Soundcard & Speakers tweak guide

Though we donít see new Soundcards coming out as fast as we do Graphics cards they have made several advancements in recent times, such as commonplace 5.1 output & better 3D positioning algorithms.

This guide will take you through everything from basic troubleshooting of playback problems, to Speaker positioning, Soundcard specific settings & more. Thanks to Toby & Mikael from 3D SoundSurge for answering a few questions I had, or pointing out errors.



It is essential to have the latest drivers for you Soundcard. You can find links to the relevant hardware manufacturers on our Drivers page (Such as Creative, Turtle Beach & Philips). These can solve many audio problems you may have encountered or generally include other optimizations/fixes over earlier releases.

You should also have the latest Chipset drivers for your Motherboard, & perhaps even the latest BIOS too. This is highly recommended for (Although not limited too) those with VIA Chipset based motherboards. Once more, you can find the relevant links on our Drivers page & also in our OS Updates - Chipset Updates section.

Now install DirectX 8.1 on your system if not already installed. While this is required by some Games already, it also features numerous other updated components, of main concern for Soundcards being the DirectSound & DirectMusic components.

Windows 2000 & 98/98 Second Edition have some problems with non-PCM wave formats, which youíll most likely experience when it comes to AC-3/DTS pass-through. To fix this youíll need to install the latest Windows 2000 Service Pack, or in the case of Windows 98 Second Edition Ė QFE269601 (No update is available for Windows 98 original).

You should also update your Application/Games where possible. Similar to updating your drivers this can also fix audio playback problems or other irregularities. Check the Developerís Website for the latest Game/Application patch.

If you experience static noise or irregular audio playback, try the following (assuming that installing the latest drivers donít fix the problems):

1.   Click on Start, Settings, then Control Panel. If you have Windows 2000/Millennium Edition or XP installed note the icon names as shown in brackets below.

2.   Open the Multimedia (Sounds & Multimedia or Sounds & Audio Devices) icon.

3.   Select the Audio tab, select the Advanced Properties (Advanced) button, then the Performance tab.

4.   Move the Hardware acceleration slider to the 2nd notch to the Left (Basic Acceleration).

This procedure does however disable 3D Audio, e.g. DirectSound3D & all reliant extensions, such as EAX. As such this should only be considered a temporary solution to your problems.


Universal settings

Regardless of which Soundcard you have installed there are some settings available which are common to all of them. I'll cover these first before moving onto Soundcard specific settings.

Via the Windows Setup tab in the Add/Remove programs applet in the Control Panel, ensure sure that you have Audio compression installed in Windows 9x/Me.

Volume control. You'll need to install some form of volume control on your machine. If your Soundcardís drivers donít come with one then install Volume control via Add/Remove Windows Components (Windows Setup) in Add/Remove programs.

Click on Start, Settings, then Control Panel. If you have Windows 2000/Millennium Edition or XP installed note the different names as listed in brackets. Open the Multimedia (Sounds & Multimedia or Sounds & Audio Devices) icon & select the Audio tab.

Playback, Recording & Midi (In Windows 98 or earlier check the seperate Midi tab). From the drop down menus here select the preferred Audio device that you wish to be used for Recording, Playback of Audio & the MIDI Synth engine. You should only need to change the devices here should you have multiple Soundcards installed, or different Midi engines available to use for Midi playback.

Use only preferred (default) devices. When Ticked the Audio devices you have selected previously will be the only devices used for the specific functions selected. Should your system contain only a single capable device for this then you may leave this setting Unticked (As this will be the only device available for use anyway), although should you have multiple devices available you should Tick this setting to limit the Audio function to the selected device only. Otherwise any available device may be used for the specific purpose.

Now in the Sound Playback section select the Advanced Properties (Advanced) button, then the Speakers tab.

From the drop-down menu here select your Audio output mode here as appropriate. NOTE Ė Some of the options shown here may not be available with certain Operating Systems & selecting some of the choices available here may also interfere with the selections available in your Soundcardís Drivers.

Now select the Performance tab.

Hardware acceleration. Moving this slider to the 4th notch to the Right will enable Full Acceleration for your Soundcard. This enables complete use of your Soundcards Drivers & features, e.g. 3D Audio.

Sample rate conversion quality. This option shouldnít effect playback quality at all on most systems (Thanks Mark), nor as a result will it affect performance either. To ensure best sampling rate conversion quality set this placebo to Best sample rate converter.


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