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Soundblaster Z crackling sound

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Hey guys,
I might have stumbled upon a solution for the SBZ cracking/channel swap issues on Windows 10! With that "fix" I've got more than 3 hours yesterday of perfect 5.1 Dolby Digital Live sound and I'll continue testing for the next day or two to make sure it works properly. Before that "fix" I couldn't even get 10 minutes of proper sound.
BTW I'm running Windows 10 Pro 64bit v1903 on a Threadripper 1950x.
Will let you know how it goes.
This seems interesting, please do keep us posted and let us in on the details if successful.
 
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So here is a little story with a happy (for now) ending...
An year or so ago I finished my newest PC and the Sound Blaster Z was a part of it. The system in question is a Threadripper 1950x on an ASROCK X399 Taichi, 32GB of DDR4 3200 RAM and a 1080ti.
All of this was put to work by everybody's "favorite" OS Windows 10. Aaaand the issues started...
Brand new platform (back then) there were BIOS issues, Driver issues, compatibility issues and of course the SBZ Dolby Digital Live issue... Somehow back then I was able to fix the issue and I had no issues with is until about 3 weeks ago when I got the 1903 Windows 10 update and also I updated my BIOS to the latest one. I tried everything... Clean reinstall of Windows, going back to the BIOS I had before, tried all available drivers and registry patches, HPET Enable/disable, I even contacted Creative's technical support, but all I was able to get from them for more than 10 days was several different versions of that same registry patch (just different values in the keys). At least they acknowledged that there is such an issue with some specific hardware configurations.
Two days ago while reading other posts and articles for that same issue, I clicked on a link that sent me to Microsoft's web site (Microsoft Update Catalog or something like it) there I saw all the Creative Sound Blaster drivers that were ever released on Windows Update. What caught my eye were the driver versions: for SBZ the ones they have are version 6.0.102.xx and 6.0.103.xx while the a lot newer drivers for the Sound BlasterX AE5 (the fancy one with the RGB) the latest version is 6.0.105.17.... Then a thought pop'd in my head... what if I can use those newer (supposedly made for Windows 10) drivers on the SBZ? It appears that both the SBZ series and the newer SBX AE5 are using the SoundCore3D Audio processing unit (or at least very similar versions of it).
At first I tried directly installing the driver on top of what I already had but Windows stated that there is no compatible driver in the folder and sent be packing...
After mentioning some mothers... I opened the INF from the SBX AE5 driver and the INF from the SBZ driver and oh miracle! Those had almost identical structure sans the hardware IDs and some additional things pertaining to what hardware is supported by the driver. Confidant in my skills (or lack of such) I copied all the relevant lines from the SBZ INF with the hardware IDs describing the Sound Blaster Audio Controller and the Sound Blaster Z Audio Device to the SBX AE5 INF and tried installing it again... That of course didn't work as after modifying the INF file, the Digital Certificate was now broken and Windows sent me packing again but this time I was prepared! :) I quickly rebooted to Advanced Startup Options and used F7 (or only 7) for Disable Driver Digital Certificate Enforcement (or whatever it was exactly).
This time the driver installed for both devices and asked me to reboot.
After reboot (and no BSOD which I expected to be fair) I still had sound! I went in device manager to check if the "new driver" is really installed and it was. Then I checked Sound Blaster's control panel and all the setting were back to their default ones (just like after you just installed the driver) I enabled DDL (5.1 was already selected by default) and oh sweet music for my ears everything was working!
It has been 3 days since then and I watched a lot of movies, Youtube and what not and there have been ZERO audio issues with DDL (no, distortions, no channel swapping, no audio cutouts).

Now for the part you've all been waiting for... DISCLAIMER :)
YOU ARE FOLLOWING THE STEPS BELOW AT YOUR OWN RISK!! I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE THAT YOU MAY CAUSE TO YOUR WINDOWS OS BY IMPROPER INSTALLATION OF THE DRIVER!!!
I HAVE TESTED THIS MOD ONLY ON MY SYSTEM AND IT WORKS FOR ME. THERE IS NO 100% GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL WORK FOR YOU!


