Playing Sound and Video

pyglet can play many audio and video formats. Audio is played back with either OpenAL, XAudio2, DirectSound, or Pulseaudio, permitting hardware-accelerated mixing and surround-sound 3D positioning. Video is played into OpenGL textures, and so can be easily manipulated in real-time by applications and incorporated into 3D environments.

Decoding of compressed audio and video is provided by FFmpeg v4 or v5, an optional component available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. FFmpeg needs to be installed separately.

If FFmpeg is not present, pyglet will at a minimum be able to play WAV files only. Depending on the OS, an additional limited amount of compressed formats may also be supported, but only WAV is guaranteed (see “Supported media types ” below). the This may be sufficient for many applications that require only a small number of short sounds, in which case those applications need not distribute FFmpeg.

Audio drivers

pyglet can use OpenAL, XAudio2, DirectSound, or Pulseaudio to play back audio. Only one of these drivers can be used in an application. In most cases you won’t need to concern yourself with choosing a driver, but you can manually select one if desired. This must be done before the module is loaded. The available drivers depend on your operating system:

Windows Mac OS X Linux
OpenAL [1] OpenAL OpenAL [1]
XAudio2   Pulseaudio

The audio driver can be set through the audio key of the pyglet.options dictionary. For example:

pyglet.options['audio'] = ('openal', 'pulse', 'xaudio2', 'directsound', 'silent')

This tells pyglet to try using the OpenAL driver first, and if not available to try Pulseaudio, XAudio2 and DirectSound in that order. If all else fails, no driver will be instantiated. The audio option can be a list of any of these strings, giving the preference order for each driver:

String Audio driver
openal OpenAL
directsound DirectSound
xaudio2 XAudio2
pulse Pulseaudio
silent No audio output

You must set the audio option before importing You can alternatively set it through an environment variable; see Environment settings.

The following sections describe the requirements and limitations of each audio driver.


XAudio2 is only available on Windows Vista and above and is the replacement of DirectSound. This provides hardware accelerated audio support for newer operating systems.

Note that in some stripped down versions of Windows 10, XAudio2 may not be available until the required DLL’s are installed.


DirectSound is available only on Windows, and is installed by default. pyglet uses only DirectX 7 features. On Windows Vista, DirectSound does not support hardware audio mixing or surround sound.


OpenAL is included with Mac OS X. Windows users can download a generic driver from, or from their sound device’s manufacturer. Most Linux distributions will have OpenAL available in the repositories for download. For example, Ubuntu users can apt install libopenal1.


Pulseaudio can also be used directly on Linux, and is installed by default with most modern Linux distributions. Pulseaudio does not support positional audio, and is limited to stereo. It is recommended to use OpenAL if positional audio is required.

[1](1, 2) OpenAL is not installed by default on Windows, nor in many Linux distributions. It can be downloaded separately from your audio device manufacturer or

Supported media types

Windows and Linux both support a limited amount of compressed audio types, without the need for FFmpeg. While FFmpeg supports a large array of formats and codecs, it may be an unnecessarily large dependency when simple audio playback is needed on these operating systems.

These formats are supported natively under the following systems and codecs:

Windows Media Foundation

Supported on Windows operating systems.

The following are supported on Windows Vista and above:

  • MP3
  • WMA
  • ASF

The following are supported on Windows 7 and above:

  • 3G2/3GP/3GP2/3GP
  • AVI
  • M4A/M4V/MOV/MP4

The following is undocumented but known to work on Windows 10:

  • FLAC

Please note that any video playback done through WMF is limited in codec support and is not hardware accelerated. It should only be used for simple or small videos. FFmpeg is recommended for all other purposes.


Supported on Linux operating systems that have the GStreamer installed. Please note that the associated Python packages for gobject & gst are also required. This varies by distribution, but will often already be installed along with GStreamer.

  • MP3
  • FLAC
  • OGG
  • M4A


Supported on Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

PyOgg is a lightweight Python library that provides Python bindings for Opus, Vorbis, and FLAC codecs.

Pyglet now provides a wrapper to support PyOgg. Since not all operating systems can decode the same audio formats natively, it can often be a hassle to choose an audio format that is truely cross platform with a small footprint. This wrapper was created to help with that issue.

Supports the following formats:

  • OGG
  • FLAC
  • OPUS

Refer to their installation guide found here:


FFmpeg requires an external dependency, please see installation instructions in the next section below.

With FFmpeg, many common and less-common formats are supported. Due to the large number of combinations of audio and video codecs, options, and container formats, it is difficult to provide a complete yet useful list. Some of the supported audio formats are:

  • AU
  • MP2
  • MP3
  • OGG/Vorbis
  • WAV
  • WMA

Some of the supported video formats are:

  • AVI
  • DivX
  • H.263
  • H.264
  • MPEG
  • MPEG-2
  • OGG/Theora
  • Xvid
  • WMV
  • Webm

For a complete list, see the FFmpeg sources. Otherwise, it is probably simpler to try playing back your target file with the example.

