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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 70

post #1036 of 3101
Quote:
Originally Posted by obazavil View Post

 

Sorry, i mean X-Fi Titanium HD (PCIe). No idea about USB version, but I guess is inferior :P

 

Indeed, the X-Fi HD USB isn't as good as the X-Fi Titanium HD.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeeBAD View Post

is the X-FI Titanium more powerfull than ASUS pheobus and the STX verions ?

 

is the Titanium even more powerfull than the creative soundblaser fatality and Z verion even thar both of them made to give you surround sound ?

 

does the soundcard sucks any kind of power from the processor preformance ?

 

which one of those will be better DT990 or  pc360 ?

 

do i need amp with this setup and why ?

 

The regular X-Fi Titanium isn't as good as the Phoebus or the Essence STX in terms of sound quality, but it's better in terms of gaming capabilities. The X-Fi Titanium HD has similar sound quality as the Essence STX, but the Titanium HD DAC is superior, not to mention the Titanium HD has full gaming audio support, while all Asus cards have partial gaming audio support and no positional cue improvement algorithms like X-Fi cards have, even the cheaper X-Fi Titanium.

 

The DT990 is a quite nice set for immersive gaming, also handling competitive gaming, but not as well as immersive gaming.

 

The PC360 is quite good for competitive gaming, and also handles immersive gaming reasonably well.

 

If you intend on doing any sort of serious gaming, you will want to dismiss Asus cards and Creative cards from the Recon3D and Z series, which have better gaming audio support than Asus cards, but still far lower than X-Fi cards.

 

Both those headphones will benefit from having an amp like an O2 or a Schiit Asgard, mainly because those amps deliver more robust power, which makes the headphones sound better, in plain terms.

 

At this point in time, performance hits from using higher quality soundcards are negligible, since processors have enough cycles to spare.

post #1037 of 3101

Sorry for being annoying but i need more details about the difference  between the X-FI Titanium HD and the Soundblaster Z in terms of gaming , surround sound , pure sound , music and movies ?

 

are both of them great at gaming ? and whose better ?

 

Cause there is no difference between the price and the soundblaster z are creative top card in gaming rigth now so i need to know why you guys insist that the titanium HD the top card for gaming just to know why explain in more details.


Edited by ZeeBAD - 12/9/12 at 5:57am
post #1038 of 3101
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeeBAD View Post

Sorry for being annoying but i need more details about the difference  between the X-FI Titanium HD and the Soundblaster Z in terms of gaming , surround sound , pure sound , music and movies ?

 

are both of them great at gaming ? and whose better ?

 

Cause there is no difference between the price and the soundblaster z are creative top card in gaming rigth now so i need to know why you guys insist that the titanium HD the top card for gaming just to know why explain in more details.

 

Let's start by that "the soundblaster z are creative top card in gaming rigth now" statement that is just plain wrong. The Z series cards aren't the top card for gaming and will never be, simply due to the lack of hardware OpenAL, hardware EAX and no specific algorithms that improve positional cues (found only on X-Fi based cards). The ZxR has good components and for music and movies, it is a reasonable alternative to the Titanium HD, but the tremendous loss of gaming features prevents it from being recommended for anyone doing any sort of serious gaming whatsoever, especially at the ZxR's going price.

 

The X-Fi Titanium HD is the highest performing soundcard for gaming, bar none. Afterwards come the X-Fi powered Auzentech cards, then the X-Fi Fatal1ty variants (PCI and PCIe), the regular X-Fi Titanium, and after the common denominator that is the X-Fi chip, comes the Z series, and at the very bottom lies the Recon3D series.

 

The main misconception about soundcard features is that they can be done in hardware, software or both being available, depending on each card's capabilities. Some software simply won't give access to higher quality options if only software support is reported.

 

And just to paint a clear picture, the ZxR (highest model of the Z series) has as much gaming audio support as external Creative cards, which are more limited than true internal Creative cards, don't do any sort of audio pipeline offloading, and processing itself is of lower quality than on X-Fi powered cards. Curiously, the Z series is still a better option for gaming than any Asus soundcard.

post #1039 of 3101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

"...software based cards without any sort of hardware processing nor positional cue algorithms, being barely better than Asus cards."

