• SoundMAX onboard chips are fairly recent, they're used in Dells for certain (I suspect you might have a Dell yourself possibly?). They are DirectX 8.1 compatible, as dX8.1 is installed on the Dell PCs at my college, and we use them daily for audio and MIDI work with no problems - and DirectX 9 compatible too I would imagine. Virtually any soundcard that supports the recent WDM driver model can work with DirectX. Only very older cards sometimes have problems supporting the later DirectX functions, and will only work in software emulation mode (which uses more CPU time than the normal 'hardware accelerated' mode if you're running processes which utilise the sound chip). That said, software emulation normally works ok for general day-to-day bits and pieces, but unless you have a REALLY old card, I'd recommend the full hardware acceleration mode for your sound (and graphics, to go a little off-topic) - if Windows is forcing your soundcard to work in software emulation only, then there could be a problem with incompatible drivers, or at a long-shot, a problem with the chipset itself... But I'm playing Devil's Advocate here and imagining all the worst-case scenarios :)

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