The attached driver will only work properly on Windows 10 64bit (I did not bother with the 32bit part of the INF)

1. Download and install the newest available driver for the Sound Blaster Z (this is needed for all the software things like the Sound Blaster Control Panel, DDL, Speaker Setup and so on.) At this point you will have sound and you may even get up to 30 minutes of proper DDL before it begins to act-up... (If you already have the driver installed you can skip this step) Newest driver I have found is this one: LINK
2. Download and unpack the attached archive. Inside is the moded AE5 driver and the last registry patch that I was sent by Creative. Apply the registry patch.(not sure if it is needed but since I have already applied it before doing all this, it may be a part of the solution. Anyway it will not hurt anything to apply it)
3. Go to Settings>Recovery>Advanced Startup and click on "Restart now". Then click Troubleshoot>Advanced options>Startup Settings and click on Restart.
The system will reboot and will present you several options. Press F7 (or just 7) on the keyboard. This will disable the Digital Signature Enforcement and will allow the installation of the modded driver.
4. After the system loads, go to Device Manager and right-click on the "Sound Blaster Audio Controller". Select "Update Driver" then select "Browse my Computer..." On the next screen choose "Let me pick from a list....", then on the next screen click on "Have Disk" and find the folder you extracted the driver in. If you did it right you will be greeted with a single "Sound Blaster Audio Controller" option. Next and so on until the driver is installed. It will ask to reboot but not yet.
5.Still in Device Manager, right-click first on the "Sound Blaster Z" device and repeat the procedure from step 4. Now you can restart.
6. After reboot have completed, go to the Sound Blaster Control Panel (it should be in your taskbar) and check if 5.1 is selected and then enable DDL from the "Cinematic" tab.
7. Enjoy and report back if it worked for you.

Awaiting feedback...
 

Attachments

  • Sound Blaster Z MOD DDL.zip
    3.6 MB · Views: 1,805

Candyman1SFT

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Wow, thank you for your workaround and the effort you put in this. Had with my old system (i7 2600k) only a few times problems with the SBZ and was now experience alot of audio dropouts or audio was completely gone untill I just change quick the encoder on my new system (Ryzen 7 3700x with a X570 board).

4. After the system loads, go to Device Manager and right-click on the "Sound Blaster Audio Controller". Select "Update Driver" then select "Browse my Computer..." On the next screen choose "Let me pick from a list....", then on the next screen click on "Have Disk" and find the folder you extracted the driver in. If you did it right you will be greeted with a single "Sound Blaster Audio Controller" option. Next and so on until the driver is installed. It will ask to reboot but not yet.

I was only able to install "Sound Blaster Z" but this was maybe enough for a proper functionality on my system.
 
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Did work for me using z570 and 3600x on windows build 19013.vb_release.191025-1609.
Did test. SBZ_CD_L13_1_01_10, SBZ_CD_L13_1_01_11, PAX_SBZ_CD_L13_1_01_10V1.00, SBZxR_CD_L13_1_01_05. All the same problem for me.
SBZ_CD_L13_1_01_10 did work on my z77 and 3770k.
@orionbg
This one was a saver.
 
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Absolutely not! I tried this "new" driver and it was awful! DDL was breaking every 2 minutes or so... Also there were some sound issues.
It may work for other people but definitely not for me!
 
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Absolutely not! I tried this "new" driver and it was awful! DDL was breaking every 2 minutes or so... Also there were some sound issues.
It may work for other people but definitely not for me!
Does it break only during gaming/CPU intensive tasks, or even on media playback?
 
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Does it break only during gaming/CPU intensive tasks, or even on media playback?
I did not even get to gaming. One YouTube video was enough.... Tried several restarts, different settings... nothing helped... Rolling back to my patched driver restored my sound.
Maybe it's just my config... I don't know... but the facts are facts...
 
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FWIW, here's my recent experience through 2019. I use a 2005 vintage AVR receiver in 4.1, call it 5.1, with a dedicated sub and amp.

I tried everything on my Zx. My issue was a down grade in surround sound location and honestly terrible 5.1 performance. I used to be able to locate footsteps in PUBG and other games and heavily used 5.1 to my advantage. It never worked on the Zx, sound came out of the surrounds but something is fucked up and manipulated about it.

Not only did I have crackling and spacial issues in DTSC and DDL, but I was never able to get my mic to work right. Even with all mic enhancements off, it never worked and people had a hard time with my mic.

