Creative X-Fi (Xfi) Digital Out Fix

Creative Xfi_thumb[2]

icon_download_product_large[3]“Fix Digital Out for Creative X-Fi (place in Startup folder).exe” download link

I’ve posted about Creative’s little, shall we say, quirk whereby the digital output on the Creative X-Fi Digital I/O module never works when Windows starts even though the little check box is, indeed, checked.

Well, I just stumbled upon this little exe (3.5k!) that you can just drop into your Startup folder and will fix the digital output every time Windows starts.

Remember, that dropping a program into the Startup folder creates a link to the program and doesn’t copy the program itself. If you want to copy the program instead, drag it using the right-mouse button.

Disclaimer

I don’t know who wrote this. I got it from a link in a forum post by a user named Blaise at 25/4/07 9:05:05 AM. I scanned it using AVG Anti-Virus which reported it as clean. I have run it myself and not hit any problems and my machine is still spyware / virus clean.

However, you download and run the program at your own risk. If you discover a problem with it, please let me know, so I can remove this link.

Un-Creative

This is the sort of tiny little glitch that Creative should be able to sort out and issue an update for but their history of bad drivers issued tardily continues. You do wonder how many people work for Creative in the driver / software department. Surely it isn’t a one person show.

Let’s end on a positive note

The Creative X-fi sound-card is the best sounding card I’ve ever owned. The HDA Xplosion is close in default trim (it has user-replaceable op-amps, how brilliantly techy is that?) but suffered from a significant audio delay issue which made watching video (my gaming PC is also a fully-featured PVR) annoying. (Important HDA tip: buy it direct from HDA, it’s a lot cheaper than buying it from a UK online store.)

I am extremely happy with the sound quality of the X-fi. The X-fi Crystalizer effect also works remarkably well and makes everything sound better without any hint of digital processing that usually accompanies such features. In the games which support it (not many, sadly), it also has a positive effect on frame rate which is always welcome.

In short, though the software and driver support is unsatisfactory the card is great.

Creative Brilliance

While writing my previous post about a Creative bug I found an even better one.

I was watching a DVD when I started to write the post. I had sound. I paused the DVD and started writing.

While writing the post I opened the Control Panel windows to make sure I was getting the names right. I then closed and canceled my way back out. I changed nothing.

I went to continue watching the DVD… and my digital output was disabled. Brilliant.

Creative X-FI Digital I/O Quirk on Windows XP

Creative products have always been a little, well, quirky (the less charitable might say buggy). Which seems odd for the world’s largest and most expensive consumer soundcard manufacturer.

Quirks like undistorted 5.1 sound not being available in otherwise reference quality racing game “Flatout 2”. Or never having a digital optical or coax out. Or insisting that you must use their fairly cheap cable to connect your £200 sound card to your expensive multi-channel amplifier.

I bought myself a Creative X-FI along with the digital I/O module. I use a multi-channel connection for gaming and music and the digital optical output on the I/O module for DVD’s. I should mention that I am thrilled with the sound quality on the card. It is a distinct pleasure to listen to music or be surrounded by detailed sound effects in games that support it.

The quirk

Whenever the machine is restarted, the digital output doesn’t work. Therefore, if I play a DVD in PowerDVD I get no sound from either the digital output (which PowerDVD is trying to use) or the multichannel output (because PowerDVD is attempting to use digital output).
The Fix

The fix is to go into Control Panel -> Sounds and Audio Devices -> Volume: Advanced. From the Playback volume window select Play Control -> Advanced then uncheck and recheck “Enable Digital IO”. Close, close, OK. Digital IO is now restored.

The solution is simple enough but why should I have to perform it? Especially as Creative stack my startup sequence with so-called ‘helper’ utilities that never explain what they do or why they should be left running.