PC Gaming Surround Sound Round-up


Below is a list containing PC games, the programming API used for their audio processing, the final result of the audio output, and some [possibly opinionated] comments. You may notice that an API doesn't necessarily create a limitation but the exception to this is OpenAL, which completely lacks the ability to provide any type of discrete LFE output in games; all other APIs are fully capable of this but some developers fail to implement that functionality and also fail to implement support for anything over 5-channel output.


  • LFE (low-frequency effect) - The LFE channel is designated as a channel that carries lower-frequency audio. While, according to Dolby, this channel isn't strictly for subwoofers, the LFE channel in a PC audio context is typically directed to the subwoofer. This is sometimes overlooked in development which results in games not delivering bass to the subwoofer. The LFE channel is represented by the ".1" when discussing "5.1" or "7.1". If I've listed a game as "5.0" that means that no LFE channel is present.
  • NT6 denotes the versions of Windows that came after Windows XP. Windows XP was NT5. This is relevant because the way Windows handles audio was changed after NT5, requiring the use of software like ALchemy in NT6 to restore proper audio functionality in games.
  • ALchemy - ALchemy is an application that works with Creative sound cards to restore DirectSound 3D functionality in games designed to work with Windows XP's audio functionality but that no longer properly function in NT6 operating systems as a result of changes made to how Windows handles audio. Most modern games don't require ALchemy while Valve's Source-based games still require ALchemy for their games to properly support 7-channel audio likely due to some shoddy coding. For Realtek devices, you'll use "3D SoundBack" and for ASUS cards you'll use DS3D GX.
    • How do I know when a DirectSound game needs ALchemy? Ask these questions: Does the game have sound options for EAX, A3D, or hardware acceleration? Does the game seem to be missing surround sound? If you are unsure if a game will benefit from ALchemy because the game lacks the aforementioned sound options, add the game to ALchemy and test for changes in audio output. If no changes are heard, the game likely does not use hardware-based features of DirectSound and does not need to be added to ALchemy.
    • Not ALL DirectSound games need ALchemy? In the list below I will note in the comments if a DirectSound game needs ALchemy to restore audio functionality. You'll notice that some DirectSound games function normally without ALchemy because they simply don't utilize any hardware-accelerated features. On the other hand, some games may have very subtle audio improvement when using ALchemy that you may not immediately notice.

Testing Method

I'm using a Creative Labs X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty PCI-E card connected to an Onkyo TX-SR605 receiver via analog connection; 8-channel direct input into the receiver. I began compiling this list while on Windows 7 and am now on Windows 8.1.

To ensure no interference with the results, these steps were taken:

  • The audio receiver is using no surround matrixing or virtual surround. This feature is actually not available on the TX-SR605 while taking input from the analog inputs and no bass redirection occurs via the receiver. Audio is output exactly as it is received from the sound card.
  • Sound card enhancements are disabled: CMSS-3D, Crystalizer - anything that changes the audio outside of the game's control.
  • Bass redirection is disabled via the Creative Console Launcher.
  • Speakers are set to 7.1 via the Creative Console Launcher.
  • Creative Console Launcher is set to Game Mode.
  • Speakers are set to 7.1 via Windows Sound setting (Control Panel).
  • Front and surround speakers are set to full-range via Windows Sound setting. (This disables any bass re-direction that could be done by Windows.)

Gameplay Audio versus Audio in Pre-recorded Videos

In the comments I may mention the pre-recorded videos (FMVs / full motion video) using different output. I mention this for the sake of information; I'm mostly concerned about what the actual output is during gameplay.

Most FMVs are going to be limited to 5.1 output. The additional audio data required to make an FMV with 7.1 output would just increase the file size of the FMV and no one wants that.

The Games Tested

The games tested are games that I've had access to. Surround sound wasn't common in games before 2000 so I'll likely not test many games from the 1990s but don't be surprised if some make it to the list; I am interested in finding more early surround sound games so let me know of any I may not already have listed (check the Contact link).

Testing done in Windows NT 6.x operating systems (Vista/7/8) is marked "NT6". Testing in other operating systems will be marked accordingly.

