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My laptop's realtek audio was able to simulate a speaker set with my headphones. By this I mean that it knew that in a real surround speaker set, both ears would actually hear a sound playing from only the right speaker, so it played a lower volume from the left earpiece for sounds that software told it to come out of only the right speaker. It would do this only when I selected "Headphones" from the popup that appears when I connect my headphones, however.

I've recently built a new desktop machine, and it does not perform this functionality, and I do not know how to enable it, because the headphones popup doesn't come up.

Spec comparison:

  • Laptop
    • Windows 8.1
    • Drivers from 2012
    • Unsure about hardware
  • Desktop
    • Windows 7
    • Tried most recent drivers from Realtek and from MB manufacturer
    • Motherboard is Asrock 97ZM OC Formula
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This is called Headphone Virtualization.

To enable it using Realtek drivers that do not display a popup when a new device is connected, you must explicitly select Stereo instead of 5.1 or 7.1. Once this is done, a Headphone Virtualization checkbox will appear near the bottom of the Realtek configuration window.

Check this box to enable the desired functionality.

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