How-To: Changing the Windows Vista Startup Sound

Of the many controversies surrounding Windows Vista, probably the most infamous (and pathetic) issues brought to the table is the Windows Vista Startup sound – and how to get rid of it. If  you were anywhere but under a rock during the beta, it’s impossible to have missed the posts going back and forth by haters and supporters of Windows Vista’s new startup sound – which, like almost everything else in Windows Vista, doesn’t even always work.

This sound isn’t the one you get on startup (which is still there, just like in previous versions of Windows), but rather the one that plays right when Windows finishes loading – and you can’t do a thing about it. In our opinion, it’s a quite nice sound, but unfortunately you don’t get to hear it (most of the time) if you have a analog/digital sound card with analog being the default. At any rate, for those of you that don’t like it, chin up: it can be changed!

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Vista 5342 Digital Audio Support Completely Broken

We’ve been asking around, and we have been downloading driver after driver and swapping sound cards all day long to no avail. Vista’s digital audio support is completely broken in this latest build. To be fair, it is not a CTP, but on the other hand, besides the lack of digital audio support on Microsoft Windows Vista Build 5342, it seems that the audio stack is exactly the same as that of 5308.

These comments are not made on whim nor are they fallacies in induction, NeoSmart Technologies carried out the most extensive review and troubleshooting guide for both digital and analog audio on 5308 (February CTP) which can be seen here.

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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.

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Digital Audio on 5270?

As I might have mentioned in an earlier post, the Windows Update service in Windows Vista’s latest CTP (5270.9, December CTP) works; and I used it to grab the sound drivers for my SoundMAX Integrated Digital Audio device…

Well, besides coming with enhnaced (and long overdue) functionality to control volume on a per-application basis (ever try to play Quake 4 or C0D2 while listening to some hard core music in the background??!) it comes with more-or-less enhanced sound.. The drivers it grabbed are not available on the SoundMAX website for use on Windows XP. Though I do not have?a professional studio or a sound-card benchmarking device; unless thine ears decieve me, the sound is clearer…..

But there is a catch. There always is, get used to it.. I have the Boston BA735 Digital Speakers… In order to listen to anything on my computer I had to switch them with analog headphones… It seems that Digital Speakers are not yet fully funtional in 5270?

Be it as it may, it seems that Microsoft is determined to overhaul the user media experience; one step at a time. First it was video (new LDDM Card coming my way!!) and now its the sound… Let’s just hope they don’t reinvent the joystick :P