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 sound working onthe vista but because its digtal output cant seemt to control it at all?

  2. That’s the way digital output is supposed to be. You have to control it from the speakers/hardware themselves. The operating system’s job is just to send the music to the speaker’s control board – and preserve the quality the best it can.

    Otherwise, you’re back to analog audio.

  3. well then how do I convert to analog? where do I change the settings. Also that means I have to connect the analog connectors right?

  4. Also I dont understand why vista cant implement the mute or vollume up or down. Its not as if I am asking for other featured the mixer provides…

  5. It’s not just Vista. I’m in Ubuntu right now, and it’s the same thing. This is the way it’s intended to be: the operating system gives up all control of the audio stack. You can’t switch back to analog unless your speakers support it.

  6. Hello,

    I am extremely in need of Soundmax drivers for Windows Vista Ultimate.I have PC with Intel 865GBF motherboard and Intel P4 2.8GHz processor.Can u help me to get it ?

  7. So… A month ago I had the all too common issue with SoundMAX and Windows Vista (on a ASUS P5NSLI mobo), meaning that whatever I tried and did, I just couldn’t get the damn speakers to work properly (Front left and Front Right worked ok, but no subwoofer, no rear no nothin’). So after google-ing for an eventual solution, I came across this page. I downloaded the drivers and it worked… I reinstalled Windows, and after the updates and everything, the method presented here (that worked a month ago) failed to work. After some more google-ing I came across this page (http://www.notebookforums.com/thread188206.html) and stumbled upon these SoundMAX Vista drivers (http://rapidshare.com/files/16779749/AD1988_VISTA_61016030.zip) that actually work (albeit, in winamp I still had the stereo setup and no subwoofer). So i got this nice little plug-in for winamp (http://www.andrewlabs.com/downloads/out_atsurround_0.1.6.exe) and now everything works just fine. So if anyone had the same problem, here’s the solution.

    Cheers!

  8. OK So I just installed Vista 64Bit Final Retail Version (Build 6000)

    now I have no audio on it….

    i tried to install the realtek ac 97 driver for Vista 64bit but the problem is that when i try to install it.

    Windows gives a msg…… “Unknown Publisher”

    and doesnt continues installation !!!

    so what driver will work on my Vista 64bit now ?

    My PC Specs :

    MSI P965Neo Mother Board (Supporting 9.1 Surround Sound)

    Intell Core 2 Duo e6300 1.86GHz

    1.5 GB RAM

    thank you-

  9. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I was soo mad because i couldnt hear anything from my computer for 4 months

    thank you soo much ill donate just because of this this website is the greatest

  10. I  cannot  hear any kind of sound in my computer. There is surely no problem with my jacks….. I had WINDOWS XP  and now  i  have  WINDOWS  VISTA  home premium…..and  i cannot hear sound!!!!

    I have asus motherboard and besides i don t know which drivers to download and i don t know how to  go on if i have the right drivers!!!

     

     COULD  ANYONE HELP ME???????   please!!!!!!!!

  11. i’m pradeep
    i have mercury 845 mother board with p4 2.4 processor
    i installed windows vista ultimated and i have 5.1 audio system to system
    but i’m not getting 5.1 audio settings will u please give me the drivers

  12. Hey guys I have a Creative Sound Blaster Live! v12. I’ve tried everything to get it working on vista and nothing. Is this impossible? 

  13. I have asus motherboard. After installing windows vista i cannot hear any sound from my computer, the audio driver is not supported by the os.so can u suggest me where to download the driver.

  14. I have an asus Z96J After installing windows vista i cannot hear any sound from my computer and i don t know which drivers to download and i don t know how to  go on if i have the right drivers. Can anyone help?

  15. i have sound on vista, however when i try to get sound in yahoo chat i don’t. does anyone one know why?

  16. How do i activate both analog and digital audio output at the same time in Vista ?

     

  17. You can’t – it doesn’t make any sense! How can you send both digital and analog audio to the same output device at the same time?!

  18. It worked absolutely flawless in Windows XP!

    I used both my headset and SPDIF at the same time so hardware wise it is no problem.

    Must be a driver or registry thing and should be solvable.

     

  19. That certainly is an interesting setup there, Vigil! I’d be very interested in seeing that work, the possibilities are almost endless.

