Question about Dell Audio Cards

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Two straight SoundBlaster cards will not work on Dell M170

Hey, all.

I've been pulling my hair out trying to get a SoundBlaster card to work on my Dell M170.

The first was an Audigy 2 ZS Notebook. It ran in the PCMCIA slot on my system, and once I installed it, I immediately noticed that my sound wasn't right. Conducting sound tests, I noticed that the voice that would say 'left channel' and 'right channel' was coming through both speakers of the headphones both times. I also noticed there was no center channel sound, as when I would play songs (on both WMP 11 and WinAmp), the vocals and anything else center aligned sound as though it was far away and in an echo chamber.

Lots of searching abounded, on Dell's site, Creative Labs' site and various other sound help boards on the web. One thing was mentioned repeatedly: that there was a problem with running the Audigy 2 ZS on the particular PCMCIA card that this particular Dell shipped with. Okay, lesson learned.

I then bought an X-Fi Surround 5.1, which runs off a USB slot. Crisis averted, right?

Not so fast.

The exact same problem occurred, the same tunnel sound in the center, the same problem with both speakers giving the exact same sound through both channels. Okay, this has officially become problemsome.

One thing that has been brought up regarding other computers with sound card issues is to disable onboard sound in the BIOS. I can certainly do that; I've done it before on previous computers of mine. I go into the BIOS's sealed tigher than a drum. You are not allowed to alter anything regarding the sound card, as well as many other options that I've never been kept away from on my previous PC's.

This being my first laptop, my first computer that used a Phoenix BIOS, and my first Dell as well (albeit an aftermarket purchase, which means that, since I'm past the warranty's expiration, they won't help without charging me), I figure there's a reason for this. It's just that I have no idea what it is.

Long story short? I'm at my wit's end here. I bought this laptop expressly to be able to continue recording music, and for the last two months, that hasn't happened.

Any help you can offer would be so greatly appreciated, you wouldn't believe it. thanks in advance for your time.

Chris Kelley

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  • InTheEmbers Nov 13, 2008

    All of that has already been done, unfortunately. I used Belarc Advisor to confirm the pertinent info, then updated all drivers and confirmed things again.

    The inability to get into the BIOS and change things seriously impedes my sleuthing. I understand that they're probably saving themselves from potential service issues (dangerously high overclocking, etc), but totally removing flexibility makes the purchase of that type of a computer a short-term solution. One that I'll unfortunately have to rethink the next time around.

    Thanks for your attempt in assisting me. It was greatly appreciated.


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Try to get the model number of your dell notebook and search in the internet the prescribe or compatible audio driver for your notebook. You can search many search engine to provide you downloadable audio driver. Just try it. Ive done this many times. laptops and PC's. just be patient in looking for this. If you have windows flat form try to check your sound driver installed by clicking the start menu then click run and type "dxdiag" then you will browse the system info to know your model number and bios then proceed to the sound then try to check if there are any installed driver or you are only using a generic driver which may have been the cause of your unwanted output of the sound recording. just try.

Posted on Nov 09, 2008

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