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July 11, 2020

Bringing Realtek UAD Drivers Back from the Dead


At the time I ran the setup.exe file from a very recent version of the Realtek HDA/UAD driverset I wondered: “Will this switch me back from UAD to HDA drivers?” Alas, the answer to that question was “Yes.” Through sheer doggedness I decided to figure out how to put right what had gone astray. Obviously, using the Realtek installer wouldn’t cut it. Instead I had to figure out which driver I really needed from what started out as version 8923, and later became version 8940 as I discovered a new set of drivers on the Asrock website (the maker of my production PC’s Z170 Extreme7+ motherboard). I learned a few things along the way, and will happily share them with you, dear readers. But first, here’s the way to tell if you’ve got the Universal Audio Driver (UAD) version of Realtek installed, rather than the High Definition Audio (HDA) version.

Bringing Realtek UAD Drivers Back from the Dead.uad

The label doesn’t mention UAD. It says “Realtek(R) Audio” instead. In contrast, the other version reads “Realtek High Definition Audio” in this place.

A Return to UAD Requires Identifying, then Force-Installing the Right Driver

It’s a good thing I’m a packrat, because I had to go back to the 8501 version of the drivers to successfully identify the UAD driver’s naming convention. That’s because, try as I might, I couldn’t figure out which .inf file to point to inside Device Manager’s manual installation facility through “Have Disk” to MAKE it overwrite the HDA driver with its UAD equivalent. But when I looked back at the 8501 driver collection for UAD, I noticed the string HDX kept occurring in the various inf files for that driver targeted across a broad range of platforms in its WIN64 environment. When I force-installed the generic version of that driver — simply named HDXRT.inf — and then saw the “Realtek(R) Audio” string under Device Manager’s “Sound, video and game controllers” heading, I knew I was on the right track.

I also knew things weren’t completely kosher or copacetic because the Realtek Audio Control (the UWP app that manages the UAD driver’s settings and capabilities) wouldn’t open. In fact, it displayed the same “Unable to access RDP server” error that it showed when I had mistakenly replaced the UAD driver with its (incompatible) HDA counterpart in the first place. This led me to a search of the Asrock website, where I found a link to a UAD driver set for vesion 8940. This time, when I went poking around in its WIN64 folders, I found an item named HDXAsrok.inf that I force-installed instead. This worked with the audio, but I still couldn’t access the Realtek Audio Control. Remembering that two of the three Realtek items under the “Software Components” heading also needed updating the last time I went through a similar exercise (see screencap following), I used the Update driver function in Device Manager for the “Realtek Audio Effects Component” and the “Realtek Audio Universal Service” under that heading, pointed at the same folder hierarchy. Both updates proceeded to a successful conclusion, after which I was indeed able to run and use the Realtek Audio Control.

Bringing Realtek UAD Drivers Back from the Dead.sw-components

Only the first two items in this short list of Realtek UAD Software Components need to (or can) be updated.

What my story doesn’t really cover is the number of tries, and the amount of time I spent noodling around, trying to restore my UAD driver capability. Let’s just say this took place over a ten-day period, during which I made at least a half-dozen attempted fixes before finally getting things figured out. It now seems pretty obvious to me that finding an inf file with the HDX sub-string is the first step toward success. Learning that meant numerous prior failed repair attempts and inconclusive experiments. I’m also glad to have been involved in the TenForums sticky thread Realtek Audio Console REQUIRES a Realtek HD (UAD) Driver! since it started up in November 2018. If it wasn’t for the collective wisdom and insight of all the many posters to this thead (now up to 345 items, and counting) I don’t think I would have been able to come up with a workable fix. Thanks, people!

Note: the Realtek Audio Control shows up as Realtek Audio Console in its own GUI, as you can see in the lead-in graphic for this story. But if you want to find and install this item in the MS Store, you must search on the former string, not the latter. That, too, stumped me briefly when trying to run things down while solving this very interesting set of problems. Here’s the Store entry for its download:

Bringing Realtek UAD Drivers Back from the Dead.console-in-store

Note how the MS Store Item name differs from the GUI name for the Realtek UWP Audio controller that works with UAD drivers. Sigh.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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