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I currently enjoy using a Windows 98 PC I built using parts I got either for free or very cheap. One of those parts is a sligthtly modern case - the cheapest one I could find that has a 5.25" and 3.5" bay (although it turns out the 3.5" bay was not meant for a floppy drive but that's besides the point...). The case has front audio via AC'97, but I can never use that, because while the motherboard can support it, I can't use its onboard sound (and I have tried. If anyone is curious, the sound chip is a Realtek ALC655). Instead, I use a Sound Blaster Live!, which is shown off in this video. That card doesn't have an AC'97 connector (go figure...) so I have a 6 foot aux cable that goes to the card that allows me to plug in headphones while not having the PC on the desk. The cable solution works...fine, but I'd really like to use that front panel audio. I don't even care about the microphone port, I'd just like audio.

Is there a safe way to convert AC'97 to any of the standards used on the card? I'd prefer not to use the Soundblaster interface because it's not convienent, but I will if I have to. If I can get the onboard sound working, or if I can get a card that supports Windows 98 and AC'97, that would also be an acceptable solution

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  • If you mean using front audio just for plugging in a headphone jack to listen to music coming from Sound Blaster, then I recall the front audio sockets have an analog connector going to the motherboard. You can actually find the schematics and all the relevant technical details here: web.archive.org/web/20060131215147if_/http://… (pay attention to Figure 2 on p. 20). In a nutshell, your task would be to make a DIY analog cable connecting the front panel to SB analog input / output instead of the AC97 chip on the motherboard. – DmytroL Feb 5 at 9:28
  • And if you mean to connect Sound Blaster to AC97 digitally, then I guess it would be much more convoluted. You'd have to break the link between the south bridge chip and the AC97 chip, and "hook" the AC Link by converting Sound Blaster digital output to AC Link data frames (which would require a dedciated microcontroller and some convoluted programming of the microcontroller chip to upscale the audio to 48 KHz and "pack" it into AC Link frames) – DmytroL Feb 5 at 9:36
  • Also, there seem to be ALC655 drivers for Windows 98 (at least, Gold / SE releases seem to be supported): realtek.com/en/component/zoo/category/… – DmytroL Feb 6 at 10:02

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