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Thread: Sound Fix in DarkEngine games

  1. #1
    Registered: Aug 2002

    Sound Fix in DarkEngine games

    Here is the deal : If you have an on-board audio drive using Sensaura as a 3D sound API (Audio3d.dll) certain sounds will sound distorted. Examples of this are : Footsteps , dialogs between NPC's (Which are in the same room as the player, but only a couple of feet away) will have sound muffled (or will have a low volume). The Audio3d.dll file is actually a disguised a3d.dll file. Many integrated sound cards from "Analog Audio", use Sensaura's API to render 3D Audio.

    Sensaura has been bought by Creative a few years back, so, if you have an Audigy Sound card and you experience the same sound problems with Dark Engine games, then most probably it's the API.

    Ok so in order to play System Shock II or Thief I/II with plus minus "properly working" you'll have to do the following:

    1)Use any web crawler to find the file a3d.dll (File Version:; Description: a3dx5; File Size: 65,536 bytes or 64 KB), this file is translating a3d calls into directx 5 calls (A quick search of "a3d.dll a3dx5" on google gave me a few links where I could download the file or the zipped version of it).
    2)Run your game and set Hardware acceleration to "OFF" and exit the game.
    3)Press Start > Run and enter the following : "x:\WINDOWS\system32\dllcache\" (x stands for the drive that windows is installed on).
    4)In "dllcache" directory rename the existing "a3d.dll" file to "a3d.dll_", now copy the "a3d.dll" that you downloaded.
    5)Go into sytem32 directory and copy that file here too (If it exists then replace it).
    6)Close that directory, run the game, set "Hardware Acceleration" to "On" and "EAX settings" to "On".
    7) If EAX doesn't work, then search for this file "eax3.exe" download and install. It allows EAX 2.0/3.0 software emulation on any sound card with EAX 1.0 support.

    If it works (and it should work) then your good to go! Otherwise something else is wrong :/ (If it doesn't then you did not follow the instructions well).


    PS N1: I would be happy if moderators could add this fix to Thief I/II System Shock II Technical list, or turn it into a sticky thread. Thanks!

    PS N2: Initially, I have forgot to add an extra piece of information regarding the sound fix. If for any reason you can't seem to replace the a3d.dll file in your system32 and system folders, reboot into "Safe Mode" and repeat the aforementioned steps, then reboot into normal mode and check the size and the description of a3d.dll, it SHOULD (theoretically) work.
    Last edited by DaNtAn; 31st Mar 2010 at 01:18. Reason: Added EAX 2.0/3.0 emulation through EAX 1.0

  2. #2
    Registered: Jul 2001
    Location: Texas
    Can I get some confirmations as to whether this fix works?

  3. #3
    Registered: Aug 2002
    video file on some "upload" web-site (with sound)?

    You can try it yourself (try renaming the a3d file that you have in your dllcache folder) and copy in the one I recommended. Tell me if you see any difference in 3d sound bias volume levels I sure did.. and I've got some sound cards lying around my house.

    Creative: Ensonique PCI / Sound Blaster Live! 5.1
    and some mobos with integrated CMedia chipsets (83xx/87xx chips).

    I had the prob on those with the CMedia chipsets so I don't play Thief 2 on them anymore, but now seems like it's working. It didn't work on my last computer (the one that I use now), it has an Analgo Devices onboard chip and I had the same issue as with the CMedia one's, so I really wanted to fix it, I remembered that when my Ensonique didn't do any EAX I messed around with the a3dx5 and with the eax3.exe and it worked . so I tried it with this one and by changing only the a3d.dll it worked.

    Travis over at Aureal A3D Central sent in some detailed info on how the A3D "patch" works. It is actually A2D, which translates A3D 2.0 sound into DirectSound 3D that the SBLive! supports. Here's more:

    Just thought I would try and make the news about 3D sound working on other sound cards in Quake 3: Arena more cleaer... The so called patch is actually the Aureal A2D driers which have been available for awhile now but few people took notice of them since they were only mentioned on Aureal's WWW site recently.

