Windows Vista Audio Drivers

Read a post on the Create Digital Music website that said MOTU has released some beta versions of Windows Vista drivers for their audio products. Jim Allchin describes the new audio features in Windows and people sound off on why BEOS is better with sound than Windows Vista.

Now, late yesterday ? and well over a month before the operating system is due to ship ? MOTU announced it was shipping a public beta version of its audio drivers. As far as I know, this is the first public driver support for audio interfaces on Vista. Congratulations, MOTU! (These drivers also feature enhancements for all versions of XP, so all Windows users, have at them).

As some readers reported, some existing XP drivers will run in the 32-bit release of Windows Vista. However, some drivers may not work at all or may suffer degraded performance, because of a whole range of issues. That means you?ll want to use Vista drivers if at all possible. Source: Create Digital Music

Lots of good audio info on that site, it is definitely one worth checking out if you are looking for audio related info on Windows Vista and Windows XP. An article they posted that talked about a Jim Allchin post really sparked some conversation comparing Vista to the Mac and BeOS,

It?s great to see Allchin, the man in charge of Microsoft?s OS division and a musician himself, so interested in audio features. Of these, the one I think you?ll definitely find useful is per-app mixing, if for no other reason than you?ll be able to easily mute other apps so you don?t interrupt gigs. (Fortunately, Microsoft reversed course and chose to allow you to disable the Windows startup sound planned for Vista, meaning the OS can be configured for completely silent running ? minus SONAR, Ableton, FL Studio, Max/MSP and your other music apps!) Source: Create Digital Music

Jim Allchin talked about some of the audio improvements in Windows Vista such as the Per-app mixer levels: A single menu lets you mix actual application levels in one, central location, accessible right from the system tray, Virtual surround, which Vista calls ?speaker fill?, but which nicely enough adapts to different speaker configurations, Headphone virtualization for creating surround-like space in headphones and the new Volume Mixer.

While we have made many improvements in Windows Media Center for Windows Vista, these new capabilities become really compelling with great support for high-end audio. So, in addition to making it easier to manage sound in the productivity scenarios, we have also introduced new audio functionality including features and performance that you typically get in a high-end audio/visual receiver, including Room Correction and Bass Management. Together, these new capabilities make Windows the platform for enjoying digital content — whether you are doing it on a laptop or desktop, in your living room or in your home theater. With these improvements, a PC running Windows Vista with the appropriate sound hardware is the best integrated source of high-end audio and visual content. Here?s why.

Have you ever been watching TV and suddenly an ad comes on that is much louder than the show you were watching? Or, have you ever been listening to the radio and then switched to a CD and had everything get much quieter? The reason for this is that while most audio devices allow you to control the volume of the source, they do not allow you to control its dynamic range. Additionally, most dynamic range solutions in use today aim to maintain a constant signal level, but what your ears perceive is loudness. So for Windows Vista, we added Loudness Equalization which uses an understanding of human hearing to reduce perceived volume differences. The result is that when you change audio sources, the level of loudness that you hear remains much more constant. Some receivers have this feature today, but if you make Windows Vista the source for your digital content in your living room or home theater, you will “just get it” in software, regardless of the capabilities of your A/V receiver. Source: Windows Vista Team Blog

Let?s hope his music background has really helped the audio in Windows Vista, here is an excerpt from MOTU talking about their new drivers.

Windows Vista, Microsoft’s highly anticipated next-generation operating system for the PC, is due to ship worldwide next month. In advance of Vista’s formal release, MOTU is now shipping a public beta release of Vista-compatible drivers for all MOTU Firewire, PCI and USB hardware interface products. Are you running Windows Vista already? If so, download the Vista public beta drivers at the link below that applies to you to run MOTU audio and MIDI hardware with your favorite Vista-compatible audio and MIDI software.
All current MOTU hardware products are supported, including Firewire and UltraFast USB2 audio/MIDI interfaces such as the UltraLite and 828mkII, PCI core systems such as the 2408mk3 and HD192, and all MOTU USB MIDI interfaces. Source: MOTU

Here is a document from Microsoft that describes the driver compatibility for Windows Vista.