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How Do I Get Rid of This Sonic Suite Companion Asus Saddled Me With?

ationfictons
Level 10
I saw that Asus had a new Realtek Audio Driver available on the Asus ROG Strix B550-I Gaming motherboard page:

https://rog.asus.com/us/motherboards/rog-strix/rog-strix-b550-i-gaming-model/helpdesk_download

Audio
Version 6.0.9244.1
2022/01/13 578.01 MBytes
Realtek Audio Driver V6.0.9244.1 For Windows 10/11 64-bit.
Support SS3VAC+DTSS Models


And like a fool, I installed it onto my freshly installed and configured Windows 11 machine. I quickly realized I didn't need all the ...stuff... this thing is packed with (I just wanted to update the drivers) and tried uninstalling everything. I've gotten rid of the 2 or 3 benign apps that were visible, but this "Sonic Suite Companion" thing keeps appearing in my System Tray after every boot. How do I get rid of this malware? Where does Asus get off thinking they can foist this stuff on idiots like me?

I found a thread for removing this from an Intel board:

https://rog.asus.com/forum/showthread.php?127457-Remove-Sonic

And it says to use some third party removal tool:

Cleanup :

- Follow scrupulously your CLEANUP process
- Use this SS3 Cleaner tool (Right click on "A-Volute_SS3_Cleanup.exe" > Run as administrator) then restart your PC



What is the CLEANUP process I'm supposed to follow scrupulously? Is this tool safe?

I've also found two related videos from some other poor sap who was bitten by this stuff showing how he got rid of it (I think it's the same app):

https://youtu.be/B-OMMEk3q4E

and

https://youtu.be/BvgdoqVzxCs

In that, he uses:

https://www.voidtools.com/

and

https://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/windows_update_minitool.html

But, again, are these tools trustworthy?
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ationfictons
Level 10
I've also tried searching my Registry for things like Sonic, but it's all over the place in there.

If I can find what's kicking it off, maybe I can stop it. In Task Scheduler, I see two tasks (NahimicSvs32Run and NahimicSvs64Run) but they look like they're started on demand. Checking Services, I see Nahimic service which was running and Autostarted. I stopped it and turned it to manual. We'll see.

EDIT: Turning that Nahimic service to manual seems to have gotten rid of the System Tray icon. Getting Windows Updates didn't bring it back via any hidden updates. I'll document some of the other places I've looked for posterity:

- C:\Users\...\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup: empty.
- C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup: empty.
- Task Manager > Processes: only the Realtek HD Audio Universal Services (which I assume is what I actually wanted/needed).
- Task Manager > Startup: nothing untoward.
- Settings > Apps > Apps & Features: only the Realtek Audio Driver (which I assume is what I actually wanted/needed).
- Control Panel > Programs and Featuress: ditto.
- Program Files and Program Files (x86): nothing odd.

- Task Scheduler: those two Nahimic tasks are still there "Ready" (I'll wait to see if anyone will respond here before deleting them).
- Services: that Nahimic service is still not running and still set to Manual (ditto for deletion).
- ProgramData: there's an A-Volute folder with 3 subfolders that look Sonic related (I don't know if I should delete them).
- C:\Users\...\AppData\Local: there's an NhNotifSys folder filled with stuff (ditto on deletion).
- The Registry: strewn with stuff about it and I have no idea what's safe to remove. Specifically, at:

Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

there's a RtkAudUService entry. But, it's pointing to:

C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore

so I'm assuming it's the actual driver that I want.
- Start > All Apps: there's a Sonic Suite Companion entry that if I right-click on and Uninstall, just sits there and laughs at me (i.e., it doesn't uninstall). If I left-click on it, it brings up a menu saying the Studio is not installed but the driver is (and is up to date). There's also an option to turn off running at startup. I turned that off, hit the hamburger menu and was given an option to uninstall. I did and the program disappeared. But, all those remnants, above, stayed put.
- And, finally, in Device Manager > Sound, Video and Game Controllers, along with the Realtek Audio entry, there's still a Sonic Studio Virtual Mixer.

EDIT (some more): I guess the thing to do is first go to the Start menu, turn off autostart and then uninstall it from within its menu instead of from the Start Menu options. Then go to Services, stop the service if it's still running and set it to Manual start. Hopefully, this isn't truly malware and is just something obnoxiously programmed. But, regardless, since Asus foisted this on us, they ought to write a true uninstaller and put it on the same download page that the installer is on.

https://rog.asus.com/forum/showthread.php?117596-DRIVERS-Realtek-Audio-(MB-Intel-2xx-3xx-4xx-5xx-6xx...
Perhaps you could follow the clean up instructions on there? A-volute are the asus drivers for this software. The software gets updated through microsoft store.

Since you want to get rid of the bundled software, you probably need to uninstall the drivers from the main part, the realtek drivers. Not sure if there is a good way to uncouple them from where you sit.

From there, you may need to find basic drivers. You could go to realteks website and get ancient drivers listed there from 2017 just to get an unbundled version.
If you are using usb headphones and this is the reason you don't want your premium sound features that the sonic suite provides such as amplified audio or adjusting virtual surround or its many other great features, you could leave it uninstalled and disable it in the bios too.

Otherwise you could use what you payed for and have good premium sound features?

Asus has this great service that most people don't know about on the forums where their audio drivers and features are updated regularly everytime there is an update. Most others are left with ancient audio drivers they can find listed for their motherboard or have to find through other means since realtek doesn't release a basic bundle anymore that gets updated. And you want to live the experience of other companies who don't give you all that, especially when a major version of windows ships.

ationfictons
Level 10
Thanks for that link. In that one, he uses:

https://github.com/lostindark/DriverStoreExplorer

and since that's open source, I feel more comfortable using it. I'll give those instructions a look.