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The DirectXTK for Audio components implement a low-level audio API similar to XNA Game Studio's Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Audio. This consists of the following classes all declared in the Audio.h header (in the Inc folder of the distribution):
  • AudioEngine - This class represents an XAudio2 audio graph, device, and mastering voice.
  • SoundEffect - A container class for sound resources which can be loaded from .wav files.
  • SoundEffectInstance - Provides a single playing, paused, or stopped instance of a sound
  • DynamicSoundEffectInstance - SoundEffectInstance where the application provides the audio data on demand
  • WaveBank - A container class for sound resources packaged into an XACT-style .xwb wave bank.
  • AudioListener, AudioEmitter - Utility classes used with SoundEffectInstance::Apply3D.
Note: DirectXTK for Audio uses XAudio 2. It does not make use of the legacy XACT Engine, XACT Cue, or XACT SoundBank.

Related tutorials: Adding the DirectX Tool Kit for Audio, Adding audio to your project, Creating and playing sounds, Using positional audio


#include <Audio.h>


The first step in using DirectXTK for Audio is to create the AudioEngine, which creates an XAudio2 interface, an XAudio2 mastering voice, and other global resources.

// This is only needed in Windows desktop apps
CoInitializeEx( nullptr, COINIT_MULTITHREADED );

AUDIO_ENGINE_FLAGS eflags = AudioEngine_Default;
#ifdef _DEBUG
eflags = eflags | AudioEngine_Debug;
std::unique_ptr<AudioEngine> audEngine( new AudioEngine( eflags ) );

Per-frame processing

The application should call Update () every frame to allow for per-frame engine updates, such as one-shot voice management. This could also be done in a worker thread rather than on the main rendering thread.

if ( !audEngine->Update() )
    // No audio device is active
    if ( audEngine->IsCriticalError() )

Update() returns false if no audio is actually playing (either due to there being no audio device on the system at the time AudioEngine was created, or because XAudio2 encountered a Critical Error--typically due to speakers being unplugged). Calls to various DirectXTK for Audio methods can still be made in this state but no actual audio processing will take place. See AudioEngine for more information.

Loading and a playing a looping sound

Creating SoundEffectInstances allows full control over the playback, and are provided with a dedicated XAudio2 source voice. This allows control of playback, looping, volume control, panning, and pitch-shifting.

std::unique_ptr<SoundEffect> soundEffect( new SoundEffect( audEngine.get(), L"Sound.wav" ) );
auto effect = soundEffect->CreateInstance();


effect->Play( true );

Playing one-shots

A common way to play sounds is to trigger them in a 'fire-and-forget' mode. This is done by calling SoundEffect::Play() rather than creating a SoundEffectInstance. These use XAudio2 source voices managed by AudioEngine, are cleaned up automatically when they finish playing, and can overlap in time. One-shot sounds cannot be looped or have positional 3D effects.

std::unique_ptr<SoundEffect> soundEffect( new SoundEffect( audEngine.get(), L"Explosion.wav" ) );



Applying 3D audio effects to a sound

DirectXTK for Audio supports positional 3D audio with optional environmental reverb effects using X3DAudio.

AUDIO_ENGINE_FLAGS eflags =  AudioEngine_EnvironmentalReverb
            | AudioEngine_ReverbUseFilters;
#ifdef _DEBUG
eflags = eflags | AudioEngine_Debug;
std::unique_ptr<AudioEngine> audEngine( new AudioEngine( eflags ) );
audEngine->SetReverb( Reverb_ConcertHall );


std::unique_ptr<SoundEffect> soundEffect( new SoundEffect( audEngine.get(), L"Sound.wav" ) );
auto effect = soundEffect->CreateInstance( SoundEffectInstance_Use3D | SoundEffectInstance_ReverbUseFilters );




AudioListener listener;
listener.SetPosition( ... );

AudioEmitter emitter;
emitter.SetPosition( ... );

effect->Apply3D( listener, emitter );

Note: A C++ exception is thrown if you call Apply3D for a SoundEffectInstance that was not created with SoundEffectInstance_Use3D

Using wave banks

Rather than loading individual .wav files, a more efficient method is to package them into a "wave bank". This allows for more efficient loading and memory organization. DirectXTK for Audio's WaveBank class can be used to play one-shots or to create SoundEffectInstances from 'in-memory' wave banks.

std::unique_ptr<WaveBank> wb( new WaveBank( audEngine.get(), L"wavebank.xwb" ) );

A SoundEffectInstance can be created from a wavebank referencing a particular wave in the bank:

auto effect = wb->CreateInstance( 10 );
if ( !effect )
    // Error (invalid index for wave bank)


effect->Play( true );

One-shot sounds can also be played directly from the wave bank.

wb->Play( 2 );
wb->Play( 6 );

XACT3-style "wave banks" can be created by using the XWBTool command-line tool, or they can be authored using XACT3 in the DirectX SDK. Note that the XWBTool will not perform any format conversions or compression, so more full-featured options are better handled with the XACT3 GUI or XACTBLD, or it can be used on .wav files already compressed by adpcmencode.exe, xwmaencode.exe, xma2encode.exe, etc.

xwbtool -o wavebank.xwb Sound.wav Explosion.wav Music.wav

DirectXTK for Audio does not make use of the XACT engine, nor does it make use of XACT "sound banks" .xsb or "cues". We only use .xwb wave banks as a method for packing .wav data.