Without getting opinionated about it, could you elucidate the technical definition of "software vs hardware" based cards? I asked this before, but your reply didn't seem to come from explaining how the processing features on Recon3D, Z series, and Asus cards are software based unlike how the Titanium HD's method of processing is any different. There was nothing substantiated in your opinions because IMO "X-Fi has hardware processing" doesn't go far enough when it seems clear to me that other cards do their processing on their hardware, but you really stick to your opinion, so is there something you can explain that I just don't know yet?

Creative at the time of the Titanium HD had the advantage over Asus cards for gaming because they internally developed EAX processing (a software program that is run on the dedicated hardware of the X-Fi card) further than the EAX 2.0 version used by Asus, and supported the OpenAL open-source language/standard more by creating ALchemy to re-instate OpenAL support in Windows Vista. They also used CMSS-3D for virtual surround which supports x-, y-, & z- axis positional cues, while Dolby Headphone was mainly created for movies and simulating a 5.1 (maybe accounted for 7.1) speaker x- & y- axis positional cues. However, as time has moved on from the launch of Vista, the difference in gaming has narrowed as no games (from what I understand) use OpenAL or actively support EAX anymore, and there are no more games supporting z-axis height positional cues... though some games software-mix environmental and height effects now, just like distance cues have always been done from what I understand. That said, Creative's marketing and spec sheets identify EAX 5.0 and ALchemy support being carried over to their new cards, with CMSS-3D being replaced by first THX TruStudio Pro (even on the Titanium HD, look at Creative's main page) and then the SBX ProStudio on the newest Z-series cards and still supporting height effects. So, with all the (opinion: marginally useful since (substantiation) they aren't in use with contemporary games) "extra" audio effects of EAX and OpenAL being carried over to the new cards, there is only hardware differences left to contrast between Creative's cards.

The way you talk about "done in hardware" makes it sound like everything but the X-Fi soundcards installs processing software on the computer and dumps an emulation software load on the CPU and "core" hardware of a computer... Yet how can that be, if I can actually increase the audio demands from my PC games and yet get better framerates, or, even more telling, when I can use my Recon3D with my Xbox360 (which is a closed system) and yet still get surround audio? So assuming from that, that all the audio is being processed and DAC'd and output from the card, is there truly ANY difference between a Titanium HD and a ZxR besides SBX ProStudio being substituted for CMSS-3D, and different DAC/buffer/etc components resulting in a higher SNR for the ZxR soundcard? The Recon3D USB I have has "just" 98 dB SNR, and without knowing what DAC or amp/buffer used by Creative I already can already hear that even my receiver has more definition and "authority driving headphones," and costs half the price of the Titanium HD, so it's logical to assume that the Titaniums have better audio components. The titanium HD has an SNR of 115dB, 122dB at the front channel out. The Z-series has 106dB on-card and 116dB @front channel, and the ZxR has 124dB (I assume @ front), though Creative's ZxR page is yet incomplete. Asus' Xonar Essence STX page lists 117dB, 124dB, and much more detail about the included audio components used than Creative's page.

Are there any "for gaming" things I am missing? Remember, the crux of my question is "what specifically does X-Fi hardware offer that is an advantage over Creative's new SoundCore3D hardware," since I know that my opinion that EAX and OpenAL support is irrelivant to contemporary gaming is not something I need to convince you of.
Edited by Evshrug - 12/9/12 at 8:41am
post #1040 of 3101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post


