Digital/Analog Audio & Sound Drivers for Windows Vista

While Windows Vista may tout a “all-new and improved” audio stack with superb quality and resonance, it’s of no use if you don’t have the right sound card drivers for Windows Vista. The biggest problem with audio drivers for Windows Vista is with Digital Audio – most people can get their SPDIF or Digital outputs to spew analog sound – which just doesn’t work with hi-fi, digital speakers. NeoSmart Technologies has compiled a list of audio drivers for the most popular sound cards that experience trouble with Windows Vista, in hopes that our readers will find it useful.

  • SoundMAX Integrated Digital Audio Analog audio with the drivers works fine, but digital audio doesn’t.
  • Creative Sound Blaster Live! Series No sound by default, Creative drivers won’t install.
  • Creative Audigy 1 No sound by default, Creative drivers won’t install.
  • Creative Audigy 2 No sound by default, Creative drivers won’t install.
  • Creative Audigy 4 Creative drivers install but constantly stutter.
  • Creative X-Fi Series Creative drivers install but constantly stutter.
  • SigmaTel HD AudioDefault Vista drivers don’t well in digital, bad bass
  • SigmaTel Integrated AudioNo compatible drivers; Digital N/A.
  • Other AC ’97No compatible drivers; Digital N/A.

The last two entries do not support Digital Audio, and are simply a manner of finding the right drivers compatible with your chipset; making them at once the easiest to solve due to the lack of complications, and the hardest due to the large variety of AC ’97 implementations.

NeoSmart Technologies is now hosting the more-popular drivers on our own server. If you find this guide helpful, please donate to defray some of our bandwidth costs.. If you need more help, please use the forums.

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SoundMAX Integrated Digital Audio

Microsoft Windows Vista build 5308 uses Windows Update (herein called WU) to get the latest drivers for the SoundMAX chipset. These drivers stutter, hiss, snap, crackle, and pop, nonstop and do not have support for digital audio. This is an improvement over 5270 where you had to find your own drivers, AND it was impossible to get digital audio.

  1. Download these drivers and extract them to a folder somewhere with WinZip.
  2. Open Device Manager (Control Panel | System | Hardware | Device Manager) find the entry for the SoundMAX, and update its driver with the one in the \SMAXWDM\W2K_XP\ directory that you just extracted.
  3. Restart your computer.
  4. Open Control Panel | Audio Settings | SoundMAX | Properties. In the ‘Other’ tab uncheck the first entry and check the second for digital audio. If you have analog speakers, leave both unchecked.
  5. If sound quality is not that great, try changing the Format settings in that last tab on the page. Try going up or down until it works out…. I have this card and was quick to replace it… Time to get a new sound card if you are still having issues :(
  6. Vista will tell you that Windows Update has found newer drivers. Ignore it or you’ll lose the sound!

Creative Sound Blaster Live! Series

This applies to all Live! products, including OEM Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. editions, 24-bit, 5.1, and the rest. Vista 5308 may or may not find drivers on Windows Update, but even if it does, they will not support Digital Audio.

  1. Check Windows Update. Recently, correct drivers have popped up on there that support all Sound Blaster cards with digital audio too! If you don’t find anything:
  2. You have two choices: SoundBlaster Live! signed drivers which work swell but don’t have support for digital speakers; and NGO HQ drivers which have a couple of bugs but support digital audio.
  3. If you downloaded our first package, open up Device Manager and point it to the location you extracted those files to and let it set it up (Hint: Emu10k1). If you grabbed the NGO HQ set, run the installer in Windows XP Compatibility Mode.
  4. Restart your computer.
  5. In the audio properties in the Control Panel, enable digital audio by going to the tab called “Other,” and checking digital output box.
  6. Play with the “Format” tab to get the audio quality to your liking.
  7. You may need to restart to ensure that digital audio works after changing that option.

Creative Audigy I

  1. Check Windows Update. Recently, correct drivers have popped up on there that support all Audigy cards with digital audio too! If you don’t find anything:
  2. You have two choices: SoundBlaster Live! signed drivers which work swell but don’t have support for digital speakers; and NGO HQ drivers which have a couple of bugs but support digital audio.
  3. If you downloaded our first package, open up Device Manager and point it to the location you extracted those files to and let it set it up (Hint: Emu101k). If you grabbed the NGO HQ set, run the installer in Windows XP Compatibility Mode.
  4. Restart your computer.
  5. In the audio properties in the Control Panel, enable digital audio by going to the tab called “Other,” and checking digital output box.
  6. Play with the “Format” tab to get the audio quality to your liking.
  7. You may need to restart to ensure that digital audio works after changing that option.

