Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1 - HD595s - Vista 64 Troubles
Sep 7, 2009 at 6:59 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

LaughingJon

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hi all

sorry for a first post epic question but i am hoping some of you audio gurus will be able to help me out a little as i am stumped.

I recently decided to upgrade from onboard sound (Asus Striker Extreme so includes an addon board thing) to an XFi based Auzentech Forte 7.1 card. I only ever used headphones (Sennheiser HD 595) and mostly game but also listen to the odd MP3 etc.

over the weekend I uninstalled the old sound card drivers, removed the addon board, disabled the onboard sound in the bios and installed the new card into a spare PCIe slot. booted to windows and installed the downloaded drivers (1.1) from the manufs website.

thing seemed a little touch and go but eventually got sound. however, every time i tried to switch between Game Mode and Entertainment mode everything stopped and had real troubles to get any sound back (multiple reboots/shutdowns/unplug etc. Sometimes you will hear the start up windows sounds however, once in windows nothing will work, other times it will work for a while but then just stop without warning, other times it works fine for entire gaming sessions etc.

so far i have uninstalled and reinstalled the sound drivers (both the 1.1 version from the website and the 1.0 from the CD) many times. swapping slots and moving the GFX card around and reinstalling the nvidia drivers for that as well. i have been using drivercleaner to remove any other creative files etc

nothing is working and im getting annoyed.

when the sound worked it sounded great, however, keeping it working would be kinda ideal.

has anyone had any experience with these cards and may know what i have done/am doing wrong?

asus striker extreme mobo
evga 8800GTX - latest forceware drivers from nvidia
corsair 4gig ram
Vista 64 SP2

I am only connecting the headphones via the headphone jack in the back (via a 3.5mm adapter)
I dont use speakers or have any connected.
i have tried windows audio settings of
stereo with speakers ticked
stereo without speakers ticked
5.1 with everything ticked.

under the sound card settings i have "Optimise speaker output for headphones" checked.

any help appreciated.
cheers
Jon

*currently trying to uninstall the 1.0 version of the drivers to reinstall the 1.1 versions and we seem to be stuck at 18% for the last 15mins
frown.gif
 
Sep 8, 2009 at 10:38 PM Post #2 of 7

Linyanti

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It sounds like a conflict.

Here is my setup and it may be relevant to you. I used to have a Striker Extreme mobo with a Creative Fatl1ty Titanium PCIe soundcard and Vista 64. I moved to a Classified x58 mobo and i920 CPU in April. Recently, I swapped out the Creative soundcard for an Auzentech Forte 7.1. Everything is working fine.

I have experience with Creative and if there is a problem, blame Creative first. The Auzentech is Creative software and some Creative hardware.

Here is what I would do and it should work: First, take out the Creative soundcard and reinstall your mobo sound. Get it back the way it was before the soundcard was brought into your house.

Uninstall all Creative and Auzentech software in SAFE Mode. I would also suggest using drivesweeper or something like that to get out all Creative software that may have been left behind. OpenAL, everything. Guru3D - Driver Sweeper

After things are working wonderfully like they did before your recent purchase then disable your onboard sound through Device Manager. I have found it best to leave the onboard soundcard installed and then just disabling it. If you leave it installed and then uninstall the drivers it will just keep trying to install it.
Go to step two of this url Creative Worldwide Support
Removing it completely from your mobo like you did is also an option but usually not needed.

Then go to Auzentech and download the latest driver to your desktop (in case you need it again). But do NOT run it yet.

Then put in your new sound card. Restart it and let Vista install the native drivers. After it is working then doubleclick the driver icon on your desktop and install the minimum. You just need "Console Launcher" and "Auzentech Audio Control Panel".

Then it should work okay. I realize that you did all of the things that I mentioned but repeating it again in just this order may do the trick.

P.S. This may not be of interest for you since you only have headphones hooked up to your soundcard but I upgraded to the OPA637AU opamps from the Auzentech website. These two opamps only replace the right and left front out and not the headphone out opamp on the soundcard. I now have the front right and left out from the soundcard going to my Parasound Halo P3 Preamp. The setting on the soundcard is for "headphones" and not 2/2.1. I have my headphones hooked up to the headphones jack on the Parasound preamp instead of hooking up straight to the soundcard thus using the upgraded opamps. The sound is unbelievable.
 
Sep 10, 2009 at 6:13 PM Post #3 of 7

LaughingJon

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Hi Linyanti

thanks for the reply this whole soundcard upgrade has been a royal pain for me.. far more tedious than any other upgrade ever.

