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SoundBlaster woes

Alastair Grant | Tuesday 23 August 2011

The Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS was one of Creative's bigger successes and it still finds itself working away in computers.

There was a minor hiccup with the migration to 64-bit, but that was soon resolved - or was it?

I've recently given my computer a much needed RAM upgrade from a pathetic 3GB to 9GB. Since then my microphone has packed up. I didn't spot the correlation myself, but after some searching around forums I discovered other people complaining about the problem.

Creative drivers just don't seem to be able to handle 64-bit system with 64-bit levels of memory (e.g. over 4GB). I'm not sure if this has been fixed in more recent cards, the question has been asked, but nobody has answered.

This bug report highlights the issue and has been marked as urgent by Creative staff - in 2009. There has been a subsequent driver released, but this seemingly hasn't resolved the issues.

I know I need to switch to a PCI Express sound card relatively soon. New motherboards are already dropping support for PCI, and my current one I can only use PCI if I don't have a second double-slot graphics card (which I intend to later this year).

I've had a large number of Creative products over the years. Hardware wise things are very well built, but software and customer service is appalling. If you buy a Creative product you can't really expect it to work for the first six months of it's existence, and then it'll break pretty quickly after that. It's simply not worth the effort buying from such a poor brand. They have always been full of potential but have failed where it matters - keeping the punters happy.

Alas, having the monopoly on sound-cards (patents and licenses) and not putting any effort into it means the sound-card front is pretty rotten.

If you want 3D sound in games then you need a Creative card. People will whitter on about how EAX is dead, but it's not. It may not being actively developed any more and is long due for burial, but it's still stinking up new and old games (backwards compatibility is important). This is a real shame, and it's so disappointing.

Breaking from the voyeuristic norms of the Internet, any comments can be made in private by contacting me.