Realtek's series of ALC codec chips are by far the most popular solutions for integrated motherboard audio. Unfortunately, we discovered last year that the company's drivers didn't correctly implement a couple of key EAX positional audio features-occlusions and obstructions-rendering some games unplayable. We contacted Realtek about the issue, but they didn't respond.
Six months later, we revisited Realtek's drivers and found that little had changed. With the then-current 1.66 driver release, EAX occlusions and obstructions still weren't being implemented properly, if at all. Again, we contacted Realtek, but the crab remained silent.
I didn't expect to cover the issue again, particularly because Windows Vista has dropped support for hardware-accelerated DirectSound 3D, requiring special software that thus far only Creative provides for its own audio products. However, last week a reader emailed me suggesting that Realtek had fixed occlusion and obstruction support in its latest 1.71 drivers, so I decided to take them for a spin, with curious results.