Windows Audio APIs

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Microsoft Windows has three audio APIs: MME, DirectSound and ASIO. MME is the oldest one. DirectSound is aimed for gaming purposes on and some soundcard it's played with a degraded internal resolution. ASIO is actually not a native part of Windows, but rather a hack invented by Steinberg in order to bring the latency down. This is achieved by using a very low buffer size and bypassing Windows' native APIs.

Comparison of sound APIs

Name Advantages Disadvantages
WaveOut, WaveIn or "MME" Works everywhere, never looses a buffer Very long latency
DirectSound Lower latency than MME, low CPU overhead Degraded audio quality with some audio drivers
ASIO Very low latency More prone to stuttering if the CPU or bus is strained, unstable with some audio drivers when combined with MME or DirectSound usage
WASAPI Very low latency Vista only, might be resampled somewhere (research needed)