So, instead of a single to toslink optical connection I try the old school 3x stereo RCA and 5.1. BOOM, massive difference in surround sound performance in games. No more fake manipulation of surround effects that are unadvertised. Bumped up the LFE a little to match and and it's better than ever.

What's the point of a Zx without DTS connect or Dolby Live, and crappy mic performance? There is none!!! Hocked the Zx on ebay, and 100% sincere, my mic and discrete 5.1 has never been better using the onboard Realtek S1220A. Oh, and, my mic is clear again. Weird.

It's really sad, if not infuriating, that a Soundblaster is a literal downgrade nowadays. I'm sure under the hood this is simply software issues and lack of profitability of sound cards in these times, but it's still a huge let down. Especially since the licensing has made digital 5.1 basically useless. The newest AE cards don't even have it! Just make it free and make it work well FFS, they obviously aren't making money from charging a premium on 5.1 encoding anymore.

:banghead:
 
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i've the same issue.
my system is 3700x and tuf x570 .
i install and uninstall driver official more times. But not works.
In game after 2 minuter the channel 5.1 virtualized on headset in inverted or not work.
swiching to 2.0 a later to headset is solve ... But for few minutes.

I don't speech English well but the solution of modded driver works?
 
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It's really sad, if not infuriating, that a Soundblaster is a literal downgrade nowadays. I'm sure under the hood this is simply software issues and lack of profitability of sound cards in these times, but it's still a huge let down. Especially since the licensing has made digital 5.1 basically useless. The newest AE cards don't even have it! Just make it free and make it work well FFS, they obviously aren't making money from charging a premium on 5.1 encoding anymore.

:banghead:

I don't use a soundcard anymore but I do have a modded ZXR somewhere, stored. I moved to an external hi-res dac/amp setup. Anyways, I'll find mine and test it. I wonder if you guys are running out of lanes, though that would seem unlikely with pcie4? Just curious, but have you tested the card in the x8 slot? I was still using the ZXR a 5-6 months back on a x299 board w/o issue.
 
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whit windows 10 and speakers coneted to hdmi.
 
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I don't use a soundcard anymore but I do have a modded ZXR somewhere, stored. I moved to an external hi-res dac/amp setup. Anyways, I'll find mine and test it. I wonder if you guys are running out of lanes, though that would seem unlikely with pcie4? Just curious, but have you tested the card in the x8 slot? I was still using the ZXR a 5-6 months back on a x299 board w/o issue.

I had used it in a 1x and a full size slot. I dont think that's the issue. I think it's all drivers and software.
 
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So here is a little story with a happy (for now) ending...
An year or so ago I finished my newest PC and the Sound Blaster Z was a part of it. The system in question is a Threadripper 1950x on an ASROCK X399 Taichi, 32GB of DDR4 3200 RAM and a 1080ti.
All of this was put to work by everybody's "favorite" OS Windows 10. Aaaand the issues started...
Brand new platform (back then) there were BIOS issues, Driver issues, compatibility issues and of course the SBZ Dolby Digital Live issue... Somehow back then I was able to fix the issue and I had no issues with is until about 3 weeks ago when I got the 1903 Windows 10 update and also I updated my BIOS to the latest one. I tried everything... Clean reinstall of Windows, going back to the BIOS I had before, tried all available drivers and registry patches, HPET Enable/disable, I even contacted Creative's technical support, but all I was able to get from them for more than 10 days was several different versions of that same registry patch (just different values in the keys). At least they acknowledged that there is such an issue with some specific hardware configurations.
Two days ago while reading other posts and articles for that same issue, I clicked on a link that sent me to Microsoft's web site (Microsoft Update Catalog or something like it) there I saw all the Creative Sound Blaster drivers that were ever released on Windows Update. What caught my eye were the driver versions: for SBZ the ones they have are version 6.0.102.xx and 6.0.103.xx while the a lot newer drivers for the Sound BlasterX AE5 (the fancy one with the RGB) the latest version is 6.0.105.17.... Then a thought pop'd in my head... what if I can use those newer (supposedly made for Windows 10) drivers on the SBZ? It appears that both the SBZ series and the newer SBX AE5 are using the SoundCore3D Audio processing unit (or at least very similar versions of it).
At first I tried directly installing the driver on top of what I already had but Windows stated that there is no compatible driver in the folder and sent be packing...
After mentioning some mothers... I opened the INF from the SBX AE5 driver and the INF from the SBZ driver and oh miracle! Those had almost identical structure sans the hardware IDs and some additional things pertaining to what hardware is supported by the driver. Confidant in my skills (or lack of such) I copied all the relevant lines from the SBZ INF with the hardware IDs describing the Sound Blaster Audio Controller and the Sound Blaster Z Audio Device to the SBX AE5 INF and tried installing it again... That of course didn't work as after modifying the INF file, the Digital Certificate was now broken and Windows sent me packing again but this time I was prepared! :) I quickly rebooted to Advanced Startup Options and used F7 (or only 7) for Disable Driver Digital Certificate Enforcement (or whatever it was exactly).
This time the driver installed for both devices and asked me to reboot.
After reboot (and no BSOD which I expected to be fair) I still had sound! I went in device manager to check if the "new driver" is really installed and it was. Then I checked Sound Blaster's control panel and all the setting were back to their default ones (just like after you just installed the driver) I enabled DDL (5.1 was already selected by default) and oh sweet music for my ears everything was working!
It has been 3 days since then and I watched a lot of movies, Youtube and what not and there have been ZERO audio issues with DDL (no, distortions, no channel swapping, no audio cutouts).

