In Windows Vista, Microsoft has decided to remove the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) for DirectSound and DirectSound3D. The HAL is the software layer that in previous Windows Operating Systems enabled an audio accelerator such as the Sound Blaster X-Fi, to provide DirectSound3D applications with hardware accelerated audio. This enabled soundcards to perform tasks such as sample-rate conversion, mixing, 3D spatialization using HRTFs, filtering, and effects processing. Without the HAL, DirectSound on Windows Vista will be rendered in software with no advanced functionality such as EAX.
The audio changes in Windows Vista do not affect OpenAL however. For audio cards that feature \'native\' OpenAL support, such as the SB X-Fi series of cards, there is no need to worry! Games that enable support for OpenAL will continue to run just as they do on Windows XP - with hardware accelerated audio and effects.
Although OpenAL has arguably replaced DirectSound3D, particularly in many modern PC Games (e.g Battlefield 2142, Doom3, Quake 4, Prey, etc.), there are hundreds of older PC games that support DirectSound3D and EAX technology -- all of these games will sound empty and lifeless on Vista. As most DS3D games only enable 3D Audio (and EAX) if a hardware accelerator is present, most of these games will be reduced to a stereo output.
The good news is that the Creative ALchemy Project allows you to run your favorite DirectSound3D games on Windows Vista as the developers intended - with full hardware accelerated 3D Audio and EAX support! This is done by translating DirectSound calls into OpenAL. In order for this to happen, a couple of files need to be installed into each game directory. This is handled automatically by the ALchemy installer - but can also be performed manually by advanced users.
The Creative ALchemy Project is still in beta, and the ALchemy installer only supports a relatively small number of PC games at the moment. However, with your help, we would like to add more titles to the list so please download the ALchemy installer, run it, and enjoy 3D Audio with EAX effects in your favorite games.
Advanced users should download the \"Advanced Users\" document in the downloads area (requires Acrobat Reader) to learn how to use ALchemy in games that aren\'t officially supported. Please share your experiences with ALchemy in our General Discussion message board. While you are at it, answer our brief survey about your rig.
Note: It is not necessary to use ALchemy if your game supports OpenAL. Not sure if your game is an OpenAL title? Here is a listing of current OpenAL game titles.
Added re-sizing horizontal scroll bars to game list boxes (so you can see the whole name!)
Added new ini file variable \'GamePath\' that lets you specify any path to a game folder (useful when you can\'t find a registry key)
Added ability to multi-select games using the Shift key
Baldur\'s Gate 2
C & C Generals
Chronicles of Riddick
GTA Vice City
Knights of the Old Republic 2
Serious Sam 2
Serious Sam First Encounter
Removed re-sizing border from ALchemy application
Fixed dsound.dll object reference counting issue (fixes Oblivion crash bug)
Fixed dsound.dll incorrectly applying EAX properties to duplicated buffers
Fixed dsound.dll duplicate sound buffer problem (fixes Far Cry, MDK2, Serious Sam 2 and many others)