Game TitleAPIOSChanComments
Alan WakeFMODNT67.1LFE mixing is done very well
Alan Wake's American NightmareFMODNT67.1LFE mixing is done very well
Alien SwarmMilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore 7.0 output
Alien VS Predator (2010)XAudio2NT67.0
Alien VS Predator Classic 2000DirectSoundNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX and surround
Amnesia: The Dark DescentOpenALNT67.0
Amnesia: A Machine for PigsOpenALNT67.0Fix for surround sound.
Among the SleepFMODNT62.0
ARMA: Cold War AssaultDirectSoundNT67.0Hardware and EAX restored by ALchemy
Ball, TheOpenALNT67.0
BastionXACTNT67.0Not sure about the API
Battlefield 3RwAudioCoreNT65.1Audio environment sounds nice; too bad no 7.1
Battlefield 4EAAudioCoreNT65.1
Battlestations: MidwayFMODNT67.1
Batman: Arkham AsylumFMODNT67.1
Batman: Arkham CityWwiseNT65.1
Batman: Arkham OriginsWwiseNT65.1
Beyond Good & EvilDirectSoundNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX and surround
BioShock 2FMODNT67.1
BioShock InfiniteWwiseNT65.0Center channel is missing most audio
Borderlands 2WwiseNT65.0Center channel is missing most audio
Brothers - A Tale of Two SonsXAudio2NT67.0
Brutal LegendFMODNT67.1
Castlevania: Lords of ShadowFMODNT67.1
Castlevania: Mirror of Fate HDFMODNT67.1
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2FMODNT67.1
CryostasisFMODNT67.1OpenAL in audio options but is using FMOD
Crysis 2FMODNT67.1Audio in this game was done very well.
Crysis 3FMODNT67.1
Dark SoulsFMODNT67.1
The Darkness IIXAudio2NT65.1
Dead IslandXAudio2NT65.17.1 support is very flaky but might work for you
Dead Island EpidemicFMODNT62.0
Dead Island RiptideXAudio2NT67.17.1 fixed in April 27, 2013 patch
DeadlightXAudio2NT67.0Not sure on the LFE; game is quiet
Dead Rising 2 & Off The RecordXAudio2NT65.1Game will crash if you're set over 48kHz
Dead Rising 3TBDNT6TBD
Dead SpaceRwAudioCoreNT65.0RwAudioCore is a proprietary EA audio engine
Dead Space 2RwAudioCoreNT65.0EA intro video is 5.1 but game is 5.0
Dead Space 3RwAudioCoreNT65.1
Dear EstherMilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore 7.0 output
Defense GridXAudio2NT67.0Noticeable in larger maps
Deus ExDirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore surround sound
Deus Ex: Human RevolutionFMODNT67.0Too bad they left out the LFE in this game
Deus Ex: Invisible WarOpenALNT67.0Seems to also use DSound. Try with ALchemy.
Deus Ex: The FallWwiseNT62.01.0.1 patch corrected 5.1/7.1 bug. Still stereo.
Devil May Cry 4DirectSoundNT65.1
DmC Devil May CryWwiseNT65.1
Diablo IIIFMODNT67.1
DishonoredWwiseNT65.1Center channel works but only plays light audio.
DOOM 3OpenALNT67.0DirectSound 5.1 if you remove OpenAL and use ALchemy
DOOM 3 BFG EditionXAudio2NT67.1Notice the update to XAudio2
Duke Nukem ForeverMilesNT65.1Requires ALchemy to restore surround
Dungeon DefendersXAudio2NT67.1
EnclaveDirectSoundNT67.0Not mention of EAX, has 3D sound option.
Fallout 3DirectSoundNT67.1Use ALchemy to restore DirectSound3D
Fallout: New VegasDirectSoundNT67.1Use ALchemy to restore DirectSound3D
FarCryDirectSoundNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX and surround
FarCry 2DirectSoundNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX and surround
FarCry 3 (and Blood Dragon)XAudio2NT65.1
F.E.A.R.DirectSoundNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX and surround functionality
F.E.A.R. 2XAudio2NT65.1So far I like the audio in this game
F.E.A.R. 3FMODNT67.1
The ForestFMODNT62.0
Gears of WarDirectSoundNT67.1
Grand Theft AutoMilesNT62.0
Grand Theft Auto 2MilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX and surround sound
Grand Theft Auto IIIMilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX and surround sound
Grand Theft Auto IVDirectSoundNT65.0
Grand Theft Auto Vice CityMilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX and surround sound
Grand Theft Auto San AndreasDirectSoundNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX
Half-LifeMilesNT62.0Audio features broken with Linux update
Half-Life 2 SeriesMilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore 7.0 output
Halo 2DirectSoundNT65.1Requires ALchemy to restore surround sound
Halo Combat EvolvedDirectSoundNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore EAX and surround sound
Hard ResetFMODNT67.0
Hitman: Codename 47DirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore EAX
Hitman 2: Silent AssassinDirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore EAX
Hitman: ContractsDirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore EAX
Hitman: Blood MoneyN/ANT67.1Unable to determine API/engine.
Hitman AbsolutionFMODNT67.1
Hotline MiamiOpenALNT67.0Sound placement is odd in this game. Similar results in Linux
I Am AliveWwiseNT65.0
Just CauseGameCODANT65.1
Just Cause 2FMODNT67.0
Killing FloorOpenALNT67.0Very good EAX effects
King Kong (Peter Jackson's)DirectSoundWXP7.0Would require ALchemy in NT6
L.A. NoireFMODNT67.1
The Last RemnantMilesNT67.1Use ALchemy to fix surround sound problem
