___First off, if anyone has not noticed, the Live cards are not a high quality sound solution for every HTPCâ€™er but one that works for millions of satisfied owners and I just happen to be one of them. I also use the M-Audioâ€™s in my HTPCâ€™s right along side for all HQ sound output options. When I am going to fire up a few X-planes in the title â€œCrimsonâ€™s Skiesâ€ or blowup a few Mechâ€™s in Mech Warrior 4, the Live Value II does everything it was supposed to even under Windows 2000. When I am playing back a DVD, CD-Audio, or MP3â€™s, the M-Audio gets the nod.
___The second thing to ask is what < $50.00 card can give you AC-3 pass-thru/DTS from Windows 2000 today? I have passed on the links to the hack that makes the non-5.1â€™sas well as the 5.1 Live cards work under Windows 2000 many times and have described why no one should pay for the X-Gamers/MP3 +â€™s, Live Fullâ€™s, Platinumâ€™s, and all the 5.1â€™s many times. This is a gaming card first and foremost with HTPC output as an afterthought.
___As for driver updates, have any of you tried to run a MS game with the M-Audio cardâ€™s? Has anyone read the newsgroups in regards to the XP Gamerâ€™s drivers? The Creative Live Ware 2.0 - 3.0 driver/application has been re-issued I believe 3 times in the last 18 months. There are native Windows 98 drivers, native Millennium drivers, and rather featureless Windows 2000 drivers. The only true problem from most that have used them is under Windows 2000 and an SMP box. For HTPCâ€™ers on an extreme budget, what is the problem? Currently, there are only 3 sets of card manufacturers I know of that can do DD/DTS under Windows 2000. The Creative Live Fullâ€™s, Live Value IIâ€™s, X-Gamerâ€™s, MP3 +â€™s, Platinumâ€™s with hacks and the 5.1â€™s with and without the hacks while using a player such as PowerDVD 3.0.xxx. The M-Audio DiO/AP2496â€™s, and the Guillemot XP Gamer are included in this list as well. What more can you ask for? Do the Live cards take a hack to output AC-3 or DTS? The non 5.1â€™s do under all circumstances. Will they only pass DD/DTS under Windows 2000 with PowerDVD 3.0.xxx? Yes that I know of. The M-Audio cards can only use WinDVD 2000 and PowerDVD 2.55.0620 or prior â€¦ The 15 seconds it takes to install the Windows 2000 AC-3 pass-thru hack for PowerDVD 3.0.xxx with a Live card is nothing compared to the many hours we have spent attempting to make the ATI player in particular display properlyâ€¦ Think about this before replying. You can make these cards work properly under Windows 2000 if you have to and at only $40.00, why would anyone complain. There is still something fundamentally broken with either SP2, WinDVD 2000, PowerDVD 2.xx.xxx or 3.0.xxx, and especially the ATI player.
___I guess what I am trying to say is the Creative cards can give you some of what you want under Windows 2000 but you will have to use workarounds just as anyone using the M-Audioâ€™s and the Guillemotâ€™s have to use. MS blew it in regards to AC-3 pass-thru when they created Windows 2000 and only until SP2 Beta, there was nothing any of us could do about it. At least the AC-3 hacks get the $40.00 card owners what they need albeit under a particular subset of players. If you donâ€™t want to deal with a $40.00 sound card and its drivers under Windows 2000, purchase another card and wait for Windows 2000 drivers that work for it. You are more than likely still waiting whereas the Live card owners have had AC-3 pass-thru for over 4 months even without SPâ€™s to Windows 2000. Maybe the most prudent thing to do is to use Windows Millennium and you will not have any AC-3 pass-thru/DTS issues to deal with except for the MSâ€™s consumer OSâ€™s (98/98 SE/Millennium) intermediate term instabilities which any Windows 2000 user knows all to much about.
___Good Luck with whatever card or OS you decide to choose.
___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
New E-Mail address for the time being ... firstname.lastname@example.org