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SB Live! and front panel audio jacks

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October 11, 2003 10:12:23 PM

How do I connect front panel audio jacks on a PC case (phones+mic) to a SoundBlaster Live! 5.1? Most new motherboards have a 9-pin audio connector (looks like a USB connector) for a front panel. Of course, SB Live! doesn't have such a connector. My PC case has a standard 9-pin connector as well as separate 7 wires: black, grey, yellow, brown, red, blue and green. The connector's pins are marked as follows (please view in monospaced font):
<PRE>
1
FP_MIC [x][x] GND
FP_VREF [x][x] +5V
PHONE_R [x][x] NC
NC [x][ ] key
PHONE_L [x][x] NC
</PRE>

My Creative SounBlaster Live! 5.1 Digital (model SB0220) has the following connectors:
SPDIF_IO (5 pins),
CD_SPDIF (2 pins),
AUX_IN (4 pins),
CD_IN (4 pins),
TAD (4 pins)
as well as a white 10-pin connector which is labeled "For Creative's Proprietary use" in the manual.

I'm not an electronics guru so the question is: what to plug where? Looks like I'm not the only one to face a problem like this, so if this is a dead end I want to know it for sure, if there's a hope, let's try to find a solution.
October 13, 2003 7:13:15 AM

TAD has both I/O but it's probably mono. You don't have any other outputs listed. Since the Live drive has a headphone jack, I know there's wires somewhere on the combined connector for it. Perhaps you can scour the web for more info?

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October 13, 2003 8:11:23 AM

Unfortunately I don't have a connector for Live drive (20-pin?) and I haven't found any information regarding the other I/O pins on the Internet so far. So tech forums is my only hope.
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Anonymous
January 8, 2009 2:13:05 PM

Although this thread is rather old, I would like to post a final answer for everybody who is still looking for a way to connect thier anolog front audio panel to a SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 card:

:non:  There's NO chance of connecting an analog front audio panel to an SB Live! 5.1 (SB0220) audio card!!! :cry: 


According to the German website http://www.einhorn-net.de/spdif/index.html (which contains detailed information about the pin assignment of the internal SB connectors), neither the 40-pin AUD_EXT connector nor the 12-pin SPDIF_EXT plug offers analog in-/output! Designed for connectivity with the Live! DRIVE (a discrete front panel designed by Creative for exclusive use with SB cards), those connectors at best support digital (SPDIF) processing.

I hope this piece of information will help save a lot of googling and damaged sound cards (don't ask)... :na:  Thanks to Ralf Einhorn for this final conclusion.
December 5, 2009 4:51:09 AM

note that on that german website page there are several pins they're not mentioning, as their intent is to describe how to make an SPDIF I/O adapter board.

the 1/8" digital output jack on the card is just TTL, which will more or less work with most things.

i have a live drive, and it sure does have analog I/O on the front panel. so there *IS* analog I/O on AUD_EXT - but i don't know which pins either :( 
December 26, 2009 8:34:50 PM

Obiwan:

EDIT: See my comment at the end of this message.

Seven years late I know, but as reference for the Googlers out there: if you have the white 10-pin connector marked J1 (at one side) and J2 (at the other) then it's likely you have the Dell OEM card. This connector is unique in that it outputs analog audio directly; no need for a LiveDrive.

I just probed the pins, hooked up my front audio, and this is what I came up with. Note I refer to the pins as J1-J10, left to right, looking at the card with the PCI connector on bottom, 10-pin connector on top, PCI backplate on left.

Ground - J10
Right channel - J7
Left channel - J9

They may be out of phase, the ground might be another one, but this is currently working for me.

For the record, there were two Dell SoundBlaster Lives. The "junky" one (doesn't support EAX) has a rectangular EMU10K chip, while the "good" one (supports EAX) has a square EMU10K chip. It'll be obvious at a glance which one you have. The junky one should be fine for MP3s and such.

Hate to say it, but Realtek won the war of integrated audio- to the consumers' detriment- by getting their terrible audio into almost all OEM hardware. The noise floor on my "modern" motherboard - even my MacBook Pro - is terrible. For headphone users, these old SoundBlaster Lives are a damn sight better than the crappy integrated audio on so-called "modern" motherboards, and you can often pull them out of older Dells and such for nothing. An excellent upgrade!

EDIT: OK, found a similar post about the Audigy card. Looks like they have the same pinout. Here's the original posting: http://forums.overclockersclub.com/index.php?showtopic=...
Here's the pinout list for posterity, using my above pin numbering nomenclature. (Thanks to Sagittaria from OCC! :sol:  )
J10 - Analog Ground
J9 - Analog Headphone Out Left
J8 - Audio Backpanel Mute -- short to ground to mute the backpanel (when headphones are plugged in)
J7 - Analog Headphone Out Right
J6 - same as J8
J5 - Mic input from front panel
J4 - key pin (not used for anything)
J3 - VREF out -- voltage reference for Mic
J2 - MIC IN MUTE -- ground when mic isn't plugged in, +12VDC when mic is plugged in
J1 - Audio cable detect -- will be ground when headphones are plugged in (not normally used)
!