Microsoft releases native class driver for USB Audio 2.0

Apple and Linux have had this for quite some time, but the latest windows preview version now has an early release of a native windows driver, as announced here:

Native support for USB Audio 2.0: We now have native support for USB Audio 2.0 devices with an inbox class driver! This is an early version of the driver that does not have all features enabled, for e.g.: only playback (render) is supported with this version. Recording (capture) support is scheduled to arrive in later iterations. We encourage you to play with the driver and let us know what you think (using the Feedback app). If you already have third party drivers for your USB Audio 2.0 device installed, follow instructions in this blog post to switch to using the inbox class driver.

I have done some initial testing with Roon and my Esoteric K-01x, so far the results are not good. Audio plays OK if I don’t use exclusive mode, however when I switch to exclusive mode (Event Driven and not) audio plays only for several seconds, then breaks up and playback stops.

Given that it’s an early version of the driver, on a preview/beta version of windows, my expectations are low but I am excited that Microsoft is finally going to deliver a native driver. It makes me very nervous to spend large amounts of money on a USB compatible DAC only to have to rely on an audio company to keep the driver up to date and working on each release of windows. Of course, most audio companies are outsourcing this task but I feel much more comfortable using a Microsoft developed/supported driver.

Curious if anyone else has tried this? has @danny or anyone on the Roon team done any testing with this? I will be keenly interested to follow the development of this driver, as well as hear other’s results in hopes that this can replace the Esoteric supplied driver for my DAC.

I would strongly recommend using manufacturer ASIO driver that comes with USB-DAC if you are Windows OS. Generic driver (support by the OS) is often not optimised for the particular hardware chipset. As it implied it will either work or not work.

no testing yet, but this is not surprising for a new driver.

@MusicEar – I hear what you are saying, but I think it is unrealistic to expect a boutique manufacturer of a high-end USB DAC to develop and distribute something as complex as a windows audio driver and keep it up to date indefinitely to support new OS releases. I have always been worried that I will get stranded with a lovely and expensive piece of equipment that will be near useless without the requisite driver. I have been careful to buy only equipment that will operate at high resolution with any standard USB class 2.0 audio driver.

As a programmer, I know that driver development is hard! Frankly, I have had issues with the Esoteric supplied drivers for my K-01X, and I am looking forward to Microsoft releasing a much higher quality driver. I only wish it had been available sooner, such that I could count on the DAC manufacturers having tested their hardware with it.

Releasing a generic driver that works on different hardware across the broad is extremely challenging especially from a OS manufacturer. Just like display card driver, if one uses generic driver by the OS, you don’t get all the features supported by the hardware.

UAC 2.0 is supported by Apple and Linux OS and can work most of time but both the manufacturers of OS and USB-DAC don’t guarantee it will be 100% compatible most of time due to different hardware chipset out there.

And yet, DAC manufacturers, e.g. Schiit, iFi, Marantz, etc., don’t supply drivers for macOS or Linux.

when this Microsoft driver becomes more popular, the vendors will test with it more. That’s why the Mac driver works.

Totally agree – once this driver is released I doubt we will see many more custom drivers from audio manufacturers.

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