Sound Blaster 16 PCI (CT4740) is now Creative's entry level sound card.
It's much more powerful than Creative Labs care to advertise.
So powerful is the card that they named it inconspicuously and
crippled the drivers, probably to avoid contention with some of their
more expensive cards. It even incorporates a fairly well hidden digital port. When
activated, the left channel in the analog line out socket doubles as S/PDIF
out. This port can be used to output an AC-3 digital audio stream to an
external decoder. To accomplish this, you need several things:
- A decoder (amplifier, receiver) for Dolby Digital (AC-3)
- A 75 ohm cable with the proper connectors
- The OEM drivers for the ES1373 chip (www.gateway2000.com).
- The latest version of DVD Genie (www.inmatrix.com).
- ATI or CineMaster player with the latest decoding engine (v1.0.29 at the time this article was written).
Connect a 75 ohm cable from the left channel of the line output
of the sound card to the S/PDIF input of your AC-3 decoder (amplifier, receiver).
The impedance of the cable is critical. A 75 ohm video cable is OK, but don't
use regular audio cables. A ready made cable will probably come with RCA-plugs
at both ends, so you may have to use an adaptor to fit the sound card's
3,5 mm stereo-jack. The right channel in the jack stays unconnected.
Support for digital output is absent in the drivers that come with the
card, so you need to install the ES1373 OEM drivers instead. Once the drivers have
been installed, you can enable digital output: Open Control Panel
and double click the System icon. Select the Device Manager
tab. Click the + box at the "Sound, video and game controllers"
heading to expand it. Double click the item "Creative Sound Blaster AudioPCI
64D". Select the Settings tab, and change Output Mode to Digital.
With that done, all you need to do is load DVD Genie and go into the extended
CineMaster settings (More...) and as an S/PDIF output select 'Ensoniq / SB live'.
Now, fire up the ATI or Cinemaster player, and enjoy true 5.1 channel Dolby
Digital (AC-3) sound without the need for any dedicated DVD decoding hardware
in your PC!
- Sound Blaster 16 PCI is based on a chip (ES1373) that in some OEM systems goes by the
name Creative Labs AudioPCI 64D. You can download the uncrippled drivers from:
Gateway 2000's site (try this location).
- DVD Genie is a program that allows you to fiddle with CineMaster's engine
settings and region code. The latest version is available at: