that arrangement anymore and is now testing a new volume mixer you can access from anywhere.
How Microsoft’s new Windows 11 volume mixer works
Microsoft announced the new volume mixer as part of the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25309 on Thursday, March 2. The upgraded mixer now lives in Quick Settings in the taskbar, accessible at any time by clicking on the volume button or by a new keyboard shortcut, WIN + CTRL + V. This is a big improvement over the current volume mixer location, which can be found by right-clicking on the volume icon and choosing “Open Volume mixer.”
But the improvements don’t end there. While you, of course, have access to each audio source and their respective volume levels, you’ll also find all available audio outputs, in case you want to quickly switch from your PC’s speakers to your headphones. You’ll also see spatial audio settings here as well, when available.
Still, if you have a favorite third-party solution, you might be inclined to continue using it. As The Verge’s Tom Warren tweeted, these improvements are welcome but not as good as something like EarTrumpet, which lets you easily assign different audio outputs for different programs.
How to try out the new Windows volume mixer
To try out the updated volume mixer early you’ll need to be a part of the Windows Insider Program. Specifically, you’ll need to enroll in the Dev Channel, which is the channel Microsoft uses to seed the latest features and changes to Insiders. Because the Dev Channel is on the cutting edge of Windows, you take on more risk of bugs and other issues with the unfinished software. Unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t making the volume mixer available in the Beta Channel or Windows Release Preview Channel yet, so if you want to try it out, Dev Channel it is.
Microsoft is rolling out the Volume Mixer, as well, so it might not hit your PC right away. Since the feature was announced yesterday, however, the sooner you hop on the Dev Channel, the better your chances are of getting the mixer.