Without getting opinionated about it, could you elucidate the technical definition of "software vs hardware" based cards? I asked this before, but your reply didn't seem to come from explaining how the processing features on Recon3D, Z series, and Asus cards are software based unlike how the Titanium HD's method of processing is any different. There was nothing substantiated in your opinions because IMO "X-Fi has hardware processing" doesn't go far enough when it seems clear to me that other cards do their processing on their hardware, but you really stick to your opinion, so is there something you can explain that I just don't know yet?
Creative at the time of the Titanium HD had the advantage over Asus cards for gaming because they internally developed EAX processing (a software program that is run on the dedicated hardware of the X-Fi card) further than the EAX 2.0 version used by Asus, and supported the OpenAL open-source language/standard more by creating ALchemy to re-instate OpenAL support in Windows Vista. They also used CMSS-3D for virtual surround which supports x-, y-, & z- axis positional cues, while Dolby Headphone was mainly created for movies and simulating a 5.1 (maybe accounted for 7.1) speaker x- & y- axis positional cues. However, as time has moved on from the launch of Vista, the difference in gaming has narrowed as no games (from what I understand) use OpenAL or actively support EAX anymore, and there are no more games supporting z-axis height positional cues... though some games software-mix environmental and height effects now, just like distance cues have always been done from what I understand. That said, Creative's marketing and spec sheets identify EAX 5.0 and ALchemy support being carried over to their new cards, with CMSS-3D being replaced by first THX TruStudio Pro (even on the Titanium HD, look at Creative's main page) and then the SBX ProStudio on the newest Z-series cards and still supporting height effects. So, with all the (opinion: marginally useful since (substantiation) they aren't in use with contemporary games) "extra" audio effects of EAX and OpenAL being carried over to the new cards, there is only hardware differences left to contrast between Creative's cards.
The way you talk about "done in hardware" makes it sound like everything but the X-Fi soundcards installs processing software on the computer and dumps an emulation software load on the CPU and "core" hardware of a computer... Yet how can that be, if I can actually increase the audio demands on my computer and get better framerates, or even more telling, when I can use my Recon3D with my Xbox360 (which is a closed system) and yet still get surround audio? So assuming from that, that all the audio is being processed and DAC'd and output from the card, is there truly ANY difference between a Titanium HD and a ZxR besides SBX ProStudio being substituted for CMSS-3D, and different DAC/buffer/etc components resulting in a higher SNR for the ZxR soundcard? The Recon3D has "just" 98 dB SNR, and without knowing what DAC or amp/buffer used by Creative I already can already hear that even my receiver has more definition and "authority driving headphones," and costs half the price of the Titanium HD, so it's logical to assume that the Titaniums have better audio components.

 

Basically, software based cards do processing in software, while hardware based cards have processing features on the hardware itself, which yields better results as opposed to software processing that's an additional layer to the resulting output. Think of hardware vs software EQing.

Quick correction there, Creative uses (not used) CMSS-3D for any desired purposes, be it music, games or movies. Additionally, the X-Fi chip has algorithms created for the sole purpose of improving positional cue accuracy, those algorithms being audio renderer agnostic, which means they work on all games, from fully accelerated audio down to basic 2D software audio renderers. The advantage is not huge as it was before, but still enough to warrant recommending cards with X-Fi chips (not only from Creative) over others, for gaming purposes.

 

The Titanium HD is a particular card in the sense that it has both THX TruStudio Pro for general purpose listening (optional, of course) as well as CMSS-3D (targeting gaming, but can also be used for music and movies), contrary to all older and newer cards.

 

About newer Creative cards having EAX 5.0 and ALchemy, it's not fully supported by according games because said games look for X-Fi chips, or hardware audio, with some games limiting options while others disable advanced audio entirely.

 

About your "done in hardware" remark, it's not just the X-Fi series that do audio pipeline offloading, Audigy 1/2/4 series also do the same and even the Live! series. All cards older than the Live! series (historical exception of the original Sound Blaster cards, especially the AWE32, but not relevant for this case) and newer than the X-Fi series run on software alone.

 

Do post more details about increasing the audio demands on your computer and getting better framerates, that had no details for reference purposes.

Xbox360? This is a PC gaming thread.

 

EDIT: The Recon3D series (talking about PCIe versions) are literally glorified onboard audio chips implemented on their own PCB, then getting a Creative software package. They're akin to the audio expansion cards that come with gaming-oriented motherboards.

 

EDIT2: Actually, that whole getting better framerates can be explained by something as simple as better use of multiple threads, considering there is an ever increasing use of separate threads for different parts of games, and some CPUs can have a harder time with uneven core loads, especially since not all cores of a single CPU perform the same, and by increasing audio settings (such as audio channels), higher individual core usage can then lead to higher fps or if threading permits, sharing tasks with less used cores. Not to mention how different platforms perform differently when testing the same games and settings.

