Audio problems and Windows Vista

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New member
May 25, 2004
It seems that the most common problems that Vista users are experiencing are with audio chipsets and drivers. Vista handles audio in a whole different way to how XP did, so its all down to needing new drivers. I found this article on the Creative Labs forum, which explains the changes and the problems that Creative have experienced in getting their products to work under Windows Vista, and no doubt this all applies to other audio chipset manufacturers also.

In this article, we would like to address questions and concerns raised by customers regarding compatibility of Creative audio products with Windows Vista.

In general, issues relating to Creative audio products may be divided  into one of four categories:

1.      The Windows Vista audio engine runs faster than the Windows XP audio engine did, and Vista has tighter requirements on audio buffer position accuracy than XP did. This exposed low level driver bugs that we had not been seen before.

Issues that may be encountered:
Audio dropouts, distortions that only happen once in a while, constant distortions, or audio/video synchronization drift that only happens after several hours of watching movies.

We are working daily to address issues in this category, and we have recently published ?beta? drivers for Vista for some of our products that address these. Please don?t hesitate to contact us if you find our latest beta drivers continue to exhibit symptoms such as those described

2.      The Vista audio architecture changes the way per-stream audio processing works, which required us to write new software to support this

Issues that may be encountered:
CMSS no longer works on audio streams from the OS.
Features based on Windows XP architecture must be rewritten to conform to the new Vista architecture, and we have a team of software engineers, project managers and testers dedicated to this task in order to provide our customers the same seamless audio experience under Windows Vista that they enjoyed under Windows XP.

3.      The Vista audio architecture disables DirectSound 3D hardware acceleration; resulting in legacy DirectSound based EAX game titles not working as they did in XP.

Issues that may be encountered:
Could range from loss of EAX functionality in EAX enabled games to a complete game incompatibility, depending on how the game title was authored. This would only happen with games that render 3D audio using DirectSound, it should not affect games that render 3D audio using OpenAL.

        (Note: There is a known bug due to a change to Vista which confuses an OpenAL component. A proper fix in progress, but a workaround is to copy c:\windows\system32\ct_oal.dll into the doom3 folder and rename it to OpenAL32.dll)

These issues cannot be addressed by the Creative audio driver, because the functionality was purposely removed by the operating system. We look forward to game titles moving away from DirectSound and toward OpenAL for fully optimized Creative 3D audio hardware and technology support.

4.      Bugs in Vista.

Issues that may be encountered:
Vista itself is still in the final stages of testing, and is not yet at code-freeze. Also, the user mode audio stack is nearly 100% brand new software. As a result, there are indeed issues whose root cause is in the operating system.
We are working closely with Microsoft to alert them of any and all issues like this, and we have found them to be cooperative with us in bringing them to resolution.


The purpose of this article is to explain the changes to how audio is handled under Windows Vista, and how we are planning to address this

What level of compatibility exists between XP and Vista drivers?

Default Driver Model: WDM

As with Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP, the foundation of Windows Vista is the Windows NT kernel, and as with Windows 2000 and Windows XP, the default driver model is the Windows Driver Model (WDM). This portion of Vista has remained remarkably unchanged with Windows XP.
WDM Port Class Models

Also, as with Windows 2000 and Windows XP, the foundation of any WDM audio device driver has remained unchanged. All PCI WDM audio drivers are based upon the WDM audio ?Port Class? and Windows Vista supports all Windows XP ?Mini Port? models, including ?Wave Cyclic? and ?Wave PCI?. Also, all USB / 1394 WDM audio drivers are based upon ?Stream Class? or ?A/V Stream?.
WDM Kernel Streaming

As a result of this, any WDM driver that was built under Windows XP should generally work as is under Windows Vista without a recompile. Also, any user mode programs that use ?WDM Kernel Streaming? (such as Cakewalk SONAR) in Windows XP would work exactly the same under Windows Vista, when run on top of the driver that was built for Windows XP.

So what has changed?

New Miniport Type: Wave RT

Microsoft has added a third ?Miniport? type for PCI products that is unique to Vista, which is called ?Wave RT? ( The promise of Wave RT is that user mode applications could completely govern streams of audio without any code execution in the kernel during runtime.

1:Wave RT allows the user mode application direct access to the data in the memory that is mapped to the audio hardware DMA engine

2:Wave RT allows the application to poll the current position in the DMA memory window that the hardware is accessing.
3: Wave RT also supports the notion of a hardware generated clock notification event, similar to the ASIO API, so that applications need not poll for current position if they don?t want to.

