So real early this morning (about 12 hours ago to be exact) I looked through the latest startup log for CoP and found that it was overriding my choice to enable EAX audio processing because my sound card(s) are only ever read as "Generic Software" despite having all proper drivers installed for them.
The sound card I use for recording microphone audio is a generic USB device, but it isn't set to output any audio so that shouldn't be an issue.
The sound card I use for audio output is a Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro USB sound card fully supported by official drivers and fully registered as a non-generic audio device.
My laptop has a fully functional normal onboard sound system and last I checked it was read as "Generic Software" as well. (I cannot really check again at the moment as it takes about 5-6 hours to download the game on this horrible connection and I cannot have Steam open here and on my desktop at the same time.)
So the main question is, is there any way to force the game to recognize my audio hardware and thus allow me to enjoy EAX, or would I need to have a fancy, high-end PCI sound card for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games to allow such effects?
Unfortunately, that does not help as the internal soundcard is already disabled. On the desktop that is, I should have phrased it a bit better in the OP that the desktop is the one with the USB cards and the laptop is a different machine with onboard-only audio.
From a small search I did your USB card does not have a dsp processor so it emulates by software all the audio output , it is logical for the game to use software mode.
Don't worry the effect is the same with a minor 3-5% impact to CPU load on average.