Sound card in virtual machine VM, audio interface with remote desktop

Does anyone have experience getting high quality sound output as well as sound input options for a (Windows 10) virtual machine?

Should the card go into the server or the client?
Are certain models recommended?

Is it possible to connect a USB audio interface from the client through RDP to the server?

Hi! Do you have physical access to the machine on which the VM runs?

I usually do

  1. give the VM a private USB controller, to which I attach USB audio stuff. Either that or passing through a PCI(e) soundcard is almost certain to give native performance while running in a VM.

Other options include:

  1. Using USB (not PCI) passthrough to pass through a USB device (which in turn may be a sound device) to the VM
  2. Using RDP to pass the sound stream to the host, in that case the sound hardware is attached to the host

USB over RDP - I don’t know if it’s possible, it sounds like a thing but it is probably not better than 1 or 2 provided you have physical access to the host.

My experience is from Linux hosts, but I expect vmware et al. to function similarly. Could you describe your setup in a bit more detail?

Thanks for the quick reply.
I’m planning so set up a server at home once the new EPYC CPUs (Milan) are available for SOHO customers. I’ll try to replace one or two traditional desktops using RDP from a thin client. While the main purpose of the Windows 10 VM is image processing (dedicated GPU in the server if I manage to grab one) I’m also keen on getting good audio for music, not games.

I know USB passthrough to the remote machine works for certain devices like printers, storage, and (results vary) card readers, I don’t know about other USB hardware like audio interfaces or webcams.

I see - so the client is another machine than the VM host. Then the question reduces to whether USB can be passed over RDP, this has nothing (afaik) to do with the virtualization part.

And that question, whether USB audio can be passed with quality over RDP, I don’t know the answer to. Someone else here might know. The audio hardware (i.e. the D/A conversion) must sit on your side of the network, that’s for sure.

(unless the server is nearby enough to draw audio or USB cables from it, but it seems to defy what you are asking for…)

Edit: there are probably solutions for audio streaming over the network, where you can set up separate server and client software on the respective ends, and run these in parallel with RDP.

There are cheap-ish DANTE based DACs you could use.

While it’s theoretically possible to pull audio cables from the server room to the office, it indeed does defy the purpose a bit. USB specification does not support the distance, so if it does not work through RDP, it will not work for me.

Thank you for the DANTE links, they look like a solid technical solution for this but will also add substantial cost (for USB and audio). I would also have to either assign some of the existing LAN connections to this or pull additional network cables. Anyway, it’s good to know there is a solution for this.

For the rest, I see it’s more of a software (RDP) issue than a hardware one.

I had to pass through the audio controller to get it to work well.

I would then probably look for ways to stream the audio over the network, from the VM to the client somehow. And connect the sound device in the client. That would imply a second network stream in addition to RDP, but at least it would be a software solution.

Scream might work?