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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 75

post #1111 of 3042
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

So I was wondering...

 

Should 7.1 be showing up in my Window's speaker settings with the Titanium HD? I noticed on creative's site it has a lot more options and I can only choose between Stereo and 5.1.

 

When my STX was in I had all the other options I believe, or at least 7.1.

 

You won't ever see 7.1 with the X-Fi Titanium HD. The card does 5.1 max, and that's only through S/PDIF with Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect enabled. For analog output, it only does two channels (stereo). That's what it was built for.

 

Not that I think you're missing much, coming from cards like the X-Fi Prelude and X-Fi Forte that did have 7.1 support (through analog output, if needed). It's still quite easy to tell where sounds are coming from in games with software-mixed audio that depend on the Windows speaker setting.

 

If anything, those extra two channels would be more useful if they were height channels that could distinguish high and low sounds, but no, they're just extra side channels.

post #1112 of 3042

Alright cool just making sure. I'm guessing that means that I should use 5.1 in the game settings rather than 7.1...

 

Does anyone here know what settings are best for Bioshock 2? I've been using "Surround" and it's been sounding good so far for the most part(I think even sound height comes into play as I've snapped to people walking on balconies above me), but there are several options. I also did a quick search through some ini files for EAX and OpenAL and didn't find anything.

post #1113 of 3042
Just a note, I finally have a retail copy of Win 8 pro. Took advantage of the really cheap 2012 upgrade price, and I look forward to Steam and some serious happy gaming time!
post #1114 of 3042

Hello, I've recently had some issues with my creative soundcard (x-fi titanium, but I don't think it's the HD one..) and I've always wondered if I was truly getting the most out of it.  I have a Tritton AX pro headset and I'm looking to upgrade.  I've read a bunch of replies, but most of this stuff I don't understand or cannot follow.

 

I've seen mad lust's review on the ax pro and while I'm not completely disappointed with them, I also do not have the experience he/she does with other headsets to say whether or not they're good or bad.  I've enjoyed them, and I've done really well with positional audio but if there's better.. I want better.  The headset I want should also have a mic, as I like to play with friends.

 

I've looked into the sennheiser pc 360 headset and I'm very much interested.  However MLE's post is mostly regarding console headsets.  Are there some links anyone can post me about which headset to grab?  Or headset, setups?  I'm considering going without a mic on the headset if someone has an elegant solution/stand alone mic I can use to still talk to my friends if the headset has that audio that is just far and away better.

 

I'm trusting your recommendations, and furthermore any setup tips you guys have to getting the most out of my card.  I don't understand what s/pdif and all that stuff is.  Only recently I've actually gotten sound out of my spdif into my optical out but it's only 2 channels.  The light on my ax pro box has dolby digital lit up but.. this whole thing is confusing.. mostly because when I try to make changes windows (running win7 btw) tells me that the device is in use.  However I'm not running anything.  So.. anyway..

 

Again, anyone have recommendations on headsets?  I don't know what stax are, or where to purchase them.  I did a google search and I came up with some results but nothing like a retailer or models or.. anything.

 

So lost, but I want the best.  Love this pc centric audio thread.  If only I had found this earlier this year and avoided the trittons.

post #1115 of 3042

Have an asus xonar dg, is there a quicker way to turn on/off dolby headphones other than using the asus control panel.  The xonar is in a htpc running win7 with xbmc and the soundcard is connected optical to receiver and headphones through the front panel of the computer case.  Both are outputting sound at the same time, so when turnin on dh I get the processing on the speakers so I cannot leave it on.  

 

Would like to simplify things when switching to headphones, right now I have to minize xbmc, open xonar panel, click dolby headphone, close that, back to xbmc.  I mean is rather easy takes a few clicks but probably can be faster with a shortcut or command line or something because with an htpc you wan to streamline things as much as possible.

post #1116 of 3042
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahmiel View Post

I've looked into the sennheiser pc 360 headset and I'm very much interested.  However MLE's post is mostly regarding console headsets.  Are there some links anyone can post me about which headset to grab?  Or headset, setups?  I'm considering going without a mic on the headset if someone has an elegant solution/stand alone mic I can use to still talk to my friends if the headset has that audio that is just far and away better.

 

I'm trusting your recommendations, and furthermore any setup tips you guys have to getting the most out of my card.  I don't understand what s/pdif and all that stuff is.  Only recently I've actually gotten sound out of my spdif into my optical out but it's only 2 channels.  The light on my ax pro box has dolby digital lit up but.. this whole thing is confusing.. mostly because when I try to make changes windows (running win7 btw) tells me that the device is in use.  However I'm not running anything.  So.. anyway..

 

Again, anyone have recommendations on headsets?  I don't know what stax are, or where to purchase them.  I did a google search and I came up with some results but nothing like a retailer or models or.. anything.