Left 4 DeadMilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore 7.0 output
Left 4 Dead 2MilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore 7.0 output
Lost Planet 2XAudio2NT65.1
Lost Planet 3WwiseNT65.0
Mafia IIFMODNT67.1
Mass EffectOpenALNT67.0
Mass Effect 3WwiseNT65.0
Max Payne 3DirectSoundNT65.1
Metal Gear Rising: RevengeanceWwiseNT65.0FMVs 5.1, gameplay 5.0
Metro 2033XAudio2NT67.1
Mini NinjasOpenALNT67.0
Mirror's EdgeOpenALNT67.0Buggy. Edit TdEngine.ini; Make DeviceName=<blank>
Mortal Kombat Komplete EditionFMODNT67.1
Murdered: Soul SuspectWwiseNT67.0Videos in 5.1
Need for Speed CarbonDirectSoundNT65.1Possibly RWAudioCore
Need for Speed Most Wanted (2005)DirectSoundNT62.0
OutlastWwiseNT67.030 April 2014 update, the game was updated to 7.0
OutRun 2006 Coast 2 CoastDirectSoundNT62.0
Painkiller Hell & DamnationXAudio2NT67.0
Payday 2WwiseNT62.0Surround broken from a recent update
Penumbra: OvertureOpenALNT67.0
Penumbra: Black PlagueOpenALNT67.0
PortalMilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore 7.0 output
Portal 2MilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore 7.0 output
Postal 2OpenALNT67.0Oddly requires ALchemy to restore surround sound
Prince of Persia (2008)DirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore EAX
Prince of Persia: Two ThronesDirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore EAX and surround
Prince of Persia: Warrior WithinDirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore EAX and surround
PsychonautsOpenALNT67.0Remove OPENAL32.DLL in game folder otherwise it's 2.0
Quake 4OpenALNT67.0
RAGEXAudio2NT67.1LFE mixing is done very well
Remember MeWwiseNT65.1LFE rarely used. Center channel limited to some voice.
Resident Evil 4 (2014)XAudio2NT67.0Very poorly implemented sound panning.
Resident Evil 5DirectSoundNT65.1
Resident Evil 6XAudio2NT65.1Unsure about API but probably XAudio2
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon CityWwiseNT65.1
Resident Evil RevelationsXAudio2NT65.1
Return to Castle WolfensteinDirectSoundNT62.0
Ridge Racer DriftopiaWwiseNT65.1
Rise of the Triad (2013)XAudio2NT67.0
Saints Row 2DirectSoundNT65.1Mixes stereo across 5.1 speakers. Not discrete surround.
Saints Row: The ThirdWwiseNT65.1Missing audio from center channel
Saints Row IVWwiseNT65.1Missing audio from center channel
Serious Sam 3XAudio2NT67.1XAudio2 is the default API. LFE is very loud
Scourge: OutbreakXAudio2NT67.0
Shadow Warrior (2013)FMODNT67.0
Silent Hill 2DirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore hardware sound. Says 7.1 but no LFE.
SimCity 4 DeluxeDirectSoundNT67.0
Sleeping DogsWwiseNT65.0
Soldier of FortuneDirectSoundNT67.0ALchemy required to restore EAX and surround
Sonic & All-Stars Racing TransformedXAudio2NT65.0
Sonic GenerationsDirectSoundNT65.0
South Park: The Stick of TruthWwiseNT65.0
Spec Ops: The LineFMODNT67.1
STALKER: Call of PripyatOpenALNT67.0EAX works through OpenAL. Do not use ALchemy.
STALKER: Clear SkyOpenALNT67.0EAX works through OpenAL. Do not use ALchemy.
STALKER: Shadow of ChernobylOpenALNT67.0EAX works through OpenAL. Do not use ALchemy.
The Stanley ParableMilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy, console command snd_legacy_surround 1
Street Fighter 4DirectSoundNT65.1LFE rarely used
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EPFMODNT67.1Sound seemed important to developers.
SUPER Street Fighter 4 AEXAudio2NT65.1LFE rarely used
Street Fighter X TekkenXAudio2NT65.0
The SwapperFMODNT67.1
System Shock 2DirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore EAX and surround.
Team Fortress 2MilesNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore 7.0 output
Team Fortress 2MilesLNX2.0Work-in-progress here, I guess
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTSXAudio2NT67.0
TES4: OblivionDirectSoundNT67.1Use ALchemy to restore DirectSound3D
TES5: SkyrimXAudio2NT65.1LFE only used when a dragon lands
Thief GoldDirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore EAX and surround.
Thief (2014)WwiseNT67.1Center channel missing audio
TimeShiftFMODNT67.1Options mention 5.1 but game outputs up to 7.1
TitanfallWwiseNT67.1FMVs 5.1, game 7.1, no center channel (Wwise!)
Toki ToriXAudio2NT67.0
Toki Tori 2+XAudio2NT67.0
Tomb Raider (2013)FMODNT67.1
UnrealDirectSoundNT67.0Requires ALchemy to restore audio features
Unreal IIOpenALNT67.0
Unreal Tournament (1999)DirectSoundNT67.0Use ALchemy to restore EAX features.
Unreal Tournament 2003OpenALNT67.0Possible to use DirectSound. See notes below.
Unreal Tournament 2004OpenALNT67.0Possible to use DirectSound. See notes below.
Unreal Tournament 3OpenALNT67.0
Viscera Cleanup DetailXAudio2NT67.0
Virtua Tennis 3DirectSoundNT65.0
Watch DogsXAudio2NT65.1Wish Ubisoft would fix their stuff.
Witcher 2, TheFMODNT67.1
Wolfenstein (2009)FMODNT65.1Sound options has 7.1 but side surround doesn't work.
Wolfenstein: The New OrderXAudio2NT67.0Videos in 5.1, game up to 7.0 (no LFE output)
XCOM DeclassifiedWwiseNT65.1

