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The road to success - making your mic work with Shadow

Making microphones work with a cloud computer is no easy task, but our Shadow developers have managed to crack it. Find out more.

It's a wrap

A key component of any PC setup, the microphone has often been a sticking point when it comes to compatibility with Shadow. While microphones aren’t usually a problem for local machines, it’s a different story when it comes to a computer that’s based entirely in the cloud.

We’ve spoken about our commitment to fixing how microphones work with Shadow in the past, and we’re determined to achieve this goal. We’d like to share with you how things are progressing. 

Magic mic

Although Shadow uses the same version of Windows as a local PC, it doesn’t have a sound card. The challenge, then, was to make the system believe that a sound card is physically present using a process known as virtualisation. This is a common software trick that essentially creates a virtual piece of recognisable hardware. Clever stuff, right?

Using virtualisation, we were able to create the presence of audio equipment using Shadow, which could pass sound and voice chat through the same network. Unfortunately, and contrary to popular belief, transferring voice chat is a very bandwidth-intensive task since it’s completely uncompressed at its core. Because of this, virtualisation quickly showed its limitations due to numerous problems such as crackling, shifting audio, and sharp cuts when using voice chat. 

For these reasons, we decided that this wasn’t a viable option and set out to change the way the microphone would traditionally work with local hardware. Instead of activating sound via a virtual device, we wanted to integrate sound into Shadow’s version of Windows via an in-house piece of software. Think of a program like Skype and you’re on the right lines, but one that is specifically dedicated to Shadow. 

Voice (woes) over

The good news is that we’re pleased to announce that this solution is working extremely well. While there are optimisations and ongoing adjustments to be made, especially on the prioritization of microphones (as you can register several), this technique has allowed us to mitigate all of the problems above. Next step will be the choice of your mic directly from the Quick Menu.

It’s important to keep in mind that like a webcam, or any device that requires data to be sent to Shadow, the microphone is bandwidth-intensive, so it’s paramount to choose the right value (or sampling) so that the signal is as optimal as possible.

We’re on the right track to making the microphone ultra accessible and functional for Shadow users. However, we’d love to get your feedback on your experience, so please consult our roadmap to keep up to date with how development is progressing.