Now for the part you've all been waiting for... DISCLAIMER :)
YOU ARE FOLLOWING THE STEPS BELOW AT YOUR OWN RISK!! I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE THAT YOU MAY CAUSE TO YOUR WINDOWS OS BY IMPROPER INSTALLATION OF THE DRIVER!!!
I HAVE TESTED THIS MOD ONLY ON MY SYSTEM AND IT WORKS FOR ME. THERE IS NO 100% GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL WORK FOR YOU!


The attached driver will only work properly on Windows 10 64bit (I did not bother with the 32bit part of the INF)

1. Download and install the newest available driver for the Sound Blaster Z (this is needed for all the software things like the Sound Blaster Control Panel, DDL, Speaker Setup and so on.) At this point you will have sound and you may even get up to 30 minutes of proper DDL before it begins to act-up... (If you already have the driver installed you can skip this step) Newest driver I have found is this one: LINK
2. Download and unpack the attached archive. Inside is the moded AE5 driver and the last registry patch that I was sent by Creative. Apply the registry patch.(not sure if it is needed but since I have already applied it before doing all this, it may be a part of the solution. Anyway it will not hurt anything to apply it)
3. Go to Settings>Recovery>Advanced Startup and click on "Restart now". Then click Troubleshoot>Advanced options>Startup Settings and click on Restart.
The system will reboot and will present you several options. Press F7 (or just 7) on the keyboard. This will disable the Digital Signature Enforcement and will allow the installation of the modded driver.
4. After the system loads, go to Device Manager and right-click on the "Sound Blaster Audio Controller". Select "Update Driver" then select "Browse my Computer..." On the next screen choose "Let me pick from a list....", then on the next screen click on "Have Disk" and find the folder you extracted the driver in. If you did it right you will be greeted with a single "Sound Blaster Audio Controller" option. Next and so on until the driver is installed. It will ask to reboot but not yet.
5.Still in Device Manager, right-click first on the "Sound Blaster Z" device and repeat the procedure from step 4. Now you can restart.
6. After reboot have completed, go to the Sound Blaster Control Panel (it should be in your taskbar) and check if 5.1 is selected and then enable DDL from the "Cinematic" tab.
7. Enjoy and report back if it worked for you.

Awaiting feedback...

Not work for me.

Windows not want this mod driver for my sbz
 
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yes, done everything. when i go to put the modded driver tells me that it is not compatible and that i'm already using a better driver. tried to delete it from the disk, but it always finds it.I noticed one thing: without HPET crash almost immediately, with HPET it does it every 10 15 mn .
I I'm working with creative support to find a solution, even if the only possible one is that they decide to make a new driver.

( Sorry for the English I not speak well)

With HPET on the cpu work a few more intensive
 
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This is a official solution for problem.

The post is in Italian but you can use Google Traslator to read it.

