The USB soundcard story

So as I have blogged about at an earlier point in time I have a Sound Blaster Audigy NX2 USB soundcard which I bought for the specific purpose of being able to play movies on my laptop with surround sound.

Even though I did google about it beforehand I managed to fool myself into believing this card was actually fully supported under Linux, which it isn’t. The S/PDIF output is not supported at all in fact, due to missing documentation from Creative Labs. Which is really sad, Creative Labs where among the first of the major hardware vendors to hire someone to work on linux support, and if they now don’t even provide proper hardware docs anymore then that is a sad development. Do anyone know if they still have a linux driver developer on their payroll? Anyway, I tried mailing the contact person listed on the opensource.creativelabs.com website about the docs, hopefully I get a positive reply.

Anyway as I also talked about before the state of USB soundcard handling under linux is not a beautiful chapter in itself, even when just using it in stereo mode with Totem/Xine it reverted back to the internal soundcard just after the DVD menu for some reason. And since I had lost the .asoundrc file I wrote the first time I tried I spent about as much time this time too finding out exactly what to put in it. Most entries I googled out said stuff like ‘here is what my .asoundrc file looks like, not sure what it exactly does, but it works for me’…..

I fear that as the Fluendo DVD player comes closer we end up having to fix up parts of the lower stack a bit to overcome the pains like this.

Anyway, Tired of the whole problem I bought a 60 Euro DVD player yesterday. Was able to watch Hidalgo yesterday using it on my widescreen lcd tv usinig s-video and connecting to my surround system using a optical cable. Neato! Now I only need to figure out how to disable to region checking on the system.

2 thoughts on “The USB soundcard story”

  1. I went through the same problems with usb audio cards, and eventually bought an M-Audio Sonica Theater. It also has an unsupported spdif, but it has 6 channels of analog output too. Here is the .asoundrc fragment I came up with to get it to work in xine, totem, etc. It assumes the m-audio is the second audio hardware device.

    pcm.my_surround51 {
    type route
    slave.pcm “hw:1″
    slave.channels 6
    ttable.0.0 1
    ttable.1.1 1
    ttable.2.4 1
    ttable.3.5 1
    ttable.4.2 1
    ttable.5.3 1
    }

    In xine, set your speaker setup to 5.1, and the 5.1 output device to “my_surround51″ and it works. I can also provide a 6-channel test .wav file if you need it.

  2. AFAIK Creative provide very little docs. For cards with DSP none. AFAIK no one from creative works on linux drivers. AFAIK with 2.6.13 kernel Audigy 2 NX supports 8 channel 24 bit 96 kHz. I don’t know anything about spdif.

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