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Audigy owners will get ALchemy, for a low cost, later this year

Microsoft Windows Vista features a new audio stack, which completely revamps how the operating system communicates with audio devices. The new audio stack, dubbed Universal Audio Architecture, or UAA, requires companies to develop new drivers. Hardware accelerated audio devices are treated as an independent device, separate from the audio output capabilities of a sound card under Windows Vista.

The way UAA handles hardware DSPs is a problem for Creative Labs when it comes to delivering hardware acceleration for DirectSound 3D and EAX algorithms. Earlier this year Creative Labs launched its ALchemy project that enabled hardware-accelerated audio on Sound Blaster X-Fi owners. ALchemy translates DirectSound 3D and EAX calls into OpenAL, which can still take advantage of the DSP hardware.

Creative Labs left Sound Blaster Audigy owners in the dark, in regards to hardware-accelerated audio in Windows Vista. However, Creative Labs stated ALchemy support for Sound Blaster Audigy 2 and 4-class products are to be determined depending on demand. Due to demand, Creative Labs has begun ALchemy development for Sound Blaster Audigy-series sound cards.

Creative Labs expects to have ALchemy for Audigy sound cards later this year. It does not appear as if ALchemy will be free to current Audigy owners. Nevertheless, when the cards are ready, Creative Labs “hopes to offer this product as a low-cost upgrade to interested Audigy owners.”


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Are they serious about it?
By sviola on 5/3/2007 9:02:56 AM , Rating: 5
They want to charge owners of their products for being able to use them under Vista?

Well, this is how a company loses customers...




RE: Are they serious about it?
By Moishe on 5/3/2007 9:14:38 AM , Rating: 2
Creative has always been slow to provide legacy support, and quick to screw everyone. I don't mind some company dominating, but I hate it when they use their position to abuse their customers.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By mjcutri on 5/3/2007 12:34:42 PM , Rating: 3
don't forget about them dragging their feet on introducing pcie (x1 ideally) based sound cards. I didn't even install my audigy sb pro in my new computer, just used the onboard audio. If a pcie x1 based card was available, i might have bought it, but not now. I still like CL as a whole (especially their mp3 players), but their sound card division has definitely gone way downhill.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By Mitch101 on 5/3/2007 9:15:15 AM , Rating: 2
I agree this looks to be the first nail in the coffin of Creative. Thier drivers have been falling downhill for some time now and now they want to charge for them.

Kinf of sounds like Happaugue. Can never spell them right. They promise all the bugs are fixed in thier next release and want you to pay to upgrade. You basically buy new bugs and new software crashes with promises/ignored it will be fixed on the next release.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By darkpaw on 5/3/2007 9:49:45 AM , Rating: 3
They've definately lost me. I've been a Creative customer since the original SB Pro, but my Audigy ZS will be my last purchase. Their driver and customer support in general has gone so far downhill I don't know how they stay in business at all.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By Xavian on 5/3/07, Rating: 0
RE: Are they serious about it?
By MustaineC on 5/3/2007 10:33:14 AM , Rating: 3
How dare you use the words "Microsoft" and "monopoly" in the same sentence?


RE: Are they serious about it?
By raddude9 on 5/3/2007 1:35:43 PM , Rating: 4
yep, me too, I've been buying Creative's sounds card since the sound blaster, but I "upgraded" to Vista last week only to find out that they havn't bothered making a new driver for my rather expensive Soundblaster Live Platinum! I'll be taking my soundcard money elsewhere in future.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By RW on 5/3/2007 11:24:54 AM , Rating: 2
I just need to say that from all my computer parts that I did have buy over the years my Creative Audigy 2 ZS was proven to have the biggest price compared to its quality.
In reality the card proves to be a piece of crap that costs me nearly 100 $ at the time of purchasing but it values a maximum of 10 $.

