How to use IAudioClient3 (WASAPI) with Real-Time Work Queue API


I'm working on a lowest-possible latency MIDI synthetizer software. I'm aware of ASIO and other alternatives, but as they have apparently made significant improvements to the WASAPI stack (in shared mode, at least), I'm curious to try it out. I first wrote a simple event-driven version of program, but as that's not the recommended way to do low-latency audio on Windows 10 (according to the docs), I'm trying to migrate to the Real-Time Work Queue API.

The documentation on Low Latency Audio states that it is recommended to use the Real-Time Work Queue API or MFCreateMFByteStreamOnStreamEx with WASAPI in order for the OS to manage work items in a way that will avoid interference from non-audio subsystems. This seems like a good idea, but the latter option seems to require some managed code (demonstrated in this WindowsAudioSession example), which I know nothing about and would preferably avoid (also the header Robytestream.h which has defs for the IRandomAccessStream isn't found on my system either).

The RTWQ example included in the docs is incomplete (doesn't compile as such), and I have made the necessary additions to make it compilable:

class my_rtqueue : IRtwqAsyncCallback {

    IRtwqAsyncResult* pAsyncResult;
    DWORD WorkQueueId;

    STDMETHODIMP GetParameters(DWORD* pdwFlags, DWORD* pdwQueue)
        HRESULT hr = S_OK;
        *pdwFlags = 0;
        *pdwQueue = WorkQueueId;
        return hr;

    STDMETHODIMP Invoke(IRtwqAsyncResult* pAsyncResult)
        HRESULT hr = S_OK;
        IUnknown* pState = NULL;
        WCHAR className[20];
        DWORD  bufferLength = 20;
        DWORD taskID = 0;
        LONG priority = 0;

        BYTE* pData;

        hr = render_info.renderclient->GetBuffer(render_info.buffer_framecount, &pData);
        update_buffer((unsigned short*)pData, render_info.framesize_bytes / (2*sizeof(unsigned short))); // 2 channels, sizeof(unsigned short) == 2
        hr = render_info.renderclient->ReleaseBuffer(render_info.buffer_framecount, 0);

        return S_OK;

    STDMETHODIMP QueryInterface(const IID &riid, void **ppvObject) {
        return 0;

    ULONG AddRef() {
        return 0;

    ULONG Release() {
        return 0;

    HRESULT queue(HANDLE event) {
        HRESULT hr;
        hr = RtwqPutWaitingWorkItem(event, 1, this->pAsyncResult, &this->workItemKey);
        return hr;

    my_rtqueue() : workItemKey(0) {
        HRESULT hr = S_OK;
        IRtwqAsyncCallback* callback = NULL;
        DWORD taskId = 0;

        //WorkQueueId = RTWQ_STANDARD_WORKQUEUE;

        hr = RtwqLockSharedWorkQueue(L"Pro Audio", 0, &taskId, &WorkQueueId);

        hr = RtwqCreateAsyncResult(NULL, reinterpret_cast<IRtwqAsyncCallback*>(this), NULL, &pAsyncResult);


    int stop() {
        HRESULT hr;
        if (pAsyncResult)

        if (0xFFFFFFFF != this->WorkQueueId) {
            hr = RtwqUnlockWorkQueue(this->WorkQueueId);
            if (FAILED(hr)) {
                printf("Failed with RtwqUnlockWorkQueue 0x%x\n", hr);
                return 0;
        return 1;


And so, the actual WASAPI code (HRESULT error checking is omitted for clarity):

void thread_main(LPVOID param) {

    HRESULT hr;
    REFERENCE_TIME hnsRequestedDuration = 0;
    IMMDeviceEnumerator* pEnumerator = NULL;
    IMMDevice* pDevice = NULL;
    IAudioClient3* pAudioClient = NULL;
    IAudioRenderClient* pRenderClient = NULL;
    HANDLE hEvent = NULL;
    HANDLE hTask = NULL;
    UINT32 bufferFrameCount;
    BYTE* pData;
    DWORD flags = 0;

    hr = RtwqStartup();

    // also, hr is checked for errors every step of the way

    hr = CoInitialize(NULL);

    hr = CoCreateInstance(
        CLSID_MMDeviceEnumerator, NULL,
        CLSCTX_ALL, IID_IMMDeviceEnumerator,

    hr = pEnumerator->GetDefaultAudioEndpoint(
        eRender, eConsole, &pDevice);

    hr = pDevice->Activate(
        IID_IAudioClient, CLSCTX_ALL,
        NULL, (void**)&pAudioClient);