A good example of a comparable situation on the graphics side is how many modern games (as in, console ports) have lower fps due to inconsistent GPU usage, yet when AA is added, it pushes GPU usage properly, increasing fps along with higher visual fidelity.


Edited by Roller - 12/9/12 at 11:04am
post #1041 of 3101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

Basically, software based cards do processing in software, while hardware based cards have processing features on the hardware itself, which yields better results as opposed to software processing that's an additional layer to the resulting output. Think of hardware vs software EQing.
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?

Quick correction there, Creative uses (not used) CMSS-3D for any desired purposes, be it music, games or movies. Additionally, the X-Fi chip has algorithms created for the sole purpose of improving positional cue accuracy, those algorithms being audio renderer agnostic, which means they work on all games, from fully accelerated audio down to basic 2D software audio renderers. The advantage is not huge as it was before, but still enough to warrant recommending cards with X-Fi chips (not only from Creative) over others, for gaming purposes.
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 surround

The Titanium HD is a particular card in the sense that it has both THX TruStudio Pro for general purpose listening (optional, of course) as well as CMSS-3D (targeting gaming, but can also be used for music and movies), contrary to all older and newer cards.
Reading 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.

About newer Creative cards having EAX 5.0 and ALchemy, it's not fully supported by according games because said games look for X-Fi chips, or hardware audio, with some games limiting options while others disable advanced audio entirely.
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.

About your "done in hardware" remark, it's not just the X-Fi series that do audio pipeline offloading, Audigy 1/2/4 series also do the same and even the Live! series. All cards older than the Live! series (historical exception of the original Sound Blaster cards, especially the AWE32, but not relevant for this case) and newer than the X-Fi series run on software alone.

Do post more details about increasing the audio demands on your computer and getting better framerates, that had no details for reference purposes.
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 Recon3D

Xbox360? This is a PC gaming thread.
It serves to illustrate a point, you have as much right to police this thread as I do.

EDIT: The Recon3D series (talking about PCIe versions) are literally glorified onboard audio chips implemented on their own PCB, then getting a Creative software package. They're akin to the audio expansion cards that come with gaming-oriented motherboards.
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.

EDIT2: Actually, that whole getting better framerates can be explained by something as simple as better use of multiple threads, considering there is an ever increasing use of separate threads for different parts of games, and some CPUs can have a harder time with uneven core loads, especially since not all cores of a single CPU perform the same, and by increasing audio settings (such as audio channels), higher individual core usage can then lead to higher fps or if threading permits, sharing tasks with less used cores. Not to mention how different platforms perform differently when testing the same games and settings.
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 wink.gif

Edit: let me prove that I am brand agnostic. I don't know if the ZxR is out yet... but I think it looks promising. I think the Asus Xonar models are competitive specs-wise to Creative cards targeted for similar price points, though I recommend research spec differences and consider how much you care to budget towards an audio card. So on that thread... The Titanium HD is an amazing value right now, as long as pic-express models are ok, LOOK AT THIS:
http://www.jr.com/creative-labs/pe/CLN_SB1270/

Sales change every day, but if I was shopping today or was considering an update sometime in the future, I would DEFINITELY JUMP ON THIS DEAL!
Edited by Evshrug - 12/9/12 at 12:26pm
post #1042 of 3101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post

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 surround

Reading 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 Recon3D

It 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 wink.gif

 

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 biggrin.gif


Edited by Roller - 12/9/12 at 1:04pm
post #1043 of 3101
I reread your second and third paragraph over three times... I see you're trying to show an example of hardware vs software processing... but I'm still confused, especially at the sentence "And before you think it might be due to the Titanium HD's higher quality components, the Titanium also shares the proper quality CMSS-3D." It seems you're saying both cards share the same CMSS-3D processing... but the Titanium HD isn't better because it has higher quality components? Or are you adding a third card for comparison, the titanium sans-HD? Maybe I'm just being thick. (Can I pleaaaase type Ti HD now that we've established what we're talking about? Think of it as a pronoun)