At first the sound quality is the worst especially on CDs or MP3s that are at 44.1 KHz rate because the Audigy card works on 48 KHz and multipliers of it 96 and 192 KHz.
When playing a song on it that has a different samplerate than it's default 48,96,192 KHs the result is somehow catastrophic meaning that the sound is not clear and you can hear the aliasing.
At first u did not notice it but after 1-2 months of using the card it became the most annoying thing.

And you just wonder how such a sound card costs you so much money when in fact it turns out to be totally crap.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By GlassHouse69 on 5/4/2007 1:33:34 AM , Rating: 2

audigy 2 zs is for gaming. it massively reduces cpu load for games. also, eax: the only thing that game designers use as clickable settings in their audio console. Or x-fi now for new games. I dont care if you have a diamond plated geek squad 2000 dollar audio "pro" card. it still will not offload your cpu. It gives significant frames in every game you use it in, and, it was less than 100 dollars, like 60 dollars.

only vista it doesnt work in. consider vista a joke and buying it a bigger one. getting rid of directsound was really dumb. its sound. it makes noise. we dont need another format for gaming, really we dont. 99.99% of users have sub 500 dollar a piece speakers on their computers. I dont think we need to split hairs about signal to noise ratios, bit rates, or whatever as none of this means anything when you are listening to digitized gun clicks or plain old music cds on your 100 dollar 2.1 klipsch's.

I truly think that M$ made the new format to knock out creative. notice how AMD is doing 5.1 hdcp sound through one hdmi(or dongle) this r600 version. That is not a coincedence! video,cpu,physics, and now audio is attempting to be all monopolized by one company.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By JSK on 5/4/2007 4:08:07 AM , Rating: 2
What a retarded assumption.

Do you know how many issues the hardware abstraction layer for the audio in previous versions of windows had? Way too damn many...

While you may not like the new audio stack in vista, it is 10x more stable and reliable.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By jrb531 on 5/4/2007 10:32:00 AM , Rating: 2
I use Vista and it is far far better on release than XP was when it was released. While I'm not happy to lose Directsound the only thing you really lose is surround sound and the newer games all use openal so at least with the new stuff everything is fine.

Why do "some" people feel they have to bash whatever they do not use?

The old.... Whatever I use rocks... whatever I do not use sucks :)

-JB


By Cobra Commander on 5/3/2007 2:54:31 PM , Rating: 4
Creative is exceedingly-proficient in knowing how to lose customers.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By RMSe17 on 5/3/2007 3:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
Sure they are serious.. If you are going to bitch at someone, go bitch at microsoft, it's their stupidity that brought this on everyone. They moved the sound drivers into user-space out of kernel space, and had to rip out hardware accelerated sound out of DirectX. So, no game that used DirectX hardware accelerated sound will work any more, unless it uses software sound. So forget all that nice sound, unless the game used OpenAL, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenAL#Applications .

Why did they do it? Oh, now when sound drivers crash, there are no blue screens, they just get reloaded like an app... hm, great, so now I will stop having all those blue screens from audio drivers.. wait, you never got one of those? Oh yea.. now that I think of it, I never got one of those either. GG microsoft.

I dont favor creative, Aureal 3D (A3D) had much better positional audio for games, unfortunately, they went out of business after being sued by creative (and A3D didnt lose those lawsuits)... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A3D still, the fact of the matter is, creative is doing a favor to people by even bothering to write a translation software for their old audio cards, and it makes sense to charge a little for it, because, realisticly, they could be writing better stuff for X-fi (which you can get for cheap anyway), or working on something new, for they future that will make them money. Given how X-Fi is their current product, it makes sense to spend engineering hours on creating the wrapper for it for free, though they still could charge for it if they wanted to be asses about it. Oh, and guess what.. no other audio company made anything that would make that hardware audio setting work on any old games in Vista. Creative is alone on making old games work nice in MS's new OS.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By darkpaw on 5/3/2007 5:04:36 PM , Rating: 3
MS kicked everything out of the kernel primarily for security reasons. Elimintating driver based crashes from any source is a side effect of that.