Miscellaneous Conclusions

  • OpenAL doesn't appear to support in-game LFE mixing. OpenAL can send audio to the LFE if the audio file (WAV, OGG) specifies the channel but I've never played an OpenAL game that output audio to the LFE.
  • Miles Sound System is used by Source (Valve) games and basically routes itself through other APIs. In Windows, or at least for Source games, it's routing through DirectSound so adding Source games to ALchemy gets your 7.0 functionality in Vista/7 where as you would only get 5.0 sound without ALchemy. In Linux, Miles routes through OpenAL. To get 7-channel surround in Windows Source engine games, first add the game to ALchemy, then run the game and open the console and type: "snd_legacy_surround 1" without the quotes and hit Enter to input the command. Restart the game and it should now be properly outputting to 7 speakers. For whatever reason, Source engine (Miles) 7.1 doesn't work properly without ALchemy.
  • Implementation of the LFE channel seems to be often overlooked which could be a result of how their test equipment is setup. While direct analog connections don't redirect bass unless the source says to do so (actually varies by receiver), HDMI connections may redirect the bass at the destination/receiver.
  • After discussing the issue with different people, I've found that lack of support for certain speaker configurations may be a result of programmers not thoroughly implementing the features and development studios only having 5.1 setups to test on.
  • Wwise initially only supported up to a 5.1 speaker configuration. As of 7 October 2013, Wwise supports 7.1 audio. Any game developed with Wwise version 2013.2 that does not support 7.1 audio will be assumed to have been developed by INCOMPETENT SLACKERS.
  • After it having been brought to my attention that Dishonored seemed to be missing audio in the center channel, I've noticed a trend with Wwise-based games missing audio from the center channel. Voices and sound effects won't be in the center, but you may hear light environmental effects (reverb). So far, this issue doesn't seem present in Outlast.

