How to use your Nvidia graphics card to improve the quality of your calls


If you find that background noise is interfering with voice or video calls from your computer, a new piece of software from Nvidia can help (provided you have the necessary hardware to run it). Released in April 2020, RTX Voice uses the hardware found in Nvidia’s RTX (and more recently GTX) GPUs to process your incoming and outgoing audio and eliminate almost all background noise.

Below is a short demonstration I recorded to show you how it works. This was recorded with a Blue Snowball microphone using the built-in call recording feature in Zoom. If I haven’t turned on the software, you can hear the loud clicking of my mechanical keyboard in the background of the conversation. But when I turn on RTX Voice, the sound disappears completely.

In addition to handling the input from your microphone so that the people you are talking to cannot hear background noise around you, you can also set the software to eliminate background noise from other people. So you can protect yourself from the loud keyboard of your colleagues and protect them from your own too. It’s a win-win.

Using RTX Voice to reduce background noise

RTX Voice is quite easy to use, but the big downside is that you need the right hardware. To use it, you will need an Nvidia GeForce or Quadro RTX or GTX graphics card as the software uses this hardware to process your audio. That means you’re out of luck if you have a Mac, or a Windows machine without a dedicated GPU.

In addition to hardware requirements, the other thing to note about RTX Voice is that since the processing is done by your graphics card, it can take system resources away from games or other graphics intensive applications you use. I ran some quick and dirty benchmarks to measure performance impact and found running RTX Voice on my Discord mic reduced input UniEngine’s celestial benchmark at just over 3 fps or about 6 percent, increasing to over 8 fps or 14 percent if I were also using the software to process incoming audio. That more or less tracks with YouTuber EposVox’s report a reduction of 4 to 10 percent when used on his microphone, increasing to 20 percent with both microphone and speakers.

I think that makes RTX Voice a much better option for conversations where you’re unlikely to be running something graphically intensive at the same time, like a conference call at work, than if you’re playing a game at the same time. If you’re looking for something a little more gaming specific, Discord recently launched its own noise canceling feature, which might be a better alternative.

RTX Voice can be set up in just a few minutes.

  • Update your graphics card driver software first if it is not already running on version 410.18 or higher
  • Download RTX Voice from Nvidia’s website and install it
  • After the software is installed, you can configure it to improve your incoming audio, outgoing audio, or both. Nvidia recommends enabling it only for your input device (read: microphone) to minimize the impact of audio processing on your system’s performance. You can also select how much noise cancellation you want. I left it at 100 percent, but you might want to play around to find out what works best for you.

You can set RTX Voice to work on your microphone input and / or the output of your speaker.
Screenshot by Jon Porter / The Verge

  • Once installed, “Nvidia RTX Voice” will appear as an audio input and / or output device for your PC. That means you can go to your favorite voice chat app and select it as if you had an extra microphone or a set of speakers connected to your PC. Check out Nvidia’s site for specific instructions on how to configure the software for individual applications; here’s what the setting looks like in Zoom.

Once enabled, most chat apps allow you to manually select RTX Voice as if it were an input or output device.
Screenshot by Jon Porter / The Verge

Nvidia’s software is not unique. In addition to the Discord feature, Microsoft also plans to add similar functionality to Teams later this year. However, the advantage of RTX Voice is that it works in a much wider variety of apps. Nvidia’s site lists 12 apps that have been validated. However, I tested the Audacity audio recording app, which Nvidia doesn’t list as supported, and found that RTX Voice worked fine, so there are probably other unlisted apps that work as well.

Not everyone will have the hardware to take advantage of this latest feature, and for others, the performance hit won’t be worth it. But if, like me, your gaming PC is mainly used as a work computer these days, then using RTX Voice is a good idea.

Correction: This article originally stated that RTX Voice will not work on a Windows machine with a dedicated GPU, when it should have read that it will not work on a Windows machine without a dedicated GPU. We regret the mistake.

Update April 6 at 10:31 am: Nvidia has expanded RTX Voice support for previous GTX, Quadro and Titan brand graphics cards, so we’ve updated this post with relevant information.

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