Locking down the kernel was a smart move for security, but it does require new drivers to be writen for almost everything. The kernel still isn't completely secure, but its a hell of a lot better then it was when you could load anything into it.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By Zoomer on 5/3/2007 9:17:19 PM , Rating: 3
Security?

You meant DRM. But wait, that's going away, and besides, anyone running Vista on a virtual machine can get at it anyway.

Hmm...


RE: Are they serious about it?
By EBH on 5/3/2007 6:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
Creative software support has always been terrible.

I have an Audigy Plat EX card that cost me 300$ when it first came out. Which currently leaves me with two choices aside from getting a new card.

1. Use the original install CD and get a ton of outdated features.

2. Use the auto update and get a driver that shrinks the functionality and overall capabilities of the card down to the quality of a onboard sound chip.

I dont use Vista so I know so Creative can take the blame for their poor support and drivers.


RE: Are they serious about it?
By PrinceGaz on 5/4/2007 8:26:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why did they do it? Oh, now when sound drivers crash, there are no blue screens, they just get reloaded like an app... hm, great, so now I will stop having all those blue screens from audio drivers.. wait, you never got one of those? Oh yea.. now that I think of it, I never got one of those either. GG microsoft.


Actually, I did have Creative's Audigy driver blue-screen on me once on an otherwise almost rock-solid XP box. I had to look up the name of the application which caused the BSOD to find out what it was, otherwise I wouldn't have realised it was part of the Audigy driver. It has only happened the once, but that's once more than would happen with Vista.

quote:
...the fact of the matter is, creative is doing a favor to people by even bothering to write a translation software for their old audio cards, and it makes sense to charge a little for it, because, realisticly, they could be writing better stuff for X-fi (which you can get for cheap anyway), or working on something new, for they future that will make them money. Given how X-Fi is their current product, it makes sense to spend engineering hours on creating the wrapper for it for free, though they still could charge for it if they wanted to be asses about it.


The Audigy series is still a current product which Creative actively promote, manufacture, and sell.
http://www.creative.com/products/welcome.asp?categ...
Although it is positioned under the X-Fi these days, it should receive a similar level of support, and that includes a free Alchemy wrapper for Vista. Charging for the Audigy version is ridiculous, especially as they'll already have done most of the development work needed with the X-Fi version (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if all they need to do is check that the wrapper they produced for the X-Fi also works with the Audigy, and then allow it to be installed on systems with an Audigy instead of an X-Fi).

When you buy the hardware, you shouldn't have to pay again for extra software to make it work properly. When I migrate to Vista, you can be sure that I'll pay exactly the same amount for the Alchemy wrapper as I did for nVidia's PureVideo decoder back when it was the only way to make use of the hardware video decoder on the GeForce 6 series. You can probably guess how much I paid for the PureVideo decoder :)


RE: Are they serious about it?
By jonmcc33 on 5/3/2007 8:45:04 PM , Rating: 3
$200 for my Audigy2 ZS Platinum and I need to pay more for something that should be built into the drivers? I was disgusted that it has taken them this long for an OS that has been in development for years. This is even worse!

Maybe they should stop paying John Wendel all that money and give us something we already paid for?


ZOMGWTH
By strend on 5/3/2007 9:59:40 AM , Rating: 2
I don't condone piracy.....But I will not pay for drivers. No matter what Creative spouts, that's all this ALchemy is. A program to deliver the features their product advertises. I refuse to pay "extra" for something I have already purchased.




RE: ZOMGWTH
By wallijonn on 5/3/2007 1:12:45 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
I don't condone piracy.....But I will not pay for drivers. No matter what Creative spouts, that's all this ALchemy is. A program to deliver the features their product advertises. I refuse to pay "extra" for something I have already purchased.


There was a time when I would have gladly paid $10 to receive their latest drivers on CD.

Vista has killed CL. In the old days a built in audio chip would cost ~5% cpu time. Now it doesn't matter.

I still miss Aureal.


RE: ZOMGWTH
By abhaxus on 5/3/2007 3:21:23 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I still miss Aureal.


