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Weird audio issue on Vista

posted by TheSpyder on - last edited - Viewed by 2.7K users
I just bought the episodes from Steam (didn't realise they were available outside the USA before now :(), and I'm having a few issues with Vista.

The biggest problem for me is the sound - I have a 5.1 speaker setup and while music comes through my front speakers ok, all sound effects and speech comes through my rear left speaker only. It's really disconcerting :)

I tried changing my sound settings so Vista thinks I only have 2 speakers plugged in, and it comes through correctly in what sounds like stereo - so while it makes life harder when I want to play it's by no means a deal breaker.

My sound card is an onboard Realtek AC97 audio, from a motherboard that is a little over 3 years old (MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum).

I'm also seeing the access violation errors in the _drm.exe files as mentioned in other threads. DEP is off except for windows services. The really weird part is that every second or third load it comes up and plays without any problems (except the audio as I mentioned above). This happens for all 6 episodes - I've managed to load each of them at least once.

I noticed in other threads about this issue that there is an unreleased version that may fix the access violation - I'd be happy to try it and see if it helps the audio problem (assuming I can even use it with the steam editions).
15 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • You could always try using "realtek+ac97+audio+driver" as a search term on Google. If updating your drivers for the built in sound doesn't help, I'm not too sure what to say because I know nothing about how Vista works.

    As for the unreleased version that fixes that problem, yeah I'm pretty sure it exists. I think all you have to do is ask for it and they'll help you get it. :)
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    One thing I know support will ask for are System specs (HW and OS), and don't forget to run DX Diag (Start->Run->dxdiag) and get the driver data for sound and/or video (Version/Date/etc)
  • You can try any of the demo versions available on our site. If you don't have the same problems with our versions, it'll help us narrow down the issue. The demos are available from

    We need to get more information from Valve about how they have protected the games to figure out what might be going on here.
  • ok, forget the audio issue. Something, somewhere has messed up my sound card - the center/sub channel is playing out of the rear left/right channel. I swapped some cables around until I can work out what the hell happened :)

    The demo loads fine. I wasn't aware that valve handled the protection system for third party games - but then valve don't provide any support for third party stuff so it probably wouldn't be much use reporting this to them ;)

    here's the error from the vista event log:
    Faulting application sammax101.exe, version, time stamp 0x4655cfe5, faulting module Steam.dll_unloaded, version, time stamp 0x465c94a1, exception code 0xc0000005, fault offset 0x200cdde8, process id 0x1bc4, application start time 0x01c7b081449b3a90.

    When it fails in steam.dll it's always the same fault offset - but I'm also seeing a few different faults in ntdll.dll version 6.0.6000.16386:
     fault offset 0x00022b4b
    fault offset 0x00022950
    fault offset 0x0002294f

    All 6 episodes seem to randomly fail with one of those 4 errors logged. Sometimes an episode will load first try, others I have to load it 5 or 6 times before it will start.
  • Glad you got the audio issue sorted out. :)

    I sent an email to Valve and will check with our tech team on Monday to see if anyone has ideas what could be causing the problem you're having. The issue with access violation errors that others have reported are supposedly due to the activation system we use, and since the Valve versions are not wrapped with that activation system, that's why I don't think it's the same problem. Well... either that or the errors others have had aren't caused by what we thought they were caused by.

    Could you tell us the rest of your system specs? What kind of video card do you have?
  • I wouldn't really call the audio issue "worked out" but it'll do for now :D

    I'm running an amd 3500+, 2gb ram, vista ultimate. Video card is an ATI x1950 pro (the AGP model), 256mb vram. If there's anything else you need to know I'd be happy to help out, I'm a software engineer myself so I know how tough it can be to solve crashing issues :)
  • I just finished the first episode, which means that whatever is causing the crashes it's during startup (before the game goes fullscreen). No problems once the game has actually loaded.
  • Could you try deleting the prefs.prop file out of the episode's game data folder before launching? This should force the game to start up in a window and at its lowest graphics settings. If the crash is being caused by something before it goes into full screen, it's possible that deleting prefs.prop would resolve it. (Once the game has started, you can go into the Options menu and fiddle with the graphics settings.)
  • Unfortunately I'm at work now (It's Monday morning in Australia ;)) so I won't get a chance to try that until tonight.

    The game never started windowed for me however - it went 800x600 full screen the first time I loaded it. Maybe steam shipped it with a props file and that's causing problems?

    BTW I doubt most steam users would know where to look for the props file. For reference, it's in:
    Steam\steamapps\common\sam and max episode
  • The game starts at 800x600 and full screen by default, so that's normal. Once you delete the prefs.prop file it should start in windowed mode.

    Thanks for the heads up on the location of that file, too. :) Let us know if deleting it makes any difference for you.
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