You may have noticed that audio in is now quieter in some games after applying the latest round of cumulative updates to Windows 10. The good news is, Microsoft is aware of the issue and is planning to roll out a fix, though it might be a couple of weeks before it arrives. In the meantime, there is an official workaround to make your games sound like normal again.
The problematic update is KB4515384 for Windows 10 1903. It contains some security enhancements and protections against a new subclass of speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities (similar to Spectre and Meltdown), so it is not one that you want to roll back. However, some users have reported quieter audio in several games, such as Apex Legends and World of Warcraft Classic.
According to Microsoft, this a side effect of a change it implemented to improve compatibility.
"At the request of some of our audio partners, we implemented a compatibility change that enabled certain games to query support and render multi-channel audio. Due to customer feedback, we are reverting this change as some games and some devices are not rendering multi-channel audio as expected. This may result in games sounding different than customers are used to and may have missing channels," Microsoft said.
Microsoft notes it is reverting the change in a future update, but estimates it will arrive in late September. So, what can you do until then?
"To mitigate the issue, open settings in the impacted game and disable multi-channel audio, if this option is available. You can also search in the Windows Control Panel for third-party audio device control panels and disable Multi-channel audio or Virtual Surround Sound, if these options are available," Microsoft says.
Whether the workaround actually works will depend on the specific game, as not all of them have the settings Microsoft mentions. In those cases, you may want to fiddle with your onboard or discrete sound card's settings. Otherwise, you'll have to play the waiting game.