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SoundEffect is a container class for wave sample data. This data can then be played back as a one-shot sound or via a SoundEffectInstance.


#include <Audio.h>


The SoundEffect class can be created with two main forms of constructor. The first loads from a .wav file on disk.

std::unique_ptr<SoundEffect> effect( new SoundEffect( audEngine.get(), L"sound.wav" );
For exception safety, it is recommended you make use of the C++ RAII pattern and use a std::unique_ptr or std::shared_ptr

The second takes ownership of a memory buffer containing the wave data. The wfx and startAudio pointers are assumed to point into the same memory buffer owned by wavData since they must remain valid for the life of the SoundEffect object.

size_t audioSize = 44100 * 2;
std::unique_ptr<uint8_t[]> wavData( new uint8_t[ audioSize + sizeof(WAVEFORMATEX) ] );

auto startAudio = wavData.get() + sizeof(WAVEFORMATEX);

GenerateSineWave( reinterpret_cast<int16_t*>( startAudio ), 44100, 440 );
auto wfx = reinterpret_cast<WAVEFORMATEX*>( wavData.get() );
wfx->wFormatTag = WAVE_FORMAT_PCM;
wfx->nChannels = 1;
wfx->nSamplesPerSec = 44100;
wfx->nAvgBytesPerSec = 2 * 44100;
wfx->nBlockAlign = 2;
wfx->wBitsPerSample = 16;
wfx->cbSize = 0;

std::unique_ptr<SoundEffect> effect( new SoundEffect( audEngine.get(), wavData,
    wfx, startAudio, audioSize );

This example uses a simple helper routine which fills a buffer with 1 second of a pure sine wave at a given frequency:

void GenerateSineWave( _Out_writes_(sampleRate) int16_t* data, int sampleRate, int frequency )
    const double timeStep = 1.0 / double(sampleRate);
    const double freq = double(frequency);

    int16_t* ptr = data;
    double time = 0.0;
    for( int j = 0; j < sampleRate; ++j, ++ptr )
        double angle = ( 2.0 * XM_PI * freq ) * time;
        double factor = 0.5 * ( sin(angle) + 1.0 );
        *ptr = int16_t( 32768 * factor );
        time += timeStep;

Play one-shot sounds

To play the sound effect as a 'fire and forget' sound:


To play the sound effect as a 'fire and forget' sound with volume, a pitch-shift, and/or pan setting:

soundEffect->Play( volume, pitch, pan );

volume default is 1
pitch ranges from -1 to +1, playback defaults to 0 (which is no pitch-shifting)
pan -1 is fully left, +1 is fully right, and 0 is balanced.

Playing the sound

To play the sound with full control, looping, and dynamic pitch-shifting/volume control/pan settings:

auto effect = soundEffect->CreateInstance();

To play the sound with positional 3D audio:

auto effect = soundEffect->CreateInstance( SoundEffectInstance_Use3D
                | SoundEffectInstance_ReverbUseFilters);

See SoundEffectInstance.


  • IsInUse ()
Returns true if the SoundEffect is currently playing as a one-shot or there are SoundEffectInstances referencing it.
  • GetSampleSizeInBytes ()
Returns the size of the wave data in bytes.
  • GetSampleDuration ()
Returns the wave data duration in samples. This does not include any loops.
  • GetSampleDurationMS ()
Returns the wave data duration in milliseconds. This does not include any loops.
  • GetFormat ()
Returns WAVEFORMATEX structure that describes the wave data format.

Low-level access

FillSubmitBuffer is used internally, but can also be used when implementing your own XAudio2 source voices using the low-level interface access. Note that LoopCount is set to 0 by this function and should be set to a non-zero value by the caller. If looping is not desired, be sure to set LoopBegin and LoopLength to zero as well.

Care needs to be taken to ensure that any referenced SoundEffect is not deleted while a source voice is actively playing back content from it or has pending buffers referencing it.

Content support

XAudio 2.9 on Windows 10 supports PCM, ADPCM, and xWMA.

XAudio 2.8 on Windows 8.x and Windows phone support PCM and ADPCM formats.

XAudio 2.7 on Windows Vista or later via the legacy DirectX End-User Runtime Redistribution (aka DirectSetup) supports PCM, ADPCM, and xWMA.

XAudio on Xbox One supports PCM, ADPCM, and xWMA. Xbox One exclusive app developers can also make use of XMA2.

To compress to ADPCM (a variant of MS-ADPCM) .wav files, use adpcmencode.exe from the Windows SDK, Xbox One ADK, Xbox One XDK, or legacy DirectX SDK.

To compress to xWMA .wav files, use xwmaencode.exe from the Xbox One ADK, Xbox One XDK, or legacy DirectX SDK.

To compress to XMA2 .wav files, use xma2encode.exe from the Xbox One XDK.

WAV File Format

To aid in debugging, here is a simple console program for dumping out the content of a WAV in a human-readable form.

Further reading

Last edited Jul 28, 2015 at 8:04 PM by walbourn, version 31