Last year, Nvidia released RTX Voice, a pretty good GPU-driven noise-cancellation technology that could be hacked to run on non-RTX graphics cards. Since then, it turns out that Nvidia has quietly and officially unlocked the ability to reduce outside noise when using a microphone on systems with lower-powered GTX-level graphics cards as well.
A quick hat tip to Tom’s Hardware, which recently noticed an extant version of Nvidia’s RTX Voice Setup Guide. It currently notes that “to use RTX Voice, you must be using an NVIDIA GTX or RTX graphics card, update to Driver 410.18 or newer, and be on Windows 10 [emphasis added].”
The addition of GTX cards to the “requirements” section of the guide was made around the end of October 2020, according to a quick perusal of the Internet Archive. About a month before that, Nvidia added an update to the page noting that “RTX Voice is now enabled for any NVIDIA GeForce, Quadro or TITAN GPU [emphasis added].”
Nvidia also began phasing out the RTX Voice branding last September, folding it into its new Nvidia Broadcast App as a “noise removal” feature. While the Broadcast App requires a “GeForce RTX 2060, Quadro RTX 3000, TITAN RTX or higher,” GTX-level users can still download and use the old (and now amusingly misnamed) RTX Voice app from a link in the old Setup Guide.
[Update: The news of noise cancellation’s GTX compatibility was buried near the bottom of Nvidia’s official announcement of the Nvidia Broadcast app last September, without much wider notice by the press at the time. “For those of you that want to try out the AI noise removal capabilities but aren’t ready to upgrade to an RTX GPU yet, we have also patched RTX Voice with support for Nvidia GeForce GTX GPUs,” Nvidia said at the time. “Though, of course, your mileage may vary on older cards.”]
No hacks required
We tested Nvidia’s noise-cancellation technology on a GTX 1060 last year after Internet users discovered that a quick edit to a configuration file could get around the installer’s requirement for an RTX-level card. That testing showed capable noise-cancellation performance even on a relatively low-powered GTX 1060, with minimal system overhead.
“We posted an early beta of the RTX Voice app on our forums to get community feedback on performance and quality that would help us improve the final product,” Nvidia told Ars at the time. “The interest is above and beyond our expectations. We appreciate all the feedback and will review it to help guide next steps.”
A lot of coverage at the time suggested that the AI-focused tensor cores found in RTX-level Nvidia cards were the key to the noise-cancelling performance of RTX Voice (the installer’s initial check for an RTX card, and the name “RTX Voice,” certainly implied as much, as well). In side-by-side tests performed by PC Gamer, however, the site found that there was “not a colossal difference” between the noise-cancellation system load on a GTX 1080 and RTX 2080 cards. “The performance impact can easily be swallowed by high-end Pascal cards,” PC Gamer noted.
In any case, Nvidia has now officially recognized that “RTX Voice” is a feature that no longer requires an RTX card. If you’re still rocking an older GTX card, now is your chance to get in on the noise-cancelling fun.