    The A2D drivers allow basic 3D sound through DirectSound3D on sound cards which support DirectSound3D and basic software Aureal A3D on sound cards which have no 3D sound support. But only if a game uses Aureal A3D 2.x with it resource manager, so far the only titles I know of which do this are Flatland Rover, Quake 3: Arena and Star Wars: Episode 1 Pod Racer.

    If you want to find out more about this I suggest you read the Aureal A3D 2.x technical brief or read the documentation included with the Aureal A3D 2.x SDK.
    Taken from ALive!
    Last edited by DaNtAn; 31st Mar 2010 at 01:22. Reason: added the quote from ALive!

  4. #4
    EAX Setting isn't even an available option in my Audio configuration screens. It's listed on the screen but it's disabled. Different settings in my Audigy's control panels have no effect. A search shows a lot of similar problems but doesn't provide a solution that works for me.
    Last edited by jtr7; 1st Oct 2007 at 03:00.

  5. #5
    Registered: Aug 2002
    The "Audigy's control panel" won't help you. Have you tried the eax3.exe ? DO NOT INSTALL IT BEFORE BACKING UP YOUR original EAX.dll, the EAX.dll should be in two directories, "dllchache" and "system32" (The one that came with your Drivers).

    Have you checked what is the real name of your a3d.dll file? To see it, get to the dll Properties then select the version tab there you should see if it's a3dx5 or the original a3d dll. If you have the a3dx5 dll, EAX should work on your sound card (supposedly if its a Creative card ). If it's the original a3d.dll then back it up and replace it with the a3dx5 dll.

    The Audigy cards relay on OpenAL to do the EAX functions, but they have the old EAX2 dll in order to let older software make use of it.

    jtr7 tell me if it worked.

    Edit: Creative's "Audio Control Panel" does include some interesting features, after playing around with (Sound Blaster Live 5.1 had different "Audio Control Panel" than the one that X-Fi has), I've noticed difference in how things sound before and after, when playing games (Not Thief series games).
    Last edited by DaNtAn; 31st Mar 2010 at 01:28.

  6. #6
    It didn't work, dang it.

    I don't hear a difference, or see any changes.

    I'm wondering what happened to my Options, though. Until I tried this, I didn't know I had lost the option to turn my Thief Gold Hardware acceleration back to On, but I can with Metal Age. The option is green and blinks when I click it, but nothing else happens. And I used to have the EAX Settings turned On but (you know) it didn't work right, so I turned them off. Now the option has somehow become disabled. It's white for both games and doesn't even blink when I click it.

    Should I reinstall the soundcard and games? I'd rather not, but if it'll reset something that somehow got changed....

  7. #7
    Registered: Jul 2002
    I downloaded the a3d.dll a3dx5 (64kbyte) and placed it into the system32 and dllcache folders....however, after a few seconds, both files get replaced with a 96kbyte a3d.dll (v2.09) again - automatically. No wonder it doesn't work. Does anyone know how to prevent this?

  8. #8
    PC Gamering Smartey Man
    I <3 consoles and gamepads

    Registered: Aug 2007
    Location: New Zealand
    Try placing them in the game directories of T1/2/SS2.

  9. #9
    Registered: Jun 2001
    Location: 40°44'31.03"N 111°51'16.60"W
    Is this at all related to the sound bug in T2? By that I mean footsteps/doors/guards, etc. sound normal, but most smaller object hits sound really quiet.
    &lt;xhtml&gt;&lt;eat id="mouth"&gt;potato&lt;/eat&gt;&lt;/xhtml&gt;

  10. #10
    Registered: Jul 2004
    Location: Reykjavík, Iceland
    If the downloaded a3d dll gets replaced in the Windows folder by the one that came with the audio drivers; how are we supposed to use it? Place it in the games' main folder sounds good, but it ain't gonna be used without writing some cmd parameters as far as I know. . .

  11. #11
    Registered: Feb 2003
    Location: Finland
    Huh? If you place that dll in your game folder, it will be used. No magic tricks are needed.

  12. #12
    Registered: Jul 2004
    Location: Reykjavík, Iceland
    Good. Hopefully this will solve the audio problems I've been having with T1.

  13. #13
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008

    I've been trying everything to get audio working in SS2, but running a search for:

    "a3d.dll a3dx5"

    reveals only a russian website, no working links. Is this file still available?