 

So lost, but I want the best.  Love this pc centric audio thread.  If only I had found this earlier this year and avoided the trittons.

 

The reason I link MLE's thread is that he simply has experience with a lot of the more popular headphones out there. Headphones that I don't feel like buying strictly to review and resell, because I've practically committed myself to Stax for more expensive audio equipment. Note that I do really mean audiophile headphones, not gaming headsets.

 

As for Stax, they're very much an audiophile brand as the only headphone manufacturer that specializes in electrostatic driver technology (whereas other brands only occasionally release electrostatic setups, most of which are discontinued save for the Koss ESP/950) with some very questionable distribution decisions. You have to shop around on Head-Fi B/S/T, AudiogoN, Yahoo! Japan via Kuboten, or maybe eBay to have a shot at getting a good deal, and chances are you're going to be paying $350 or more for the more affordable setups.

 

On top of that, they have special amplification needs, so you have to budget for that too. Most cheaper setups come with a transformer box designed to connect to speaker wire outputs; any old integrated receiver will do the job there. But if you want a standalone Stax amp, you're going to pay at least $300-400 for something like an SRM-1/Mk2 Pro, probably much more with the newer models like the SRM-252S. You might get lucky and, say, get a SR-Lambda Pro + SRM-1/Mk2 Pro for $400 combined and shipped (it's happened before), but don't count on it.

 

Finally, when most people on Head-Fi talk Stax, they're in the High-end Audio section and focus on the flagship SR-007 ($1,600 to $2,500) to SR-009 ($4,800 to $5,000+) models and the really expensive amps like the KGSSHV and Blue Hawaii SE. The more affordable Lambda series (the ugly rectangular-looking ones) get overlooked a lot by comparison, but not to the degree that I overlooked the occasional post on Head-Fi singing praises about them for gaming. I'm quite grateful for that.

 

All of that said, I've gone the Onkyo receiver -> Stax SRD-7/SB -> Stax SR-Lambda (and a cheap desk microphone) route for a year now, with absolutely no regrets. I've found that I don't even like the recent numerical-series Lambdas like the SR-202 as much in terms of sound presentation and comfort.

 

Also, the ModMic now has all those production issues sorted out, and the product itself is finally shipping out to those who pre-ordered the 2.0 revision. Another revision with an in-line mute switch is coming within a month, along with yet another revision featuring a detachable cable. Can't wait for that one, as I'd much rather keep using my cheap desk mic than give up my Stax for a comparatively crappy headset as my primary PC headphone.

 

S/PDIF is a digital audio protocol. Your optical/Toslink audio jack is just one way to transmit S/PDIF, the other way being a coaxial RCA jack. If you want to transmit 5.1 over S/PDIF, which has only enough bandwidth for two channels of LPCM, you need to compress it in real-time using Dolby Digital Live (or DTS Connect, but most surround processors for console gaming headsets won't accept DTS). If DDL is enabled, you get 5.1; if it isn't, you get 2.0. Simple as that.

 

Now, headsets...the general advice is to go with a Sennheiser PC360, go with a proper audiophile headphone + ModMic, or go home and not waste money. I know it's not exactly cheap, but you want quality, right?

 

Does all of that make sense?

post #1117 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by executioner View Post

Have an asus xonar dg, is there a quicker way to turn on/off dolby headphones other than using the asus control panel.  The xonar is in a htpc running win7 with xbmc and the soundcard is connected optical to receiver and headphones through the front panel of the computer case.  Both are outputting sound at the same time, so when turnin on dh I get the processing on the speakers so I cannot leave it on.  

 

Would like to simplify things when switching to headphones, right now I have to minize xbmc, open xonar panel, click dolby headphone, close that, back to xbmc.  I mean is rather easy takes a few clicks but probably can be faster with a shortcut or command line or something because with an htpc you wan to streamline things as much as possible.

I think someone makes a program that makes it easier to switch, but can not remember the programs name.

post #1118 of 3042

Thanks Nameless.. your info has helped me a bunch.  I finally found a stax usa website and checked out those prices.  I so want the top end but I just have to be realistic.  I'll look on the sites you listed and search for some deals.. but I'm likely to just go with the sennheiser pc 360 (thanks for that recommendation).

 

More curious about the stax setup though.  You said you are running an onkyo receiver, as well as the headset and driver?  So if I got (just imagining here) an sr-009 along with the srm-007tII or simply one of the systems..stax srs-4170, I would still require a receiver?  I would not be able to go from my sound card into the driver.. I would have to go sound card into a receiver (I'm assuming blue hawaii se is one?) then into the driver, then to headset?  I just want to make sure I have that all down correctly, as nothing would drive me more insane than spending $500+ on the headphones and driver (either separately or as a sweet deal together) and then require a good receiver to go with it.

