Creative Sound Windows Vista Audio Warning

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As a follow-up to the Windows Vista Story, Lockergnomie Jerry Whelan just sent me an update about Windows Vista’s audio bugaboos…

It’s unbelievable that Microsoft would dump the HAL Layer for sound cards because doing so kills all the advanced features of all the cards. The real problem comes with home recording – ALL the controls, such as volume mixer, reverb, panning, graphic equalizer, noise removal, EAX effects, stereo tweaks, multiple inputs, and anything else you can think of that makes home recording possible and effective – well, they’re gone and you can no longer use them. In other words, you might as well make your recordings on an old tape cassette recorder.

I have a home recording studio that’s usually pretty busy, but now it’s dead, dead and gone, and all my expensive hardware is now mostly useless. I upgraded to Vista, got the driver for my Audigy 4 Pro sound card, was even getting ready to upgrade to an X-Fi card, when I discovered that the whole range of audio controls was no longer there, and will also no longer be there in the X-Fi card. When I called Creative tech support they informed me, with bitterness, irony, and some weeping, that Microsoft has removed the Hardware Abstraction Layer for advanced sound and has left us all in the dark – darkness and silence. All advanced sound cards have suffered a similar fate, and many video cards too, so everyone who shelled out the money for advanced hardware has been effectively told by Microsoft, “Too bad.”

As I said, it’s unbelievable. I have had to reinstall Windows XP in a dual-boot configuration with Vista so I can use my sound studio again, and am still trying to get everything to work right. Reinstalling Windows XP after installing Windows Vista caused horrible and terrifying disk error problems with conflicting partitions, which took me an entire day to fix, made ten times more difficult because Microsoft has tightened up the controls so severely on how you can install and upgrade the Vista OS. All of this is cold-blooded murder, and all of it relates to the well known tendency of Microsoft to go for the buck whenever possible (and they probably have enough bucks already).

I haven’t wanted to buy a Creative product in years – especially after one of their reps was a complete asshole to me. I have a high definition audio system built into the motherboard on this rig, and Vista’s software has been beyond impressive. I have more jacks than I know what to do with, although I can see how I’d want even more if I were doing anything advanced.