    Likewise with the EAX installer

  14. #14
    PC Gamering Smartey Man
    I <3 consoles and gamepads

    Registered: Aug 2007
    Location: New Zealand
    Quote Originally Posted by Destructor View Post
    "a3d.dll a3dx5"

    reveals only a russian website, no working links. Is this file still available?

    Likewise with the EAX installer
    The A3D libraries are a part of Kolya Tool.

    The option is probably called something similar to "EAX fix".

  15. #15
    Registered: Dec 2004
    Location: Germany

    Some test results and a download link

    I have found some sound problems with "3D sound" (more than stereo, e.g. a 4.0 or 5.1 speaker setup) a.k.a. "positional sounds" and Thief 2 in the past, so I decided to give this a3d.dll thing a try. The whole matter turned out to be very complicated, but here are my results. In case any of you doesn't want to read through all this, I'll tell you one thing right away: The a3d.dll did not change anything for me. Your mileage may vary, however.


    I used Windows 98 Second Edition, Thief 2 (german) patched to version 1.18 and Thief 1 (german, "Director's Cut" - that's Thief Gold for most other people), and an unknown version of System Shock 2. I downloaded a3d.dll (version from


    I used a Sound Blaster 4.1 Digital (also sold as ES1371 or as SB PCI 128; uses a version of the CT5880 chip) and a Realtek ALC650 (the onboard sound of my mainboard). The Realtek drivers were version A3.91; for the SB I used two different driver versions, but there were no real differences, and no driver versions mentioned anyway.

    With the SB 4.1, there were no noticeable changes with the new a3d.dll, even when I deleted Windows' a3d.dll from the \WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory to ensure that the newer one would be used. The SB always produced very faint and muffled sounds from the rear speakers, in contrast to a reasonably loud output from the front speakers. Whether this is a problem with the card or with the drivers I don't know, but I can't solve it as there are no volume controls for the rear and front speakers, just one volume control for all of them.

    Furthermore, if Garrett jumps forward in Thief 2, the sound of his feet hitting the ground again is much fainter than if he jumps backward. This sometimes happened with other sound cards as well, so it might be somehow related to Windows or even the game.

    Several sounds are muffled even when using stereo speakers only and turning on hardware sound acceleration in Thief 1/2 or System Shock 2. The environmental sound effects, a feature of EAX, sound very good, but unfortunately they're sometimes played from the wrong speaker even when I'm only using a stereo speaker setup.

    If I select "Digital output" for the SB 4.1 Digital instead of "Analog output", the positional sounds are unusable: The front left sounds correctly come from the front left speaker; sounds from front right disappear; sounds from rear right can be heard in the front right speaker, and so on.

    Not even one of all these problems vanishes when using the downloaded a3d.dll; thus, the only way for me to get reasonable sounds with this sound card is to disable hardware accelerated sound completely. No positional sounds and no EAX environmental effects, period.

    The Realtek ALC650 produces better positional sounds than the SB, but its drivers appear to be poorly written. Some of the chip's features "disappear" from time to time (according to some Control Panel program for the chip) and reappear once I reboot the machine. There are more problems and crashes with these drivers (not only with games) compared to when I use the SB card.

    The positional sounds in Thief 2 are O.K. (although considerably muffled) with the Realtek chip, the EAX effects for different sound environments (e.g., echoes in the cellar when playing the first mission where one has to reunite Basso and Jenivere) are less convincing than those of the SB 4.1.

    With Thief 1 and System Shock 2, however, there are problems whenever I turn on hardware support for sounds from within the game. Running sounds very faint in Thief 1; in System Shock 2, I don't hear any sound at all when running over a metal grate - usually, this produces a loud sound effect. None of these problems appear in Thief 2.

    Using the downloaded a3d.dll did not change anything, again.

    There's much more to say about hardware support for sounds and the EAX environmental effects. For example, I can only select EAX effects in the Dark Engine games if I move a slider to the far right in the Multimedia section in Control Panel. However, this would lead us completely away from a3d.dll, so I'll skip that. Just keep in mind that there's yet another source of problems related to all this sound stuff we're talking about.

