Originally Posted by Evshrug You've said this before, could you explain further? In my mind, I still don't see how the X-Fi processor functions different than the SoundCore3D processor, aren't they both dedicated processing units contained on their expansion card PCBs, thus both running software on dedicated sound hardware? Hw v Sw EQ differs, as I understand, in the effect being applied during analogue or digital stage, with digital EQ causing signal loss or distortion. Are you saying that the X-Fi processor is affective during the analogue stage?Isn't what you describe as the function of CMSS-3D the same as TruStudio/ProStudio/Dolby Headphone/even Dolby Pro Logic IIx? Obviously assuming accuracy varies based on whether fed stereo/2D/3D sound, and assuming the algorithm codec was programmed to take advantage of up to 3D full surroundReading Creative's Titanium HD product page, I just assumed they replaced CMSS-3D with TruStudio Pro since they dropped mention of CMSS-3D. I agree, options ARE always good, so nice that CMSS-3D is still a choice if preferred.It's a shame, but seems more of an ID problem looking for specific hardware. I still don't understand X-Fi to be the only form of hardware audio, but if SoundCore3D is different enough in form and Creative can't make ALchemy address the SoundCore3D hardware properly so that old games think they're looking at X-Fi hardware, then yes, it's a shame.In Starcraft II, which as you may know is a CPU-intensive/dependent title, the additional CPU load while using on-motherboard audio predicated that I use certain settings for a steady +30 framerate during the late game (with the most inputs and army calculations going on). My post was mainly referring to comparable soundcards to the X-Fi series, but I mention anecdotal experience where even just adding my USB soundcard, I could enable full surround and drastically increase the number of channel "voices" as well as quality settings to high, while yet seeing a modest average framerate boost. Thus, I conclude that the audio pipeline demand must be offloaded to being processed within the card. The console is another relevant example of offloading the audio pipeline because it's obvious that the headphone surround is obviously processed within the Recon3DIt serves to illustrate a point, you have as much right to police this thread as I do.Literally is exaggeration. They dropped some of the component quality – I thought it was suspect how Creative doesn't display the full specifications, SNR is noticeably absent, someone in the Recon3D Fatality Champion comments section quotes 102 dB SNR vs the "Platnum's" 109 dB without disclosing if this is from the headphone or front channel output, I wouldn't be surprised if corners were cut on other parts of the audio pipeline – and are not among Creative's finest moments, however it is still a step up from motherboard audio and offers more features than most motherboards. The X-Fi Titanium HD is clearly a better-spec'd card, for less cost, so a better choice of the two... But if another card costs even less, has better specs, and/or sounds as nice or preferable to personal taste, then THAT card would get my recommendation.If you're referring again to my experience with a type of hardware processing, I merely added it to an existing computer... No CPU or GPU upgrade, just an APU upgrade
Well, the X-Fi processor runs almost all processing through hardware, with most of its features being configured through command inputs to the card, that then reproduces said features from the processor straight to output. Examples of features processed through hardware are OpenAL, CMSS-3D, EAX, MacroFX, Elevation Filter and resampling. Examples of features processed in software are the EQ, SVM and Crystalizer.
Let's look at two different cards with CMSS-3D, the X-Fi XtremeAudio and the X-Fi Titanium HD. The XtremeAudio isn't actually a real X-Fi card since it lacks the X-Fi chip and it's software based, actually being a rebranded Audigy LS/ES/Value card that got the software-only package on top of it. Despite both cards having CMSS-3D, the processing quality of the Titanium HD has higher fidelity and actually sounds more natural than the CMSS-3D done by the XtremeAudio. And before you think it might be due to the Titanium HD's higher quality components, the X-Fi Titanium also shares the proper quality CMSS-3D.
THX TruStudio Pro is the first audio processing set that was designed with software based cards in mind, for less demanding audio usage, which is why it gets disabled on the Titanium HD once modes are switched. Also, it seems you're attributing positional cue accuracy with CMSS-3D, something people do (just like with DH), when I'm actually talking about the algorithms available only on Game Mode, which unlocks full hardware acceleration, OpenAL, EAX, the works. When running on modes other than Game Mode, there is still hardware acceleration but more limited, given that hardware acceleration is mainly used on gaming.
The thing is, the better the audio renderer used on software, the better the end results will be, but even with the lowest common denominators (such as XAudio2 and FMOD), Game Mode and the algorithms help out on that worse case scenario. Users can enable CMSS-3D alongside that, helping surround and positional cues further, for those that are willing to trade original sound for the altered sound that all surround virtualization techs change into.
One thing that both I and other people have noticed is that Creative has a rather odd way of advertising their products, be it spec wise or feature wise, many times ending up with products that have more features or more flexibility than the info that's usually available from the product's page, it's actually uncanny :)
Now, I do think that games should enable advanced and/or higher quality audio for hardware OpenAL enabled cards (such as Audigy and X-Fi cards), they should instead make 3 sound quality tiers, basic software audio for devices with not even software OpenAL (most audiophile DACs and all pro audio hardware), better sound quality/effects for devices with software OpenAL (many onboard audio chips, Asus cards, Creative Value cards) and full sound quality/effects/channels for devices with hardware OpenAL (Audigy/X-Fi).
Basically, hardware accelerated cards that are relevant to gaming pretty much include Audigy and X-Fi cards.
I honestly don't know what could Creative have been thinking when they made and released the Recon3D cards. First of all, SoundCore3D isn't a quad core processor, given that even the Sound Blaster Live! series could handle as many effects at the same time as Recon3D cards. Second, no hardware processing of any kind, except mic effects and THX TruStudio Pro. Yes, the entertainment oriented software package is actually accelerated, which is yet another proof at how Creative just wanted to monetize on chips that were never meant to land on the desktop market, this specific variant targetted mobile devices that actually would benefit from having THX TruStudio Pro hardware accelerated for improved power savings. Then there's the whole lower (low) quality components that provide worse sound quality than base X-Fi models (PCI or PCIe), lacking a hardware MIDI synthesizer, lacking ASIO, lacking hardware OpenAL and lacking hardware EAX.
The surround feature you're talking about is part of the oddly accelerated THX TruStudio Pro that's not targeted for gaming, and in that regard would make sense that the surround by itself could alleviate the performance hit on Starcraft II. The remaining audio settings, however, do refer to what I mentioned regarding more efficient threading.
And if the Xbox360 reference is about the Recon3D USB unit handling surround, then it is relevant.
Despite sounding harsh, Recon3D cards are basically outsourced chips that are lightly modified and have Creative's software-only software package.
Thing is, there isn't any Creative card (or from any other manufacturer, mind you) that's as full featured for gaming as the Titanium HD, which has both full gaming audio support, courtesy of the latest X-Fi chip revision, as well as high quality DAC and components, which makes for the best mix at the time being. If Creative did use the X-Fi chip (even if they renamed it) on the Z series, then the Titanium HD would be the second best card for gaming, but that didn't happen, therefore it continues to have all gaming audio features and consumer flagship-level components.
EDIT: Sweet deal you found there
Edited by Roller - 12/9/12 at 1:04pm