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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 82

post #1216 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by AzureBeat View Post

So, has anyone tried the Z-Series yet? Some of the features they have look real nice, and I don't play old games, so that reason for the Titanium HD isn't there. Also, from my reading, it seems that there is no good way to do Usb based 3D audio, correct? Not really interested in fake Dolby, if there's a better option available.

I don't have any money to get anything right now, frown.gif and as I bought some headphones before I found this place and became really aware that there was even a difference in sound quality, so I'm stuck with some crappy ones.

Not Beats. biggrin.gif Plantronics gamecom 720. Not really great, IMO.

AzureBeat,
I haven't yet, but I want to. Although, besides the amping quality upgrades, most of the new series features are also on the Titanium HD, which still works well with new games and is a bargain compared to the $250 MSRP Sound Blaster ZxR. I think EAX is the main X-Fi tech that's not been natively featured in a game for a while – 3D positional audio is still part of games like Borderlands 2 with OpenAL (FWIR both the X-Fi and Z-series cards use libraries like OpenAL to apply 3D positions to audio). The price makes it a hard sell for me, the other models below the new flagship don't outperform the Titanium HD, the previous flagship.

I think both the X-Fi Go! LIVE USB audio dongle and the Recon3D USB support ALchemy and 3D audio as part of their software suite. I bet the Recon3D could've been smaller if Creative hadn't designed it for baby-finger ergonomics, but you didn't ask about size biggrin.gif I don't think the Dolby processing accounts for height cues, just a circle around you like a 5.1 or 7.1 channel speaker setup. Dolby was designed for movies, not games, and Dolby headphone was designed to sound like a 5.1 speaker setup. I could say Dolby sounds like fake DTS, though neither will differentiate sound if an enemy is just around the corner, just around the corner upstairs, or just around the corner downstairs. It doesn't always matter, but as I become more aware of using audio, the more annoyed I am when my ninja moves trick me.

And hey, if you bought headphones and think they're crappy (they can't be that bad, just not that good), at least the Gamecom 720 is a whole lot cheaper than Beats biggrin.gif

I heard Nameless is selling a Recon3D USB pretty cheap: you could save up for that. I'm always saving up for something smily_headphones1.gif Right now, I'm saving for a new CPU and a new car biggrin.gif
post #1217 of 3067
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post
I heard Nameless is selling a Recon3D USB pretty cheap: you could save up for that. I'm always saving up for something smily_headphones1.gif Right now, I'm saving for a new CPU and a new car biggrin.gif

 

I still am. $70 shipped, if anyone's interested. You'd be hard-pressed to find it selling that low anywhere else, and it's in complete and working order.

 

I have to admit, I'm not doing a particularly good job of saving money right now, but I'll eventually sort myself out to the point where I have enough for a whole new desktop computer.

post #1218 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post


AzureBeat,
I haven't yet, but I want to. Although, besides the amping quality upgrades, most of the new series features are also on the Titanium HD, which still works well with new games and is a bargain compared to the $250 MSRP Sound Blaster ZxR. I think EAX is the main X-Fi tech that's not been natively featured in a game for a while – 3D positional audio is still part of games like Borderlands 2 with OpenAL (FWIR both the X-Fi and Z-series cards use libraries like OpenAL to apply 3D positions to audio). The price makes it a hard sell for me, the other models below the new flagship don't outperform the Titanium HD, the previous flagship.

I think both the X-Fi Go! LIVE USB audio dongle and the Recon3D USB support ALchemy and 3D audio as part of their software suite. I bet the Recon3D could've been smaller if Creative hadn't designed it for baby-finger ergonomics, but you didn't ask about size biggrin.gif I don't think the Dolby processing accounts for height cues, just a circle around you like a 5.1 or 7.1 channel speaker setup. Dolby was designed for movies, not games, and Dolby headphone was designed to sound like a 5.1 speaker setup. I could say Dolby sounds like fake DTS, though neither will differentiate sound if an enemy is just around the corner, just around the corner upstairs, or just around the corner downstairs. It doesn't always matter, but as I become more aware of using audio, the more annoyed I am when my ninja moves trick me.

And hey, if you bought headphones and think they're crappy (they can't be that bad, just not that good), at least the Gamecom 720 is a whole lot cheaper than Beats biggrin.gif

I heard Nameless is selling a Recon3D USB pretty cheap: you could save up for that. I'm always saving up for something smily_headphones1.gif Right now, I'm saving for a new CPU and a new car biggrin.gif


Eh, so my M-Stage came today (Wasnt expecting it) which caused me to have a mad dash to Microcenter before they closed, and they only had the Creative Z, not the DGX, like I want. So i bought it and brought it home. Currently have it set up like: Z->Front line out-> RCA-> M-Stage-> Annies.

