- Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live/Audigy family driver.
Open Sound System driver for Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live!, Audigy, Audigy2,
Audigy2-Value and sound cards.
The sblive driver supports:
- 8-48Khz Playback/Recording
- 8 or 16 bits
- SPDIF digital output and Input
- Multi channel 5.1 (Live!) and 7.1 (Audigy) output.
AC3 passthrough is only supported on Audigy series of the soundcards.
There are several Sound Blaster cards that are also called as Live or Audigy.
However these cards are based on entirely different hardware design and they
are not compatible with this driver.
- Sound Blaster Live 5.1 card is used in some Dell machines
but it's driven by the emu10k1x driver.
- Sound Blaster AudigyLS and Live 7.1 models are driven by
the audigyls driver of OSS.
Most models of Live! and Audigy cards have an orange combo jack that is used
both for the analog center/LFE output and for digital DIN (S/PDIF) output. The
output mode is selected by a driver configuration option (seel below) which
should be set to proper value depending on the actual speaker configuration.
- Noisy analog center/LFE output. The orange combo jack at
the rear plate of the Live/Audigy card is shared between the digital DIN
and the analog center/LFE outputs. In digital DIN mode (default) you will
hear very noisy output from the speakers connected to this output jack. If
you have analog center/LFE (subwoofer) speakers connected then you need to
turn off the sblive_digital_din (or audigy_digital_din) option.
- There is a new configuration option to enable/disable the
"digital DIN" output. By default the digital DIN interface is
enabled which disables the center/LFE analog output (uses the same combo
jack). By setting the sblive_digital_din (or audigy_digital_din) option to
0 you can enable the analog C/LFE output feature. When digital DIN is
disabled you can still get S/PDIF (or AC3) output from the digital
(optical/coax) outputs of the optional livedrive unit.
SB Live cards have actually two mixer chips. In OSS both of them are controlled
together. However only limited set of features can be controlled using
ordinary mixer programs (such as the mixer applet included in OSS). Majority
of features can only be accessed using the ossmix and ossxmix programs
included in OSS.
The AC97 mixer is used to control volumes of the back bracket inputs (mic and
line in) and the _analog_ CD input connector on the soundcard. The 'mic'
volume controls the level of the rear bracket microphone input sent directly
to the front (only front) speakers. The 'line' and 'cd' controls do the same
for the back bracket line in connector and the on board analog CD input
connector. It's usually recommended to set these volumes to 0.
Another function of the AC97 mixer is selecting the signal that is passed to the
master mixer (for example for recording). One of the 'mic', 'line' or
’cd' signals can be routed to the master mixer by selecting that device
as the recording source in the AC97 mixer. The 'rec' volume control slider can
be used to adjust the signal strength. The 'igain' control doesn't usually
have any effect but some hardware revisions may use it for controlling the
microphone recording level.
Other mixer functions are handled by the DSP engine of the EMU 10k1 chip. Most
input signals (including all digital signals and LiveDrive inputs).
There are only two master mixer settings that can be controlled using all mixer
programs. The 'vol' setting is the master output volume that affects both the
front and rear speakers and the headphone output (digital output volumes are
not affected). The 'pcm' setting controls volumes of all PCM playback channels
In addition to volume sliders most inputs have a stereo VU meter pair (only in
ossxmix) that can be used to monitor the input and to adjust the input levels
The master mixer consists of several sections that are:
- Primary section: This section has two settings. The
"spkmode" setting selects how front/rear speakers are used for
PCM playback (outputs from programs using /dev/dsp#). The possible
settings are FRONT, REAR and FRONT+REAR. The default is FRONT+REAR. Change
this setting if you like to get PCM playback only from front or rear
speakers. The "autoreset" flag is used to control the
- "/dev" section: This section controls the volumes
of each /dev/dsp# device file supported by the device (there are 8 of them
at this moment). These volumes will return back to maximum every time the
device is opened. However this can be disabled by setting the 'autoreset'
option to OFF. The ossxmix program has special ability to show the
application using the particular /dev/dsp device (for layout reasons only
the first 4 characters of the program name are shown).
- The equalizer section: This section controls the graphic
equalizer for front speakers only.
- The front rear, and record sections: These three identical
sections control the levels of external inputs and PCM playback (/dev/dsp#
devices) to be sent to the front/rear speakers and to the recording
device. The CD Analog audio will only be heard from the FRONT
Before recording anything you need to set the volumes in the recording section
properly. To enable recording from the AC97 connected inputs (mic, line in and
analog CD) use the AC97 mixer to select the desired input and then tune the
input level using the rec (and igain) setting.
