Playing music CDs in Win XP without a sound card

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billw81

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Jan 28, 2003
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Is this possible? I mean by plugging headphones into the jack on the cd-rom drive. I've never had a problem doing it in Windows 98, but when I try it on any XP machine without a sound card, I cannot. I've tried using both media player and winamp to no avail.
 

JohnWill

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I don't think you need any of the software, just poke the CD in the drive and plug in the headphones.
 

billw81

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If you do that, either your default cd-playing program will come up, or nothing happens at all. I spent some time looking into this today and it doesn't appear to be possible. Oh well...
 
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Dec 25, 2002
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It is possible, in two different ways, both dependent upon your CD drive.

1) As johnwill mentioned, if your CD-ROM drive has a headphone jack, simply plug your headphones into it. There will also be a volume knob. Simply use whatever media application to start the CD playing and you are all set.

2) XP supports Digital CD audio, which enables digital playback of audio CDs, instead of normal analog playback. This can then be played through a PC speaker. Sound quality sucks this way, but it works.

This method will allow also sound with a sound card, but no CD cable to connect the CD-ROM to the sound card. However, it doesn't work on all CD-ROM drives.
 

JohnWill

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I confess I've never personally used a CD to play audio without a sound card, but I've seen it done. The last consulting gig I had was an aerospace company that had CD's in the machines, but no audio cards. Several of the people were observed happily listening to headphones plugged into the CD drive, I can only assume they were hearing something. :D
 
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Well, it should work, but I can't confirm anything because I've never had a pc without a soundcard.

If your CD-ROM Drive has any play/stop/next/prev buttons, then all you need to do is hold down Shift whilst inserting the CD. This will override autoplay, so no software will come up and try to play the cd.
If there aren't any buttons on your cd-drive then another option is to use the multimedia buttons on your keyboard. If you don't have a multimedia keyboard, then you need to find an alternative means of getting the cd to play.

You're in luck, because I also happen to be a moderator on the Winamp forums. :)

Assuming you're using Winamp 2x and not Winamp3

Install this Null Output plugin:
Null Output plugin by Vladimir Marko

This will make Winamp think it's playing through a soundcard ;)

Now open Winamp, and go to:
Prefs (Ctrl+P) -> Plugins -> Output
Select Null Output to make it the active output plugin.

With the Audio CD in the drive and your headphones plugged in,
go to: Winamp -> Main Menu -> Play -> Audio CD

Voila!

Hope this works . . .



btw, there might be a setting somewhere in WinXP which will let you play audio cd's without a soundcard, but I've not come across it yet. I'll keep you posted if I find anything.
 
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I work in an office that had NT4 on workstations without sound cards, and they could play CDs. But ever since we upgraded to XP I can't get CDs to work. NT4 used CD player witch XP does not have and in xp i cant even get a volume control.

I tried close to what you have suggested but i will try again and see if it works.
 

JohnWill

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Purely in the interests of science, I pulled out a CD drive and a P/S, plugged them together, and popped a music CD in the drive. When I pressed the Play button, the headphones sprang to life with music. :D

I would point out that many OEM drives don't have the play button, and those may not play music CD's without software, perhaps that's what is happening here.
 
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Johnwill is right... as long as the drive has a play button, it will play the CD completlely independent of software or a sound card... but why don't you have a sound card anyways... I've seen them as cheap as $5 for a decent PCI card.
 

JohnWill

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Actually, if you track the rebate deals, you can frequently pick up a sound card free after rebate. AAMOF, I've purchased thousands of dollars worth of computer stuff free or almost free after rebate. I recently did a tally, and I've purchased over $3000 worth of stuff, and paid $240 for all of it. I still have spare memory, CD-RW drives, video boards, sound boards, wireless network stuff, etc. waiting a home. :D
 
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Yeah thats all true. But here is my problem. I have 18 of these workstations without a sound card, each one of them is completely alike.

there is no play button... but NT had no issues, "CD Player" played CDs fine...

P.S. Oh the null winamp driver didnt work (

Thanks for all the quick responses though, may be a lost cause though hehheh.
 
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Maybe Windows XP itself handles CD drives differently... maybe only handling it on a digital level and not on an analog level (I have no idea what I'm talking about so sorry if I'm way off). And... 18xFREE=FREE :D
 

JohnWill

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Even if you have to pay for them, the price to solve the problem is insignificant. There is a host of sound cards for less than $7 on www.pricewatch.com. The real cost here would obviously be the installation, but if you want to solve the problem, the cash outlay would be minimal.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2003
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well these workstations were purposfully ordered without soundcards so that employees would not connect speakers (yes i know i work for a nazi ). I was just trying this as a favor to the coworkers.

I'm just gonna tell then its a bug with XP and can't be fixed so they will quit askin bout it. heh.

Thanks for trying guys
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
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One possible way of sorting the problem out is to download windows 95 powertoys from the microsoft website and use the 'FlexiCD' application that it contains. It's similar to CD Player that older windows versions had and so can play without sound cards.
 
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