 

Its the same as the Phoebus. Creative's SBX Pro Studio has a "Surround Sound" Slider that you can adjust how much surround you want. Its just like Dolby HTV4, and not as good as Dolby Headphone.

 

I dont understand why they seem to be getting rid of discrete 5.1->stereo technologies in favor of these "surround sound" emulators.

 

Ill be returning it tomorrow to get a DGX from another Microcenter.

post #1219 of 3067

What is the point in buying a now discontinued creative card if the game developers are no longer using those technologies? May as well just get an Asus Xonar or am I wrong?

post #1220 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

What is the point in buying a now discontinued creative card if the game developers are no longer using those technologies? May as well just get an Asus Xonar or am I wrong?


I'm not sure what you mean, Creative just released the Z series.

post #1221 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jhalf View Post


I'm not sure what you mean, Creative just released the Z series.

 

Oh yes I was not aware that they released anything since the old X FI...

 

From what I can see though these new Z series are just dolby headphone like Xonar?

 

Edit - Oh yes they have EAX as well.... But do any new games have EAX anymore?

 

Not sure what the more expensive new creative cards really offer over the Xonar other than EAX?


Edited by nicholars - 1/19/13 at 8:38am
post #1222 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Oh yes I was not aware that they released anything since the old X FI...

From what I can see though these new Z series are just dolby headphone like Xonar?

Edit - Oh yes they have EAX as well.... But do any new games have EAX anymore?

Not sure what the more expensive new creative cards really offer over the Xonar other than EAX?

Sorry gotta be brief, but you don't fully understand.
Creative cards don't use Dolby headphone
Creative's cards allow 3D surround, Dolby headphone is just a 2D circle that wraps around front side back, 3D surround lets you hear above and below. New games are still being released with this.

Nameless will sort you out on the rest.

Jhalf, sure you have your settings right? It's gotta be surround or 5.1 all the way until the very end, ask Nameless for tips before returning.
post #1223 of 3067
Thread Starter 

The thing I've noticed about the THX TruStudio Surround slider is that depending on its position, it biases the sound positioning more toward either the front or the rear. It's made quite obvious if you do some Windows speaker tests and note whether the front channels sound like they're in front or off to the sides.

 

Even in the sweet spot, though, I still don't think it sounds as good as CMSS-3D Headphone at its best, or even Dolby Headphone when working with 5.1/7.1-mixed sources.

 

EAX is just a set of reverb/chorus/occlusion effects. Older games used them, but similar effects can easily be done in software or through OpenAL's EFX, which is available to all devices.

 

What you really need to be concerned with is whether a game uses either the DirectSound3D or OpenAL APIs, as those are what allow for proper 3D headphone surround. Sometimes, you have to jump through a few hoops to enable them, like with Source engine games, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, or Borderlands 2.

 

Even if that isn't the case, Creative's surround tech still helps out, but it's dragged down to virtual 5.1/7.1, much like how Dolby Headphone works.

 

Oh, and I definitely would have suggested returning that Sound Blaster Z card...to get an X-Fi Titanium HD in its place.

post #1224 of 3067

I picked up the DGX, and am installing it now. Installing the Unified Xonar C-Media Driver
 

post #1225 of 3067

Doesn't the Asus Xonar support OPENAL anyway?

 

So the only thing that the Creatives benifit over the Asus Xonar is EAX? Which is becomming obsolete now anyway?

 

Correct me if I am wrong but I just fail to see the point of spending more on a creative card?

post #1226 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Doesn't the Asus Xonar support OPENAL anyway?

So the only thing that the Creatives benifit over the Asus Xonar is EAX? Which is becomming obsolete now anyway?

Correct me if I am wrong but I just fail to see the point of spending more on a creative card?

AAAAGH I just typed out a well-thought out reply, then my web browser crashed!

Ok, basically I was saying you still are missing something. Dolby surround, and dolby headphone, are only 2D surround. I explained what that means here:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/646786/evshrugs-if-i-knew-then-what-i-know-now-discussion-journal

The short version is everything sounds like it's on the same floor as you, but you know that sometimes there are enemies downstairs or Rakk birds divebombing you from the sky, and Creative's cards used with headphones can simulate sounds coming from above and below. Even a 5.1 or 7.1 home theater can't do that!

Now, I'm not going to lie to you, not every game supports 3D audio... console games can only do the ring of sound designed for 5.1 speaker setups. EAX echo-effects are a different effect separate from surround sound, and I personally don't usually like the effect even in the games that had it built-in, and EAX hasn't been featured in a game for a long time. And if you want the cheapest soundcard, Asus probably has the best bargain. Asus' flagship has a slightly better amp than the Titanium HD, but Creative's new ZxR card beats that. But if you find a Creative card for the same or better price within your budget, they don't lose any functionality compared to Asus, and there are many games where the full surround, surround that's 3D and not restricted to channels of audio (well, maybe restricted to 128 channels, but you get the idea), of the Creative card will provide a more immersive and competitive experience.