Wave RT is the new standard, but WavePCI and WaveCyclic are still supported

Microsoft did realize that it would be difficult to get other vendor?s legacy audio drivers moved over to the WaveRT model, because a lot of legacy hardware cannot support this model. So, Microsoft still continues to support the two ?Miniport? driver models that were used in Windows XP (?WavePCI? and ?WaveCyclic?), which means ?WaveRT? drivers are not strictly required under Vista.

Read this and more here:
Creative Labs - Audio in Windows Vista

Basically if you're having audio problems in Vista, you should look for latest Vista drivers from your chipset manufacturers website (links can be found in the Download forum here), and if you cannot obtain Vista drivers then you should look to buying a new sound card which does have Vista support


Stu said:
Basically if you're having audio problems in Vista, you should look for latest Vista drivers from your chipset manufacturers website (links can be found in the Download forum here), and if you cannot obtain Vista drivers then you should look to buying a new sound card which does have Vista support
Wait and buy a new sound card. Test this first!  ;) Install lets say XP and then after your normal soundcard installation "copy" the installed sounddrivers folder for you specific card. Then you paste that folder on a usb drive/cd or another harddrive that you again c/p inside to Vista when thats installed. Check in the device manager for audio and Update that with the drivers from your copied drivers folder from XP if you dont get an automatic driverinstallation. If you do use that guide. Vista will prolly scream that the drivers where'nt checked etc. Skip that mess and just install anyway (on your own risk ofcourse!  :rolleyes_anim:) and then reboot the pc. If all goes well as it did for me the sound will now work flawless even if not a specific software that came with the card might do. If this tip didnt work well then its probably time for a total new soundcard that does support Vista 100%. Good Luck!  :photo:



IF you have an X-Fi card, download Alchemy from creative.  This restores EAX functionality under vista.

Just run it and tell it which games you want it restore.



New member
Mar 13, 2008
If you have a X-Fi, and are lucky enough to own a motherboard with an ALC888 sound chip, throw away the X-Fi!
Behold better sound quality, lower ram usage and shorter boot times due to not loading the ginormous drivers from Creative, also, that annoying screeching and high-pitch sound in BF2142 is finally gone.. But the best for last:


I enjoy my instant-on (3w standy) system, like a modern system should behave.

Putting in the x-fi wich completely lacks power management features means the computer will go into what I've come to call the "black on state"
4-sec off doesn't work, well it powers down, but restarts in black on, only way of booting from stand by is unplugging for 30 seconds, and then booting...
I've already sold my X-Fi, rubbish card with even more rubbish drivers that never solved any important errors anyway.

I can also add, that under XP SP2, suspend didn't work on my old motherboard, either, and didn't work with XP on this mobo.
I'm 100% sure it's the X-Fi in my case preventing S3 suspend. Since the release of X-fi in BF2, the sound issue on my x-fi has persisted, even in software mode. And it's not the game engine, at least not entirely.


New member
Jan 28, 2009
Totally agree...Xi-Fi is crap.

Mine only just worked in XP...useless in Vista even though it came in a box marked Vista compatable.

Massive amount of Game compatability problems were directly due to my XI-FI card.

Will never buy Creative products again...terrible support from manufacturer.

My DKA790GX Platinum's onboard sound is way better in Vista than the XI-FI could ever manage...even in XP.


New member
Mar 11, 2009
1)Are we talking about Vista 32 or Vista 64, or both.
2) Was the sound distortion noticable immediatly after innitial install or after some time.
I'm asking this as i've just installed Ultimate 64.


New member
Oct 24, 2008
That probably explains why my X-Fi PCIe sucks so bad. I have tried the Alchemy but it blue screens when i close a game so I just abandoned it. The biggest problem is changing from 4 channel to 3 channel back to 4 every time I exit out of a game or change between games or I will get sound that sounds like a static nightmare and this is with 64-bit Vista. No Idea how to fix it so I am going to go back to onboard sound.


New member
Aug 29, 2009
Why my X-Fi Extreme Audio detect as High Defenition Audio in windows, but in Everest it detect X-FI?
I can't install drivers for X-Fi. "Supported device not found"



Well-known member
Global Moderator
Feb 11, 2012
this got hijacked, split off the hijack comment and closed topic to prevent any further attempts.

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