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First post, by Choum

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Hello,

I have a sound blaster ZxR since many years and found something wrong about eax emulation, alchemy and host open Al installation on windows 10.
As you know this sound card use a software call Host open Al to support openAL with EAX support up to 5 (with sens_oal.dll).

First problem it look like on an X64 version of windows, the creative drivers installer put the 64bits dll of sens_oal.dll in the syswow64 instead of system32 folder and do not install at all the 32bits dll.
This result in absolutely no support at all of openAl exept though the default "generic device" of the openAl drivers itself.

ed748f453eb0a607192eea6059796123.md.png

If you manually replace the 32 bits dll to syswow64 and put the 64 bits dll to system32 folder, openAL support is back.

eb6415dfac6be605075c071f22af64d3.md.png

Second problem related to Creative Alchemy (the directsound 3D wrapper to openAl).

It look like that this software will not use at all the sens_oal.dll but instead use some kind of "embedded library".
Creative alchemy seems to only check if the CT_OAL.DLL (the openAL drivers for X-Fi/audigy card) is present and if not it will use his own default library.

If the software do not find CT_OAL.DLL (which is the openAl drivers of X-FI card / audigy), resulting in alchemy using some kind of default wrapper / emulation.
This result in a poor quality and audio glitch, this is flagrand in some game like star wars : the phantom menace.
In this game, if you use alchemy and activate EAX (game support EAX 2.0), the voice will be inaudible especially when music in playing.
Alchemy log will report : "Using Creative Software 3D Library"

To fix that you need to rename or copy the 32bits of sens_oal.dll as Inside c:\windows\syswow64 folder as Ct_oal.dll (you do not need to do the same of the system32 folder as alchemy do not support X64 application) and I'm not aware of any X64 game that use directsound 3D.
After that it seems that alchemy will use the host openAL dll.
fd87b2dbae994ff24dc2271ea87d641a.md.png

In my example of the Phantom menace, The sound will be at another level, the voice will be very clear (it will not be inaudible due to the music), you will have reverb of the voice depending of the room size.
Log in alchemy will report : Using Native OpenAL Renderer
EDIT : I do not recommend to rename the openal drivers sens_oal.dll to CT_oal.dll this could help on phantom menace but this also break many eax game (like call of duty 1)

Can someone with a recond3d, sound blaster Z , Zx ZxR or AE card confirm the problem about host openAL (wrong dll in the wrong folder) and alchemy ?
I use ALCapsViewer32.exe and ALCapsViewer64.exe to list openAL device on my screenshoot.
The host openAL dll ca ben extracted from the bin.cab in SBZxR_CD_L13_1_01_05.exe\Audio\extras\CTShared\CTRedist\HOAL\ (winsysdir = 32 dll, winsys64 = 64bits dll) with 7zip

Last edited by Choum on 2021-03-10, 12:51. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 1 of 9, by UCyborg

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You're not the first one to discover that ALchemy only ever chooses ct_oal.dll and that Sens_oal.dll is compatible and can be used when renamed to ct_oal.dll.

Also, if you want ALchemy to fallback to "Software 3D Library" when ct_oal.dll is present, add DisableNativeAL=true line to the dsound.ini file where ALchemy's dsound.dll is located.

There are issues with both modes, depending on the game. When I played Call of Duty, EAX effects weren't audible when Host OpenAL was used.

I don't know about the issue with DLLs ending up in the wrong folder though, I don't have Sound Blaster ZxR, but downloading its driver package (SBZxR_CD_L13_1_01_05.exe) and extracting OpenAL Host installer and running it didn't show any issues on my end, both 32-bit and 64-bit DLLs installed in correct folders on a clean Windows 10 VM.

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Reply 2 of 9, by Dancsi40

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Hello all,

I know this thread is old, but I will ask my question anyway 😀.

I just got myself a Sound Blaster Z card, installed the latest driver (2020) and the latest ALChemy (1.45.20, released in July 2019), it comes with dsound.dll version 2.4.2.18 (May 2019).

I added May Payne (Steam) into the list so I can have EAX support back and also tried Diablo 2 (Battle.net upgrade for those who have the original game on disc with a valid CD key). When I launched May Payne, I got no sound and music at all, same goes with Diablo 2. Without the dsound.dll file, I only have sound in the intro video and not in the rest of the game.

