I have discovered that the Dell 4400 was originally shipped without any sound facilities at all. Does this mean there was no on-motherboard sound chip(set) or that the original motherboard has a sound chip plus a jumper that disables it?
I can't imagine a PC even from that era that did not ship without sound. Here's the manual for the Dimension 4400:
It indicates there is an audio adapter. In system setup, in the advanced menu, there does appear to be a setting to enable/disable the onboard audio.
Thanks for the pointer to the manual. I already have a copy downloaded from the Dell website.
It used to be the case (don't know about now) that if you had the machine service tag, one could access the initial configuration of the machine as supplied by Dell. I did this when I started working on the machine over Christmas 21010 and in the New Year. Here is the information i received from Dell by this method, in the section 'Original Specification':
1 C BASE 4400 MT 1.6 NO SOUND
1 I DELL OUTLET SYSTEM
X C CNET NETWORK CARD 10/100
X C 64MB GEFORCE2MX TVOUT VIDEO
X C CREATIVE LABS SB LIVE VALUE
1 C 3.5" FLOPPY DRIVE - 4400
1 C DVD EIDE ROM 16 SPEED 4400
X C 17IN E771A MON MRP11 MG DIM
X C V92 MODEM DATA/FAX/VOICE
X C MS PS/2 INTELLI 2 BTNMSE-MG
X C ENTRY LEVEL PS2 KEYBOARD
1 C SOFTWARE DVD DECODER DIM
X C NORTON ANTI VIRUS 2K UK
X C 40GB IDE HARD DRIVE SEAGATE
X C MS WORKS 6 UK
1 C SHIPPING ASSY DIMENSION 4400
1 C MEM 512MB NON-ECC 266MHZ 440
X C ENGLISH - WIN XP HOME UK
1 C 24X SPEED IDE CDRW INTERNAL
1 C ALTEC LANSING ADA215 SPEAKER
1 1 YR COLLECT AND RETURN
The machine was initially supplied to a friend of my son, who does very clever things with lighting for rock groups such a Muse, Manic Street Preachers, etc. You will note that in line 1 of the original specification it clearly states that the machine was supplied with no sound. But this friend had added a sound card which he wanted to keep. And I was switching from Win XP to Win 7,so I went out and bought a budget creative Sound Blaster card.
Below are the changes I have made originally (Christmas 2010) and since. Most of the changes were to ensure I was Win 7 compatible, but a few were made because I did not actually receive a complete system - e.g. monitor.
Deletions (Dated 31/12/2010)
C Net 10/100 NIC
GeForce 2MX 64 MB AGP TVOUT Video Card
CREATIVE LABS SB LIVE VALUE
17” E771A Monitor
V92 Serial Modem
MS PS/2 Intelli 2 BTN Mouse-MG
Entry level PS/2 Keyboard
Norton Anti-Virus Kit
Seagate 40 GB IDE/PATA hard drive
MS Works 6
MS Win XP Home Edition
Additions (to 31/01/2011)
Belkin 10/100/1000 NIC, MAC:00173F9C35CB, Version 2000ea, S/N:95C2600886
PNY GeForce 6200 512 MB AGP Video Card, S/N:G606200ABE49d/OTE
Creative SB0570, S/N:YJSB05700034284747M
BenQ EW2420 24” flat screen monitor, S/N:
No serial modem added
Nikkai Laser Mouse Model A36GN/MPF, S/N:NO8A00961
Genius KB-06X keyboard, s/n ZM7801127822
No anti-virus installed
Western Digital Cavalier 80GB PATA drive
MS Office 2000
Microsoft Windows 7
Deletion (23/04/2013) - card failed
Belkin 10/100/1000 NIC, MAC:00173F9C35CB, Version 2000ea, S/N:95C2600886
1. Intel Pro/1000 GT NIC, S/N:PWLA8391GTBLK, 865080
Well I think it is a bit of progress. I removed the speakers and attached them to a CD player. They work.
I also attached a 'known good' pair of speakers to the card output. They do not work.
Is there anyone in the community, perhaps with more electrical engineering background than I have, who knows what voltage 'line level' actually means. Because next I want to put a high impedance digital voltmeter across the output terminals of each output channel of the card to see if anything is coming out of the card itself.
Thanks for your reply.
In 'sounds/playback' the default device is set to be:
just as your example, with the thermometer indicator on the right, mostly green in your screenshot, a pale blue.
When I connect to an Internet radio station and start Windows media playback, the thermometer turns green, but no sound comes out. A similar result is obtained if I click on the loudspeaker symbol and select 'test' instead of 'sounds' or if I click on 'configure speakers'.
I have a feeling the card is not actually outputting anything, hence my (engineers) thought about putting a DVM across the outputs. As you will see from previous posts, I have checked the speakers do work by connecting them to CD output, and by substituting 'known good' speakers connected to the card. The latter do not work. I have also tried reseating the card in its PCI slot.
I also would like to try a headphone set in the card's headphone jack, but at present the headphones I have use a 1/4" jack and the card output is a 1/8" stereo jack. So today I am going to try Maplins (a UK electronic store) for a 1/8" male to 1/4" female adaptor.
Further reply to my last post. I have tried headphones on all available sockets on the card. Result: nothing. I have tried putting the card in other PCI slots. Result: nothing. I am now going to try upgrading the driver to the very latest version.
Very frustrating. Let me know if the driver works, but I have a feeling it's something else. Back in the old days, all SB cards had a "reset everything" button in the software. I'm wondering if there's something like that you could try.
The alternative (and later) driver that can also be used for Win 8.1 made no difference, as you (and I) suspected it would.
Given the system info suggests the card is OK, and the thermometer indicator in the 'playback' dialogue oscillates, these together suggest the card is receiving digital input. However, it does not appear to be giving any output. Do you know whether these cards use operational amplifier chips (OA's or Op Amps) to amplify the analogue output from the D-to-A converter? if so, could this be the problem area i.e the Op Amp has failed? I suggest this because the D-to-A converters themselves are never really stressed whereas Op Amps have, I understand, to deal with feedback.
My next step is to remove the card from the Dell 4400 and put it into a Dell 8400. This will not be a true A/B comparison, as the 8400 runs Win XP Pro with SP3, so I will probably need to use a different driver. However, as a crude test it might show whether or not there is something seriously wrong with the card itself, rather than with software, installation, or configuration.
Do you have any specific knowledge of 'reset everything' buttons in Creative's software? What does it come under?
The Dimension 8400 is a much newer system, so that might be the best way to tell if the card is working.
And no, I don't have a Creative card and couldn't tell you exactly where to find the reset.
Hello Osprey4 and other Dell owners
It has taken a bit of time to get the Dell 8400 even available to run the tests because it is my main technical machine. However, the A/B test has been carried out and the end result is : no sound whatsoever. I have also tried it on an HP Vectra running XP, with the same result.
Conclusion: this card has the same status as the Norwegian Blue parrot in the famous Monty Python sketch. It is dead. Does the community agree?
Next question: can anybody guide me to another sound card, but hopefully one that is likely to work. As it is going in a Dell 4400 it has to be PCI bus. I live in the UK,so there may be some cards available in other parts of the globe which are not here, but just let me have your suggestions for a good, reliably solid card.