Sound Card Nightmare

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From a PuterGeek.Com News subscriber comes this story, the moral of which is to never have on-board sound!

I have a horror story I'll pass along.  It may not be as horrible as I think it was, but, maybe you had to be there.

I purchased a new sound card for my Dell HPS 233; a SoundBlaster "Live" MP3.  This card has received good ratings in the computer 'mags, and was designed for mp3 creation and other musical type endeavors.  It cost me $80.

The Dell is a tower Dimension model with 96 megs of ram and 20 gigs of hard drive space.  It has a Creative Blaster Banshee PCI 16meg 3D card that was somewhat troublesome to get installed properly.  This computer does not have an AGP slot.

My Dell came with Yamaha sound on the motherboard.  The instructions with the SoundBlaster make no mention of what to do with the on-board sound prior to installing the card, so I just left it alone.

I installed the card into a PCI slot, and booted into Windows (98 SE).  Windows reported that it had found "New Hardware" and was installing the software for it.  It then reported that it had found a "PCI Steering Device"; and then froze up solid.  I never got an "have disk" option.

I did a cold reboot and gave it another shot, and the same messages came up from Windows, but the installation completed; however, I had no sound, and explorer would lock up the system.

Once again I went through a shut down and restart; this time Windows found new hardware and began installing the software for it; the new hardware was listed as "SoundBlaster 16 emulation".  While displaying this window, the computer again froze and needed a hard reboot to restart.  At no time could I get Windows to abort its attempt to install new software for hardware it had found.  I was never given this choice.

At this point, I decided to remove the soundcard.  Windows started normally with no messages or errors.  I checked Device Manager, and it showed a SoundBlaster Joystick entry and a PCI Steering device.  I removed them and exited Device Manager. Sound was working normally through the on-board Yamaha.

All of the settings in Windows for the Yamaha sound were correct, such as the mixer settings accessed through the volume control.

I send an e-mail to Creative about my problem, but got no answer.  Their on-site FAQs made no mention of install problems.

I decided to try installing the card into another system I have, a Dell Optiplex P166 with 32 megs of ram and 6 gigs of HD space.  This system is also running Windows 98 SE.  It has on-motherboard SoundBlaster sound.

After installing the card, Windows started and displayed a message of trying to load "SoundBlaster 16 Emulation" software, whereupon it would lock up.  I never got past this point with the install on this computer, even after removing the on-board SoundBlaster through Device Manager.  It would lock solid right after starting as it tried to load the "emulation" software.

After removing the card and restoring the motherboard sound, the computer booted up fine.

I have a third system running Windows 95.  It has no on board sound.  It is an IBM P266 using a 2meg on-board video, 32 megs of ram, and 6 megs of hard drive space.  Of course, the card installed onto this system just fine.

Am I to assume now that the Creative setup disk for some reason does not work correctly with Windows 98 SE?  Or is the problem due to the fact that the Dells both had on-board sound?

I had to remove the card from the IBM as the system belongs to my brother; I just wanted to see if I could get it to install on SOMETHING !

I have not solved this problem as of this time; I guess I need to research it more, but the Creative site has been pretty useless.

If you have any ideas, I am open to them.  If you know of a site or e-mail I could pass this along to, that would help too.  I feel like this card should work fine if I can ever get it installed.  Perhaps someone else out there has been through this and can offer some insight.

Thanks for reading this far (if indeed you have).  I know this is too long, but you asked for it!

I like your newsletter;  the computer stuff and the trucking stuff are both good.  You and your wife's exploits are neat to read about.  I must apologize however, as I have not been to your site yet.  NOTE: - Peter

Strangely enough, when I go through a hardware problem such as the above, it puts me off computers for a while.

You are free to use my name on your site.

Keep on truckin' and computin' and writin' 'bout it.

Dave Brumley

Bardstown, Kentucky, USA

What we have here is a rather common problem.  If you have onboard sound (which is the whole problem here, not Win98SE) you'd better forget about adding a new sound card unless there is a way (either in the BIOS, or by a jumper on the motherboard) to disable the onboard sound. - Peter


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Last Revised: 10/20/2000