Audio over Remote Desktop Rocks!

I was recently introduced to this nifty little feature of Remote Desktop of Windows XP - bringing remote audio to the local machine. I have to say that I just LOVE this creature comfort feature...

Now, I never knew nor thought about it earlier because I rarely use it while at work - the "remote" machine is usually a test machine, and my collection of music (all legitimately ripped from my own CDs, before anyone asks...) is already playing on my main machine at work.

But, when I am at home over VPN, the "remote" machine is usually my main machine at work... which has my collection of music... so now I just hit play and my local VPN access machine (usually my X41 laptop, which has no music on it) starts streaming music. How nifty! I have not tried this, but I'm guessing remote audio CDs play this way as well.

Hmm... I just notice that the underside of the laptop where the speakers are located gets a bit more warm than usual, but that's probably ok.

I know, I know, you probably all have your music collections at home, run ShoutCast or similar streaming server on your home network with an open Internet port, simply connect to it from the workplace over HTTP or appropriate tunnel with a proxy client, and have been doing it for years. So... I am just late to the bleeding-edge party. But, humor me for a moment. 😉

I love the fact that I am lounging at home in front of my fireplace and VPN'd in a totally wireless manner (network, power, and mice) to my work machine and streaming music from it... while I am tapping out this blog entry and enjoying the sunny afternoon (oops, the sun just set).

Ahh... isn't technology wonderful? 🙂


P.S. Oh, if there is something better, let's hear that, too...

Comments (39)

  1. Thomas says:

    So, how do you actually enable this? =)

  2. David.Wang says:

    Thomas –

    1. Open the Remote Desktop Connection client ("mstsc" on the commandline).

    2. Click on Options>> to open the detailed settings dialog

    3. In the "Local Resources" tab, there should be an option for "Remote computer sound".

    4. Select "Bring to this computer"

    I’m using at least XP on both local and remote OS. Not certain if it works for W2K.


  3. idsanity says:

    me too.  I just tried this today and it rocks!  I knew that audio ouput could be forwarded to the client but I didn’t expect mp3’s to stream so well.  I want to try this from a Treo.

  4. David.Wang says:

    idsanity – yeah, it’s really quite awesome how everything streams over RDP. CDs, WAV, MP3, WMV…

    Add to that the forwarding of Smartcard and the encrypted PPTP which I used to RDP, it’s all secured and I hardly ever type my user password anywhere.

    Life is good. 🙂


  5. David Wang says:

    Back in this blog entry, I mused about the nice Audio over RDP feature. It is pretty sweet to have secure,…

  6. bart wakker says:

    Hello I just tried audio over remote desktop, but I am not very happy with it. The quality is very low. I was expecting they would send normal uncompressed audio (2 times 16 bits times 44Khz, which is about 160KB/s) which should not cause any bandwidth problems on a gigabit lan. Instead it sounds almost like an analog telefone line :(.

    Am I doing something wrong?

  7. Dustin says:

    Is there away in any remote desktop program to have the audio play on both remote and local computers.

  8. titansgd says:

    Okay it works when using windows rdp client.

    But what if using unix rdp client…? coz i’m using suse but i cannot hear any music on my laptop..

    Thanks for your advice

  9. David.Wang says:

    titansgd – Sounds like a limitation with the Unix RDP client.


  10. Andrew says:

    I’m having difficulty doing this, can anyone help? I know how to set it up – but it’s still playing on the host machine, not my client machine.

  11. Eddie says:

    I have tried this, but no luck.

    Someone running Vista says they are able to get sounds, but I am not.

    There is no sound card on that server, but I was told that didn’t matter

  12. Reuben says:

    hi everyone,

    I manage to get sound on my laptop from my pc(laptop running vista and pc windowx xp).

    What I cant manage is the sound going in through line in….i.e. sound from my tv tuner card.

    Should that be played on my laptop too?


  13. Warren says:

    Oh man I never knew about the remote desktop feature where I can basically play music from my laptop to my desktop (which has some awesome speakers btw).  If I knew about this feature earlier, I would not have bought my Airport Express Base Station!!!

  14. Chris says:

    Strangely enough, when I RDC into Server 2008 from Vista, I get a "No audio devices found" error that I don’t get when I’m physically logged in. (I have the audio service started.) So I can’t even play songs from the server’s speakers as long as I’m logged in via RDC.