That "Official" solution is quite old and does not work in 99.9% of the cases!
Creative Tech support have been repeating it forever.
Even making the number bigger doesn't always help...
 
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That "Official" solution is quite old and does not work in 99.9% of the cases!
Creative Tech support have been repeating it forever.
Even making the number bigger doesn't always help...
it's not the classic fix that sets the bus to 10. this sets it at 40 (some advise 50).I don't justify creative, but the important thing is that it works.
 
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The latest update fixes a number of small bug and glitches that have been introduced by Windows Updates, not a flaw in Creatives drivers.
This update also resolves the issues experienced with RDR2.
 
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it's not the classic fix that sets the bus to 10. this sets it at 40 (some advise 50).I don't justify creative, but the important thing is that it works.
Nope it does not work. At least not for me. I did "fffffff" which is a lot bigger number and that can in most cases get me through a day without issues. Not always but I get the issue quite rarely nowadays.
Basically the faster the computer is something screws up faster and you need bigger buffers to compensate. For me on a Threadripper 1950X the only valus that is as I mentioned almost working is the "fffffff"
People having the same issue with the "official" fix can try with "ff" (instead of 20/40) first then add a third "f", forth and so on until it works for you.
Again, this is somehow tied to modern PCs being a lot faster than Creative ever expected them to be (a Creative rep told me this) and this is why the issue exist...
Unfortunately the newer Sound Blaster AE5 does not support DDL so I need to get at least AE7 or AE9 or an external DAC...

The latest update fixes a number of small bug and glitches that have been introduced by Windows Updates, not a flaw in Creatives drivers.
This update also resolves the issues experienced with RDR2.
The new driver is complete waste of time! Tested it. The DDL crashed in less than 5 minutes!
 
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Nope it does not work. At least not for me. I did "fffffff" which is a lot bigger number and that can in most cases get me through a day without issues. Not always but I get the issue quite rarely nowadays.
Basically the faster the computer is something screws up faster and you need bigger buffers to compensate. For me on a Threadripper 1950X the only valus that is as I mentioned almost working is the "fffffff"
People having the same issue with the "official" fix can try with "ff" (instead of 20/40) first then add a third "f", forth and so on until it works for you.
Again, this is somehow tied to modern PCs being a lot faster than Creative ever expected them to be (a Creative rep told me this) and this is why the issue exist...
Unfortunately the newer Sound Blaster AE5 does not support DDL so I need to get at least AE7 or AE9 or an external DAC...


The new driver is complete waste of time! Tested it. The DDL crashed in less than 5 minutes!
From what little I understand it depends on the speed of the RAM. If I kept them in 2133 the problem or cmq rarely presented itself. At 3200 yes. I have read above that a new driver has come out, it would be to try that and see if you solve.
 
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Memory 2x 8GB DDR4 3200MHz G.SKILL TridentZ RGB
Video Card(s) EVGA NVIDIA GTX1080 ti FE
Storage 500GB Samsung NVMe SSD + 500GB Samsung SATA + 1TB HGST HDD
Display(s) AOC 27" 1080P
Case CM HAF
Audio Device(s) Sound Blaster Z
Power Supply 650W EVGA G2
Software Microsoft Windows 10 1709 Fallen Creatures :) Update 64bit
From what little I understand it depends on the speed of the RAM. If I kept them in 2133 the problem or cmq rarely presented itself. At 3200 yes. I have read above that a new driver has come out, it would be to try that and see if you solve.
It does not. :( I'm back to the modded AE5 driver I did and things are bearable for the time being. I will most probably either go back to analog 6 channels or get another Sound card that does DDL properly in the future.
 
Joined
Aug 28, 2019
Messages
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It does not. :( I'm back to the modded AE5 driver I did and things are bearable for the time being. I will most probably either go back to analog 6 channels or get another Sound card that does DDL properly in the future.
The best thing imho is a sound card with external jack optics on mobo Anyway for now I continue with the sbz
 
Joined
Jul 5, 2013
Messages
25,853 (6.45/day)
The new driver is complete waste of time! Tested it. The DDL crashed in less than 5 minutes!
Then I would suspect the problem is with your hardware or perhaps a software configuration issue. These drivers listed above have been tested. Have you tried a fresh install of Windows on a spare drive with the drivers above to rule out software configuration problems?
 
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