This is the most true statement made by anyone commenting so far... The Aureal card I had back in the days of Quake 3 provided FAR better 3D sound out of headphones than anything I've ever gotten from a CL card. Not that I don't love my X-fi most of the time for DVD-Audio and the like... but I miss the incredible sound in games.


RE: ZOMGWTH
By RMSe17 on 5/3/2007 3:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
A3D was superior to EAX back then, and it calculated the sound based on the actual 3D areas in the game data. And the sad thing about it is that they actually won the lawsuit that creative threw at them, they just couldn't recover from all the legal expenses of the process...


On the other hand...
By dnatek on 5/3/2007 10:14:53 AM , Rating: 5
First and foremost, I totally agree that this is a bad move on Creative's part. I would like to play devil's advocate on the other hand. If any of you Audigy owners still have your original box, does it say anywhere on there that it will support Windows Vista? Of course not, Vista wasn't even close to being released when the Audigy came out. You are getting the exact functionality promised to you on the outside of the box, nothing more. In fact, this practice is fairly common and is why hardware and software vendors look forward to new OS releases, it forces customers to upgrade. This is no different than Adobe saying that they won't support Vista on anything other than CS3, all previous versions are SOL. Anyway, just my 2 cents - and no I'm not a Creative fanboy (do those even exist?).




RE: On the other hand...
By jrb531 on 5/3/2007 10:31:08 AM , Rating: 2
Ok great... so those who buy a Audigy 2 or 4 now can get this support for free?

Well since the box does not say Vista then I guess not.

"Technically" you are correct but from a PR standpoint... this will kill CL IMHO.

-JB


By therealnickdanger on 5/3/2007 10:54:55 AM , Rating: 2
There's no doubt that the OP is correct. If it doesn't support say it supports Vista, the consumer A) shouldn't buy it; and B) the company is not responsible for supporting it.

That being said, I own a Audigy4Pro, but this just confirms that I won't bother installing it on my Vista machine. I can guarantee, however, that hacked drivers will be made available almost immediately for those that want them. I probably won't bother and will just sell the card to someone with XP of something...

This is not the position Creative should be taking in this case. Not only are integrated sound solutions becoming competitive, but the newest edition of the world-leading OS doesn't support hardware sound, and the rest of the discrete soundcard market is offering amazing competition. Alienating all the Audigy users in the world is a stupid move, even if we don't truly deserve something for nothing. Reputation speaks volumes. I'm willing to accept a slightly higher SNR if it means not spending any money.


Gotta luv Creative Labs...
By Basilisk on 5/3/2007 9:17:49 AM , Rating: 3
Our most-beloved sound card manufacturer has " begun ALchemy development for Sound Blaster Audigy-series sound cards"! Couldn't they have done this during Vista beta's so the debuggery would be more advanced? Generously, we'll even be permitted to -purchase- this driver update! Mercy, this is a sweet life!

Sadly, I'll probably never need it: I've no intention of transferring my Audigy card to the Vista system I'm building. Nor, after decades of CL cards, am I expecting to purchase their future products to offload the processor a mote or to give modest acoustic enhancements. 'Plenty of processor power for on-board products now, an aversion to CL's particular "customer focus", and optimism that on-board drivers will improve more than CL's attitude.




By retrospooty on 5/3/2007 9:26:31 AM , Rating: 2
"Our most-beloved sound card manufacturer has " begun ALchemy development for Sound Blaster Audigy-series sound cards"! Couldn't they have done this during Vista beta's so the debuggery would be more advanced?"

Yup, that sucks...

"Creative Labs stated ALchemy support for Sound Blaster Audigy 2 and 4-class products are to be determined depending on demand. Due to demand, Creative Labs has begun ALchemy development for Sound Blaster Audigy-series sound cards. "

So they didnt know if the millions of users out there would want hardware support in Vista? Now that they seemed to have figured it out, the will charge people for it? That is just bastardly. Even SONY wouldnt! Time to boycott.


FUD?
By QuantumPion on 5/3/2007 12:12:23 PM , Rating: 2
I may be wrong but I think you guys are overreacting to a misstatement in the article.