Extended Comments

  • "LFE mixing is done very well" If I made a positive comment about the LFE, it means I thought that it was well-balanced and used appropriately. I understand that volume adjustments on my end can make this judgement unreliable but I feel confident that my subwoofer volume is reasonably set.
  • ARMA: Cold War Assault has an OpenAL installer in its install directory but it appears to be a DirectSound game. It will do 7.0 surround without ALchemy but when you incorporate ALchemy you can then enable hardware and EAX features so it appears to still be fully DirectSound. If it were OpenAL, it wouldn't need ALchemy to enable hardware and EAX features.
  • Crysis 2 has very impressive audio implementation. I'm not talking about the music composition or types of sound effects used, I'm talking about how well the sound effects and environmental effects were placed into the game world and how well the audio seems to have been mastered. Sound effects properly fade out when you move away from their origin (no sudden silence), the LFE channel is properly used and is just the right volume, and none of the audio is distorted or too loud (TOO COMPRESSED). You can crank the volume on this game and your speakers won't sound like they're dying due to the audio being overly compressed, it'll be loud but smooth. Whoever was responsible for the audio in this game deserves a medal.
  • Dead Island likes to throw a fit when I have 7.1 enabled in Windows. It mostly has buggy sound but it occasionally works; I used to just close and restart the game until it worked but that rarely works. If I set Windows to 5.1 sound then I get no trouble from Dead Island.
  • Dead Rising 2 games have a bug that prevent them from starting if your audio device is set to operate at greater than 48kHz. Set your playback device to 48kHz or lower to get the game to run.
  • Dead Space games appear to use a proprietary audio engine developed by EA (or Phenomic?), RwAudioCore. This particular audio engine appears to have various features such as 7.1 (and LFE) but they weren't used. I'd say it's worth it to use bass re-direction for DS 1 and 2 because there are many sound effects that mix in good to the sub and add to the intensity of the audio. Looks like as of Battlefield 4 they're calling it "EAAudioCore".
  • Dishonored is technically 5.1, it outputs audio to all speakers in a 5.1 configuration, but it only outputs some low volume effects to the center channel. Character voices, gunfire, and footsteps that would be played in the center channel are played in the two front speakers, it's essentially a 4.1 game that plays auxiliary effects in the center speaker. This issue also appears present in the Xbox 360 version.
  • DOOM 3 was originally a DirectSound game but a later patch added OpenAL support. DOOM 3 defaults to OpenAL unless you don't have OpenAL installed on your system, then it falls back to using DirectSound.
  • Gears of War initially had some strange issues for me, such as the side surround speakers not working properly. WarEngine.ini seems to indicate that it's an OpenAL game, but if I use ALchemy, which puts its own DSOUND.DLL file in the game directory, the game won't load because it doesn't like the DSOUND.DLL file. While the game appears to be using OpenAL, I believe that in the end it's routing through DirectSound. I've removed any OpenAL-related files from the BINARIES directory and while the INI updates OpenAL parameters, it still wants to talk to DSOUND.DLL.
  • Hotline Miami was originally a DirectSound game with 2.0 output but was later migrated to OpenAL. The move to OpenAL was probably because they ported the game to other platforms (OSX, Linux, PS3, Vita) and OpenAL was the better choice for portability. While it does playback audio in 7-channel surround, there doesn't seem to be any particular method for sound placement. The music is in the front two speakers, certain sound effects play strictly in the side speakers and others play strictly in the rear speakers.
  • Mirror's Edge seems to be slightly buggy as far as hardware detection goes. In the game's audio options, select Hardware for the audio device. Exit the game and then navigate to the TdEngine.ini file located in Documents\EA Games\Mirror's Edge\TdGame\Config. You'll find "DeviceName=" under the ALAudio.ALAudioDevice section. Delete any text after "DeviceName=" and it should then properly output in 7-channel surround. This actually seems to be common with some Unreal Engine games that use OpenAL.
  • Outlast seems to have been updated to the latest Wwise release, likely with the 30 April 2014 update. I'm certain that it initially only output 5.0 but as of 5 May 2014 (when I last played with it) it outputs at least 7.0.
  • Resident Evil 4, the 2014 PC re-release, has very poorly-implemented surround sound. The 2014 PC release was based on the Xbox 30 HD release; the audio on the 360 and PS3 versions was broken, as in, all sound effects were mono. This carried over to the PC version, the community complained and Capcom(QLOC) attempted to fix it but they only did so much. Some sound effects will pan around but most are still mono.
  • Serious Sam 3 can be configured to use several different audio APIs in its configuration file; I'd recommend sticking with XAudio2. Also, the LFE volume in this game is disgustingly loud compared to anything else I've played.
  • Unreal Engine 2.5 games (Example: UT2004, Killing Floor) typically have an audio option to use the 'system driver'. If you uncheck this box, the game is supposed to use its own OpenAL driver which should be the most compatible solution; theoretically, it should be able to provide environmental effects and surround sound through OpenAL. I've found that if I check the 'system driver' box (and restart the game) that I lose surround sound and EAX effects, but if I then use ALchemy, surround sound and EAX are restored (with "H/W 3D + EAX" selected); this basically means that the game is then using DirectSound instead of OpenAL. As for UT2004, when using the game's OpenAL driver, there were some issues with sound effects not playing and the EAX effects were either very dull or weren't functioning. I felt like the audio experience was much better using 'system driver' and ALchemy together. Results may vary so test on your own system and find what works best for you. Also, if you have an X-Fi card that likes to BSOD with OpenAL games, using 'system driver' with ALchemy can resolve that problem; that's how I have to play Killing Floor.
  • Unreal Tournament '99 has some user-created audio drivers out there, OpenAL and FMOD drivers. For the best audio experience, I recommend using the original Galaxy 3D Audio (DirectSound) driver combined with ALchemy for the best audio effects. Of course, if that doesn't work for you then try OpenAL and FMOD.