New versions of FFmpeg as they are released may support additional formats, or fix errors in the current implementation.

FFmpeg installation

You can install FFmpeg for your platform by following the instructions found in the FFmpeg download page. You must choose the shared build for the targeted OS with the architecture similar to the Python interpreter.

Currently Pyglet supports versions 4.x and 5.x of FFmpeg.

Choose the correct architecture depending on the targeted Python interpreter. If you’re shipping your project with a 32 bits interpreter, you must download the 32 bits shared binaries.

On Windows, the usual error message when the wrong architecture was downloaded is:

WindowsError: [Error 193] %1 is not a valid Win32 application

Finally make sure you download the shared builds, not the static or the dev builds.

For Mac OS and Linux, the library is usually already installed system-wide. It may be easiest to list FFmpeg as a requirement for your project, and leave it up to the user to ensure that it is installed. For Windows users, it’s not recommended to install the library in one of the windows sub-folders.

Instead we recommend to use the pyglet.options search_local_libs:

import pyglet
pyglet.options['search_local_libs'] = True

This will allow pyglet to find the FFmpeg binaries in the lib sub-folder located in your running script folder.

Another solution is to manipulate the environment variable. On Windows you can add the dll location to the PATH:

os.environ["PATH"] += "path/to/ffmpeg"

For Linux and Mac OS:

os.environ["LD_LIBRARY_PATH"] += ":" + "path/to/ffmpeg"
..note:: If your project is going to reply on FFmpeg, it’s a good idea to
check at runtime that FFmpeg is being properly detected. This can be done with a call to If not True you can show a message and exit gracefully, rather than crashing later when failing to load media files.

Loading media

Audio and video files are loaded in the same way, using the function, providing a filename:

source ='explosion.wav')

If the media file is bundled with the application, consider using the resource module (see Application resources).

The result of loading a media file is a Source object. This object provides useful information about the type of media encoded in the file, and serves as an opaque object used for playing back the file (described in the next section).

The load() function will raise a MediaException if the format is unknown. IOError may also be raised if the file could not be read from disk. Future versions of pyglet will also support reading from arbitrary file-like objects, however a valid filename must currently be given.

The length of the media file is given by the duration property, which returns the media’s length in seconds.

Audio metadata is provided in the source’s audio_format attribute, which is None for silent videos. This metadata is not generally useful to applications. See the AudioFormat class documentation for details.

Video metadata is provided in the source’s video_format attribute, which is None for audio files. It is recommended that this attribute is checked before attempting play back a video file – if a movie file has a readable audio track but unknown video format it will appear as an audio file.

You can use the video metadata, described in a VideoFormat object, to set up display of the video before beginning playback. The attributes are as follows:

Attribute Description
width, height Width and height of the video image, in pixels.
sample_aspect The aspect ratio of each video pixel.

You must take care to apply the sample aspect ratio to the video image size for display purposes. The following code determines the display size for a given video format:

def get_video_size(width, height, sample_aspect):
    if sample_aspect > 1.:
        return width * sample_aspect, height
    elif sample_aspect < 1.:
        return width, height / sample_aspect
        return width, height

Media files are not normally read entirely from disk; instead, they are streamed into the decoder, and then into the audio buffers and video memory only when needed. This reduces the startup time of loading a file and reduces the memory requirements of the application.

However, there are times when it is desirable to completely decode an audio file in memory first. For example, a sound that will be played many times (such as a bullet or explosion) should only be decoded once. You can instruct pyglet to completely decode an audio file into memory at load time:

explosion ='explosion.wav', streaming=False)

The resulting source is an instance of StaticSource, which provides the same interface as a StreamingSource. You can also construct a StaticSource directly from an already- loaded Source:

explosion ='explosion.wav'))

Audio Synthesis

In addition to loading audio files, the module is available for simple audio synthesis. There are several basic waveforms available, including:

These waveforms can be constructed by specifying a duration, frequency, and sample rate. At a minimum, a duration is required. For example:

sine =, frequency=440, sample_rate=44800)

For shaping the waveforms, several simple envelopes are available. These envelopes affect the amplitude (volume), and can make for more natural sounding tones. You first create an envelope instance, and then pass it into the constructor of any of the above waveforms. The same envelope instance can be passed to any number of waveforms, reducing duplicate code when creating multiple sounds. If no envelope is used, all waveforms will default to the FlatEnvelope of maximum amplitude, which esentially has no effect on the sound. Check the module documentation of each Envelope to see which parameters are available.

An example of creating an envelope and waveforms:

adsr =, decay=0.2, release=0.1)
saw =, frequency=220, envelope=adsr)

The waveforms you create with the synthesis module can be played like any other loaded sound. See the next sections for more detail on playback.