"Creative Labs expects to have ALchemy for Audigy sound cards later this year. It does not appear as if these sound cards will be free to current Audigy owners. Nevertheless, when the cards are ready, Creative Labs “hopes to offer this product as a low-cost upgrade to interested Audigy owners.”

This sentence is confusing. ALchemy is merely a software library that converts directsound calls into openAL calls for Vista. ALchemy is not a piece of hardware that you buy. I don't know what they are referring when they mention low-cost sound card upgrade.




RE: FUD?
By jrb531 on 5/3/2007 12:22:57 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
When we released the first beta of ALchemy for X-Fi, we hoped customers would appreciate our efforts. Within only a few months, the response from users and the press has been overwhelmingly positive. Many of our customers have asked if we could adapt ALchemy to Audigy series sound cards. The X-Fi and Audigy series sound cards are built on different hardware architectures, and therefore require separate development efforts. However, based on the requests to date, we are pleased to announce that we have begun development of an implementation of ALchemy for Audigy series sound cards, and hope to offer this product as a low-cost upgrade to interested Audigy owners later this year.


Seems pretty cut and dry here... They hope to have the same DirectX to OpenAL "conversion" program out by the end of the year for Audigy 2 and 4 cards (these cards support native OpenAL) and will provide the program to existing owners at a nominal cost.

Keep in mind that this program does not automatically work with every DX game and that each game is being added one at a time... much like Xbox support on the 360.

To sum it up:

XP supports DirectX sound "and" OpenAL
Vista only supports OpenAL

Games that already support OpenAL work fine for Vista. Games that only support DirectX either work in "software" 2-channel stereo mode or need a translation program to run under Vista.

When you are in "software" 2-channel mode your CPU is doing most of the work and you basically are in a form of low-cost motherboard sound mode... your CPU is doing all the work.

I play LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online) and when I found the new OpenAL driver (Lotro is an OpenAL game but for some reason they ship with a lame DX sound driver) the game not only then supported surround sound (was 2-channel) but the game sped up because I was no longer using software mode.

-JB


Creative
By thebrown13 on 5/3/2007 9:14:28 AM , Rating: 1
It's time for Creative to die.

I've been a longtime fan of Creative, but lately they have shown that they are not growing, improving, or otherwise doing anything.




RE: Creative
By VIAN on 5/3/2007 1:53:21 PM , Rating: 2
But to whom will you go to now? What other sound card manufacturer has proper Vista drivers out there?


RE: Creative
By GlassHouse69 on 5/4/2007 1:39:20 AM , Rating: 1
and... i add to this:

what other AUDIO CARD can offload the cpu as much as creative? so far, for like... hm... 8+ years, none besides creative. audigy 2 zs is a great card.

doesnt anyone consider that vista is a hunk of shit that burdened both you and creative with getting rid of their long running and perfectly fine directsound? it isnt creative's fault that vista is a hunk of rotting feces.


By Legolias24 on 5/3/2007 9:29:13 AM , Rating: 2
Could someone tell me if the Audigy sound cards will work with Vista at the present point in time? I haven't been following sound cards for a long, long time now (there really hasn't been drastic improvements to the technology or the experience as far as I can tell), and since I don't really care much for Vista (I have yet to see a compelling reason to switch) so I don't know how backwards compatible it is to older tech.




By Flunk on 5/3/2007 10:44:22 AM , Rating: 2
Audigy cards do work with Vista, but with no hardware acceleration (except OpenAL).


To answer a few questions...
By jrb531 on 5/3/2007 10:29:17 AM , Rating: 2
Yes CL cards work under Vista now but only under two modes:

1. If the program/game supports openal (most newer games) then it works just fine... usually (you have to have an Audigy 2 or higher card)

2. All CL cards work in basic mode (no special features) and you get tw-channel stereo only.

I will NOT pay for this translation program which is all this is. I "will" take the money and put it aside for a non-CL sound card! The way I figure it, CL owes us this at the very least for keeping up in the dark and being so slow for drivers for the new OS. They did the very same for their Live cards with XP when it took over a year to get stable XP drivers.

