Probably better on your thread, except that now that you said it here, people are going to get the wrong impression.
TrueAudio, as we're talking about it as only available on AMD hardware in a few of their graphics cards and the PS4, requires dedicated Tensilica audio processors (hardware) to process the surround, so it IS "locked" to AMD hardware and it DOES NOT take away CPU resources, just like the Creative hardware processors on X-Fi PCI cards and SoundCore3D sound cards.
I'm not as well read up on DS3D and OpenAL vs FMOD Ex and Wwise, and I recommend anyone curious to go research more in-depth, but I suspect they all get the data about "where a sound originates in 3D space" before creating a stereo or surround mix since TrueAudio/AstoundSound documents distinctly show (by block diagram) that the processing is performed before separating into output channels.
(Dolby headphone is processed after a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital Live mix, as far as a console is concerned the audio processing is already "done" by the time it gets piped out through optical or HDMI)
But that approach was a bit more dependent on the sound card's audio processing capabilities, especially with Aureal and Creative pitching A3D and EAX respectively. TrueAudio should allow more flexibility for the developer WHILE offloading the audio processing from the CPU.
I'd just want to see better software rendering fallbacks for AstoundSound and other TrueAudio-enabled middleware plugins, that's all. NVIDIA users probably wouldn't like being left out of TrueAudio-only features the same way AMD users don't like being left out of CUDA and PhysX-exclusive effects, and I'm expecting that with modern programming tools, they can effectively write once and just compile for each target platform.
By the way, your final paragraph in parentheses was perfect in conveying why we can't just get proper 3D audio in existing console games. It's already mixed and processed for speakers at that point, and no external surround processor is going to make more out of it than what's there.
Edited by NamelessPFG - 4/11/14 at 3:56pm