I'm afraid there isn't a way to disable use of the sound driver.
There's an option to turn off sound in the ArtRage preferences menu, but it still initializes and closes down the sound driver.
We're using Direct Sound (part of the DirectX development API).
There is a chance that turning off the sound in the preferences will help, as there is a possiblity the fault is being caused by ArtRage shutting down the sound driver while the sound of the last panel disappearing is still playing.
AndyRage's mantra for graphics engine code:
"Sure - how hard can it be?"