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View Full Version : Creative SB Dead! Revisited



carlsson
March 10th, 2006, 06:56 AM
Years ago I bought a second-hand SB Live! something (CT4830). It worked for a while, then one day after I connected an old Creative CD-ROM to it, it started to malfunction, creating lock-ups and all kinds of nastyness. I tried the card in a half dozen different computers, operating systems and drivers - including some completely home-made ones - but at best it would install and be operating until the next reboot. The EMU10K1 chip also got overheated quickly. After a lot of agony, I gave up and put it in a drawer.

Last year I came across two more second-hand Live! Value cards (CT4780). The first one I successfully installed at work in a Compaq with W2K, since its internal sound didn't work well in W2K (dunno if it was a drivers issue). The other one I kept for myself, in the same drawer as the broken one.

Up to now, I've been using a SB AudioPCI 128 (a.k.a. Vibra 128.), which is a decent sound card for all purposes, and even internal MIDI is OK if one installs an 8 MB waveset. But I still had this unknown, supposed good Live! card in the drawer..

.. so today I tried to install it. After a bit of fiddle and get drivers, it appears to install OK. No crashes or lock-ups, all subdevices install properly. But: no sound output from neither of the two outputs! I'm using W98SE and it does not report any conflicts. Strange.

I try some other drivers, reinstall the drivers and fiddle a bit. Now the computer barely boots up with the card inserted. Bah. This is a completely different computer than the one I used with the first Live! card that went bad. What are the odds?

I'm even considering to re-install the whole system, because I think it takes a lot of time to boot up, but that is a lengthy process; document all the programs and files I have installed, back up most of it on another partition or CD-R, then format and install the OS, add all the patches, software etc and I still don't know if it will work better afterwards. I may be able to get a cheap 8-10 GB disk extra to experiment upon.

One thing for certain, I would think twice or thrice before buying a new sound card from Creative. They may offer good specs for the money, but anything newer than the AudioPCI generation appears very prone for errors, crashes and lock-ups (I'm not the only frustrated user, I learned a couple of years ago).

Mad-Mike
March 10th, 2006, 09:09 AM
I know how you feel, I bought a SoundBlaster Live LS for the GEM about 2 years ago when I was running a Celeron 500. It clearly stated on the package that you needed a 500 MHz CPU and 128 MB of RAM to run it, Celeron included as compatible. I tried and tried and tried in vain to get that damned thing working on my Celeron 500 with no avail.

Anyway, I pulled it back out when I upgraded to a Pentium III with a heap more memory, it worked fine under Windows 98 SE, and even had it running with Digital Output...however, there was an issue, now I could not get it to work with my old DOS games on the same computer due to the lack of MPU 401 or Adlib emulation.

Since then, I've stuck with SoundBlaster 16 PCI and later a SoundBlaster 128 PCI, and those have been some of the best sound cards I've had, especially the 128, I've never had a problem with the 128.

carlsson
March 10th, 2006, 11:08 AM
I downloaded 3rd party drivers from the kX Project (Eugene Gavrilov). After a bit of fiddling (sounds familiar, eh?), I managed to get wave output from the sound card with these drivers. I rescued a SoundFont from the once cancelled SoundBlaster LiveWire package (was it too good or too buggy?) and get some kind of MIDI output too, although I believe the software synth included in Creative's own drivers is still a bit better, if one can make it work at all.

I noticed at first when installing the official drivers, the card was assigned a base address of C400, but the kX drivers assigned it D400, and when I re-installed official drivers for umteenth time, it also sat at D400. I believe if I'm able to re-install the official drivers without LiveWire but manage to run some config/reset/tweak utility for SB Live!, I might get sound output even with the real drivers.

And by the way, this is the Athlon XP2000+ (256 MB), so the specs should be enough - the first Live! card even run fine a short while on a 486DX/4-100 or if it was Pentium 166 (later 200MMX) with 32-64 MB.

Micom 2000
March 10th, 2006, 03:37 PM
Yeah I have a ISA CT3620 SB-16 sitting in a drawer which I was never able to get working. It looked like an interesting card with 2 Simm sockets (for wav tables ?) and I have an install fd, a cdrom disk and a manual. It is dated 1995 and I have earlier cards that work fine with W-98 just not this $#@$#.

Lawrence

carlsson
March 11th, 2006, 02:22 AM
In my previous computer, after the Live! attempt and before obtaining a PCI128, I used an ISA sound card: Opti 16 (I think, I don't bother opening the case to look it up). I found some drivers - perhaps they're not available any more - which loaded a 4 MB waveset into the card, and for being so simple and ISA class, it sounded very good. Without the waveset though, the FM MIDI synth was old and poor. Unfortunately, the company who made/supported this card was bought or went bancrupt so they never moved onto WDM (Windows 2000 and upwards) drivers, although I suppose few people using W2K have the need of an ISA sound card.

Mad-Mike
March 11th, 2006, 07:46 AM
Yeah I have a ISA CT3620 SB-16 sitting in a drawer which I was never able to get working. It looked like an interesting card with 2 Simm sockets (for wav tables ?) and I have an install fd, a cdrom disk and a manual. It is dated 1995 and I have earlier cards that work fine with W-98 just not this $#@$#.

Lawrence

I got the same exact card as you, I can get it working in Windows 95 OSR2 fine using the drivers Windows installs, but my god, in DOS/Windows 3.1 it's a royal pain in the arse to get working.

carlsson
March 11th, 2006, 12:51 PM
The Live! card is still silent using Creative's drivers, but the 3rd party ones work, so I suppose the card is not faulty as per se. I wonder if one orders a CD, you get supporting applications as well as the drivers themselves. I'm itching to either get a fresh HDD to make a test install onto, or some day be in contact with the support - I was once with the old card, and via some ICQ-type communication the poor 1st or 2nd level support person figured I was lightyears more advanced than both them and their typical customer, and could not help me other than "buy a new SB Live! card". Yeah, right. I figure these darlings are very sensitive for static and other high currents (more than most other modern PC stuff, as far as I'm concerned) and if the programmable EMU10K1 chip once has got a shock, there is no software in the world that can restore it.