I recently saw the Titanium HD selling for $110 at J&R, and I'm sad I missed out since I'm between jobs. Also refurb Titaniums regularly show up on Newegg for like $32, though the regular new one right now is available for $44.

GL HF.
Edited by Evshrug - 1/19/13 at 8:49pm
post #1227 of 3067
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Doesn't the Asus Xonar support OPENAL anyway?

 

So the only thing that the Creatives benifit over the Asus Xonar is EAX? Which is becomming obsolete now anyway?

 

Correct me if I am wrong but I just fail to see the point of spending more on a creative card?

 

If I'm not mistaken, they do have an OpenAL implementation better than the default "Generic Software" one, but there are still the following limitations:

 

-Dolby Headphone CANNOT use the positional audio data that OpenAL, or DirectSound3D wrapped via DS3DGX, can provide in its native form. It's downmixed to a virtual 7.1 theater system first, and then applies DH to that. Sure, it's a great-sounding virtual 7.1 theater, but why hear a ring of speakers around your position at the same height (meaning no actual height cues that a proper 3D mix can provide) when you can have a native 3D mix that sounds like you're actually there, more like real life than a home theater system trying to sound like real life?

 

-I don't know how well Asus' OpenAL implementation works out. The biggest test would be Battlefield 2 or 2142 in Creative X-Fi sound mode.

 

-This doesn't pertain to OpenAL directly, but the DS3DGX wrapper that Asus uses to convert DirectSound3D API calls to OpenAL is said to have issues here and there where Creative's ALchemy doesn't.

 

But if you were willing to get the Xonar DGX to save on cash, I would have suggested the basic X-Fi Titanium as a similarly-priced alternative at $40-50 shipped...or it would have been, had Newegg not ceased selling them. That bites...

 

Regardless, if you don't play any games that use the DirectSound3D or OpenAL APIs at all, you'd never see any benefit over the Xonar line or other C-Media chipset cards because the game engine's audio middleware is already doing the dirty work in software. A lot of people here tend to only play games that do it that way, by contrast to my outspokenness for older games. (To the point where I built an older computer with multiple sound cards for games that use Aureal A3D and/or take advantage of a few obscure Sound Blaster AWE32 features, at that.)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post
AAAAGH I just typed out a well-thought out reply, then my web browser crashed!

Ok, basically I was saying you still are missing something. Dolby surround, and dolby headphone, are only 2D surround. I explained what that means here:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/646786/evshrugs-if-i-knew-then-what-i-know-now-discussion-journal

The short version is everything sounds like it's on the same floor as you, but you know that sometimes there are enemies downstairs or Rakk birds divebombing you from the sky, and Creative's cards used with headphones can simulate sounds coming from above and below. Even a 5.1 or 7.1 home theater can't do that!

Now, I'm not going to lie to you, not every game supports 3D audio... console games can only do the ring of sound designed for 5.1 speaker setups. EAX echo-effects are a different effect separate from surround sound, and I personally don't usually like the effect even in the games that had it built-in, and EAX hasn't been featured in a game for a long time. And if you want the cheapest soundcard, Asus probably has the best bargain. Asus' flagship has a slightly better amp than the Titanium HD, but Creative's new ZxR card beats that. But if you find a Creative card for the same or better price within your budget, they don't lose any functionality compared to Asus, and there are many games where the full surround, surround that's 3D and not restricted to channels of audio (well, maybe restricted to 128 channels, but you get the idea), of the Creative card will provide a more immersive and competitive experience.

I recently saw the Titanium HD selling for $110 at J&R, and I'm sad I missed out since I'm between jobs. Also refurb Titaniums regularly show up on Newegg for like $32, though the regular new one right now is available for $44.

GL HF.

 

I know the feeling about losing posts due to browser issues. It's happened to me more than once over the years, though not necessarily on Head-Fi.

 

Also, good description there in that fourth paragraph. That's largely what I'm trying to explain, though the EAX reverb/chorus is personal taste as usual.

 

Note that the amount of "channels" for older sound cards, in that context, would better be described as polyphony, or the amount of unique sounds that can be played simultaneously in hardware, on the sound card's DSP, without any sort of performance hit. Obviously, if there are more sounds playing at once than the sound card can handle, some of them have to be dropped entirely, and nobody wants that.

 

FMOD channels work the same way, just in software, on the CPU. Less audio channels means less CPU load, more audio channels means a lower likelihood of dropped sounds.

post #1228 of 3067
Nameless,
So I've found a few games with OpenAL (was REALLY tempted to buy Borderlands 2 for Mac to see if the Mac version also supports it... Apple has long integrated OpenGL even into the OS' GUI), but could you list a few games with DirectSound3D?

