No sound in Kodi / XBMC with ASUS Xonar

I recently replaced the motherboard in my media centre due to on-going bluescreens, and I unwittingly selected a refurbished board with no on-board audio (ASUS Rampage Extreme II). The two main PCIE sound card manufacturers appear to be ASUS and Creative. I selected ASUS Xonar PCIE 7.1 DX for two reasons:

  1. I’ve used plenty of Creative hardware before and they are getting worse over time.
  2. It was the only one they had in the shop!

Anyway, first problem was that the card didn’t physically fit in my PCIE x1_1 slot due to the CPU heatsink placement! Luckily I found out that you can put a smaller PCIE card in any larger PCIE slot. So I was able to install it in my 2nd PCIE x16 slot.

Second problem is that when I went the install the drivers from ASUS, the driver installation didn’t detect the card and just hung. I forced a reboot, ran the installation again, and amazingly the installation worked 2nd time around and sound in Windows 7 was now working.

When I fired up Kodi however, there was no sound. Looking into the log file i saw this:

CAESinkDirectSound::Initialize: cannot create secondary buffer (DSERR_UNSUPPORTED)

And after googling that I saw that many people were having problems with ASUS Xonar cards in XBMC / Kodi. The main solution was to go into system – audio settings and change from using DirectSound to WASAPI. This did work for me, however it means that when Kodi is running, no other application can output sound, i.e. Kodi has exclusive access to the audio hardware. While not optimal, this is at least a workable solution. But I probably won’t be buying ASUS Xonar sound cards in the future.