Finally set the 'ac97' slider in the record section of the master mixer so that
the recording level is suitable.
The OSS drivers permit recording any application that's currently playing.
To record audio that's playing on any of the SB Live channels:
- Turn down the AC97 control in the "record"
section. This prevents any audio being fed to the soundcard from
MIC/Line-in/CD-in from getting mixed with the audio produced by the
application that's currently playing.
- Type ossrecord -s<sampling rate>
-b<bits/sample> -c<channels> test.wav
- To stop recording press <Ctrl-c> and then you can
play back the test.wav file using ossplay command.
RECORDING ISSUES: In most cases noise is
caused by the microphone input or some other (unused) input. Use the ossxmix
program to turn off all unused inputs and finally save the current mixer
settings (see below).
Hint: Look at the VU meter panels of ossxmix. It's usually very easy to locate
the noise source by looking which input has some signal coming from it.
WARNING! If you turn off some of the signals in recording section or the AC97
mixer section this affects all subsequent recordings. Remember to raise the
volume prior doing any recording. After that decrease the volumes again if
You can use /dev/oss/oss_sblive0/ pcm0-pcm7 to play multiple audio programs
using the hardware mixing. Simply specify the device name with the
application. A simple test is to do the following: ossplay
/dev/oss/oss_sblive0/pcm0 <file1.wav> & ossplay
/dev/oss/oss_sblive0/pcm1 <file2.wav> & ossplay
/dev/oss/oss_sblive0/pcm2 <file3.wav> &
You should hear all three wav files playing simultaneously.
NOTE: Some apps may desire the old /dev/dspN names. e.g. /dev/dsp0 - /dev/dsp7.
NOTE: You can increase the number of output devices from the standard 8 devices
to 32 device. For this, run soundconf, select Set configuration options and
look for the entry "sblive_device", now type any number between 1
and 32 for the number of channels you wish. You can also do this manually by
editing oss_sblive.conf and inserting sblive_devices=XX entry, e.g.:
There are two alternative ways to connect audio signal from a CD-ROM drive tor
the SB Live soundcard. You can use a (three wire) analog cable or a (2 wire)
digital cable. OSS now supports both of these choices. Note that there are
separate mixer settings for both of these connections.
The analog CD-ROM wire is connected to the AC97 code chip and this method works
in most cases. To route the analog CD -input
to the (front) speakers
you need to raise the volume of the 'cd' control in mixer. However if you like
to hear the analog CD input both from the front and rears speakers you need to
do this in slightly different way (please read the description of the mixer
The digital connection works only with CD-ROM drives that has support for it.
Note that some CD-ROM drives having this digital output connector use a
different signal level than the one required by SB Live. This means that the
digital connection doesn't work with all CD-ROM drives (no sound). If you have
problems with the digital connection you should use the analog one. When using
the the digital CD input you may need to adjust the 'digcd' volumes using
ossxmix (or ossmix).
It should be noted that SB Live works internally at 48 kHz. This means that all
S/PDIF input signals are automatically sample rate converted to 48 kHz. If you
record from a 44.1 kHz (CD-ROM) and save the result to a 44.1 kHz file the
signal will be sample rate converted twice. First from the 44.1 kHz input to
internal 48 kHz and then back to 44.1 kHz. While the sample rate converter of
SB Live is very precise this will cause some change. This should not be any
problem when doing audio recordings but it may cause unwanted results when
transferring digital data (such as AC3/DTS) using the S/PDIF the interface.
- sblive_digital_din=<0|1> - This option is to
enable/disable the "digital DIN" output of SB Live. By default
the digital DIN interface is disabled which enables the center/LFE analog
output (uses the same combo jack). By setting the sblive_digital_din
option to 0 you can enable the analog Center/LFE output feature. When
digital DIN is disabled you can still get S/PDIF (or AC3) output from the
digital (optical/coax) outputs of the optional livedrive unit. Default:
- audigy_digital_din=<0|1> - same as
"sblive_digital_din" option except for the Audigy soundcards.
Default: 1=digital output.
- sblive_devices=<1..32> - Number of audio devices to
- SB Live! devices will not work in Sparc systems due to PCI
addressing limitations. Only Audigy/Audigy2 models work under Sparc.
- EMU Wavetable MIDI synthesizer is not supported
- AC3 passthrough only supported on Audigy/Audigy but not on
SB Live! devices.
/etc/oss4/conf/oss_sblive.conf Device configuration file