My understanding is that the X-Fi chipset is basically just a self-contained computer that is dedicated to only run the software Algorithms of CMSS-3D and the rest of Creative's feature suite, but I think you're asking me to accept that the algorithms aren't software and X-Fi is purely a hardware thing, akin to a coin sorter separating the sound signal into the quarter slot for positional cues, the nickel for environment effects, etc... without digitally running code to do it. To accept that, I would also have to accept that "hardware acceleration/processing" is simply beyond my understanding, but I want to understand. Maybe... you're saying SoundCore3D has the additional overhead of emulating hardware support, similar to 64-bit windows 7 emulating XP, or a more direct comparison, like how Mac OS X emulated PowerPc support after the computers switched to intel processors? Software emulation of X-Fi architecture on a different hardware architecture fits what you're trying to say, often emulation is buggy or fails to support every feature. If I still don't have it, let me know?

Regarding OpenAL & software controlled EAX processing (so that you don't sound like you're in a cave when playing in the open outdoors) and the rest of the X-Fi's gaming feature specialties, I agree that they are the bee's knees and it would be awesome to see a revival of developer support. However, it seems the money in gaming is going to "post PC" devices, not a healthy trend for gaming audio quality. There will always be hardcore gaming IMO, but even in that audio progress has given way to 2D surround designed for affordable home-theater setups. I think perhaps the best way to look at it is 3D surround was ahead of it's time, but possibly as the popularity of headphones for audio grows and home-theater advances we'll see a new generation of 3D audio. It may not be called the same, but at least we have a start. Until then, I don't think games have fully supported 3D audio since 2006 and have moved towards putting EAX-like effects inside regular game audio engines, and the Ti HD thus looks like one flagship among a few others.

From reading Creative's white papers, it does seem like the Recon3D line was a cost-cutting development in reaction to years of Creative operating in the red. Like you pointed out about their marketing, it seems like they're panicking chickens with their heads cut off. The Z-series sound blasters seem to have taken a page out of Asus' book, but that's hardly the way to "win," and Asus is a much larger company with a more diverse product portfolio anyway.

Meh. Wish I had enough money/income to justify $100 on the Ti HD, I'm really sorry I have to miss out on that deal.
post #1044 of 3101

I can't remember if I have asked this before, but I am looking to purchase one of two headphones to pair with an amp and the Titanium HD. In this very specific instance, price is not object. I am trying to decide between Audio Technica W1000X and Sennheiser HD700. Any opinions? They will be for mostly gaming but some music and movies. I play non-competitive immersive games. Thanks!

post #1045 of 3101

I'm sorry about my phrasing, I was worried it wasn't perfectly clear.

 

What I was saying on the second and third paragraph is that the CMSS-3D processing quality is the same on both the Titanium and the Titanium HD. What does improve on the Titanium HD is the output quality due to better components used.

 

The X-Fi chip does indeed run most of the features through hardware (unfortunately, direct hardware EQ is limited through software, unlike previous sound processor versions). You're still misunderstanding the fact that CMSS-3D and positional cue improvement alorithms are separated from each other and can run independently if the user sees fit. Positional cue improvement algorithms are one feature that is exclusive to hardware accelerated X-Fi cards, for they can't run through software, namely on any mode other than Game Mode, which is something all software based cards lack. OpenAL, CMSS-3D and EAX are features that can run through either hardware or software, but if ran through software, their processing will be of lower quality and with lower accuracy, given that it's similar to software based cards like the XtremeAudio and USB X-Fi cards.

 

Basically, you have to think that there are audio systems (not talking about PC audio) that have additional processing options through firmware that directly interfaces with the hardware itself, rather than using codec boards, and that's something similar to the hardware processing of X-Fi chips.

 

SoundCore3D has an overhead for emulating some X-Fi features, but those emulated features don't include anything that's purely ran on hardware, meaning SoundCore3D can't emulate everything the X-Fi does, and what it can emulate, it's done with lower quality, because emulation isn't done as good as how real hardware performs. Also, virtually all software checks for hardware presence, and it recognizes software based cards, despite running emulated features, which then limits or disables advanced features, depending on the software (game, not card) itself.

