March 13, 2014 at 1:29 pm #64458
I just got a new Creative Labs Sound Blaster ZX sound card and DPS 1.2.3 is having trouble with it, which I’ll explain in a bit.
First, I want to explain the features of the SB ZX. The Z series has 3 different models, each of which has an external device which can be attached to the back of the sound card. In my case, the ZX model has a module which sits on your desktop or wherever you choose. It plugs into the back of the sound card to a microphone/line-in input and a headphone output. The module itself has 2 built-in microphones and outputs for a microphone and headphone inputs. In addition, the module has a volume control knob which is just for headphones. This feature was the main reason I bought the card, as I can keep my speakers plugged into the back of the card and switch to headphones or back to speakers any time I want. The headphone volume control is also a big plus.
The issue I’m having with DPS is it stops working when I switch from speakers to headphones or vice versa. The work around is to quit and restart DPS, then everything works again until I do another headphone/speaker switch. When DPS stops working, any application trying to use it freezes until DPS is restarted. For example, iTune’s music progress bar stops and there’s no audio. I also had videos freeze in the same way.
This problem is admittedly just a nuisance because it’s easy to exit and restart DPS, but thought I would pass it on.March 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm #64463xaqmusicKeymaster
So do the speakers and headphones outputs show up as separate output devices in the DPS Outputs menu? If so, this may be the source of the problem.
We know that some output drivers do not like to be dynamically switched. This means switching while they are active (sound is playing or paused). Have you tried stopping the audio then switching the outputs?March 18, 2014 at 11:40 am #64462
Thanks for the reply. There are 2 output devices for the ZX, speakers and SPDIF. The ZX replaced a SB X-Fi Titanium card with a 5.25″ front module, which had separate inputs for L/R, a microphone, and headphones. It also had 2 output devices, the same as the ZX. There is one difference between the cards, though. The X-Fi had a shared jack on the back of the card for speakers or headphones. Without the front module, I would have had to plug and unplug speakers and/or headphones at the back, but the front module eliminated that problem. I never switch modes when audio is playing, as I know that causes problems.
The ZX card has 2 separate jacks on the back of the card for speakers and headphones, so that’s one big difference from the X-Fi card. It does not have a separate output device for headphones, so you’ve identified the issue. The switch between speakers and headphones is done with a Creative SB Control panel, which has tabs for various settings. When I quit and restart DPS, it sets the speaker or headphone level to 100%. I know it does it deliberately, but I forget why. I normally have it set to roughly half volume.March 19, 2014 at 11:49 am #64461xaqmusicKeymaster
So when DPS start up in Desktop or Built-In modes, the volume of the hardware output device is set to 100%. This is because Digital Power Station becomes the Default Output Device. Normally, only the default audio device receives Volume Control commands from the keyboard. If (for example) the hardware output is set to 50% and DPS takes over, then the the hardware would be stuck at 50% and most casual users would wonder why their computer’s volume no longer gets as loud with DPS. I’m sure you already know you can change the hardware output volume in the system tray while DPS is running.
Some of the volume control mechanics are explained in this Help Wiki topic.
When DPS starts up in Headphones mode, the hardware output is not changed to 100%. This is so you don’t blast out your ears if you ware wearing the headphones.
DPS 2.0 will have a more verbose Settings tab that will allow you to control this automatic response.
I’m thinking the new audio sound card is in fact switching drivers when you change outputs in the Soundblaster control panel. This is probably what is causing problems with the DPS virtual audio driver. Let me know your thoughts.
Thanks!March 19, 2014 at 12:46 pm #64460
Thanks for the reply. Now that you explained it (again), I do remember why DPS sets the volume to 100%. I wasn’t aware it doesn’t do it for headphones, though, so I will experiment with that.
I don’t know how the sound card works, but it’s Creative’s latest and has been around roughly a year. Typically, SB cards are pretty popular, so I imagine there’s a lot of the Z series out there. It really is an excellent card. I thought the X-Fi series was good, but the ZX is better in many ways, especially for gaming. DPS makes it even better, though.
I like the fact that there’ll be an option in DPS 2.0 to control how the volume setting works. I know there’s a thread on DPS 2.0, but it’s pretty quiet. Where do things stand with that release?March 19, 2014 at 4:19 pm #64459
Just an update on volume settings. I exited DPS, then switched the ZX to headphones via its Control Panel. The volume was at 40 before I switched to headphones and was still at 40 afterwards. I restarted DPS and it set the ZX volume to 100. What I failed to notice was that DPS was set to speakers before I closed it. I tried the experiment again and set DPS to headphones before closing it again. When I restarted it, the ZX volume remained at 40.
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