  15. arvind says:

    can any one tell how to play sound on the remote pc that is sound on the speakers connected to the remote pc

  16. David.Wang says:

    arvind – you need to go into the Remote Desktop "Options" button, "local resources" tab, and determine whether to bring the sound to the local machine or leave at the remote machine.


  17. johan says:

    that sounds lije a fable to me, it’ s fake. You need fiber to do this.

  18. windows says:

    it doesn’t work on my computer. my server is Windows Server 2003 and im using windows xp.

    i guess this is because of some restriction settings but i dont know where to find it. Please help. thanks.

  19. damian says:

    anyone know if i can listen in on what other users, on the same server, are listenig to?

  20. vidura says:

    its amazing when you are doing this over a wireless network.. awsome.

  21. Preston Hall says:

    there are two things that are very important and have been overlooked on this thread. first off, and this is in the case of foobar and vlc, you must have the player open on your ‘remote’ machine BEFORE remoting in. in foobar, if you dont, it will automatically remove your true soundcard from the output and replace it with either remote desktop emulation or the windows primary sound driver (which would give you the ‘tinny’ telephone line sound mentioned previously.) if you leave foobar open when leaving the house/office, then remote in, all is well.  with vlc, its a bit weirder and i must say, i havent figured it out exactly why, but it will play regardless but will be very very choppy. you do NOT need fiber to do this and i swear to that. i have used comcast for this purpose for 4 or 5 years now and have only streamed FLAC and no mp3’s so i can vouch for its ability to work. even at my work office, we have standard DSL and i can still stream just fine, although, much better when the RDC window is minimized to my local station.

    the second thing is that you must set to 16 bit if in foobar to avoid any hangups or freezes or the like, unless you have a nice pipe accomodating a nice card (like my 12/2 comcast w/ ESI Juli@ soundcard) if yo uhave any other issues, email me at

  22. Gartner says:

    We use Elusiva Remote Sound for WTS based soft-phones and speech recognition. It’s awesome and there is no dreaded latency.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Regarding UNIX audio, rdesktop(1) does in fact support audio via RDP.  You need only enable it with the following command line


      -r sound:local

    Consult the man page for details.

  24. Exotic Hadron says:

    Sorry folks, does it mean I can stream full-resolution audio from my server to client? (The server is a remote machine that you connect to, and the client is the one you are conneting from).

    I am asking because I don’t seem to understand how to do that!

    There are two cases.

    1. I log into the server and run Windows Media Player there. I get my sound redirected to my client so that I can here it on the client.

    But on my client computer I have Microsoft RDP audiodriver chosen as the default device. And there’s nohing else to choose from. Thus, I get a low-quality, low-resolution sound on my client. Bummers! My new remasterd Alan Parsons’ Ammonia Avenue sounds just as worse as a telephone line (2.7KHz of bandwidth as you know).

    How do I get the hi-resolution sound on my client?

    2. I log into the server and run Foobar there. And how do I get the hi-resoution sound in this case? Do I have to run my Foobar interactively on the server BEFORE i log into there via RDP?

    Thank you everybody.

  25. Chris McKenzie says:

    This is a horrible feature.  I despise it.  And the fact that it’s on by default is absolute deplorable.  I have had computer do hard locks and resets when I trigger a "remote".  Also, I have had production sounds systems completely crap out on me because I want to RDC in to look at the status.

    It’s remote "DESKTOP" not remote "PLAY MY FREAKING AUDIO" or more then likely remote "cut out the sound in front of 3,000 people, crash the application, reboot, get boos from the crowd — get a 10 minute delay and then be back in business."

    And this wasn’t the first time.  AND THEN, when it DOES work, it’s this jumpy thing with horrid sound.  Why, oh why, is this the default?  It’s absolutely ridiculous.

  26. Stephen says:

    My god you people are AMAZINGLY STOOOPID.

    If you still have the box’s your PC’s came in quickly pack them up and ship them back to where everit is you purchased them. Include a letter of apology asking for forgiveness because you are to damn dumb to own or operate a PC.

    "Hard locks & reset when u do remote" – what the hell does that even mean.

    You are definetly not doing ‘remote’ u fool.

