Tweak3D - Your Freakin' Tweakin' Source!
Sound Card/Speakers Tweak Guide

Updated: July 7, 1999
Written by: tapped
(Originally by Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy

Here at Tweak3D, we've got a guide for just about every component in your computer. While most PC users (especially gamers) use their sound card and speakers as much as any other component, very few sites ever emphasize tweaking sound systems. That said, this guide should get you started on improving your computer's sound quality. It's a long guide, and the procedures may take you some time to complete, but we think you'll find the results are worthwhile.


The first step to successfully tweaking anything is downloading updated drivers. For the ones you need, check out Installing new drivers for sound cards can:
  • Fix compatibility problems
  • Add support for games
  • Improve playback of MIDIs
  • Add new features for 3D (DirectSound3D, EAX, A3D, etc.)
  • Correct problems with MIDI/joystick ports
  • Improve and/or correct other issues not listed above =)



If your sound card causes freezes, there's usually a simple explanation. The most common problem is an IRQ conflict. To make sure the sound card isn't sharing an IRQ:
  • Right click My Computer on the desktop
  • Choose Properties
  • Choose the Device Manager tab
  • Scroll down to Sound, Video, and Game Controllers and expand the "tree"
  • Double click each item pertaining to your sound card (one at a time)
  • Choose the Resources tab
  • Look under Conflicting Device List
If you see an IRQ conflict, try unchecking the Use Automatic Settings button. Re-map the IRQ to resources that are not in use. Reboot and see if the changes were affective. If not, try again.

If you're still having problems, try re-mapping the resources in your BIOS:
  • Reboot, depress the Delete key or the appropriate key (ckeck your motherboard's manual) to enter your BIOS setup
  • Find a section called PNP, PCI, & Onboard I/O (or similar)
  • Find Resources Controlled By: (or similar) and change the value from Auto to Manual
  • Change the setting of the IRQ(s) the sound card is conflicting with or using
  • Boot into Windows, and make sure everything is okay
When you're having audio trouble in games, applications, etc., one good way in which to troubleshoot the soundcard (and/or its drivers) is to try the following:
  • From the Start menu, select Settings and open the Control Panel
  • Double-click the Multimedia icon, and under Playback, click the Advanced Properties button
  • Select the Performance tab and find the Hardware Acceleration slider control
  • It will probably be all the way to the right. Try sliding it to the left one notch
  • Run the game/application with which you're having trouble and see if there's any improvement
Try this repeatedly at different Hardware Acceleration levels. While certain games may run fine with full acceleration enabled, a few may perform better with acceleration taken back just a bit.

Getting desperate? Remove the card completely and reinstall. To do so:
  • Right click My Computer on the desktop
  • Choose Properties
  • Choose Device Manager
  • Scroll down to Sound, Video, and Game Controllers and expand the "tree"
  • Click on each of the items pertaining to your sound card (one at a time)
  • Choose Remove, then Okay
  • Reboot once everything has been removed
  • Reinstall hardware as instructed by your sound card's manual
Other tips for fixing freezes:

Disable assignment of IRQ to USB (unless you're using it). This can be done in the BIOS usually. Set your card to Half-Duplex unless you need Full-Duplex (record/play at the same time). Consult your sound card's manual for this.
If nothing you find here works, consult your manual for further information, or replace the sound card if it's that bad... :)

Poor sound in certain games:

If you have an Ensoniq AudioPCI (and a few other boards) or are experiencing terribly choppy sound in Quake /II engine-based games (Quake, Quake II, Hexen, Hexen II, SiN, Half-Life, Kingpin, others), try setting the sound to Maximum Compatibility instead of Maximum Performance.

If you want to gain performance by using direct sound, add the following to your autoexec: set s_primary "1"

For more information on tweaking specific games, check out the Tweak Guide section and Autoexec Creator section.

If a game's sound is terribly horrendous, there may be a patch on the developer's site to fix it.

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