 

As for the soundblaster x-fi and spdif.. I think I'm starting to understand it.  When I enable dolby digital live in the soundblaster options, it requires the spdif device to output DDL signal but that's NOT the device you want to listen to.  You want to still default and be listening to the creative sb x-fi speakers, correct?  That's something that's driven me mad, because when I enable DDL under the encoder tab, I cannot listen to the spdif device as I get the message "this device is being used by another application".  If I'm listening to the spdif device and then go into the encoder tab, it tells me the device is busy.

 

I hope I have that soundblaster stuff sorted out properly.  Again, thanks for your reply.. I want to be a huge audiophile and provided I win the lottery (or somehow convince 20+ people it's my birthday and they should chip in on sr-009's ;) then I'll likely never hear a pair of stax.  I mostly just want to be able to hear the difference for myself, as my hearing is not the greatest, but does that mean I wouldn't be able to tell good from bad?  I pick up so much of gaming from audio ques, either in WoW with target switching in the chaos of battle, listening for that small sound, or fps's and listening for footsteps, there's just so much there.

 

I'm also trying to get into vinyl (as I think it sounds better than cds) so if I were to get a pair of stax, I would love to pull double duty on them.

 

Again, can't thank you enough for your reply.  Audio is probably bigger for me than visuals in gaming, and in entertainment.  If I don't have that soundblaster stuff right, could you point out where I went wrong?  Pretty sure I have DDL enabled and getting it to my headphones.  At least, the light on the box is saying it's DDL.

post #1119 of 3042
Thread Starter 

The reason I'm running an Onkyo receiver in my chain is because I'm using an SRD-7/SB that came with my SR-Lambda, and a transformer box (or "energizer", but I tend not to say that because of things like the Koss E/90 "energizer" actually being a direct-drive amp in spite of the label) like that needs speaker-level amp input in order to work since it's not an amplifier in and of itself. Integrated receivers do the job well, and this one I'm using was just sitting in a closet unused otherwise. (It's not one of the famed 1970s Sansui, Marantz or Pioneer receivers, but it's still old enough to not have S/PDIF input at all.)

 

If you buy an SRM-series amplifier of the sort that Stax is currently selling, you don't need an integrated receiver or other form of speaker amp at all because it is the amp. (Chances are you'd be hard-pressed to afford one anyway given how much those things cost...)

 

I just have my Titanium HD's RCA outputs run into the receiver, then the receiver amps the signal and puts it out the speaker terminals into my SRD-7/SB, which then finally converts the signal to be usable by any set of Normal bias Stax headphones. Pretty straightforward. For voice chat, I have a desk mic connected directly to the Titanium HD's mic jack.

 

It may not be easy to afford Stax, especially not the flagship stuff, but if you keep your eyes peeled on the usual second-hand sites and don't mind the transformer box + speaker amp/receiver approach instead of a direct-drive amp, you might just get a good deal. Lambda-series sets naturally command higher prices most of the time, and Sigmas (the big, boxy kind with drivers in front of the ears like AKG K1000s) won't happen unless you're willing to spend $600-1,500 these days, but I still see many SR-3s, SR-5s, and SR-X/Mk3s being sold. (Not that I've ever heard them, but I've been tempted to pick up a few sets for cheap specifically to compare them to the Lambda models that succeeded them.)

 

You're right about Dolby Digital Live usage. Your default audio device ALWAYS needs to be "Speakers", as in the device that corresponds with the analog output normally, and if you want to just play stereo without DDL enabled, make sure "Play Stereo Mix using Digital Output" is checked in the settings. It's really confusing for sure, leaving most people going "WTF?" when they set the "SPDIF Out" as the default and don't hear anything unless they're playing a movie with a pre-encoded DD or DTS track bitstreamed to a decoder.

 

The easiest way to think about it is that to configure the card properly for S/PDIF usage, you're basically just making it play the same sounds it normally does over the analog channels through the S/PDIF output as well.

post #1120 of 3042

Hahah, thanks for the reply.  You know, I never heard anything out of my spdif unless I had that "play stereo through whatever" checked.  So I've had that checked but I just unchecked it after reading your post and I still have sound!  Crazy!  I'm just glad I finally have the speakers and spdif all sorted out.  I'm not exactly a technophobe, I mean, I can put together my computer.  But that's what really confuses me is that.. if you tell a component to do something, you figure you should connect to it to get results.  Completely not the case in this situation and I didn't find anything anywhere about "have the spdif do your DDL but still connect/play through your speakers".

 

Anyway, again, much appreciated.  I ordered a sennheiser pc 360 today from amazon because.. well, free shipping and I saved $24 (more like $50 if I bought it in a local store) and that's what I can afford.  I do plan on rocking some stax at some point, perhaps once I get a good ... record player, turntable, vinyl record reader.. whatever the proper terminology is (taking recommendations on that too, btw).  Bookmarked this thread, and anytime someone has a PC gaming audio question, I can point them in this direction.