    RDC ? please tell me thats a typo.

    You are offered some info on a very cool app and all you do is complain and whine. This is a COMPUTER not a TV, it takes at least half a brain to work it.

  27. David.Wang says:

    Chris – Audio drivers are notoriously flaky, just like video and network drivers. Why were they enabled on your production servers?

    Production servers should not have audio enabled for this precise reason. Windows Server SKUs since 2003 have not had Audio enabled by default, so it sounds like your Production server is not as stable as it could be when it comes to drivers, and Remote Desktop simply the messenger and you were the victim.

    Of course, all the defaults in Remote Desktop can be customized, so if you don’t like something you can always change its default behavior. Just change default.rdp in your user’s profile directory.

    Personally, I am more irked by remote desktop forwarding the print drivers to the remote system by default because obviously local printers will not be attached on the remote system. Having audio forwarded by default seems fine because the remote system’s audio drivers are under control for stability.


  28. damian says:

    I concur…audio over remote desktop does rock, for sure.

    Digging deeper…i have audio production software installed on a remote computer but cannot hear the audio. WMP 11 audio and sites with embedded WMPs work remotely. I’m going through the motions as I  compose this comment and am wondering if I need a similar or better audio card on the local computer?(the remote comuter has an SB Audigy 2).

  29. Martha says:

    I can get sound over remote desktops from nearly all my applications.  However, it doesn’t come through in Adobe Premiere Pro (CS3); I get the message in an Adobe Defautl Windwon Sound Driver dialog box that the currently intalled soundcard driver does not support DirectSound Input. I am a middle schooll media teacher trying to grade final videos from home!  Again — I can hear the *.wmv version, but cannot hear the audio in the Premiere project file.  

  30. Brent says:

    I like this feature as well. Sometimes just sitting the on couch and having the computer in another room start playing music is cool. Then disconnect, change it the music output to the computer I’m at.  Having a network drive to play the files where you’re at, but controlling another computer is very useful, and fun!

  31. rik says:

    stephen———I commend these people on there quest for knowlege and feel pity for your soul.  If you feel you need to put people down because of your superiority, go right ahead.  We all know your one of those.

  32. preston says:

    simply do the following

    follow this guide and ONLY this guide for setting your connection up initially. every other guide ive found is utter junk for properly setting up RDC w/ decent to proper audio quality

    next, go to the server machine (physically, not remotely!) and set your audio driver to ‘windows default audio’

    if youre planning on using foobar2000 (which you should 🙂 ), open it while youre at the station and hit ctrl+p to open preferences.

    in preferences for foobar, expand the ‘output’ tree and set to your desired card and apply then go to ‘output format/postprocessing’ in that same box and set to 16 bit with NO dither. save and close the preferences box and minimize foobar. do NOT close it.

    now go to your client pc (one youre connecting FROM) and open the remote desktop link you created when setting up.

    hit options and tick ON the ‘bring remote audio to this computer’ box and then save and connect to your computer. you will now have flawless 16 bit audio. if youre like some and have 24 bit audio, make sure you have a card better than a sound blaster or this will not sound good at all.

    any Q’s….read again, then email

  33. Makgopelo says:

    thanks Preston, your post works 100% :)…

  34. JennF says:

    Is there a tool that multiple users can remote a PC and all of the with have sound. As far as I know RDC is just for one-to-one connection.

    I hope someone would have an answer. thanks!

  35. Preston says:

    Multiple cards denoted to indiv logins may work. I would imagine terminal services could make that happen but have never tried

  36. Preston says:

    But you can use simplify media and share audio and pictoral collections amongst up to a group of 30 friends. Shares show up in your network devices under both winamp and iTunes natively. Additional support for foobar is possible with some tweaking, vlc and amarok should be pretty easy to use too and xbmc omgsh amazing! Enjoy

  37. Taz says:

    There is an easy to use alternative build into Opera called "Unite".

    You can use it to share files, pictures etc. with friends.

    It has a media player feature and you can even set up a web server and stuff with it.

  38. J. Collins says:

    We use Elusiva Remote Sound –…/RemoteSound

    We needed to run Nuance Medical and Dragon did not work even with Win7 and 2008R2. Elusiva's product worked with 2008 and even Server 2003.

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