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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sound Blaster Advanced MB & DELL Laptop

Dilemma: Mediocre sound quality on a DELL Laptop running Windows XP, Vista, or 7. (Sigmatel HD)
Solution: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy ADVANCED MB

Screenshot of Creative Sound Blaster Audigy ADVANCED MB on Windows 7

After installing the Creative Sound Blaster Audigy ADVANCED MB I didn't realize I would have the audio quality comparable to the desktop version of Sound Blaster Audigy cards.

The following settings are available in the Audio Center:
* Speakers
* EAX Effects
* Graphic Equalizer
* Mixer

The test was performed watching an episode of Castle on the Hulu website (

The following settings were used in the Audio Center application.

* Speakers
-Bass Settings -> Bass Boost -> Enable Bass Boost
-Bass Settings -> Bass Boost -> Level 5dB
-Optimize speaker output for headphones (Checked this option when testing with headphones)
* EAX Effects
-Enable EAX Effects
-Enable CMSS-3D
* Graphic Equalizer
-Enable EQ (EQ Rock)
* Mixer
* Volume
-Speakers: 50%
-Headphones: 10%

Process Monitor: The average total process CPU usage was between 15%-20% including Google Chrome and audiodg.exe. Other Creative process were running at 0% CPU usage.

* Adds audio improvements via software that is priced reasonably (19.95). No additional hardware required
* No adverse performance degradation with an average of 5% usage for the audiodg.exe process
* Don't need to max out the volume using laptop speakers or headphones

Lessons learned:
* I had issues where I could not get the DELL audio driver (Sigmatel HD) and originally downloaded Sound Blaster Advanced HD driver to be recognized. This is due to the fact that I had upgraded from XP to 7 and the SB Advanced HD driver was designed for Vista only.
* The following steps work for Windows and XP and Windows Vista. (Check the link before for an additional step for Windows 7):
1. Install the DELL supplied laptop audio driver
2. Install the Integrated Sound Blaster Audigy ADVANCED HD Audio XP to Vista from DELL Support Site. (

Weird Behavior:
* The only weird behavior I got was when I selected Optimize speaker output for headphones under Speaker setting in the Audio Center; I could not uncheck it.

Helpful links:
* In case you've misplaced your Sound Blaster ADVANCED MB license, you can request it here:
* To get an updated BETA Sound Blaster ADVANCED MB driver, you can check here:

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