Edit: your post didn't appear on the page till after I finished typing this post. Thanks for the compliment! Although I think I broke it down better in my thread, I wanted to share the "short" version. I used to think 3D surround had died before I joined the party too, but I'm glad games are still being released that use 3D surround (APIs?).

I totally geeked out at best buy today. I told a guy how impressed I was that they were selling Mac games, and I was thinking about getting BL2 for the computer instead of a console. He got all excited and told me all about the graphics quality boost and PhysX effects on PC and
"No question, if you have a gaming PC you HAVE to get it on PC!"
I was like "OOOH, yeah! The PC version has OpenAL support for 3D audio with height effects, I'm really curious if the Mac version supports it too."
"Oh, that's cool, you have a 7.1 speaker setup then?"
"It's like that, only better. Instead of a ring of sound, you can hear above and below like in a sphere!"
[sounding confused but intrigued] "What, you have a sphere of speakers?"
[me, kinda dropping the ball] "No, headphones. My soundcard does it."

I didn't explain how it works all that well, but he sounded interested, maybe he'll look it up. I felt I had to cut to the chase because my poor, beleaguered girlfriend's eyes were glazed over somewhere around "OpenAL," poor thing. I'm lucky she still likes me even though I bore her to tears sometimes. I think I got a pass though because I joined a gym with her today though, lol.
Edited by Evshrug - 1/19/13 at 11:33pm
post #1229 of 3067

Does creative ever improve on said virtual surround techs such as THX TruSurround or SBX Surround?  I'm still contemplating on getting a TiHD + a Schiit Magni vs waiting for the ZxR.  If the surround effects are essentially the same, I would rather have the external amp for my other sources.
 


Edited by KetchupNinja - 1/19/13 at 11:59pm
post #1230 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by KetchupNinja View Post

Does creative ever improve on said virtual surround techs such as THX TruSurround or SBX Surround?  I'm still contemplating on getting a TiHD + a Schiit Magni vs waiting for the ZxR.  If the surround effects are essentially the same, I would rather have the external amp for my other sources.

I like having an external amp too, in fact I like having my components separate in general; so if I want to upgrade my soundcard later, I still get to keep my external amp, and if I got headphones that require more power but I'm happy with my soundcard or DAC, I could keep the soundcard and just upgrade the amp.

As far as improve on CMSS-3D, THX TruStudio Pro, or SBX Pro Studio surround processing, I haven't heard of like a firmware upgrade that improves the processing. I do think Creative replaced CMSS-3D with the THX TruStudio Pro suit of tools in the Recon3D models, they sound different though there is room to debate which one sounds "better." I personally like the THX one best and positional cues work best for my ears, but Nameless feels the same way about CMSS-3D, and MLE about Dolby Headphone. In the end, everyone's ears are different, and Your Milage Might Vary from mine. SBX Pro Studio is another suit of tools that is supposed to directly replace everything THX TruStudio Pro did... I haven't heard it yet (haven't seen any examples, not even officially from Creative), but I suspect the only change is they stopped paying THX and changed the name.

The cool thing is, Creative added THX TruStudio Pro (recently?) to the Titanium HD in addition to CMSS-3D, so you can try both (right Nameless? Or does the Ti HD disable height filters in THX mode?). The Titanium HD is only $160 new, $105 used on Amazon right now, but the ZxR is listed as having a $249 MSRP. I wouldn't be surprised if that card's hardware provides a general audio quality upgrade over the Ti HD, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Creative discontinued the X-Fi cards at that point.

The Recon3D series, with it's SoundCore3D CPU (or would that be audio processing unit, APU?), is said to have compatability problems with some games because the hardware is different than the X-Fi chipset, but I don't have a large enough game library myself to test this (yet wink.gif I'm transitioning from console gaming). One example was Thief, which didn't play sound during cutscenes, but surprisingly that game was recently patched and now works fine. I know that's an older game, but I'm hoping to pick it up soon because it's supposed to be quite a fun and unique game, and an audio masterpiece (essential to sneaking).

I myself have the mid-range Recon3D USB, because it works with both PCs and consoles. It is background hiss is inaudible for me on my AKG headphones, but straight out of the device I have to almost set the volume to max and sometimes the treble can sound a bit edgy and the soundstage kinda shallow... adding an amp better suited to the Q701 has fixed all my issues smily_headphones1.gif For amping, I'm currently having the good fortune to test two models pre-release: a FiiO E12 Mont Blanc portable solid state amp, and a Rock & Glass tube hybrid desktop amp from a DIY'er on Head-Fi named Zigis. With my Audio Technica AD700, which are much easier to drive, the Recon3D does fine by itself without additional amping. I want to compare the Ti HD and ZxR myself to see which I like best, but right now I don't have the money to afford either.
Edited by Evshrug - 1/20/13 at 2:27am
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