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Creative Labs X-Fi Xtreme Music
OpenAL wrapper allows X-Fi users to take advantage of 3D sound in Windows Vista

Creative Labs has opened up the doors to its ALchemy Project to enable hardware acceleration for DirectSound and EAX audio algorithms in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Vista. The Alchemy Project is currently in its beta stages and intends to work around Microsoft’s audio limitations in Windows Vista due to the removal of the Hardware Abstraction Layer, or HAL.

Microsoft’s removal of the HAL removes the software layer required by digital signal processors to enable hardware acceleration for various 3D audio algorithms including DirectSound3D and EAX in pre-Vista games. Nevertheless, digital signal processors that support OpenAL can still take advantage of hardware audio acceleration.

The Alchemy Project intends to work around Windows Vista limitations by translating DirectSound calls into OpenAL – essentially an OpenAL wrapper. In order to take advantage of the ALchemy Project OpenAL wrapper the installer copies a few necessary files into each game directory.

The automated installer will install the necessary files into each game directory, if there is official support for the game. Officially supported games include:
  • Battle for Middle Earth 2
  • Call of Duty
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Diablo 2
  • Everquest 2
  • FEAR
  • Full Spectrum Warrior
  • Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers
  • Guild Wars
  • GTA: San Andreas
  • Hitman: Blood Money
  • Max Payne 2
  • Midieval 2: Total War
  • Neverwinter Nights
  • Neverwinter Nights 2
  • NOLF 2
  • Rome: Total War
If the installer does not officially support your game, Creative Labs provides a guide for advanced users to take advantage of the OpenAL wrapper. Manually adding game support requires the copying of two files – dsound.dll and dsound.ini. On occasion, the unsupported game will work with the default configuration settings. If the default settings do not work, the dsound.ini file is tweak able for better performance. Available settings in the dsound.ini include Buffer, Duration, DisableDirectMusic and MaxVoiceCount settings.

In its current beta stages, Creative Labs ALchemy project only supports Sound Blaster X-Fi based sound cards with OpenAL compatible drivers. Users of Creative Labs previous Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 will have to wait patiently for hardware accelerated DirectSound3D and EAX support in Windows Vista. Jessie Lawrence, developer relations for Creative Labs claims:
For the initial beta phase of Creative ALchemy, we made the decision to concentrate on products based on the X-Fi chip. Games developers have put a lot of effort into supporting the advanced features of this chip so we want to provide the best level of support that we can for our most recent hardware. Support for Audigy 2 and 4 class products will be determined as the current beta progresses and we are able to assess the quality of the beta and overall demand for Creative ALchemy.
Users fortunate enough to have an X-Fi based sound card can download the ALchemy Project installer from the Creative ALchemy Project download page.

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Vista's bad!?
By WayneG on 1/23/2007 4:36:20 AM , Rating: 0
Microsoft is simply clearing out a function which in the past the sound card should have been doing (hence the naem sound card). If anything this is the sound cards maker fault since they have been relying for a while now that most of the work be done by the OS. It's about time they took that away and let the audio card makers do it properly. It's almost like the graphics card makers assuming that Microsoft will code their drivers for them...
Hate all you people that complain about MS whilst being on a Microsoft OS... As techies I thought it was clearly obvious that all bad things with the OS are because of the user. (BSOD, spyware, antivirus - these can all be remedied by a half intelligent monkey. I haven't crashed, been infected or hacked for over 2 years now...)
Just face it Microsoft is giving us an even better OS, if you don't like the sounds of it (which I assume is becasue you haven't used it and are scared to learn something) then simply don't use it and shut up because you are only proving your lack of knowledge.

RE: Vista's bad!?
By michal1980 on 1/23/07, Rating: 0
RE: Vista's bad!?
By Snipester on 1/23/2007 7:55:49 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the guy who says microsoft codes drivers is correct. Especially audio drivers. Creative is horrible and so is realtek.

RE: Vista's bad!?
By michal1980 on 1/23/2007 8:59:12 AM , Rating: 2
I never said that the drivers of creative were good.

my point was that windows vista, is moving to a much more SOFTWARE based solution, creativ with the 'bad' drivers. I would call them bad because they are very hit or miss. If you get them to work, they work good.
But creative and to some extent realtek wanted to offload the sound proccessing to the sound card.

With windows vista. Most sound processing is going to be done IN windows on the CPU. For most applications, the sound card will only convert the digital signal to analog so you can hear it. That old creative card will now do as much as an onboard card... It might/will sound better because of better S/N ratios, but outside of that, its doing nothing.

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