Voice management

Each instance of a SoundEffectInstance will allocate it's own source voice when played, which won't be released until it is destroyed. Each time a one-shot sound is played from a SoundEffect or a WaveBank, a voice will be created or a previously used one-shot voice will be reused if possible.

See AudioEngine for more information.

Platform support

Windows 8.x, Windows 10, Windows phone 8.x, and Xbox One all include XAudio 2.8 or later. Therefore, the standard DirectXTK.lib includes DirectXTK for Audio for all these platforms:
  • DirectXTK_Windows10
  • DirectXTK_Windows81
  • DirectXTK_WindowsPhone81
  • DirectXTK_XAMLSilverlight_WindowsPhone81
  • DirectXTK_WindowsPhone8
  • DirectXTK_XboxOneXDK
  • DirectXTK_XboxOneADK
For Windows desktop applications targeting Windows 8.x or later, you can make use of XAudio 2.8. The DirectXTKAudioWin8.lib contains the XAudio 2.8 version of DirectXTK for Audio, while DirectXTK.lib for Windows desktop contains only the math/graphics components. To support Windows desktop applications on Windows 7 and Windows Vista, we must make use XAudio 2.7, the legacy DirectX SDK, and the legacy DirectX End-User Runtime Redistribution packages (aka DirectSetup). The DirectXTKAudioDX.lib is the XAudio 2.7 version of DirectXTK for Audio.

DirectXTK_Desktop_2015, DirectXTK_Desktop_2013, and DirectXTK_Desktop_2012 do not include DirectXTK for Audio. To add DirectXTK for Audio support for a Windows desktop application, you must also add one of the following projects from the Audio folder of the distribution to your solution and Add a Reference to it (see DirectXTK for more details).

When targeting Windows 8.x or later:
  • DirectXTKAudio_Desktop_2012_Win8 - DirectXTK for Audio using VS 2012 and XAudio 2.8
  • DirectXTKAudio_Desktop_2013_Win8 - DirectXTK for Audio using VS 2013 and XAudio 2.8
  • DirectXTKAudio_Desktop_2015_Win8 - DirectXTK for Audio using VS 2015 and XAudio 2.8

When targeting Windows Vista or Windows 7:
  • DirectXTKAudio_Desktop_2012_DXSDK - DirectXTK for Audio project for VS 2012 + Windows 8.0 SDK + legacy DirectXTK using XAudio 2.7
  • DirectXTKAudio_Desktop_2013_DXSDK - DirectXTK for Audio project for VS 2013 + Windows 8.1 SDK + legacy DirectXTK using XAudio 2.7

DirectXTK makes use of the latest Direct3D 11.1 headers available in the Windows 8.x SDK, and there are a number of file conflicts between the Windows 8.x SDK and the legacy DirectX SDK. Therefore, when building for down-level support with XAudio 2.7, Audio.h explicitly includes the DirectX SDK version of XAudio2 headers with a full path name. These reflect the default install locations, and if you have installed it elsewhere you will need to update this header. The *_DXSDK.vcxproj files use the DXSDK_DIR environment variable, so only the Audio.h references need updating for an alternative location.

// Using XAudio 2.7 requires the DirectX SDK
#include <C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft DirectX SDK (June 2010)\Include\comdecl.h>
#include <C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft DirectX SDK (June 2010)\Include\xaudio2.h>
#include <C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft DirectX SDK (June 2010)\Include\xaudio2fx.h>
#pragma warning(push)
#pragma warning( disable : 4005 )
#include <C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft DirectX SDK (June 2010)\Include\x3daudio.h>

Content Pipeline

Note: When adding .xwb files to your Windows Store app or Windows phone app project, you need to manually set the file properties to "Content: Yes" for all configurations to have these files included in your AppX package. .wav files are automatically detected as a media file and are included as content by default.

Threading model

The DirectXTK for Audio methods assume it is always called from a single thread. This is generally either the main thread or a worker thread dedicated to audio processing. The XAudio2 engine itself makes use of lock-free mechanism to make it 'thread-safe'.

Note that IVoiceNotify::OnBufferEnd is called from XAudio2's thread, so the callback must be very fast and use thread-safe operations.

Further reading

Last edited Jul 28, 2015 at 8:03 PM by walbourn, version 35