Using Bass Re-direction

If you really want the added effect of a subwoofer in games that don't automatically mix to the subwoofer, you're going to need to use bass re-direction. When enabling bass re-direction you're also likely going to need to adjust your subwoofer volume level so take into consideration that toggling bass re-direction may affect your subwoofer's output and you may need to adjust the subwoofer's volume level to balance its volume with the speakers. Games will vary when re-directing bass; some will sound fine with the sub at higher volumes and others will sound messy. For me, Dead Space 1 and 2 and Amnesia sounded fine with my initial setting but Borderlands 2 sounded messy until I lowered the volume more. While I would prefer to not have to use bass re-direction, I'd hate to miss out on the lower frequencies so I would recommend using bass re-direction for games that leave out the LFE channel.

Determing Audio API or Middleware

My process for finding which API is used typically begins with me looking in the game's directory for specific DLL files, looking for specific logos during the game's splash screens, opening the executable file in a text editor and searching specific terms, or browsing configuration files.

  • DirectSound games often have a reference to DSOUND.DLL in the game's executable. If the game supports something like EAX, there may also be EAX.DLL in the game's directory.
  • XAudio2 games often have references to various 'xaudio2' functions in the game's executable. In Unreal Engine games, you may find references to XAudio2 in the game's *engine.ini file.
  • FMOD games typically have fmod_event.dll or fmodex.dll files in the game directory. If those aren't present, I check configuration and log files and then go to the executable and search for 'fmod'. The FMOD logo may also be in splash screens.
  • Wwise games often have the Wwise logo in the splash screen. Wwise doesn't typically leave much evidence in the game's executable or in configuration files but may be found in logs and also check the file extensions on the sound and music banks to see if they're related to Wwise.
  • OpenAL games always seem to have OpenAL32.DLL in the game directory.
  • Miles Sound System games sometimes have mss32.dll in the game directory. Sometimes they have no DLLs or indication in the game executable but may find "Miles Sound System" references in splash screens or documentation.
  • I found the information for Electronic Arts' 'audio core' API by digging through EA game executables. If it's not obvious which API an EA game uses, I typically first search the executable for 'audiocore'.