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Kodi Audio Settings: understanding the audio options

If you are a first-time user of Kodi, or if you are an experienced veteran, looking for a guide to make the audio quality of your movies and streams better, or solve Kodi sound problems, then you’ve come to the right place. Though I won’t be telling you what is the golden setup you should use -as this depends strongly on your hardware and other factors-, we will surely take a look at the audio settings available for Kodi and what they do. Think of this as a Kodi setup guide to understand the options available, which you can use in Kodi for Android, Kodi for Windows, or any other version. [Read: How to install XBMC on Ubuntu?]

Kodi Audio Settings system
On the Settings menu, you should head to System to find the audio settings for Kodi.

It is clear that, for configuring Kodi, there are already automated solutions, like for example Kodi Configurator for Android, which chooses the best settings available for your device -though you can still change them later on- and even adds content and streaming sources, making it an ideal piece of software to use with Android media players. But sometimes it’s better to take matters into our own hands; specially if the quality of our audio is involved. What do all these Kodi audio settings mean? We tell you in this article.

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Kodi Audio Settings: confusing but helpful

How to set up Kodi audio? First things first, there are two possible menus where you will find settings to modify Kodi audio output; one of these is located in the settings menu, which can be accessed via System -> Settings -> System -> Audio output; we will call these Kodi audio settings the main audio settings. There is also a menu that you can get during playback, if you click the button with a speaker on it (on Confluence skin), and allows you to configure some other Kodi audio setting; we can call this menu the audio playback settings. In this menu you can do things related to the playback itself, such as offset the audio or even add subtitles to your media, provided you have the right service installed. [Read: Guide: How to add Kodi subtitles to your streams and movies]

Kodi Audio Output configuration
These are some of the settings you can change in the Audio output configuration.

Kodi Audio Settings: main audio settings.

  • Audio output device: Here you can select which one of the audio outputs from your computer you will be using. Depending on what you select here, some settings further down might be enabled or not.
  • Number of channels: If your audio connection is digital, this represents the channels supported by the audio connection; if it’s analog, it will represent the number of speakers your system is using.
  • Output configuration: You can set this option to Fixed, Optimized or Best Match. This will let you know if properties such as sampling rate and speaker configuration will change during playback to match the source (which is done in Best Match setting); will be set at the start of playback and not change (corresponds to Optimized); or will be set by the value indicated in settings at all times (which would be the Fixed option).
  • Limit sampling rate (kHz): If you set fixed output, this indicates the sampling rate. If you are using SPDIF, this is the maximum sampling rate.
  • Stereo upmix: When enabled, it lets 2-channel audio be upmixed to the number of channels set in Kodi audio settings.
  • Normalize levels on downmix: Also can be called Maintain original volume on downmix. When enabled, keeps the volume of the stream, at the cost of compressing dynamic range. When disabled, volume will be lower but the dynamic range will be maintained. Keep in mind the dynamic range is defined as the difference between the quietest and the loudest sounds in an audio source; thus, you should enable this setting if the dialogue in movies is barely audible.
  • Resample quality: If you need to have audio sampled at a different rate than the source, this is the option you need to tweak; you can set it on Low, Medium and High, but the latter two will consume more computer resources.
  • Keep audio devices alive: Defines the time audio devices will wait before entering a suspended state. It also has Always (audio devices never suspended) and Off (audio devices always suspended) settings. This setting uses a lot of CPU resourses, so depending on your hardware it might not be available.
  • Play GUI sounds: Define whether you want to hear GUI sounds or silence when browsing through the menus. You can also have the sounds play only if media playback is stopped.
  • Enable passthrough: With this setting you can enable passthrough Kodi audio output for encoded audio formats.
  • Passthrough output device: Only useful if you enabled passthrough audio, this lets you select the device you will use for audio playback of encoded formats.

The formats you could use are selected via this very same menu, and depending on your device, you could select:

  • Dolby Digital (AC3) capable receiver.
    • Enable Dolby Digital Transcoding: To be selected in case the audio output device only supports multichannel audio.
  • Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC3) capable receiver.
  • DTS capable receiver.
  • TrueHD capable receiver.
  • DTS-HD capable receiver.

Make sure you select a format compatible with your device to avoid slowness or freezes on your media!

Kodi Audio Settings: audio playback settings.

Kodi Setup Guide audio icon
Click the icon of the speaker (on Confluence) to access the in-playback audio configuration menu.
  • Volume: Select the volume of your media.
  • Volume amplification: Some sources are very quiet even if you crank up the volume all the way. Use the amplification in Kodi audio settings to solve that (if the audio gets too distorted, get another source!)
  • Audio offset: Sometimes the audio and the video seem to go separate ways. With this setting you can bring them back on track together and make them sync properly.
  • Audio stream: Useful for media with more than one audio stream, you can use this option to select which one you want to hear.
  • Stereo upmix, Enable passthrough: They are the same as the ones you can set on the main Kodi audio settings. See above.
  • Enable subtitles, Subtitle offset, Subtitle and Browse for subtitle: These options are for subtitle control; bring them over your media, make them sync properly, browse your downloaded ones for the movie, or download new ones.
  • Set as default for all videos: Make these settings apply to all videos from now on.
Volume for Kodi change volume
A look at the in-playback audio options for Kodi.

I’m overwhelmed by so many Kodi Audio settings!

So am I! But hey, it’s awesome we have such an amazing tool at our disposal for free, right? Having many options it means Kodi can adapt to any user’s needs and satisfy a huge number of people. If you want to try out these settings experiment with them and perhaps one of the best movie addons for Kodi, or sit back and relax watching the top live TV addons for Kodi; I’m sure you will have a great time and, perhaps, hear your movies a little bit better!

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About the author


Alejandro is an electrical engineer, working as a software developer and part-time writer. He has a passion for technology, languages and games, and has been around the web since 2004.