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7/19/02 Friday's News: Story DetailReturn to News Page

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Status on Independent Project to Develop
OS X SoundBlaster Live Drivers

Posted: 7/19/2002
Updated: 9/30/2005 (status info)
and 12/28/2005 (link to project page)

(Update - 12/28/2005) Brian sent a link to his current web page on the Mac SBlive OS X driver project

(Update - 9/30/2005) After a reader mail on a Petition to Creative Labs for OS X SoundBlaster Live drivers, I wrote Brian Souder (formerly of Creative) about the current status of the independent development of Sblive OS X drivers. Here's his reply:

(added 9/30/2005)
"The project is at a stand still because of Apple. I plan to post all of my research to the new website, but if Apple does not want us hooking into Core Audio, there is not much I can do. I think we might be able to get the mixer working, but the card would not utilize all of the features of the Live or even an Audigy.
There are already complete solutions out there doing more than what I could get working. (i.e. M-Audio's 5.1 and 7.1 PCI cards. See Audio articles page for links to reader reports on them.-Mike)
You can tell Apple is not keen on this with M-Audio as well. Every time there is an OS X update, it breaks their card. So they are probably doing some sort of hack to get things working right. They just have people that have programmed audio cards before, so they know more about it.
I have been hearing more and more people trying to develop for the platform getting frustrated with Apple. We are even having problems with MuVo Helper in the new XCode with backward compatibility. It seems like Apple wants to force people on to OS X 10.4 and the new Intel systems. We may have to do a separate build of the app just to maintain compatibility with OS X 10.3...

(I asked if he was a member of Apple's developer program and if the apple dev. docs on core audio didn't have the info he needed.-Mike)
A lot of the stuff you really need are closely guarded. Like the iTunes Plugin info for audio players. It is not available to just anyone. You submit to Apple for the info and then sign an NDA. Then they decide if you are worthy of having the information. The biggest problem with the core audio is that we need apple to make the changes we need to really hook in. There is no way to do accelerated audio at all without them. They did not seem to think there was any reason for it. Natahan and i got into a pretty heated argument with them over it.

The most common question I am getting is "now that Apple is going to intel based processors - will the SB Live work now". The lower hardware stuff would not really change - it is the same problem - interfacing with core audio. Some of the stuff seems pretty obvious - like the sliders for the mixer - etc. The data passing, playback, acceleration are where the problem lies. Nathan could elaborate on this more. I am guessing this is the part that breaks on the M-Audio cards every time Apple updates OS X. I would love to make this work if someone can figure out how to do it. I thought the guys from Germany had it all worked out, so originally I was letting them run with it. Then they just disappeared. So then Nathan, Chuck, and I tried to tackle it.
Overall, the documentation was not very good either from Apple. Some of it ran in circles, and like you said, in some cases you need to be a premier developer (costs $$$) to get the rest of it. I was paying for this project out of pocket, so that was not going to happen. I want to reassemble the project with people willing to donate time to develop it, but it is kind of dead in the water now. I have all the research in ring binders in my storage unit.

BTW - I am no longer with Creative Labs, but I still have all of my resources. I plan to put a whole section up dedicated to all the people that wanted a driver.
-Brian S.
(as of today I didn't see anything at www.tg-cg.com related to OS X SBlive drivers and Brian later wrote:)
I will try to put something up this weekend specific to the SB Live. Right now it is the MuVo Helper and iTunes Plugin for Mac.
-Brian "

I asked he send a note when the site is updated with the SBlive/OS X info.

(original info from July 2002 follows)
On July 17th, 2002 Brian Sounder of Creative Labs posted a thread here on his independent (not supported by Creative) effort to develop OS X drivers for the Soundblaster Live. (I know that's a touchy subject to SBlive owners that bought the card after problems seen even with the OS 9 drivers ... but just posting it as a FYI that someone is trying to get OS X drivers done.)

    "I am starting this thread to keep you guys up to date on my SB Live for OS X driver status until I get the web site up. At the moment, this project is completely independent of Creative, but I hope to change this in the future. I have a small group of programers helping me with the coding. When I get the web site up, I will probably open up a BETA TESTERS registration form. If you are interested in looking at the accumulated documentation, you can find it on my mac.com account:
    (Link Posted Later When .MAC is rolled out)

    UPDATE 1:
    My latest info is that the inputs are now working on the drivers I am putting together with some other people. I have not run the driver myself yet, so don't get too excited yet. They are optimized for 10.2, and the first Beta may not be far off. Initially it will only give you basic I/O. They are going to be put together modularly so that we can re-use code to possibly do an Audigy card driver later on.

    UPDATE 2:
    I received additional information this morning that they have some of the PCM channels for sound output working, and they are currently trying to bind the volume sliders to their respective addresses on the card. One of the programmers is on vacation this week, but things should continue moving forward as planned.

    They also reported that the card has an extremely low latency. This may be because there is very little work being done by the card, but hopefully the trend will continue. The code is being optimized for OS X 10.2 (? - Jaguar), but apparently works on previous versions of the of the OS - I would imagine only back to 10.1.0 since Apple added a lot of the audio stuff in that release.

    When we get the basic I/O working, you will be able to start using the card again. Many of the advanced features will be added over time. One of my goals is to add an auto update feature to the software like Apple's Software Update. Hopefully this will make it easier to pull in new features, as they become available.

    As with any BETA software, I would recommend that you have a separate OS X partition to test on. While I am a Creative employee, Creative does not have anything to do with these drivers and WILL NOT support them at this time. Remember you will be using these at your own risk, so I would seriously not have anything valuable on the same drive in case you have to reformat.
    Creative One (aka Brian)"

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