    There is something else I noticed. If no a3d.dll is available in either the game's directory or Windows', Thief 1 and System Shock 2 are unable to turn on hardware accelerated sound. You can't switch it on in the Audio sub-menu; if you trick this option into "on" when there's no a3d.dll available, Shock 2 does not produce sound at all. Thief 2, however, does not depend on the a3d.dll file: The game still produces positional sounds and EAX environmental effects even if the DLL is nowhere to be found. Whether Thief 2 uses a newer version of a3d.dll at all I cannot say.

    For me, all of this turned out to be much ado about nothing. This is not a negative comment to DaNtAn's post which started the thread, but you can regard it as a warning: Whatever problems you have with Dark Engine games and sound, don't waste too much time on that. Several programmers and hardware builders apparently didn't do their homework, so only non-hardware sounds are a sure bet. If a3d.dll does the trick for you, be happy and enjoy it. If not, don't waste your time with this sound issue.

  16. #16
    Yeah, nothing's worked for me, so far. Thankfully, the sound design is incredible enough that I have no sound-related problems playing the missions, or becoming immersed.

  17. #17
    Ok, firstly I would like to say thanks to "DaNtAn" for getting the sound to work perfectly for me (I can now hear footsteps, myself jumping/landing, voice acting, doors opening etc.)

    But.....the game freezes for me now!! (and not in the same area/time either)
    Sometimes, it happens directly when I move at the start of the first mission, other times I would get as far as a sewer, jump down and then it freezes, another time it froze when I got to the well area.

    Anyone know how to fix this problem? I'm very close to giving up at this stage (first the videos didn't work, I fixed that. Then I got the blank screen, I fixed that problem eventually also. Then as you know, the sound wasn't working, and now, it freezes! I've never came across a more non XP-friendly game than this!)

  18. #18
    Registered: Jul 2006
    Location: Moscow, Russia
    Dual Core?

    I've never came across a more non XP-friendly game than this
    It's not XP, it's mostly new hardware.

  19. #19
    Registered: Apr 2005
    This fix did nort wrok for me, I'm still having the issue in thief gold

  20. #20
    Registered: Apr 2005
    btw, does forcing the number of channels to anytihng above 12 in thief1/gold actually do anything? (thief2 supports 24 channels, btw)

  21. #21
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Never seen this thread before, so thanks for the bump.

    Question: I have integrated 7.1 sound I think (not sure, not home), and I have the EAX option greyed out. Is it possible to enable it with this fix?

  22. #22
    Registered: Dec 2004
    Location: Germany
    Quote Originally Posted by poroshin View Post
    I have integrated 7.1 sound I think (not sure, not home), and I have the EAX option greyed out. Is it possible to enable it with this fix?
    No one can tell you that for certain. There appear to be a lot of problems present with EAX sounds and the Dark Engine games.

    My recommendation: Download a3d.dll, put it into the game's directory, then start the game. If EAX lights up now, the fix works for you.

    If EAX does not light up, you can check whether hardware acceleration for sound is available at all. If it is, the fix does not work for you, and that's it.

    If hardware acceleration somehow is not turned on, try to switch it on in the game. If that does work, try EAX once again.

    If hardware acceleration cannot be turned on from within the game, try to switch it on in Windows. Unfortunately, there are several places where this option could be found (Device Manager, Control Panel/Audio, Control Panel/Multimedia, ...), and you have to look for that yourself.

    If you find no way of turning on hardware acceleration, then there's no EAX for you. If you can turn on hardware support and EAX still does not light up even with a3d.dll in the game directory, check out option 7) in the first posting of this thread.

    And if you have tried all this and EAX still won't light up, then forget about it. Sometimes, we're all just out of luck.

  23. #23
    Registered: Aug 2001
    baeuchlein, thank you very much for those detailed directions. I'll try it out tonight and let you know what happens.

  24. #24
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Nope, I put a3d.dll into the game directory but the EAX is still greyed out, and HA is set to off and can't be turned on. I tried checking Device Manager and Sound in the Control Panel and can't find anywhere where to turn it on. Also installed the eax3.exe with no result.

    My soundcard is a SigmaTel High Definition Audio one.

  25. #25
    Registered: Apr 2005
    I have a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz,
    should't that support the A3D correctly out of the box?

    I sitll don't understand what's causing the issue with the audio levels.

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