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Does Vista make soundcards obsolete?

  • Sound Cards
  • Windows Vista
  • Components
Last response: in Components
September 21, 2007 4:09:32 PM

I've always been an afficionado for computer soundcards since I first got my hands on those Adlib and Turtle Beach products in the early-early '90s. Before Creative Labs even got into the action.

I've bought every major iteration of Soundblaster cards up to and including the Audigy 2 series. But now I find out that my soundcards won't work under Vista. In fact, it seems like none of the Creative Labs products will work in Vista at all; at least, not without using a clunky software workaround (AlChemy).

When Windows Vista inevitably becomes the mainstream OS for gamers and home users... will that spell the end for dedicated soundcards?

I'm thinking that the extra processing power of multi-core CPUs would be more than capable of handling the extra workload at the software level. On-board audio now feature multi-channel 7.1 output, as well as digital connectivity. And game developers would probably appreciate the uniformity of non-proprietary code that works across different platforms. When they start making games specifically for Vista/XBox360 platforms, I can't imagine them going out of their way to support EAX anymore. And once support for EAX dwindles, so will the market for Sound Blaster cards.

Am I making the wrong conclusions? Do Sound Blaster cards still make sense for Windows Vista-based systems?

More about : vista make soundcards obsolete

September 21, 2007 4:31:25 PM

It's just driver issues. Creative is extremely bad with drivers. They never really update them and the ones that are out have problems as is. Soundcards aren't going anywhere...don't worry..once creative gets their tushes in line they'll release working versions. Onboard may have gotten better but it's still no substitute for a soundcard. Besides...onboard actually uses resources on your system to begin with. Having a sound card eliminates the need of processor work to run the onboard sound.

But yea..With time..don't worry. Soundcards aren't going anywhere...It's just creative being...creative...(no pun intended)
September 21, 2007 4:35:37 PM

Creative does have audigy vista drivers up...
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September 21, 2007 4:57:51 PM

My X-fi works great in vista 32bit.
September 21, 2007 5:21:49 PM

My audigy 2 zs works fine under vista 32bit.
September 21, 2007 5:23:24 PM

royalcrown said:
Creative does have audigy vista drivers up...

I know, I tried it. As far as I can tell, Audigy in Vista doesn't do anything that a generic soundcard can't do. Multi-channel support is there, but EAX support is not. I loaded up some old games, and I was suprrised to see EAX disabled.

stemnin said:
My X-fi works great in vista 32bit.

I'm curious: For games without EAX support, does X-fi do anything for gaming that the latest on-board audio chipsets cannot do? I know AlChemy works in getting XP-based games (w/ EAX) to work in Vista. But I'm having doubts that Vista-based games in the future will have EAX at all. I'm tempted to get X-fi myself. But I'm worried that this is a brand new piece of hardware will only remain useful until Windows XP inevitably joins Win95, Win98, and WinME in the retirement home. That would be about 9-12 months from now, I think.
September 21, 2007 5:23:26 PM

summer_of_alvin said:
I've always been an afficionado for computer soundcards since I first got my hands on those Adlib and Turtle Beach products in the early-early '90s. Before Creative Labs even got into the action.


um no i do not think vista will make audio cards obsolete

esp considering audio cards aren't just for gamers and home users
September 21, 2007 5:28:30 PM

When I build my systems, I never buy sound cards. I am quite happy with the performance of on-board sound and see no reason for the average user to plunk down $100 for one. Unless you are really big into audio and make your own music etc, there really is nothing it provides that on-board does not.
September 21, 2007 5:39:43 PM


Dedicated sound processing will always provide the cleanest sound.
Thats why the high end AV equipment have a dedicated amp,isolated power circuits, and a processing core (circuity) all separate from each other.
September 21, 2007 5:48:59 PM

According to creative EAX works if the game supports EAX via OPENAL, but Directsound EAX is and will never be supported in vista, go to the creative forum and read the stickies.
September 21, 2007 5:49:43 PM

Very true...Comparing onboard to a dedicated sound card brings a tear to my eye. Onboard may get the job done for you but theres a reason people dish out some extra cash to get them..quality wise they are on a different level. Especially for those who have 5.1 just sounds completely horrid on onboard...I'll admit onboard has come a long way but it is no where near replacing soundcards.
September 21, 2007 5:53:33 PM

Of course your speakers make a difference too.

If you are using a pair of 10dollar speakers with cheap'o paper midrange drivers and thats it... you wont hear any difference.

Now... get your computer to a quality AV receiver like Yamaha or Denon, then add a set of B&O/Klipch/B&W/ESS speakers, and you will never use onboard sound again.
September 21, 2007 6:41:33 PM

All I play (using X-fi) is BF2 AFAIK. The only reason I bought an X-Fi was to put hardware sound on ultra high. I got the X-fi from my older system and put into my new one (I got this week).
September 21, 2007 7:09:58 PM

I have never used onboard sound. I don't know anyone who uses onboard sound. Heck, I don't think I've ever heard a game while it was using onboard sound, so I can't attest to how good or bad it is.

But for as cheap as sound cards are in relation to the system I built, I don't think the price for one is outrageous. If it's gonna help my game run a little smoother, to me, it's worth it.

But that's my 2 cents.
September 21, 2007 7:24:59 PM

summer_of_alvin said:
I'm curious: For games without EAX support, does X-fi do anything for gaming that the latest on-board audio chipsets cannot do?

Well they offer better sound, if that means anything to user. The 3D sound support is gone, because there is not any in Wista at this moment...
September 21, 2007 9:21:12 PM

Run 3DMark03 and see if your onboard sound can handle 60 voices. Good soundcard CAN! And you can hear the difference!

September 21, 2007 10:14:46 PM

Mike, vista does not support hardware acceleration so it would not matter if it is 6 or 60 voices
September 22, 2007 12:18:41 AM

Uh, there's a lot of myths about Vista, hardware sound acceleration, and ALchemy. Vista doesn't support hardware sound acceleration in the DirectSound3D API. It works with the OpenAL API (which most newer games using EAX use) just fine. ALchemy is mostly only needed for older games and a few newer ones that still use DirectSound (Oblivion, for example). ALchemy is not needed for every single application, only DirectSound games which have hardware sound acceleration support.
September 27, 2007 12:20:49 PM

playing games with my soundcard is no comparison to onboard. I used to not even have to look at the screen to kill someone because the sound was so accurately depicted in my headphones. Now with my onboard it seems like sometimes everything is backwards and what i should be hearing out of the front comes out the back. Sound card > onboard anyday. too bad i cant use it because creative hasnt released drivers for audigy 2 zs...
September 27, 2007 1:16:45 PM

Usually, I buy a sound card when building a new rig but this time around I am using the on board device till Creative or another manufacturer improves on drivers.