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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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By jrb531 on 5/3/2007 12:22:57 PM , Rating: 3
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.


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