I just got new hardware and I installed 5.1 on it (not tht it matters,
because what I am asking about is observed in 4.X).

Why is it that so-called the built-in soundcard that my motherboard
comes with does work with everything?

By that I mean that I can play the usual multimedia stuff without
a hitch, xmms, mpg123, mplayer, artsd all work just fine.  The card comes
up as some AC97 under pcm.

But if I try to use some of the more esoteric ports like stella
or festival, I get no sound.  With festival I can do a trick like
filter the output through the command
 'sox -r 1600 -t sw $FILE -r 4800 -t ossdsp /dev/dsp'
because it provides hooks to do this, but I don't see why I have to
(btw the port can't build festival on 5.1 yet, but you can on 4.X,
and I am working on patching it for 5.1).

stella, the atari emulator, has the same trouble.

I have observed this on another motherboard with a so-called built-in
soundcard as well (mpg123 plays, sox plays, stella doesn't) about
2 years ago (problem solved by buying a SB16 for it).

The solution has, in the past, been to just keep using an old
soundblaster card and disabling motherboard sound in favor of the
SB card.  But I am tired of using up a PCI slot just to keep a
handful of my favorite ports running.

I've looked at the sources to festival (and a bit at stella, though
I do not understand them as well), specicially the voxware.cc file
which seems to talk directly to /dev/dsp.  It doesn't seem to do
anything fancy, just sets the same rate and copies an array of
sound bytes to a FILE*.

So I ask, where does the fault lie?  Is stella/festival soundblaster centric,
and just won't talk to AC97 cards?  Is my motherboard AC97 deficient?
And why are motherboard cards deficient?  Should I focus my energy
on my hardware (replace card)?  My OS (debug AC97 driver or find a sox-like
workaround for stella)? Or my apps (debug stella and festival)?

I'll bet there are other ports that I don't use that have this same

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