 

The issue with PC game audio began during the restructuring of the Windows audio stack, which could've been skipped by adding an exception to the audio stack in order to interface with hardware so it could then provide seamless higher quality audio. Alternatively, Microsoft and Creative could've implemented a system-wide DS3D to OpenAL converter. I've had long conversations with some people about this during that time, and a lot of ideas were suggested, with the thought of software and hardware vendors locking down support in order to have less chances for more manufacturers to provide full gaming audio support (both software and hardware vendors played their part on this). Unfortunately, the audio stack restructuring was something that was under wraps for a very long time, and now it's rather hard to turn around, unless something unexpected does occur in 2 and a half years.

I sincerely hope you're right about true 3D audio coming back, because over a decade ago we already had incredibly accurate and immersive audio, running on what is now ancient hardware.

 

About games supporting 3D audio, I've seen games released last year supporting proper 3D audio. It's not as heard of because triple A games are fleeing to FMOD or even worse, XAudio2. At least FMOD had a usable branch that supported hardware audio, even for Asus cards.

 

Recon3D had a lot of corners cut, that's a given, but Creative wasn't in any worrying financial trouble since they still have plenty of business with their other product line-ups, as well as mobile chips and proprietary tech licensing deals.

 

Quite a shame you couldn't have gotten that deal, great price. It seems it was even at near $100 a couple of days ago.

post #1046 of 3101
Ordered a Titanium HD 2 weeks ago from the local store (showed as in stock but at another store). $20 more expensive than a further store and probably $50 more expensive than online from overseas but hey – local support I thought. (Australia here)

Ordered Weds, delivery Fri arvo I was told.

Glad I didn't prepare the computer to put it in. Chased it up on the Friday, early last week, late last week and then requested they chase it up and get back to me yesterday.

Phonecall this arvo – it's in – yay

Pickup tomorrow and then I guess it's time to clean my desk, install the card and start to play/listen.

(Could have ordered it from overseas, had it earlier and saved $50 - the retailers here are up in arms over the internet stealing their sales, but it's crap like this that takes any goodwill away. A store that's 5 mins drive, shows it as being in stock then takes 2 weeks to let me pick it up; pfft. "They took our jobs....." - no buddy, you didn't do your job)

Now {rant over} – I'm after a little advice on hooking up the wires wink.gif

I'm hooking the card up to my headphones via an O2 amp (3.5mm input)

The card comes with RCA => 3.5mm cable.

Should I go the adapter from the RCA's or straight out of the headphone jack on the card or is there no difference?

The spec sheets show different numbers for each of the output connections, so I basically want to know which would be best for gaming and music or if one connection is better for one use and another for the other use.

If I go the RCA=>3.5mm=>O2=>Headphones then I think I can use the other RCA's optical out to feed my speakers, whereas if I use the headphone jack then all other options are muted. If the headphone jack is the best option for sound then I will use it (and onboard optical out to the speakers)
post #1047 of 3101

raband, ideally you would use the Titanium HD's RCA out to the O2 and then connect headphones to the O2.

post #1048 of 3101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

raband, ideally you would use the Titanium HD's RCA out to the O2 and then connect headphones to the O2.

Cheers, that's what I was hoping for. I wasn't sure if the headphone jack had the best feed or not.
post #1049 of 3101
Quote:
Originally Posted by raband View Post


Cheers, that's what I was hoping for. I wasn't sure if the headphone jack had the best feed or not.

 

Well, they're meant for different usage. If you didn't have the O2, then you would benefit more from plugging to the 3.5mm out, but with an amp, the RCA out is the better option.

 

Also, keep in mind that if you want, you can send any processing features of the card through the RCAs. I mention this because there are many cards that don't have that capability.

post #1050 of 3101

Ok, so... after browsing here for the last few days, I'm left with a huge question...

 

Why would a set like the AD700's (one jack) provide a better positional audio experience than a set like Psyko Carbon (3 dedicated jacks, which include its own amp).  

I have a thread here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/640425/advice-new-gaming-sound-setup-from-the-ground-up

 

I'm just trying to figure out what will be the best system from the standpoint of directional precision.  Audio quality, highs/lows is really second consideration to me.

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