Wednesday, June 06, 2007

VMware Player: no sound / "bad directsound driver"

After I converted my Windows 2000 Professional machine over to a virtual machine, I was disappointed to find that VMware Server doesn't support sound. Here's non-official confirmation of that:

UPDATE 7/6/2007: I have gotten sound to work using both a Windows 2000 Advanced Server and an XP guest system in VMware Server. You will need to apply the tweak below to enable sound.

Therefore, I downloaded VMware Player, simply to play sound from my VM. Upon installing Player, I saw this error when I tried to initialize my audio application:
"Bad DirectSound Driver"

Apparently, VMware Player sets its config file for the virtual machine to use Sound Blaster emulation. When in truth, the emulation should be Creative AudioPCI (ES1371,ES1373).

So if you have working sound on your host system, but not on the vm running in VMware Player, here are the configuration lines in your VMs .vmx file you need to have in order to enable sound in the virtual machine running in VMware Player:
sound.present = "TRUE"
sound.virtualDev = "es1371"
sound.filename = "-1"
sound.autodetect = "TRUE"

Just make sure to edit/add the lines while your virtual machine is powered off.

It would be nice if VMware could somehow do a pass-through to the actual hardware device installed on the host so that you could do nice things like get low latency for recording software applications like Cubase or Reason.

I will ask the gurus..
UPDATE: Pass through to the real sound card not possible with Workstation or Player. Sound only works as emulated.

VMware Player is a bit of a kids toy, as there is not much to configure and the CD/Floppy/Network/Sound devices are all toggles at the top of the Player window:

Kinda weak. But hey, its free and it works.

Kontrawize also has their own opinions of the differences between VMware Server and Workstation here:

Ah, the silliness continues..


kamadelva said...

very good tip ! it worked for me like a charm ! thank you

Cacasodo said...

Great! Glad I could help!

Unknown said...

Thanks a million for the tip. Worked like a charm for a Windows 2000 guest on a Windows Vista host.

Cacasodo said...

Good deal, Eric! Tally ho!

Feel free to drop me a line or ask me a question.