So I think, the problem is related to the dsound.dll file that comes with ALchemy or is the Z card compatible with old EAX enabled games (problem that Choum mentionned above about the sens_oal and ct_pal dll files in system32 and syswow64 folder) ?

I have both sound and music in Max Payne if I use the Indirectsound v0.20 dsound.dll.file (doesn't require ALchemy)

Thank you,

Daniel

Last edited by Dancsi40 on 2021-03-06, 18:40. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 4 of 9, by Dancsi40

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Hello Choum,

Yeah, I used the guide that is posted on pcgamingwiki (i am always on that site, so I know it very well 😀 ).

Both solutions for the missing audio is there too (use ALChemy or Indirectsound v0.20).

Indirectsound v0.20 works fine with Max Payne, but that solution doesn't require ALChemy and a SB card).

What version of ALChemy are you using ? Maybe one version comes with a compatible dsound.dll file.

I tried 1.45.01 (one posted on pcgamingwiki), 1.45.03 and 1.45.20 (latest) and none of them worked with my Z card, so I am thinking that the Z card is not compatible with EAX/ALchemy.

Edit: I had to buy the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software for 29,99$ and now I have sound and music on Max Payne (Steam) using my SB Z card and ALchemy 1.45.20. Without that software, I had no sound and music.

I tested on other EAX games too (Diablo 2, Condemned : Criminal Origins (Steam) , Call of Duty 2 (Steam)) and they also work fine now with sound (3D too) and music.

Choum wrote on 2021-03-06, 18:04:

Have you take a look here : https://www.pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Max_Payne#Missing_audio
I have no problem with alchemy + AE7 on Max payne.

Last edited by Dancsi40 on 2021-03-10, 17:05. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 5 of 9, by Choum

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Hi,

I was talking about the unofficial patch that was the solution to restore sound without any wrapper on any sound card (but not eax).
Without alchemy or the unofficial patch I was having no sound.

If you rename your sens_oal.Dll to ct_oal.dll to make use of alchemy and your host open al drivers, I recommend to not do that, this method can help on very specific game, but generally break eax on all the rest (call of duty 1 for example).

Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 is usefull for MB sound card and is not really means to be used with creative sound card.

Reply 6 of 9, by Dancsi40

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Hi,

Yes, I understand it, but I have a SB card and it should work only with AlChemy for EAX without any other patched applications or other sound wrapper and that was not the case.

I didn't renamed the sens_oal.dll file, I only installer the SB Z driver, Host OAL (latest version), Alchemy 1.45.20, added Max Payne to the list (Diablo 2 was already there) and both games had no sound/music. If I removed the games from the Alchemy-enabled list, I had only music in the intro of Max Payne. Diablo 2 was fine, except no 3D sound effects.

After I installed SB X-Fi MB3, everything worked, sound, music and EAX in all games I have. The software bundle comes with ALchemy too (official not a patched one), so I guess it is meant to be used for SB cards too

Or, the software installed a missing driver too for my motherboard that solved the problem.

Also, maybe the AE-7 card is different than a Z card (how both cards handle EAX by hardware vs. software). If you card enables EAX by hardware, like the old X-Fi or Audigy cards, then that's why it works for you with just Alchemy. If the Z series uses HOAL (software emaulation), then probably the problem comes from there.

Choum wrote on 2021-03-10, 12:45:
Hi, […]
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Hi,

I was talking about the unofficial patch that was the solution to restore sound without any wrapper on any sound card (but not eax).
Without alchemy or the unofficial patch I was having no sound.

If you rename your sens_oal.Dll to ct_oal.dll to make use of alchemy and your host open al drivers, I recommend to not do that, this method can help on very specific game, but generally break eax on all the rest (call of duty 1 for example).

Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 is usefull for MB sound card and is not really means to be used with creative sound card.

Last edited by Dancsi40 on 2021-03-10, 22:35. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 7 of 9, by Dancsi40

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Hi Choum

I did a test yesterday, I uninstalled SB X-Fi MB3, restarted the computer and I am back at square one.

