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Glossary:Sound card

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Sound card
Surround sound
Audio card (chip if you have an integrated solution on your motherboard) is the component necessary to play or record sounds on your PC.
The major producers in this field are Realtek, ASUSTeK, Conexant, Creative, SigmaTel/IDT/Tempo, VIA.
AMD and Nvidia are also audio chip producers, since the arrival of HDMI outputs.

Related articles

Surround sound

Types of Sound Cards

There are two types of sound cards that are generally used in Gaming PC builds i.e. Internal Sound Cards and External Sound cards. The first one sits on the motherboard right inside your pc case while the latter can be connected using a USB interface. There are advantages and disadvantages of sound cards[1] (both variants) which completely depend on the gaming requirements.

Internal Sound Cards

Most preferred among Gamers are the internal sound cards as they are connected directly to the motherboard using PCI/PCIe port. It does not require any extra interface in between. Internal Sound cards come in both 5.1 and 7.1 channel output. As compared to external sound cards, these are less expensive and efficient. Manufacturers like Asus, Creative, etc. are the most popular internal sound card brands.

External Sound Cards

These sound cards are very simple plug and play devices and installation is very easy, unlike internal sound cards. They use a USB 2.0 interface to be connected to the PC. Both 5.1 and 7.1 channel options are available in external sound cards. The issue with an external sound card is that they have latency associated with them to an extent.

Set up OpenAL

ADI, Creative and nForce are already ready out of the box
Make sure to be running latest libraries. Deleting OpenAL32.dll and wrap_oal.dll in games shipping with ancient ones is recommended.
Default Windows output device name must match OAL device one for native implementations to work, DS3D based "Generic Hardware" fallback will be used otherwise (if available)[2]


Enable Game eXtensions
  1. Open the Asus control panel
  2. Tick "GX" mode
  3. In games configuration files, force native implementation name as reported by ALC_ENUMERATION_EXT in EnumerateWin32


Turning off GX mode after playing games is advised to avoid glitches in other applications
Recommend installing the latest drivers, found here.
Enabling GX mode can cause crashes, looping audio in-game, and BSOD[3]

Creative (X-Fi Titanium Cards)

Use xfitssfix
Windows 7/8: install driver 2.17.0008C (or 2.18.0015A for PCI cards)[4][5][6]


Supports binaural HRTF audio mixing for more accurate 3D sound.[7]
OpenAL Soft
  1. Download OpenAL Soft
  2. Unzip the archive and rename the inner openal-soft-x.xx.x-bin folder as OpenAL.
  3. Move this OpenAL directory to %APPDATA%.
  4. Copy bin\Win32\soft_oal.dll to %WINDIR%\SysWOW64\ (64 bit users can also copy bin\Win64\soft_oal.dll to %WINDIR%\System32\)
  5. Use alsoft-config.exe to configure any desired setting (ambisonics, HRTF, channels, buffer properties)
Certain games may need to replace %WINDIR%\SysWOW64\openal32.dll with soft_oal.dll to work.[8]


Use Rapture3D

Custom quality wrapper for OpenAL games. Among various 3D techniques, provides also its own HRTF tables.

Free Game Edition bundled with Dirt 3 can be used with other games following these instructions or using extracted libraries near game exe (enabling OpenAL in game options may be required).
Different sample rates than 44 or 48kHz set in the system give inadequate spatial effects.

XAudio2 only allows stereo on Dolby Digital Live

Use the XAudio2 Dolby Digital Live patcher[9]
If it doesn't work try the older patcher available here or do it manually.

Restore legacy audio effects on newer OS

DirectSound hardware path

Starting with Windows Vista and its new audio stack, DirectSound applications are rendered entirely in a user-mode software audio session[10]
Most games developed in the preceding decade will experience problems going from the simple lack of EAX effects to the complete demotion to stereophony[11]


  1. Download IndirectSound.
  2. Extract into <path-to-game> alongside the main game executable.


Translates DirectSound calls into XAudio2[13]
No EAX effect is emulated, yet there is EAX 1/2 support emulation that is useful for some games that don't calculate 3D positional audio unless EAX is supported.
Dedicated guide for dsound.dll injection problems (may apply to DSOAL as well).
  1. Download dsoal v1.31a. or the latest build
  2. Extract into <path-to-game> alongside the main game executable.


Translates DirectSound calls into OpenAL Soft (better positioning than IndirectSound which doesn't use HRTF and/or EAX[15]).
EAX effect is converted into EFX, with partial support for EAX 1.0, 3.0, and 4.0 and full support for EAX 2.0. [citation needed])
This version of dsoal is prepackaged with OpenAL Soft and HRTF tables. To use a native installation of OpenAL, delete dsoal-aldrv.dll and alsoft.ini (it may prevent some games from loading, then only delete alsoft.ini). To disable HRTF, change HRTF=true to HRTF=false in alsoft.ini.
May not work on Windows 10 1809 (for a workaround see this instruction) or entirely on build 1903 and up[16] (for a workaround see this the instruction).