Creative Audigy 2

  1. Check Windows Update. Recently, correct drivers have popped up on there that support all Audigy cards with digital audio too! If you don’t find anything:
  2. Download the modified kX Project drivers or these stock ones from Dell.
  3. Run the kX installer, let it install and press OK at all prompts. It may take a while to complete.
  4. Restart your computer.
  5. You will get an error message every time at boot, it is safe to ignore. If you want to get rid of it, remove kX Project from your startup list with a startup manager with a program like NeoSmart’s own Startup2Service.
  6. Open audio options in the Control Panel and enable/disable digital audio in the “Other” tab.
  7. Play with the “Format” tab to get the audio quality to your liking.
  8. You may need to restart to ensure that digital audio works after changing that option.

Creative Audigy 4

  1. Check Windows Update. Recently, correct drivers have popped up on there that support all Audigy cards with digital audio too! If you don’t find anything:
  2. Download the latest official Creative Audigy 4 Drivers for Vista here (yes, it does say X-Fi, but those are the ones).
  3. Extract them to a folder using WinZip.
  4. Open Device Manager (Control Panel | System | Hardware | Device Manager) find the entry for the Audigy 4 and update the drivers for it with the ones you just extracted.
  5. Restart your computer.
  6. Open audio options in the Control Panel and enable/disable digital audio in the “Other” tab.
  7. Play with the “Format” tab to get the audio quality to your liking.
  8. You may need to restart to ensure that digital audio works after changing that option.

Creative X-Fi Series

  1. Check Windows Update. Recently, correct drivers have popped up on there that support all Audigy cards with digital audio too! If you don’t find anything:
  2. Download the latest Creative X-Fi Audio Drivers for Vista from the official site here.
  3. Extract them to a folder using WinRAR.
  4. Open Device Manager (Control Panel | System | Hardware | Device Manager) find the entry for the X-Fi and update the drivers for it with the ones you just extracted.
  5. Restart your computer.
  6. Open audio options in the Control Panel and enable/disable digital audio in the Other tab.
  7. Play with the Format tab to get the audio quality to your liking.
  8. You may need to restart to ensure that digital audio works after changing that option.

SigmaTel HD Audio

  1. Download the SigmaTel HD Audio drivers from Dell.
  2. Extract to a folder with WinZip.
  3. Use device manager to install the drivers.
  4. Reboot. If needed check the “Digital Audio” option in the Sounds Control Panel.

SigmaTel Integrated Audio

  1. Download the modded AC ’97 drivers here.
  2. Run the installer in XP compatibility mode and restart.
  3. If the installer fails, extract the drivers to a folder with WinRAR and install via the Device Manager.
  4. Restart your computer.

Realtek High-Definition Audio

  1. Download the Realtek hi-def Vista drivers from here.
  2. Extract them to a folder with WinZip.
  3. Install them by using the setup utility or manually selecting the drivers in the Device Manager.
  4. Restart your PC.

Generic AC ’97 Solution

This will not provide digital audio. As far as we know the only AC ’97 implementation that gives digital audio is the SoundMAX outlined above. As previously mentioned, this in only a matter of finding the right drivers. Here we will provide you with some links to the most likely compatible drivers as well as how to get them to install.

  1. Like always, make sure that if you are running an Intel chipset to first follow the steps above to update the INF files.
  2. Try one of these drivers, ordered by likelihood of success: ngoHQ modded AC ’97, Realtek AC ‘97 Drivers, and the VIA Vinyl drivers.
  3. Attempt to run the installers in XP compatibility mode, if that fails or you do not have time waste;
  4. Extract the drivers then via the Device Manager use the extracted drivers to update the audio device.
  5. Restart your computer whether the selected driver worked or not.
  6. Repeat for each driver until you find one that works.

It is possible to obtain both digital and analog audio simultaneously from a single Realtek audio device by downloading and extracting rtkhdaud.dat to C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\

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Enjoy! Assuming you followed the steps above in the order outlined, and you don’t have a home-brew sound card you should be pumping that music and shaking the house, in Vista-defined audible bliss!

Do not post support requests below, they will go unanswered. Don’t be lazy, post in the forums instead.