Now we have to wait a year, and pay, for a translation program just to get full support.

Well screw CL... you know what they really want here don;t you?

They figure that people will pass on paying for this software and just buy one of their X-Fi cards and get the software for free.

Mind you most people will end up paying for that POS "cheap" version of the X-fi which is not a real sound card but simply a pass-through interface to your CPU... yup... nothing more than a $5 part that passes the work to your CPU. Only the expensive "gamer" and higher versions of the X-fi have a real DSP.

So that's for helping me make up my mind CL... now what Vista sound sounds are left to pick from?

Anyone?

-JB




By Anh Huynh on 5/3/2007 11:22:57 AM , Rating: 2
Onboard high-definition audio over S/PDIF is what I personally use. Then again, I don't game and just listen to music and watch YouTube videos.


Creative is doing Microsofts Job
By Iridium130m on 5/3/2007 6:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft removed the fundemental support in Vista for ALL SOUND CARDS to support full hardware accelleration and audio effects that we enjoyed under XP.

Creative is adding this base functionality back into Vista with Alchemy.

I think thats pretty darn nice of them to take the time to put backwards compatibility back into Vista when it was Microsoft that took it out. Will anyone else take the time to do this for their sound cards???????

Hopefully they will come to their senses and release this for free, but keep in mind, it definitely isn't free for them to fix what M$ essentially broke to begin with (for security sake or not).




By GlassHouse69 on 5/4/2007 1:42:28 AM , Rating: 1
totally agree.

vista = garbage forced down everyone's throat.

if it wasnt for dx10 video, it would croak. the "small" gamer crowd creates the reviews, the desires, and the direction for such os's. Vista ignored them completely besides blocking dx10 to be allowed to work on xp.


By UppityMatt on 5/3/2007 9:08:35 AM , Rating: 2
I have to say that its pretty much BS that they want to charge me to be able to use my sound card under a new operating system. If they continue this type of thinking, i can guarantee that i will never buy a creative product again. Not only that, but onboard sound keeps improving, making me wonder if i really am gaining that much from my X-Fi card. My ears are only human and i have a hard time telling the difference in games between my HD audio onboard and my X-Fi.




Aureal
By GTaudiophile on 5/3/2007 2:18:52 PM , Rating: 2
Can we please have Aureal back?

Those engineers must be rolling in their graves somewhere!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aureal




Creative Unified
By Slaimus on 5/3/2007 5:46:51 PM , Rating: 2
I think Creative is trying to do another project like their Unified. Back in the day, Unified was a great Glide wrapper for TNT2, and there were hacked versions that worked with other brands as well.

If Creative is able to do this, we may actually be able to get EAX4 emulation via ALchemy for non-Creative soundcards that support OpenAL.




BARRACUDA BABY!!!!
By VIAN on 5/3/2007 8:06:35 PM , Rating: 2
Here's your alternative audio solution:

http://www.razerzone.com/index.php?main_page=produ...




By Ihmemies on 5/6/2007 6:17:55 AM , Rating: 2
My motherboard's integrated chip, Realtek's ACL850 has just 1 problem when compared to my Audigy 2: it sucks. I'm getting random pops, a lot more background noise among other funny stuff. With Audigy I don't get anything like that.

When I listen to music I resample everything to 48KHz with software. It helps a lot, and I can't be bothered to do anything else, for now :) Nowdays the sound quality of music in CD's (crappy mixing/mastering/general production) is bigger issue than the ability of your equipment to produce the sound...




allot of audigy in one parapgraph
By Anosh on 5/3/2007 9:18:54 AM , Rating: 1
"ALchemy for Audigy sound cards will be free to current Audigy owners"

Audigy audigy audigy.. gets kind of annoying reading audigy every (second) line. Ie it would have been enough to say owners and people get it since you're already talking about and mentioned Audigy...

then again perhaps it's me?




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