In a multi-user environment like Windows Remote Desktop Services (RDS), the audio playback feature may be disabled by default.

This could result in an inability to hear sound during a Windows Remote Desktop session. To enable audio playback in the Windows Remote Desktop environment, a series of configurations must be made on both the server and client sides. This article will guide you through the steps on how to set up audio on various versions of Windows servers (2008, 2012, 2016, 2019) for remote desktop sessions.

Server-side Settings

Enable Audio Redirection Policy

Open the Group Policy Editor:
On the server, open the “Run” dialog box, enter gpedit.msc, and press Enter.

Navigate to the audio playback redirection policy:
In the Group Policy Editor, sequentially expand Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Session Host > Device and Resource Redirection.

Enable audio and video playback redirection:
Find the “Allow audio and video playback redirection” policy, double-click to open it, and set it to “Enabled”.

Configure Windows Audio Service

Open Service Manager:
Open the “Run” dialog box, enter services.msc, and press Enter.

Modify Windows Audio service settings:
In the list of services, find the Windows Audio service, right-click and choose “Properties”. In “Startup type”, select “Automatic”, then click “Start” to initiate the service.

Reconnect to Remote Desktop:
After making the above settings, disconnect the current Remote Desktop connection, then reconnect for the settings to take effect.

Client-side Settings

Enable Remote Audio Playback

Open Remote Desktop Connection:
On your local computer, open the Remote Desktop Connection client.

Configure remote audio options:
In the Remote Desktop Connection window, click “Show Options”, and switch to the “Local Resources” tab.

Play sound on the remote computer:
In the “Remote audio” area, click “Settings” and choose “Play on this computer”.

Reconnect to Remote Desktop:
Apply the settings and reconnect to the Remote Desktop session to test if the audio is playing correctly.

Common Problem Solving

If audio still cannot be played after making the above settings, you can try the following solutions:

  • Check firewall settings: Ensure that the firewall is not blocking the ports needed for remote desktop audio redirection.
  • Update audio drivers: Check on the server if the audio drivers are up to date, and update them if necessary.
  • Restart the Windows Audio service: Sometimes the service may need to be restarted to function properly.