 

You made my year, and if I ever get enough money for stax.. I'm sure going to hit you and your knowledge base up again.

 

Be safe, and enjoy the holidays.


Edited by Rahmiel - 12/25/12 at 5:01pm
post #1121 of 3042

So, am I to assume that the Titanium HD is still the card to get over the high end Z series card due to the lack of hardware support for virtual surround sound? (Strictly speaking on Creative)

 

Why is it that the software codec route automatically considered inferior? In other words where is the virtual surround sound decoding offloaded?


Edited by Heretic817 - 12/27/12 at 9:22am
post #1122 of 3042
Can someone link the O2 amp?
post #1123 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

I just have my Titanium HD's RCA outputs run into the receiver, then the receiver amps the signal and puts it out the speaker terminals into my SRD-7/SB, which then finally converts the signal to be usable by any set of Normal bias Stax headphones. Pretty straightforward. For voice chat, I have a desk mic connected directly to the Titanium HD's mic jack.

I was just actually wondering that.... I have my RCA ->phono to logitech Z4 speaker system input, but wondered if I should be driving the phones off of the hp jack on the card instead of the 'remote sound control docky thingy'.  Are there some particular music tracks that would exploit any weaknesses off of the hp amp of the Z4 vs the hd's hp amp section?

post #1124 of 3042
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahmiel View Post

Hahah, thanks for the reply.  You know, I never heard anything out of my spdif unless I had that "play stereo through whatever" checked.  So I've had that checked but I just unchecked it after reading your post and I still have sound!  Crazy!  I'm just glad I finally have the speakers and spdif all sorted out.  I'm not exactly a technophobe, I mean, I can put together my computer.  But that's what really confuses me is that.. if you tell a component to do something, you figure you should connect to it to get results.  Completely not the case in this situation and I didn't find anything anywhere about "have the spdif do your DDL but still connect/play through your speakers".

 

Anyway, again, much appreciated.  I ordered a sennheiser pc 360 today from amazon because.. well, free shipping and I saved $24 (more like $50 if I bought it in a local store) and that's what I can afford.  I do plan on rocking some stax at some point, perhaps once I get a good ... record player, turntable, vinyl record reader.. whatever the proper terminology is (taking recommendations on that too, btw).  Bookmarked this thread, and anytime someone has a PC gaming audio question, I can point them in this direction.

 

You made my year, and if I ever get enough money for stax.. I'm sure going to hit you and your knowledge base up again.

 

Be safe, and enjoy the holidays.

 

I know, it's counterintuitive to common logic. I've had so many such incidents with setting up technology of all sorts that I lost count.

 

Speaking of turntables and phono amps, the SRA-series amps have a built-in phono section. Not sure how good it is, but it's there. The only thing is that the relatively common SRA-12S is Normal bias only and still fetches prices on par with the SRM-1s, while the SRA-14S with both Normal and Pro bias output is very rare and sells for a pretty penny whenever it does show up.

 

Take care, and happy holidays! (Christmas is over, but 2013's about to begin...)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CFGamescape View Post
Can someone link the O2 amp?

 

Here's a link to the usual JDS Labs-built Objective2. Most of the time, people are talking about this particular one.

 

(I tend to just spell it out because "O2" often refers to the Stax SR-007 Omega II here, along with UK cellular carriers, oxygen molecules when people can't type superscripts, and god knows what else.)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozarkcdn View Post

I was just actually wondering that.... I have my RCA ->phono to logitech Z4 speaker system input, but wondered if I should be driving the phones off of the hp jack on the card instead of the 'remote sound control docky thingy'.  Are there some particular music tracks that would exploit any weaknesses off of the hp amp of the Z4 vs the hd's hp amp section?

 

It never hurts to audition it both ways and let your ears decide.

 

I'd generally suggest using the jacks directly on the card whenever possible, but the Titanium HD has a design quirk where having anything plugged into the rear or front-panel headphone outputs forcibly mutes the RCA output jacks, with no option to disable it in software. Keep that in mind.

 

(It doesn't bother me because I use headphones exclusively.)

post #1125 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

Here's a link to the usual JDS Labs-built Objective2. Most of the time, people are talking about this particular one.

 

(I tend to just spell it out because "O2" often refers to the Stax SR-007 Omega II here, along with UK cellular carriers, oxygen molecules when people can't type superscripts, and god knows what else.)

Awesome, thank you!  So, does this mean the amplification provided by the X-Fi HD is not sufficient (e.g. for cans like the Q701)? 

 

I'm currently running a Xonar STX + PC360 (w/ UNi drivers).  Would adding this O2 benefit me?

 

Regardless, the X-Fi HD + O2 + Q701 will be part of my next PC build.

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