You probably never thought you were ever going to need software to emulate cables but here you are, looking at a list of the best virtual audio cable software solutions. So let’s cut to the chase, you can probably agree that sound works in mysterious ways and sometimes you can’t seem to get to the root of the issue.
Well, that’s where specialized tools such as VB-Audio CABLE, JACK Audio Connection Kit, Loopback, and Carla step into action. These software solutions were specifically designed to help you route the sound however you see fit in a quick and convenient manner, without having to use real audio cables.
While some of them are just audio drivers in disguise, others offer more sophisticated solutions such as routing audio and MIDI data between apps or taking audio signals and using them as global inputs for any other source.
Virtual Audio Cable
Virtual Audio Cable is a software tool for Windows computers that does exactly what you’d expect it to do: acts as a virtual version of an audio cable and makes sure that the sound reaches its desired destination every time.
The behavior of this program is similar to the “Stereo Mix” feature of some hardware audio cards, better known as “What You Hear”. Virtual Audio Cable enables you to transfer up to 256 different audio signals between any applications simultaneously.
No audio hardware is required to use Virtual Audio Cable on your computer, but it becomes a necessity if you want to either hear the results or record signals from external sources.
This tool can be used on computers without audio cards to record audio signals that are generated by applications.
VB-Audio CABLE is a specialized software solution that can help you emulate a physical audio cable between apps on your computer by routing the audio signals generated by programs to any other app.
Since this tool acts as an audio driver, it should be very easy to decide the route of your audio signal by simply changing the input and output devices from within the apps you’re interested in connecting via sound.
Many programs and games allow you to decide what audio input and output devices should they use, just in case multiple such devices are available on your computer. VB-Audio CABLE took this feature and used it as its advantage to become widely accessible.
JACK Audio Connection Kit
JACK Audio Connection Kit is an ensemble of tools that can help you manipulate audio signals in terms of deciding what their routes should be on your computer in a quick, hassle-free manner.
This tool is but the backbone of a system designed to help you get various audio applications to communicate with each other, and with audio hardware as well. It’s similar to what a cable does to a guitar and an amplifier, but in this case, you get to decide which signal goes where.
JACK Audio Connection Kit can be easily installed on your computer thanks to the intuitive wizard that’s embedded within the installer, but configuring it once it’s installed might prove to be a bit difficult.
There are a lot of guides and a rich FAQ section on the official website that can help you simplify this part.
Carla is a modular software host for audio plugins that features support for a wide range of audio drivers and plugin formats. Some of this tool’s most important features are its transport control, parameter automation via MIDI CC, and remote control over OSC.
Supported plugin formats:
- LADSPA (LRDF included);
- SF2 + SFZ file support;
Supported audio drivers:
- JACK (preferred);
Carla comes with a sleek, dark-themed interface that packs its controls in an organized, non-cluttered manner and is somewhat customizable. You can keep the custom theme but use system colors, or even disable it altogether, even though it won’t look as nice.
The first time when you run Carla, you might want to scan your whole system for plugins. Your plugin folders can be customized in the configuration section of the program.
After you add new plugins, make sure to hit the refresh button so that the tool can receive the correct feed details.
Closing thoughts on best virtual audio cable software
Bottom line, if you find yourself working with various audio applications all the time and you can’t seem to find a good way to get all signals properly organized, it may be a sign that you need a helping hand from specialized software solutions.
Carla, JACK Audio Connection Kit, and Virtual Audio Cable are some of the best tools that can help you route the audio signals to and from many applications or devices, depending on your needs.