alchemy.jpgOne of the problems with Windows Vista is the loss of DirectSound and DirectSound3D, which gives you that lovely EAX, surround sound and a host of other advanced sound features with SoundBlaster devices. Now Creative have released a beta program called Alchemy for the SoundBlaster X-Fi that will get these working again on much older games.

As someone who is really looking forward to receiving his copy of Windows Vista in the next couple of days, I am glad to see so many drivers being released for graphics and sound cards. Many are still in beta form, but at least we have something to play with on the official release of the new Microsoft Operating System:

In Windows Vista, Microsoft has decided to remove the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) for DirectSound and DirectSound3D. The HAL is the software layer that on previous Windows Operating Systems enabled an audio accelerator such as the SB X-Fi, to provide DirectSound3D applications with hardware accelerated audio. This enabled soundcards to perform tasks such as sample-rate conversion, mixing, 3D spatialization using HRTFs, filtering, and effects processing. Without the HAL, DirectSound on Windows Vista will be rendered in software with no advanced functionality such as EAX.

The audio changes in Windows Vista do not affect OpenAL however. For audio cards that feature ‘native’ OpenAL support, SB X-Fi series of cards, there is no need to worry! Games that enable support for OpenAL will continue to run just as they do on Windows XP – with hardware accelerated audio and effects.

The good news is that the Creative ALchemy Project allows you to run your favorite DirectSound3D games on Windows Vista as the developers intended – with full hardware accelerated 3D Audio and EAX support! This is done by translating DirectSound calls into OpenAL. In order for this to happen, a couple of files need to be installed into each game directory. This is handled automatically by the ALchemy installer – but can also be performed manually by advanced users.

So if you want greater compatibility with older games, make sure you try this out and let me know how you get on!

Link: Creative ALchemy Project

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James Woodcock

James is a Freelance Journalist, Copywriter, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming, gadgets and technology, both retro and modern. Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles, including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, whilst also interviewing well-known industry figures for popular online publications. Creator of the ScummVM Music Enhancement Project and host of the Game & Gadget Podcast. View his portfolio here: James Woodcock's Portfolio.

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