As you may be aware, Microsoft has altered the way audio is handled in the forthcoming Windows Vista OS. By removing the audio Hardware Abstraction Layer, games that use DirectSound3D (most of the games out there) can no longer utilise the sound effects supported in hardware by a sound card. In practice, this means that the multi-channel surround sound, environmental effects (EAX) and audio quality that gamers have come to rely upon have been removed, leaving a flat, featureless experience. This affects all sound cards - Creative, other plug-in boards and even onboard audio. To combat this, Creative has announced the launch of ALchemy, a free downloadable application that returns this all important feature of gaming and ensures that legacy game titles can be played in full multi-channel sound with full environmental effects – the way they’re meant to be played. --------- Creative (NASDAQ: CREAF) a worldwide leader in digital entertainment products, today announced the launch of a public beta, dubbed Creative ALchemy, to ensure that popular legacy game titles such as World of Warcraft, Rome: Total War and F.E.A.R. sound as awesome with a Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ sound card on Windows Vista as they do on Windows XP. “The result of Microsoft’s removal of the hardware audio abstraction layer for Vista will confuse many gamers,” said Steve Erickson, vice president of audio at Creative. “Many people who have experimented with popular legacy games on the Vista beta release have been unable to experience multi-channel audio, with Creative and other sound cards, and even with motherboard audio. This is not something that a driver update can fix. The good news is that we have invented our Creative ALchemy application, so Sound Blaster X-Fi owners can experience the same multi-channel audio quality that they enjoyed with Windows XP.” The removal of the audio hardware abstraction layer from Windows Vista will compromise audio in legacy game titles that use EAX or DirectSound3D (DS3D), usually resulting in stereo output without any effects. Creative ALchemy is a simple download, which will detect the presence of a number of top PC games and convert their DS3D and EAX calls into OpenAL calls, allowing users to continue to enjoy their legacy titles the way they were meant to be enjoyed – in full, multi-channel sound with hardware effects. Availability A beta version of the Creative ALchemy software is available for immediate download from http://preview.creativelabs.com/alchemy/default.aspx Newer versions of the software will add support for more DS3D based games. End-users are encouraged to join the Creative ALchemy community and post their feedback and suggestions for which games should be supported in the future, on the discussion forums on the website. Updated Vista drivers for Sound Blaster X-Fi are available for download from europe.creative.com, these are required to run Creative ALchemy.