Someone had suggested to me that i remove some of my RAM (take it to 2gig not 4) and try some drivers by Daniel K which i have downloaded and installed. At first this was working well however, my joy soon faded as things started to go wrong again.

so far i think i have narrowed it down to the sound card getting too hot and it just gives up i guess. i have mounted an 80mm fan above the card and added some extra cooling to the case and currently listening to some MP3s so far so good (only done this tonight).

i am going to keep fiddling and see if i cant recreate the issues i have been having to either prove or rule out this heat theory.

out of interest given i only use headphones how would you suggest i configure the sound settings in both windows and the creative drivers?

at the moment i have the following:

Windows
Stereo->Front left and right are unticked

Creative Drivers
Speaker Config -> Headphones
Automatically enable headphone settings
Automatically Mute Speakers

i am then leaving it upto the drivers to determine what to enable and disable when i switch modes.

given i am only using headphones is this the recommended setup? or are there other ways to get better sound etc?

thanks for the info about the upgraded opamps my PC is in a different room to my main AV setup so at the moment i think im good, however this may change if i do end up shifting things around (missus permission depending)
biggrin.gif


Cheers
Jon
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 1:04 AM Post #4 of 7

Linyanti

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One thing about the console is that if you change "Mode" from "Gaming" to "Entertainment" to "Audio Creation" the device will CRASH if you have anything playing.

In "Sound" under "Playback", I see "Auzentech X-Fi Forte" "working". When I click "configure" I have "stereo" and then "Next" I have "Front left and right" checked for "Full-Range Speakers".

Under "Properties" it brings up "Speakers Properties" there really is nothing under "General", "Tone", "Levels", "Sound Blaster" that I have checked off. Under "Advanced" I have "24 bit, 48000 Hz".

Where I usually get into problems is when someone tells me that they cannot hear me in a game. Inevitably, the setting under "Recording" in "Sound" for "Microphone" got switched to "Microphone FP" or "Line-In" or "Digital-In" instead of "Microphone".

Then in "Console Launcher" the top tab is "X-Fi CMSS-3D" I have "Enable X-Fi CMSS-3D" checked. The setting is for "Headphone".

In X-Fi Crystalizer, I do not have it checked. This sounds too sharp for me.

EQ is not enabled.

Mixer. This can be very TRICKY! In the past I have had problems with my microphone from this area. The far left "Microphone" is up to about 80 percent. "Auxillary, Digital-In, Microphone FP" are all X out. I have "Enable SVM" not checked. (When checked this messes up the sound in my games albeit does keep me from getting my eardrums blasted by explosions.) "Enable EAX Effects" is checked.

The next tab down is "Speakers". This is set to "Headphones" and the box "Optimize speaker output for Headphones" is checked.

The last tab is "Bass" and this is not checked.

It looks like you already did the following: Right click the tiny box to the left of the word "Settings" on the bottom. Under "Headphone Settings" I do not have the mute box checked but I do have the other two boxes checked.

I do not use the SPDIF I/O or Digital I/O.

You can also get to these settings in "Auzentech Control Panel".

Here is where I am giving a pitch for trying the front right and left sometime on headphones. Using the speaker output straight to headphones is a bad load so it may break the soundcard so you are supposed to run it to some preamp, receiver, etc. If you have anything that has a headphone jack like an old receiver, etc. you can try it.

Here is my perception of using the speaker out instead of the headphone out. It seems to have some of the cues associated with good sounds. First, the volume has to be cranked up more. Most of the time this is a sign of good sound since the listener can get it loud before it is bothersome. Just keep turning it up and up and up. No limit! Now I cannot hear my wife or kids complain! Of course, this is not good in the long run but it feels good. Like the old days when I used to go to the audio store and crank their Krell Monoblocks up to eleven.

There also is more "space" around the music. The soundstage is wider.

I do not listen to music like I used to but once I turn it on using this soundcard I cannot turn it off. Lucinda Williams "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" is wonderful. The Doors "Greatest Hits" has a live song "Roadhouse Blues" that I usually do not listen to since it is live and full of noise but now it sounds intoxicating.

Here is what it does in games. Sounds are softer and wispier. On the downside the spatial cues are not as pronounced BUT I can hear the enemy from further away. It took me an hour to get used to it but the sound is more immersive. But now I know when they are trying to sneak up on me. I got in a real groove in Battlefield 2142 and was just stomping around and racked up a good score (for me).

