Sunday, February 3, 2008

Realtek AC'97 Audio Update

Transferred from my first blog.

UPDATED (October 5, 2008); SEE BELOW

Don’t you just love freeware? ‘Had another bout of insomnia after my work shift and couldn’t concentrate on working. I turned to thoughts about tweaking my PC again. ‘Sifted through my Cryostorage folder (yep, I never got around that Demolition Man movie haha!) and found an audio driver that I downloaded weeks ago. ‘Never got around to installing it due to my busy sched (and the massive amount of unwinding it demands to get the kinks out of my system ha. Ha. Ha.). So I did. And oh boy, Andrea Corr never sounded so good!

The AC’97 audio codec update I downloaded was better than the previous one; treble and bass got boosts that went through the ceiling. Of course I got a Logitech X-530 for a sound system for my rig but that’s straying from the point (140-watt surround sound for your Doom 3 anyone? *Evil grin*). You have gotta love the Net and the colossal count of resources it offers!

For those who are curious, Realtek audio drivers for integrated sound solutions can be found here. (These are to be used only for motherboards that have integrated sound solutions made by Realtek! Needless to say they are stable but we have different PCs. Install at your own risk.)

Bass output was a bit too powerful, but a quick adjustment on the control panel quickly brought it down to levels that were relatively tame.

Now for the ultimate test, — the reason why I bought the speakers in the first place —— I’ll take the speakers for a spin in Tribes. I wanna hear the screams of fellow players amidst the cacophony of exploding godhammer rounds.

…. and then somehow wake up at 1pm to prepare for a panel interview; someone’s going to be promoted and I want to grill the candidates down to a tasty brown hue before one of them ascends.

UPDATE 1: I installed v4.01 and it sounds incrementally better. That’s right; incrementally. But definitely better.With drivers, you don’t hope for a single update to blow you to audio/video/performance nirvana. They sort of creep up the improvement meter with every install, never bringing loud ooohs and aahs from you but there will come a point that you will exclaim "Omg, I listened to the din he’s listening to now?" when you hear what a neighbor is listening to (which is being delivered by the exact same v1.0 pre-Devonian base driver you had).

The first time you update drivers however, heh, la dee da, you WILL listen to each and every favorite track you have and repeat every part where you distinctly hear changes in the delivery of bass and treble. Speaking of tracks, I use Aquasky’s Original Crime: Most Wanted as a subjective audio benchmark. (time segment 3:09-4:58 specifically)

You can view the Youtube upload here but the downloadable version is so much clearer. I’ll post it here when I find the mirrors.

(Found the site. Get Aquasky’s Original Crime: Most Wanted movie! Trust me if you’ve got good speakers it’s worth it!)

Meanwhile, good day to all my friends and officemates who refuse to update. How are those fins? No legs sprouting out yet? Tut, tut. I wish to see you here with me on good ol’ terra firma.

UPDATE 2: v4.04 now out. I normally am VERY vigilant about audio updates but for the second time I learned of the news from Tweakguides. (Posting news that I got from other sites without citing them goes against my conscience.)

UPDATE 3: For those who are using v4.03 and above, you may notice a slight distortion when you pick the "Powerful" settings in the Sound Effects Manager. I've been using these settings since its very good for gaming but in 4.03 and 4.04, the distortion was bothering me so much that at first, I switched back to 4.02 when I couldn't seem to get rid of it. My mistake was thinking that the higher frequencies (treble) were the ones messing the audio quality when the lower ones (bass) were actually the culprits.

Try using the "Rock" settings; these will reduce your bass levels and eliminate the distortion effect without removing the "ooomph" factor when in gaming. However, if you like the treble levels of "Powerful," you can tweak the equalizer so that you will have "Rock"-level bass and "Powerful" treble levels.

Default "Powerful" settings in the Sound Manager.

My hybrid settings: I set my equalizer to "Rock" and copied "Powerful" levels for the high frequency range.

You can access the Sound Manager by following this path: Start > Settings > Control Panel > Sound Manager.

Why bother updating to 4.03 or 4.04? They have improved bass and treble separation; except for the unfortunate bass distortion, audio clarity is further improved with these drivers.

Enjoy earth shaking and glass shattering sounds with this one!

Update: V4.06 has been out for quite some time now. This new version got rid of the slight bass distortion when using the "Powerful" settings. Cymbals are also much clearer now.

Settings I'm using with this new version. The somewhat minimized bass guarantees that high frequency sounds have more "bite."


Anonymous said...

Realtek has some decent cost-effective hardware, but man..their site could do with being a bit faster. It took me ages to download the drivers, I almost gave up.

Shazbot said...

Yep even though AC'97 is obsolete (given the way they've virtually ceased developing new version for this one --- it's been months!!), if you couple it with a decent sound system, it still could deliver immersive sound effect in gaming.

It's been so long since I DL'd from their site though so I can't give a comment about their servers. :P Thanks for the visit man!

Sam said...

I am currently using the onboard realtek ac97 audio. It has worked well so far, supplying decent sound. Will this soundblaster audigy se improve the sound quality and improve in games.

Shazbot said...

While I have never used a soundcard before, it is safe to say that yes, it WILL improve the sound quality of your games. It will also take off audio processing tasks from your CPU, freeing it for other calculations.

Pick the X-fi models though; I notice they don't churn out new drivers for the Audigy series as fast as they used to.

Momchinea said...

IMBACORE..MOMCHINEA here..hoping to pick your obviously knowledgable database-brain regarding Realtek.
I have an Acer Aspire's a cute little laptop (perfect for my
immediate needs)and I have it as a little sister to my HP Compaq desktop, which also uses the Realtek HD Audio Manager.
All I want to do is INCREASE the audio output on this puppy!! I have spent half the day trying to accomplish this no avail.
I ran across your site and thought to ask you directly.. could you give me some of your sage advice on how to make my tiny little laptop speakers,sound LOUDER? :( Thanx in advance. Bye.

Shazbot said...

If you mean you need more bass, there's no way around it, you have to attach it to a 2.1 speaker setup or higher; laptop speakers are inherently tinny-sounding. If your laptop's using Realtek AC97, find the Soundman audio manager software. It should be under you control panel. A 5.1 speaker configuration muffles the front L and R speakers a bit so you might want to revert to a 2.1 speaker configuration. 5.1 is only good for games and DVDs anyway. :D I hope this helps.

Thanks for the visit!

Anonymous said...


If you were to input this Eq curve into another system how would you translate the frequencies?
For example I take it 100z on the slider equates to +4 200hz is +2?
I am trying to incorporate your settings into the eq on my LG tv which also has an srs trusurround effect.
Many thanks


Anonymous said...

realteak download servers are just fuking piece of shit, are they joking with us?

Ildamos said...

The "Moved here" anomaly? Yes, I get that bug/error a lot. Try clicking on the navigation links ("HOME > Downloads > Computer Peripheral ICs > PC Audio Codecs > AC'97 Audio Codecs > Software") at the top of the page then going back to your chosen download. Sometimes it works.

Ildamos said...


"If you were to input this Eq curve into another system how would you translate the frequencies?" I've never tried that. Equalizer settings vary from person to person though; what may sound nice to me may sound off to you.

antique said...

hello. I have the same driver on my computer where we have a radio station. Unfortunately, we cannot change it as it has specific settings to be kept. The problem is I don't get input signal on line in. And it's very important to get one, as we are going to use the microphone with a mixer and it needs that channel. What is the problem? Can you help me on this?

Ildamos said...

Hello! I hope the folks at Tech-PC have already replied to your post. If that fails, why not contact a PC techie to take care of your problem?