Enable Game eXtensions
  1. Open the Asus control panel
  2. Tick "GX" mode


Your Xonar must be the default playback device
Turning off GX mode after playing games is advised to avoid glitches in other applications
Enabling GX mode can cause crashes, looping audio in-game, and BSOD[3]


Use Creative ALchemy[17]
  1. Download latest ALchemy 1.45.20
  2. Open the Creative Control Panel and switch on Game mode (X-Fi model only)
  3. Start the ALchemy installer and enable it for the interested games. It may be necessary to add a new profile for the specific game.


Restores EAX completely (all versions) and surround sound.
Could be made into a universal solution, just like IndirectSound or DSOAL, by using Creative ALchemy Universal (obsolete) or ALchemy Restriction Remover.
Setting Game mode in Creative Control Panel is mandatory for some games, and in order to decrease performance overlay (if exists) and revive EAX 3 and higher.[18][citation needed]
For Creative card which are based on Host OpenAL (HOAL) drivers (all post X-Fi card), renaming the sens_oal.dll to ct_oal.dll in c:\windows\syswow64 (windows 64 bits) or c:\windows\system32 (on windows 32 bits) will force alchemy to use the Host OpenAl drivers instead of his internal library, this could give you better quality in games. When using this method, to switch back to the internal library, just have DisableNativeAL=true in the dsound.ini of your game folder. Although HOAL can be used with Alchemy only on post X-Fi card, it can be used on these cards in OpenAL games.[19] If sound is broken, get the SB X-Fi Series Support Pack 4.0, just don't install included drivers. Unpack ha20x22k.sys from XFTI_PCDRV_LB_2_17_0009.exe\Drivers\wdm\win2k_xp\amd64\ to C:\Windows\System32\drivers. The problem may exist on any driver past v2.17.[20]


Use 3D SoundBack
  1. Download 3D SoundBack
  2. Open the program and add/enable the fix for selected games.


Your Realtek chip must be the default playback device.
Both the installer and the 3DSoundBack.exe configurator require Windows Vista compatibility mode to start
The end-quality of this method is very buggy with many errors in sound processing


Lists of Aureal 3-Dimensional enabled games can be found here and here.
A3D 1.0 is supported out of the box by C-Media based boards (via Xear3D[21]), X-Fi and older[22] Creative based devices and older VIA drivers.
Use DirectSound3D wrapper[23][24][25][26]
  1. Install A3d-creative (repacking of a3dx5/Creative's official wrapper), A3D Alchemy (based on QSound A3D Wrapper combined with IndirectSound), or A3D-Live (Live also needs the A2D driver, other packs already include it).
  2. if need Run the application with "Windows 98 / Windows Me" compatibility


Delete/move/rename any a3d related file shipped with the game
From Windows Vista onward DirectSound restoration is required (such as Alchemy and others). Unnecessary for A3D Alchemy since it includes IndirectSound in the form of A3DSND.DLL; can be changed to other DirectSound restorers by replacing the dll with another dsound proxy dll.


  1. Internal & External Sound Cards for Gaming Glinkster
  2. Enumeration with OpenAL on Windows - OpenAL (retrieved)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Xonar best audio settings guide
  4. X-Fi Titanium: OpenAL cuts outs on games with newer drivers (2.40+) - Problem might have been found | Creative Discussion Forum (retrieved)
  5. Will OpenAL ever be fixed on the Titanium cards? : SoundBlasterOfficial - Reddit - last accessed on May 2023
  6. Solution for UT3 "Hardware OpenAL" issue on Creative X-Fi cards! | Creative Discussion Forum (retrieved)
  7. SS2 Headphones Sound Upgrade - last accessed on May 2023
  8. Driver isn't the default with ALC_ENUMERATION_EXT · kcat/openal-soft - GitHub
  9. Surround sound - Steam Users' Forums (retrieved)
  10. Audio in Windows Vista - Creative Labs Discussion Forums (retrieved)
  11. Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3? • VOGONS - last accessed on 9 June 2023
  12. indirect sound • VOGONS - last accessed on 9 June 2023
  14. [RELz] Restoring Surround Sound and EAX
  15. - last accessed on 31 May 2023
  17. ALchemy - Creative Labs: Connect (retrieved)
  18. Games only work if Game Mode is selec - Creative Discussion Forum - last accessed on May 2023
  21. C-Media’s Xear3D EX Takes Audio to the next level for Windows Vista | C-Media Electronics (retrieved)
  22. Inside the Sound Blaster Live! - ALive! (retrieved) and verified by Mirh
  23. A3D for Windows XP | (retrieved)
  24. Anybody who didn't upgrade his HL since last year? - Steam Users' Forums (retrieved)
  25. Sound Fix in DarkEngine games - last accessed on May 2023
  26. Bringing Back Aureal3d Audio? - last accessed on May 2023