    What sound card are you using? I assume both the headsets and the speakers are plugged into the same physical sound card (and the same jack?)?

  20. I am using the ABIT AW9D motherboard and the soundcard that comes with it (Realtek Audiomax HD audio). Don’t know the version of the Realtek sound chip though :/

    I am using my headset (Sennheiser PC166) in the analogue I/O of the soundcard and i have connected the digital output (SPDIF) to my digital surround receiver.

    When i used Windows XP there were signals out from both analogue and digital outputs at the same time so when i wanted to use the headset i just had to put it on my head and when i wanted to use my surround reciever i just turned it on. Now i must open sound settings in Vista to choose either of them.

    Maybe sounds trivial but i think that is very annoying.

    Any solutions?

     

  21. Thanx! i will test those drivers.

    There is nothing special about my hardware. With my old Abit motherboard and the onboard Realtek 7.1 audio chip it was possible to have both with windows XP and the standard realtek sound drivers.

    I mentioned the problem to my friend who is a network technichian at work and he have the same problem. Before when he was running XP he also had sound at both outputs at the same time but after he changed to Vista he also have to choose.

    Don’t understand why some think it is impossible to split the audio signal to have sound output at both analogue and digital outputs at the same time. If i choose digital output in Vista i can open the analogue sound settings and mouseclick on the speakers to hear the test sound in my headset (analogue) while i listen to music on my digital reciever and vice versa.

  22. Driver R169 and R170 doesn’t make any difference 🙁

    Still have to choose either of the outputs.

  23. Just discovered!

    If i choose analogue output and start a game listening through my headset i can alt+tab out to windows, activate digital output and then start to listen to sound/music in my digital reciever, then alt+tab back to the game and voila! sound in both analogue and digital outputs at the same time!

    The trick is to always have both activated. Hope Realtek fix this in a future driver.

     

  24. Got this answer from Realtek.

    “Hi,

     I’m sorry . We do not support “the analog and digital output at the same time” in Vista . Since Microsoft did not define it in Vista system .

    We can do it , but the analog and digital output device have to be Independent in Vista system . The is defined by Microsoft .

    Best Regards
    PC-Tech”

  25. I was very happy to recieve this from Realtek.

     

    “Hi,

     

    Please try to copy the attached file (rtkhdaud.dat) to C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers and then reboot system .

    It will open the “Analog and Digital output at same time function” in Vista system .

    Best Regards
    PC-Tech”

    And it works too! I am so relieved.

    Just install the latest drivers from Realtek and copy the enclosed file.

     

    Thank you Realtek, you are the best!

     

  26. Is there any way to get simultaneous analog and digital (SPDIF) from a sigmatel based system under VISTA?  I can’t seem to find one.

  27. I have no idea sorry.

    Realtek sent me that file personally so i can’t tell how to solve this matter for non Realtek based audiocards/chip.

    I hope Microsoft rethink and open up for simultaneous outputs in the future, maybe the next service pack or so.

  28. hai one tell the solution for me .. my computer is intel865gvsr mother board.. sound is not taking for vista.. sound driver for vista needed 

  29. Hey i have a 4.1 Creative Inspire m4500 sound system and i cant make it so that the rear speakers would work , althou when i test them in sound options in control panel they DO make sounds

     

    i am using windows vista ultimate and HD realtek onboard chipset thingy

     

    plz help this is driving me insane , thx in advance .

  30. You guys rock.  Dell Tech Support, Microsoft, ADI, could not resolve.  Followed the instructions for SoundMAX Integrated Digital Audio, and now I am listening to XM radio on my computer!!!!

  31. Hello, question again regarding Intel MB (D965OT) with sigmatel audio chip.  Is there a solution for sending both digital and analog and digital (spdif) at the same time…?

    Any tips/tricks are appreciated.  Thanks. Regards. Hn.

  32. Not to my knowledge sorry.

    As Microsoft for some reason doesn’t want simultaneously analog and digital audio output i suggest you contact Sigmatel or your soundcard manufacturer and tell them about the issue. Maybe they can help you.

    Good luck!

  33. i require audiodrivers for my desktop pc with windows vista operating system’

  34. hello

    i am using desktop pc , i installed windows vista in it from that time i m not getting any sound from my pc

    my pc : intel p4 dual core processor with Sigma Tel High definition audio drivers

     

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