Possible solution for X-Fi and OpenAL related crashes
If UT3 crashes with your X-Fi (and maybe audigy) when OpenAL is enabled und runs fine when OpenAL is disabled, then this might be the solution for 5.1 Sound:
Replace the OpenAl32.dll (version 6.14.357.22) from UT3 with the same file (version 22.214.171.124) from Blacksite Area 51. It works for me, couldn't play one minute before, now everything seems fine. Though I haven't checked whether the soundquality is the same, it is 5.1 and sounds ok.
I could post the dll if nobody else will, just tell me how, I've never posted on the internet, silly me.
Replace the OpenAl32.dll (version 6.14.357.22) from UT3 with the same file (version 126.96.36.199) from Blacksite Area 51.
From the file version it would appear to be the openal wrapper. 188.8.131.52 is the newest if you want to try that one. If you had the newest openal installed it's in your system32 folder under the filename wrap_oal.dll. Just rename it to openal32.dll and put it in your UT3 binaries folder.
I run an unpatched UT3 under WinXP with a X-Fi Elite Pro and just fixed this annoying OpenAL problem! (Edit: how on Earth could I have been so self-assured??)
Here's what to do:
Copy both OpenAL32.dll and wrap_oal.dll from Windows\system32\ to UT3\Binaries\ replacing Epic's outdated files... And voilà! Switch OpenAL back on in UT3 and restart the game.
2 rounds WF and 2 DM maps later in OpenAL bliss, not a single crash/freeze!
Shame on Epic for the old buggy files, but I'm glad it was that simple actually! (Edit: well it was not, UT3 files are not old/"buggy", and I suck, thank you.)
@Eyemaster: That seems to work, too. Whats the difference between those dlls in general?
@flikflak: Doesn't work for me, crashing starts again, because the dlls in the win32 folder have the same versionnumbers as those in the ut3 folder, though their filesize is different. I cannot see that epics files are outdated, what versionnumbers do your dlls from the system 32 folder have?
Sorry, I should've started with version numbers.
A guy on the Creative forums also says his version numbers are the same. (My XP install is pretty fresh, so I thought I wouldn't be the guy with the most updated files on Earth...)
My wrap_oal.dll version (from my system32 folder) is 184.108.40.206, but I don't know where it came from (3DMark06?)
My OpenAL32.dll version is 6.14.357.11 (older than UT3's actually... Guess only wrap_oal.dll is important)
So, refined advice would be to only update wrap_oal.dll to 220.127.116.11... (Edit: well actually, to learn something more accurate and useful, you'd better read ahead and find Jakey v2's explanations)
Maybe it really isn't Epics fault and it really is a compatibility issue with the newest openal32.dll. I searched some forums and found that there were already problems with former versions, like version 6.14.357.19. I haven't seen the newest version 6.14.357.22 in other games than UT3 and Gears of War yet, and there wasn't even 5.1 sound in GoW because of an error, otherwise it might crash too. So maybe we will see other games crashing in future that will use that version.
Perhaps we can find out, which version is actually the last working one and spare us some troubles with future games. I'd like to try the mentioned version 6.14.357.11, if someone can post it. The renamed wrapper is a good workaround, but the sound quality is slightly worse than the original, it's not the real deal yet.