I am trying to use qemu/kvm via virt-managet. I want to use Windows 10 guest in a Linux host. When I add sound device, there are several models to choose from:

  • ac97
  • es1370
  • ich6
  • ich9
  • pcspk
  • sb16

How do they differ? Any difference in performance/audio quality/emulation overhead or something like that?

I run qemu-system-x86_64 -soundhw help and got this:

Valid sound card names (comma separated):
sb16        Creative Sound Blaster 16
es1370      ENSONIQ AudioPCI ES1370
ac97        Intel 82801AA AC97 Audio
adlib       Yamaha YM3812 (OPL2)
gus         Gravis Ultrasound GF1
cs4231a     CS4231A
hda         Intel HD Audio
pcspk       PC speaker

-soundhw all will enable all of the above

1 Answer 1


It's completely different hardware that gets emulated, some of which is quite old (in approximate order: Soundblaster, OPL2, Gravis Ultrasound, Ensoniq). The PC speaker is different, additional hardware (mainly for beeps).

For Windows 10 you want the most modern, which is Intel HDA audio, and additionally the PC speaker if required. ich6 and ich9 is the Intel Southbridge type that implements the Intel HDA audio. Match it to the processor you emulate.

You want the others only if you have legacy software (which probably won't run on Windows 10 in the first place) for MS-DOS or Windows 3.0 or something which would require this hardware.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .