Sound and video

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

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

If AVbin is not present, pyglet will fall back to reading uncompressed WAV files only. This may be sufficient for many applications that require only a small number of short sounds, in which case those applications need not distribute AVbin.

Audio drivers

pyglet can use OpenAL, DirectSound or Pulseaudio to play back audio. Only one of these drivers can be used in an application, and this must be selected before the module is loaded. The available drivers depend on your operating system:

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

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

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

This tells pyglet to use the OpenAL driver if it is available, and to ignore all audio output if it is not. 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
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.


DirectSound is available only on Windows, and is installed by default on Windows XP and later. 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. Linux users can use the reference implementation also provided by Creative. For example, Ubuntu users can apt-get install openal. ALUT is not required. pyglet makes use of OpenAL 1.1 features if available, but will also work with OpenAL 1.0.

Due to a long-standing bug in the reference implementation of OpenAL, stereo audio is downmixed to mono on Linux. This does not affect Windows or Mac OS X users.


Pulseaudio has become the standard Linux audio implementation over the past few years, and is installed by default with most modern Linux distributions.

Linux Issues

Linux users have the option of choosing between OpenAL and Pulse for audio output. Unfortunately OpenAL has severe limitations that are outside the scope of pyglet’s control.

If your application can manage without stereo playback, you should use the OpenAL driver (assuming your users have it installed). You can do this with:

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

If your application needs stereo playback, consider using the Pulse driver in preference to the OpenAL driver (this is the default).

[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

If AVbin is not installed, only uncompressed RIFF/WAV files encoded with linear PCM can be read.

With AVbin, 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

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

New versions of AVbin as they are released may support additional formats, or fix errors in the current implementation. AVbin is completely future- and backward-compatible, so no change to pyglet is needed to use a newer version of AVbin – just install it in place of the old version.

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 streaming source. You can also construct a StaticSource directly from an already-loaded Source:

explosion ='explosion.wav'))

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 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 queuing mechanism is to facilitate “gapless” transitions between playback of media files.

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 load 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. next can also be used but it is deprecated because of incompatibilities with Python 3.
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.

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 is queued. There are several other possible behaviours, which can be controlled on SourceGroup objects.

A SourceGroup contains multiple media sources with the same audio and video format. Behaviour on reaching the end of the current source can be controlled through the loop and advance_after_eos attributes.

You can change a SourceGroup‘s loop and advance_after_eos 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.

Incorporating video

When a Player is playing back a source with video, use the get_texture() method 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.get_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 uses OpenAL for audio playback, which includes many 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 Player.position and Player.pitch.

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

This provides similar properties such as Listener.position, Listener.forward_orientation and Listener.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.