    WAVEFORMATEX wave_format = {};
    wave_format.wFormatTag = WAVE_FORMAT_PCM;
    wave_format.nChannels = 2;
    wave_format.nSamplesPerSec = 48000;
    wave_format.nAvgBytesPerSec = 48000 * 2 * 16 / 8;
    wave_format.nBlockAlign = 2 * 16 / 8;
    wave_format.wBitsPerSample = 16;

    hr = pAudioClient->GetSharedModeEnginePeriod(&wave_format, &DP, &FP, &MINP, &MAXP);
    printf("DefaultPeriod: %u, Fundamental period: %u, min_period: %u, max_period: %u\n", DP, FP, MINP, MAXP);

    hr = pAudioClient->InitializeSharedAudioStream(AUDCLNT_STREAMFLAGS_EVENTCALLBACK, MINP, &wave_format, 0);

    my_rtqueue* workqueue = NULL;
    try {
        workqueue = new my_rtqueue();
    catch (...) {
        hr = E_ABORT;

    hr = pAudioClient->GetBufferSize(&bufferFrameCount);

    PWAVEFORMATEX wf = &wave_format;
    UINT32 current_period;
    pAudioClient->GetCurrentSharedModeEnginePeriod(&wf, &current_period);

    INT32 FrameSize_bytes = bufferFrameCount * wave_format.nChannels * wave_format.wBitsPerSample / 8;
    printf("bufferFrameCount: %u, FrameSize_bytes: %d, current_period: %u\n", bufferFrameCount, FrameSize_bytes, current_period);

    hr = pAudioClient->GetService(

    render_info.framesize_bytes = FrameSize_bytes;
    render_info.buffer_framecount = bufferFrameCount;
    render_info.renderclient = pRenderClient;

    hEvent = CreateEvent(nullptr, false, false, nullptr);
    if (hEvent == INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE) { ERROR_EXIT(0); }

    hr = pAudioClient->SetEventHandle(hEvent);

    const size_t num_samples = FrameSize_bytes / sizeof(unsigned short);

    DWORD taskIndex = 0;
    hTask = AvSetMmThreadCharacteristics(TEXT("Pro Audio"), &taskIndex);

    if (hTask == NULL) {
        hr = E_FAIL;

    hr = pAudioClient->Start();  // Start playing.

    running = 1;
    while (running) {

    hr = RtwqShutdown();

    delete workqueue;

    running = 0;

    return 1;

This seems to kind of work (ie. audio is being output), but on every other invocation of my_rtqueue::Invoke(), IAudioRenderClient::GetBuffer() returns a HRESULT of 0x88890006 (-> AUDCLNT_E_BUFFER_TOO_LARGE), and the actual audio output is certainly not what I intend it to be.

What issues are there with my code? Is this the right way to use RTWQ with WASAPI?

asked on Stack Overflow Sep 29, 2019 by ehoopz

1 Answer


Turns out there were a number of issues with my code, none of which had really anything to do with Rtwq. The biggest issue was me assuming that the shared mode audio stream was using 16-bit integer samples, when in reality my audio was setup for 32-bit float format (WAVE_FORMAT_IEEE_FLOAT). The currently active shared mode format, period etc. should be fetched like this:

UINT32 current_period = 0;
hr = pAudioClient->GetCurrentSharedModeEnginePeriod((WAVEFORMATEX**)&wavefmt, &current_period);

wavefmt now contains the output format info of the current shared mode. If the wFormatTag field is equal to WAVE_FORMAT_EXTENSIBLE, one needs to cast WAVEFORMATEX to WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE to see what the actual format is. After this, one needs to fetch the minimum period supported by the current setup, like so:

hr = pAudioClient->GetSharedModeEnginePeriod(wavefmt, &DP, &FP, &MINP, &MAXP);

and then initialize the audio stream with the new InitializeSharedAudioStream function:

hr = pAudioClient->InitializeSharedAudioStream(AUDCLNT_STREAMFLAGS_EVENTCALLBACK, MINP, wavefmt, NULL);

... get the buffer's actual size:

hr = pAudioClient->GetBufferSize(&render_info.buffer_framecount);

and use GetCurrentPadding in the Get/ReleaseBuffer logic:

UINT32 pad = 0;
hr = render_info.audioclient->GetCurrentPadding(&pad);

int actual_size = (render_info.buffer_framecount - pad);

hr = render_info.renderclient->GetBuffer(actual_size, &pData);
if (SUCCEEDED(hr)) {
    update_buffer((float*)pData, actual_size);
    hr = render_info.renderclient->ReleaseBuffer(actual_size, 0);

The documentation for IAudioClient::Initialize states the following about shared mode streams (I assume it also applies to the new IAudioClient3):

Each time the thread awakens, it should call IAudioClient::GetCurrentPadding to determine how much data to write to a rendering buffer or read from a capture buffer. In contrast to the two buffers that the Initialize method allocates for an exclusive-mode stream that uses event-driven buffering, a shared-mode stream requires a single buffer.

Using GetCurrentPadding solves the problem with AUDCLNT_E_BUFFER_TOO_LARGE, and feeding the buffer with 32-bit float samples instead of 16-bit integers makes the output sound fine on my system (although the effect was quite funky!).

If someone comes up with better/more correct ways to use the Rtwq API, I would love to hear them.

answered on Stack Overflow Oct 1, 2019 by ehoopz

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