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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Adding Volume AND Pan Control to Windows 7

How many times do you listen to sound on your PC and want to pan left or right? I do often enough to get tired of what is required to get to the "Balance" controls:

  1. Click the Speaker icon.
  2. Click Mixer (below the fader).
  3. Click the icon for the Device you're listening to.
  4. Click the Levels tab.
  5. Click the Balance button.
  6. Adjust the faders for "1" (Left) and "2" (Right).
Actually, having the individual settings can be helpful at times, but for quick pans, they're a pain.

Thanks to an Alan Henry post on Lifehacker, I learned of a small windows program, SimpleSndVol, that puts a new volume fader with a pan slider onto the task bar tray.

The download link on Alan's post has changed, and here's where to download the file as of this writing.

It's free, but donations are accepted.

After virus checking the file, install it -- and you'll end up with two volume controls -- the Windows one and the SimpleSndVol one (which may require clicking on the "Show hidden icons" up arrow to see).

To unhide SimpleSndVol and hide the Windows version:
  1. Windows Start button.
  2. Type "customize" in the search field.
  3. Click "Customize icons on the taskbar."
  4.  Set Volume to "Hide icon and notifications." It will still be available by clicking the "Show hidden icons" up arrow, and you may still want to use it.
  5. Set SimpleSndVol to Show icon and notifications. It will "stick" to the taskbar now.
  6. Click the "OK" button.
As for SimpleSndVol, here are my observations (this is for version SimpleSndVol-
  1. It works! To check it out, I opened the Windows Balance faders (you can click the "Mixer" link on SimpleSndVol and follow the steps at the top of this post to see them). Then I panned left and right, watching the Windows Balance sliders move.
  2. To jump to left, middle or right pan, the L, 0 and R below the slider will do the trick.
  3. Clicking to the left or right of the slider will result in a 10% change in the balance in that direction. [Strangely enough, if the slider is at extreme right or left, that same clicking results in a 9% change up to 27% where it then starts making 10% changes again.]
  4. The first time I right clicked the SimpleSndVol icon and selected "Settings," I received a .net error message. I chose to continue the program, clicked on "Settings" again, and it worked without an error.
  5. For me, using the center scroll of the mouse when over the SimpleSndVol icon was a very slow method of volume control. It's easier to click and open the control. I'm pretty sure this depended on my mouse settings.
  6. Middle clicking on the icon is a quick way to mute the sound.
  7. Right clicking the icon gives you the same access to sound settings that you have with the Windows Volume control.
  8. Some of the icons included with the program reflect the volume level without having to open the fader.
  9. The SimpleSndVol control minimizes milliseconds after you move the mouse off it. It would be nice if it stayed on the screen even with an errant move off the control.
I give it a thumbs up and have made a donation to the author.

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