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First off, if the answer to this is simply "you can't," I'm okay with that.

That said - in Windows 7, I open the properties of the audio out on my sound card, change the default format from 16 bit to 24 bit (or vice versa) and get this message: The device is being used by another application. If you continue, that application may stop working.

... what is "another application?" Is there any way to find something, anything - the name of the file, the path to the .exe or whatever - anything that will tell me what application has a stranglehold on my sound card?

If it helps, my sound card is an external, M-Audio fast track pro, and yes, the drivers are current.

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The Volume Control application, accessible by right-clicking on the volume icon in the notification area next to your clock on the taskbar, or by running sndvol, should identify what applications are presently using your sound card.

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    You can just click the speaker and then "Mixer", and as for the latter option: "Windows cannot find 'sndvol32'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again."
    – Mark Sowul
    Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 2:07
  • @Mark Apparently Microsoft dropped the 32 sometime after Windows XP. I'll update my original answer. Thanks!
    – Patches
    Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 2:24
  • wow, that is ingeniously simple. why didn't I think of that. I've been having issues with DAW software glitching because other applications keep tweaking my soundcard's sample rate and whatnot, so I'll give this a shot and see if it helps me track down the offending program. Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 4:27
  • Yep, you were right - turns out both Steam and iTunes somehow kept getting priority over the device. Good call, patches. Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 22:44

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