But the sound in the headphone output has also improved with time. I use a "Burn-in Tones" from an XLO CD and have had it run for more than 48 hours. I put the headphones in a blanket and then in a large drawer to muffle the sound. This supposedly "breaks it in" by heating up the probably imaginary "microfissures" in the solder and makes the connections better. All I know is that it sounds better than it did. I also do the "Demagnetizing Sweep". Again probably imaginary. So now I go back and forth between the two outputs and see good things in both.

The next thing I am looking for in a few months would be a dedicated headphone amp to keep next to my monitor and feed the amp with the right and left out from the soundcard. But for right now I am using my preamp. The reason I bring up my current setup is that it did not cost anything extra. This seems to be a good Mid-Fi solution.

Please keep me informed if the system stabilizes or crashes.
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 10:39 PM Post #5 of 7

LaughingJon

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Hi Linyanti

thanks so much for taking the time to give such a full post.. i really appreciate the advice
biggrin.gif


so far it seems my drilled backplate 80mm fan mount appears to be doing the trick, the sound card is working like a charm, i have added the extra 2gig of ram back in as well.

now i have lost the stress of a £110 sound card doing worse than the onboard sound im finding myself just chilling listening to more music which is quite a turn up lol.

i am totally open to other ways to improve my experience if a small pre-amp (ie fits on a desk) is available as a headphone amp then i would certainly look into it. i just know i am not close to my existing setup Onkyo SR605 main amp with a little set of Kef 3000s for my movies
biggrin.gif
i am not audiophile (as you can probably tell) but if adding this extra amp to my pc rig will make it even better then its something i will consider for sure. (big PC upgrade on the books in a few months so will work it into that budget
wink.gif
)

i double checked all my settings against yours and have set them up the same (thanks for that
biggrin.gif
)

i am still finding it hard to believe this was a heat issue from a sound card, i probably should take the time to figure out which part of the card was causing the problem (i assume the main chip) as i have so many spare parts of heatsinks and fans and stuff i could probably use some of them which will help reduce the current fan noise.

with regards to the "running" in of the headphones, i have had mine for over 2 years probably (running from onboard sound only mind + running over the cable with my chair
angry_face.gif
) is this something which will help or am i too far gone with the destruction of these?
k701smile.gif


cheers
Jon

*edit

Just seen the PC setup thread and saw a nice little amp Graham Slee Solo.. are these the types of units you were talking about? they seem a perfect size!
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 1:15 PM Post #6 of 7

Linyanti

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Your headphones are definitely broken in but your soundcard may use some more time. For the next two weeks I will have my soundcard running all the time when I am not using my computer. I have headphones hooked up to the headphone out jack and another set of headphones hooked up to my preamp for the front right and left. I am roasting that beast.

My perceptions of the sound are all over the place. I really like the warmth and spaciousness of the preamp but the headphone jack has some advantages in games. The preamp will give extreme separation of the right and left channel as will also setting the soundcard for "2/2.1" instead of "headphones". This separation can be too much for gaming.

I have been gaming since 2007 and using a dedicated headset (Sennheiser PC 166 USB (without the USB)) for almost a year. Before that I was using Bose headphones which did not have the best sound. At this time I am considering a headphone amplifier.

There are lots of good ones talked about in the dedicated amp forum on this website. It seems that there are several price ranges, 200, 400, 800, 2000 and up. Also since headphones require very little current or voltage, Tube (valve) amplification can be used. I am considering a solid state unit like the Creek, Grado, Musical Fidelity or Rega in addition to the Graham Slee Solo that you mention but still have a lot of research to do. Unfortunately, there is no local hi-fi shop that has headphone amps to listen to. It would be nice to bring my headphones in and try out the different amplifiers.

But there is definitely much more variation in the sound (for better and worse) by setting the soundcard at 2/2.1 versus headphones than there is by using the different jacks. The sound from the headphone jack is improving with time so at this point while I am considering a headphone amp I am not ready to pull the trigger.

Also, the view in the future two years or so from now will be extremely different. By that time they may actually have true 7.1 sound in games. Not just simulated surround. At that time the easy choice will be to go with an outboard DAC/amp being fed by optical from the computer and then the DAC/amp will directly power a 7.1 headset. This will definitely then be computer audio and not Hi-Fi audio.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 5:24 PM Post #7 of 7

LaughingJon

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Hi Linyanti

everything is still working sweet here which is great!

thanks again for the info its great! i suspect for now i will keep using the setup like i have right now, i do like the thought of a separate amp like that however, i suspect i wont really be getting the most out of it even if i were to buy one. that doesnt meant to say i wont keep investigating them though
biggrin.gif


cheers
Jon
 

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