Help us solve this sound card dilemma

Here's the woeful tale of a member whose Sound Blaster card is crashing his PC. Despite a plea for help on our Technical Q&A, this member's problem persists. Do you know the answer to his sound troubles?

From the early beeps of Pong to the familiar Windows' ding, sound has become an integral part of the personal computer. Sound cards that once took hours to install and configure can now be up and running in mere minutes—usually. But for this TechRepublic member, sound has created all sorts of problems.

Davem recently turned to our Technical Q&A for help with a sound card problem that's giving him fits. TechRepublic members were quick to respond with a host of troubleshooting tips, that although informative, didn't quite solve Dave's dilemma. Can you offer Dave an effective solution?

"Plug and play" or "plug and pray"?
Dave recently upgraded his computer from an Intel PII to an AMD Athlon with an A-Bit K7 motherboard. He is using an Asus GeForce 2 V7700 Deluxe video card and an older version of the Sound Blaster Live Gamer sound card (not the 5.1 card)."When using the PII, I was running Windows 2000 without problems," Dave wrote. "After upgrading, Windows 2000 kept falling over (with both stop errors and complete freezes)."

Dave tried reinstalling Windows 2000 both on top of his current system and from scratch. The fresh install worked fine until he added sound and video drivers; then, the system once again began to freeze. Frustrated, Dave installed Windows Me, but the system lockups continued. Dave has installed the latest drivers and even a BIOS update, which seems to have made the problems more bearable, while still not eliminating them.

Having read that the BIOS update should resolve clashes with Sound Blaster Live 5.1 sound cards, Dave is convinced the sound card is freezing his system. "If I disable the sound," Dave wrote, "everything else is fine—no crashes. As soon as sound is enabled, after 30 seconds to five minutes, the PC freezes." Unable to get an acceptable solution from either Creative Labs or ABIT, Dave is turning to his fellow TechRepublic members and our Technical Q&A.

Disable onboard sound
Soulrider was the first to answer Dave's query, suggesting that the Sound Blaster card might be conflicting with the motherboard's onboard sound device. "Check the motherboard manual or Device Manager and see if the motherboard has onboard sound," Soulrider wrote. "It will need to be disabled in the BIOS configuration panel." While informative, Soulrider's solution didn't solve Dave's predicament. "No onboard sound," Dave responded. "There is only one sound device—the Sound Blaster Live." Dave goes on to say that the sound card seems to work fine until the PC locks up.

Try a different PCI slot
Member eBob said he had seen this problem before and believes it might be an IRQ conflict. "All the motherboard manuals that I have seen (Asus, Tyan, ABIT, and so forth), all talk about how they pool interrupts for the PCI slots and that this may cause conflicts," eBob wrote. "Swapping will often resolve this." To accomplish this, eBob suggested the following:
  1. Remove the Sound Blaster from Control Panel | Device Manager.
  2. Shut down completely.
  3. Physically remove card (note which slot it is in).
  4. Reboot.
  5. Shut down again.
  6. Install the sound card in a different slot.
  7. Reboot, and Windows Plug and Play (PnP) should detect the card (otherwise, try installing manually).

Unfortunately, eBob's suggestion is another dead end. "Yeah, I've also heard of this," Dave responded. "I should have mentioned in the original question that I tried moving cards around…. My motherboard has five PCI slots, and I've tried each. I've also changed the BIOS from ‘Plug 'n' Play O/S’ to none and fiddled with the IRQs assigned to each PCI card. All of which didn't help. Also, any other PCI card works in any slot."

Disable sound card legacy support
"We had a similar problem with these devices," member Richard_barsby wrote. "If I remember correctly, it had to do with the legacy support on the sound card. We disabled this, and everything was OK." Richard_barsby noted that the legacy option can be found under Creative | Misc. Devices As SB Emulation. Richard_barsby cautions that without legacy sound support, your DOS applications may be silent.

More SB emulation settings
Another TechRepublic member recommended the following:
  1. Start the computer in the safe mode.
  2. Go to the Windows Device Manager.
  3. Click SB Emulation and check the box marked Share Printer Port.

Richard_barsby also believes this solution will work, but Dave has yet to acknowledge whether it solved his sound card problems.

Can you solve Dave's dilemma?
While each responding member offers useful advice, Dave's sound card woes have yet to be resolved. If you'd like to add your two cents, we're all ears. Click here to submit your solution to Dave's dilemma.

Ask your TechRepublic peers for advice and assistance
If you have a question that you can't find an answer to, post it in TechRepublic’s Technical Q&A section. Other TechRepublic members will try to answer your question in return for TechPoints.


About Bill Detwiler

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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