The people at Creative send along word that a beta version of the Creative ALchemy software is now available for Sound Blaster X-Fi owners. Microsoft's new Vista OS removes the hardware audio abstraction layer, resulting in issues with some EAX and DirectSound3D games ("usually resulting in stereo output without any effects"). ALchemy takes DS3D and EAX calls and translates them into OpenAL calls.
Would this make any difference at all for an AC'97 Soundstorm onboard audio system?
I.e, do I need to get it?
No. The only people who need it are people with X-Fi sound cards (except "X-Fi Xtreme Audio" card which doesn't have hardware acceleration for 3D sound and EAX effects).