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121 thoughts on “Digital/Analog Audio & Sound Drivers for Windows Vista

  1. i have intel 865 GBF MB, with a soundmax 4.0 or [5.12.01.3630_SM4_SF], is there any update for this driver. please do tell, if it is where can i download..

    or if u can,also tell me update for Intel_R__Extreme_Graphics_2_Driver (i have 6.13.10.3510_cert)

    version.

    waiting for your replly.

    thanks in advance.

    udaya

  2. I’m going mad trying to figure out a sound fault on my motherboard. I have a Intel Desktop Board D865PERL, built-in ‘SoundMAX integrated digital audio’ feed. I use this to feed the system’s speakers. The problem seems to come from Windows Media Player 11. After starting up the machine it works fine, but if I quit/restart it a few times, or quit it to run my other games which produce it own sound. I often end up with silence. Even running WMP again won’t work, and the only way I can get the sound back is to do a full restart on my computer. On occasions I can get sound from WMP CLASSIC, which I also have installed, but I’d rather have WMP working correctly since I like the way it integrates with MS Messenger. I’ve checked and there are no reported conflicts with the sound card, and there are no new drivers that I’ve been able to find for the audio device on my machine. I’ve fiddled with the sound settings but they don’t work after the machine has gone silent. Any ideas what might be causing this?  Can someone help me please?? If you could, email me at Oxyale@live.com Or just write your reply here.

  3. How exactly does the thing with the Realtek-File work? Copied it to c:\windows\system32\drivers, but nothing happened, and i don’t see any new options anywhere. Where should the option appear?

    Or is it not working with the 1.72 drivers? Or maybe my installation is not correct? (I uninstalled the drivers included with the mainboard and installed the ones from realtek, but still have the “Gigabyte”-label at the bottom of “Realtek HD Audio Manager”). Or does it only work for the english version (because I’m german and therefore have a german version of Vista)?

  4. Did you reboot the computer after installing the file ?

    The file doesn’t give you any additional options, it just opens up both analog and digital outputs at the same time.

    Install the latest Realtek sound drivers and then install the file, reboot computer and it should work.

     

  5. Oh, hehe, too easy. Just didn’t check that, because in the mixer it still looked inactive.

    Well, seems like it already worked. Thanks :) 

  6. I have logitech x-530 speakers.

    i upgraded to windows vista and now all i have is no sound device installed.

    i have spent days/weeks/moinths hunting for logitech drivers and various other sound devices etc like the realtek etc etc.

    please help me someone out there !!

    also, upon installation, I have two 200gig hgard drives sata.

    one, is loaded with thousands of songs, photos, dopcuments etc etc and im not 100% which of the two i formatted as I decided to only do one and check it later.,

    how can i check whats on the pther drive without formating it onto vista or how can I go back to XP and keep originality on both drives?

     

  7. Hi there.

     

    I installed the SB Live 5.1 generic drivers and am enjoying flawless sound. The problem I have is that the game port driver does not install – so no joystick :( I have been searching all over but all the drivers seem to have the same problem. 

  8. Hello, I have a Dell XPS Gen 2 notebook with the Sigmatel 9750. In the volume control panel with Windows XP it has the subwoofer volume slider. I’m currently running Vista and have tried several drivers from sigmatel as well as other manufacturers and do not have a subwoofer volume, I would really like to have this option but Dell won’t support this system any longer in terms of software development.

    Is there anyone able to modify the existing driver to get the subwoofer volume in Vista?, help would be greatly appreciated.

     

    Thanks 

  9. Hi !

    You said

    “Like always, make sure that if you are running an Intel chipset to first follow the steps above to update the INF files. ”

    What steps?? I couldn’t find. I don’t want digital, i just want it to work. And i do have a chipset Intel on my motherboard

  10. That section was in one of the old revisions for the guide – see CG’s comment for more info.

  11. I got Realtek chipset on my pc but the thing is i got analog suround speakers. and i also got a tv hooked up with a hdmi kabel. now i want them both active and giving me the same signal. how do i do that?! its driving me crazy! already tried the file above but my analog speaker wont function anymore then. please help!

  12. hey, i have a campaq that was windows xp home edition and installed windows vista premium, and when the process was through i noticed it said no sound device installed.

    what do i do??

  13. Hi there,
    I’m using Vista Business Edition 32 Bit Operation System.When I access the Sound Recorder,it says “An audio recording device cannot be found”.When I access the Sound option in the Control Panel, on the Recording tab,it shows “No audio devices are installed”.What should I do?

    Thank You and Have a Nice Day.

  14. Commenting now C.L.O.S.E.D.

    Way too many people can’t understand the simply concept of posting support requests in the forums.

    Sorry but there is no other choice. There were plenty good & on-topicdiscussions and links, etc. but the signal-to-noise ratio is getting out of hand.

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