Simple audio playback

Many applications, especially games, need to play sounds in their entirety without needing to keep track of them. For example, a sound needs to be played when the player’s space ship explodes, but this sound never needs to have its volume adjusted, or be rewound, or interrupted.

pyglet provides a simple interface for this kind of use-case. Call the play() method of any Source to play it immediately and completely:

explosion ='explosion.wav', streaming=False)

You can call play() on any Source, not just StaticSource.

The return value of play() is a Player, which can either be discarded, or retained to maintain control over the sound’s playback.

Controlling playback

You can implement many functions common to a media player using the Player class. Use of this class is also necessary for video playback. There are no parameters to its construction:

player =

A player will play any source that is queued on it. Any number of sources can be queued on a single player, but once queued, a source can never be dequeued (until it is removed automatically once complete). The main use of this queueing mechanism is to facilitate “gapless” transitions between playback of media files.

The queue() method is used to queue a media on the player - a StreamingSource or a StaticSource. Either you pass one instance, or you can also pass an iterable of sources. This provides great flexibility. For instance, you could create a generator which takes care of the logic about what music to play:

def my_playlist():
   yield intro
   while game_is_running():
      yield main_theme
   yield ending


When the game ends, you will still need to call on the player:


The generator will pass the ending media to the player.

A StreamingSource can only ever be queued on one player, and only once on that player. StaticSource objects can be queued any number of times on any number of players. Recall that a StaticSource can be created by passing streaming=False to the method.

In the following example, two sounds are queued onto a player:


Playback begins with the player’s play() method is called:

Standard controls for controlling playback are provided by these methods:

Method Description
play() Begin or resume playback of the current source.
pause() Pause playback of the current source.
next_source() Dequeue the current source and move to the next one immediately.
seek() Seek to a specific time within the current source.

Note that there is no stop method. If you do not need to resume playback, simply pause playback and discard the player and source objects. Using the next_source() method does not guarantee gapless playback.

There are several properties that describe the player’s current state:

Property Description
time The current playback position within the current source, in seconds. This is read-only (but see the seek() method).
playing True if the player is currently playing, False if there are no sources queued or the player is paused. This is read-only (but see the pause() and play() methods).
source A reference to the current source being played. This is read-only (but see the queue() method).
volume The audio level, expressed as a float from 0 (mute) to 1 (normal volume). This can be set at any time.
loop True if the current source should be repeated when reaching the end. If set to False, playback will continue to the next queued source.

When a player reaches the end of the current source, by default it will move immediately to the next queued source. If there are no more sources, playback stops until another source is queued. The Player has a loop attribute which determines the player behaviour when the current source reaches the end. If loop is False (default) the Player starts to play the next queued source. Otherwise the Player re-plays the current source until either loop is set to False or next_source() is called.

You can change the loop attribute at any time, but be aware that unless sufficient time is given for the future data to be decoded and buffered there may be a stutter or gap in playback. If set well in advance of the end of the source (say, several seconds), there will be no disruption.

Gapless playback

To play back multiple similar sources without any audible gaps, SourceGroup is provided. A SourceGroup can only contain media sources with identical audio or video format. First create an instance of SourceGroup, and then add all desired additional sources with the add() method. Afterwards, you can queue the SourceGroup on a Player as if it was a single source.

Incorporating video

When a Player is playing back a source with video, use the texture property to obtain the video frame image. This can be used to display the current video image syncronised with the audio track, for example:

def on_draw():
    player.texture.blit(0, 0)

The texture is an instance of pyglet.image.Texture, with an internal format of either GL_TEXTURE_2D or GL_TEXTURE_RECTANGLE_ARB. While the texture will typically be created only once and subsequentally updated each frame, you should make no such assumption in your application – future versions of pyglet may use multiple texture objects.

Positional audio

pyglet includes features for positioning sound within a 3D space. This is particularly effective with a surround-sound setup, but is also applicable to stereo systems.

A Player in pyglet has an associated position in 3D space – that is, it is equivalent to an OpenAL “source”. The properties for setting these parameters are described in more detail in the API documentation; see for example position and pitch.

A “listener” object is provided by the audio driver. To obtain the listener for the current audio driver:

This provides similar properties such as position, forward_orientation and up_orientation that describe the position of the user in 3D space.

Note that only mono sounds can be positioned. Stereo sounds will play back as normal, and only their volume and pitch properties will affect the sound.

Ticking the clock

If you are using pyglet’s media libraries outside of a pyglet app, you will need to use some kind of loop to tick the pyglet clock periodically (perhaps every 200ms or so), otherwise only the first small sample of media will be played:


If you wish to have a media source loop continuously (player.loop = True) you will also need to ensure Pyglet’s events are dispatched inside your loop:

If you are inside a pyglet app then calling takes care of all this for you.