With Alchemy enabled for Max Payne, Diablo 2, etc., no sound and music at all in those games.

If I remove the games from the Alchemy enabled list, Diablo 2 is OK, except no 3D sound, Max Payne has only the music in the intro video.

As I said, I only have the SB Z card, Alchemy 1.45.20 and Host OAL v2.03 (latest).

Sens_oal.dll is in the SysWOW64 folder and I did not renamed it to ct_oal. No dll in the system32 folder related to Creative/SB.

Also, this is my whole setup with ALCapsviewer (Capture.jpg).

As you can see, the application doesn't show that I have a Creative Z card, it's all generic hardware informations.

Do I have to copy the sens_oal.dll file from SysWOW64 to System32, restard the computer and see what it does ?

Because i don't have a 32-bit dll file, only the 64-bit

Edit 2 : Found the solution to the problem and it was a really stupid and easy one, I never though about it.

I have 5 jacks on the back of the SB Z card, 4 for the outputs (speakers, headsets, subwoofer, etc.) and 1 for the input (microphone) and also 2 optical jacks. Of course I put the speakers into one of the output jack, I am not that dumb 😀

I had to plug the speaker cable to the Front L/R jack (center one) and not to the Rear L/R jack (just right of it).

Now Max Payne has sound and music with Alchemy 1.45.20 and without using SB X-Fi MB3.

I tested other games (Diablo 2, Far Cry (Ubisoft Connect), Condemned Criminal Origins (Steam) ) and all of them had sound, music and EAX/3D sound effects working.

I will install SB X-Fi MB3 on my gf's computer who has only an onboard sound card, so she can enjoy EAX too in her games (Splinter Cell, Hitman, etc.) so it will not be a waste 😀.

Daniel

Choum wrote on 2021-03-10, 12:45:
Hi, […]
Show full quote

Hi,

I was talking about the unofficial patch that was the solution to restore sound without any wrapper on any sound card (but not eax).
Without alchemy or the unofficial patch I was having no sound.

If you rename your sens_oal.Dll to ct_oal.dll to make use of alchemy and your host open al drivers, I recommend to not do that, this method can help on very specific game, but generally break eax on all the rest (call of duty 1 for example).

Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 is usefull for MB sound card and is not really means to be used with creative sound card.

Last edited by Dancsi40 on 2021-03-12, 15:27. Edited 3 times in total.

Reply 9 of 9, by Kappa971

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Hi. I have a Sound Blaster Z and I would like to describe some problems I have had with some EAX games, to know if those problems only happen to me.
I start from games that work with Creative Alchemy... Generally I have not had problems with games that use Alchemy, except with F.E.A.R: when some sounds are played, I hear clicks, static background noises. I tried to change the buffer and duration values but without success. The Windows mixer is set to 24bit 48000hz, I tried to change this too but nothing.
Then another problem is the slightly too pronounced reverb effect. I played Half Life and the reverb was exaggerated, you didn't even understand the dialogue.
Moving on to OpenAL games that use Host OpenAL (sens_oal.dll), among the ones I have tried, all have had problems (and here too the reverb seems a bit too pronounced)... The games I have played are Doom 3, Quake 4, Prey and BioShock:
Doom 3 has no sound problems, the problem is that once a level is completed, an "Error Unloading Data From OpenAL Hardware Buffer" error or something like that appears.
Quake 4 has a similar problem to F.E.A.R.
Prey works fine at first, after several minutes of play, the audio starts to "jerk", I don't know how to describe it.
BioShock also works well at first, after a while some sounds begin to be cut off.

I bought a Sound Blaster Z convinced that it supported EAX, later I discovered that it was not true but rather, it used a sort of emulator, rather two (dsound.dll by Alchemy and sens_oal.dll). I was a little disappointed with this and the problems I had with these games (I bought it on the spot to play these games!).
I have been using Windows 10. Now I have upgraded to Windows 11 (I don't recommend this), I have only tried F.E.A.R. and has the same problem.
Has anyone else had similar problems?

EDIT
I think the only solution to not having audio problems is to throw both Creative Alchemy and Host OpenAL in the trash and use DSOAL (or EAXEFX for native OpenAL games) + OpenAL Soft