Getting more sound sound from a dedicated sound sounder

I bought some hardware and it basically worked out of the box with FreeBSD

Since installing FreeBSD on the AMD Zen platform, I've had an issue with sound where the onboard sound chip just refused to play sound and a reboot would be required to fix it. What would happen is that if my computer was playing some kind of audio the sound wouldn't just stop, it would play the last 'frame' of the audio over and over again, which sounded like noise, for a few seconds and then sound would be gone until a restart. The sound would work again for a random period of time up to a few days, but would sometimes only last for a few minutes. I eventually found a post on the FreeBSD Forums1 telling me to set dev.hdac.%d.polling=1, which I did. That helped some, but the audio still crashed and it still buzzed when it did it, but the difference was that the setting made the audio come back after some buzzing. Slightly less annoying, but still not great.

I looked around and found that the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z was maybe supported under FreeBSD2. It's kind of expensive at about $100 USD, especially since onboard audio is basically free, but I had some Amazon store credit in my account, so I decided to give it a try3.

After installing the hardware and loading the snd_driver meta driver, a quick pciconf -lv shows that the card is recognized

hdac0@pci0:5:0:0:       class=0x040300 rev=0x01 hdr=0x00 vendor=0x1102 device=0x0012 subvendor=0x1102 subdevice=0x0010
    vendor     = 'Creative Labs'
    device     = 'Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series]'
    class      = multimedia
    subclass   = HDA

And a quick cat /dev/sndstat shows that we have audio devices!

Installed devices:
pcm0: <Creative CA0132 (Rear Digital)> (play/rec)
pcm1: <Creative CA0132 (Rear Analog)> (play/rec) default
pcm2: <Creative CA0132 (Front Analog Headphones)> (play)
pcm3: <NVIDIA (0x0099) (HDMI/DP 8ch)> (play)
pcm4: <NVIDIA (0x0099) (HDMI/DP 8ch)> (play)
pcm5: <NVIDIA (0x0099) (HDMI/DP 8ch)> (play)
pcm6: <NVIDIA (0x0099) (HDMI/DP 8ch)> (play)
pcm7: <USB audio> (rec)
No devices installed from userspace.

Although I did have to set hw.snd.default_unit=1 to make the default audio device the analog speakers instead of the optical out.

It's only been a few days, but so far the audio hasn't freaked out and started buzzing at me. I kind of miss it, but I figure I'll get used to its absence


  2. Definitive information seems to be hard to find on this
  3. I actually bought this for use under Linux, but the experience didn't go very well, but that's another article.

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