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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 83

post #1231 of 3067

Thank you Evshrug!  You've pretty much convinced me to go with the card + amp route.

post #1232 of 3067
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post
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.

 

If you want examples of DirectSound3D games, there's too many for me to count. Far more of them than OpenAL games, that's for sure (which is why I depend on a good wrapper like ALchemy). But as a loose estimate, I'd say that DS3D was used up 'til 2004 or so before OpenAL really started taking over.

 

Speaking of Mac gaming, I recall reading a few tidbits of people putting Sound Blaster Live! cards into old Power Macs and actually making use of them. I wonder how Mac games handled hardware audio acceleration in the Classic Mac OS days, if at all, since OpenAL didn't exist yet (or just wasn't used for that at the time). After all, everyone serious about computer gaming ran Windows, and that hasn't changed to this day. (If anything, I see less proper Mac OS X ports and more emphasis on just using Darwine/CrossOver to run Windows games, now that CPU architecture isn't a barrier.)

 

The thing about THX TruStudio on the Titanium HD is that it's only available in Entertainment Mode. Full hardware audio acceleration for games in only available in Game Mode. Needless to say, I stay in Game Mode 99% of the time. Even for software-mixed games, I still feel that CMSS-3D Headphone brings out the virtual 5.1 positional cues better than THX TruStudio Surround does.

 

But as you said, your mileage WILL vary when it comes to headphone surround features. I may be outspoken in my opinions like MLE, but ultimately, your ears have to make the final decision as to which sounds best.

post #1233 of 3067
I'm gonna guess SB cards in power macs used generic or modified drivers or extensions, and they probably just ran in stereo.

Aspyre was/is the last major Mac games 'porter, I used to see some action from Feral and a few game companies wrote for both Windows and Mac natively, but there was a sharp decline around the time MS bought former Mac gaming star Bungie and fewer games used id's engine. Lucasarts? I don't think Source was ever coded to run on Mac. Another big factor was game devs didn't want to learn to code in Cocoa (OS X's standard). By the time Apple said "Ok, now program 'universal' apps that'll run on PowerPC OR intel," game devs had basically said "frak it, there's a larger gamer capital pool with Windows."

I understand Mac game development made little business sense, but I still felt loss and felt somebody had missed the boat. Steve, I guess. Thought playing games was a waste of time compared to producing stuff, if you want to have computer fun you should pick up Steve's hobby of music.

The only classic Mac-exclusive games I played that were really special were Marathon (especially Infinity, the 3rd game) and Escape Velocity. Fortunately I guess, Windows eventually got access to those too by open-sourced game engines or developers eventually making a Windows version, so... You can enjoy the best Mac gaming has to offer.

Most played game, ever, for me:
http://www.ambrosiasw.com/games/evn/
post #1234 of 3067

Hey Nameless, on the last page you mentioned that Source engine games support OpenAL... could you elaborate?

 

From what I've seen, they only support OpenAL on OSX.

post #1235 of 3067
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Razeredge View Post

Hey Nameless, on the last page you mentioned that Source engine games support OpenAL... could you elaborate?

 

From what I've seen, they only support OpenAL on OSX.

 

I'm not sure how the OpenAL implementation works on Windows. Maybe there isn't one at all. At the very least, using that command line argument to try and enable it results in no obvious audible difference.

 

I do know, however, that it supports DirectSound3D (thus requiring ALchemy) by switching the Miles Sound System to DS3D output via the "snd_legacy_surround" console command.

post #1236 of 3067

Alright, So after using the Phoebus, Z, and DGX, I can confidently say I like Dolby headphone the best. DHTV4 and Prostudio felt gimicky to me, and there was an instant difference for me. BF3 ounded much better in Dolby Headphone mode, with no other processing.

 

I will be returning the Z.
 

post #1237 of 3067

Did you config the Z's Tru studio the same way you normally config CMSS3D headphone or DH headphone, Which is setting windows speakers settings to 5.1 along with the games, and Set the creative panel to headphones?  This what  I do on the Recon3D when I use it and it works good for me. But then I don't know which headphones you are using, As they all react differently to difference headphones. But I find if I do not config it like I mention, Then all 3  CMSS3D,DH Mode 1 and Tru studio will not sound right.  Also I don't use any of the profiles when I game, I make my own and change Thur studio surround sound, to my liking and I disable both bass and crystazlier setting, But I use dialog plus and volume leveler which I both i set to my liking.  I forgot to mention I also disable the sub when I have it config like this, So the overpower bass issue doesn't happen, when you have it set to 5.1 in windows, when using Tru studio 3D.


Edited by genclaymore - 1/20/13 at 4:48pm
post #1238 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 

I'm not sure how the OpenAL implementation works on Windows. Maybe there isn't one at all. At the very least, using that command line argument to try and enable it results in no obvious audible difference.

 

I do know, however, that it supports DirectSound3D (thus requiring ALchemy) by switching the Miles Sound System to DS3D output via the "snd_legacy_surround" console command.

 

Sweet, I'll try this when I get home. TF2 with proper audio would be awesomesauce.

post #1239 of 3067
Oh, apparently HL2 and the portal games were ported to Mac...
post #1240 of 3067

Has anyone noticed windows sound settings reverting from 5.1 to 2.1 speakers randomly ?  I am not sure whats doing it... really annoying.  Also sometimes on restarting my speaker balance is thrown off, I usually keep everything maxed, but after restarts left and right front channels end up at 67, while everything else will remain at 100.

 

I'm also wondering if it's even worth it to bother with X-Fi anymore, 99% of games I play are newer ones with pre-mixed surround audio, so I am really considering switching to Dolby based stuff.  How do x-fi / xonar dgx perform when it comes to software rendered binaural techs ?  


Edited by zerocraft - 1/21/13 at 8:19am
post #1241 of 3067

As far as the Z series goes, I'm really only interested in 3d sound for one game: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. A source game, so as long as the 3d positioning is accurate, then I'm pretty much just concerned with sound quality for music. And the external headphone control is a nice feature, esp. with the volume control(I'm lazy) and I think it has a microphone(?). So that would seem to be functionally equivalent to having an external amp for a HD series.

post #1242 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by AzureBeat View Post

As far as the Z series goes, I'm really only interested in 3d sound for one game: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. A source game, so as long as the 3d positioning is accurate, then I'm pretty much just concerned with sound quality for music. And the external headphone control is a nice feature, esp. with the volume control(I'm lazy) and I think it has a microphone(?). So that would seem to be functionally equivalent to having an external amp for a HD series.


I just tested out snd_legacy_surround in CS:GO on my Titanium HD and AD700s. It's excellent... I was doing waaaaaaaaay better than ever before...

post #1243 of 3067

I don't doubt it, that's why I'm looking into this. My thoughts are that if the 3d ability is equal, then better sound quality becomes the most deciding factor, and if that is close, than other features become the decision maker. I had heard some comments that the SQ of the HD series was not so great.

post #1244 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by AzureBeat View Post

I don't doubt it, that's why I'm looking into this. My thoughts are that if the 3d ability is equal, then better sound quality becomes the most deciding factor, and if that is close, than other features become the decision maker. I had heard some comments that the SQ of the HD series was not so great.

The DAC used in the TiHD is the same as the top line ZxR card, so sound quality wise they should be on par with each other.  The only thing I can really see that is different is that the Z series cards advertise that they are using gold nichicon caps...but as you may have heard, some of the newer shipments are running with something different.

post #1245 of 3067
Quote:
Originally Posted by KetchupNinja View Post

The DAC used in the TiHD is the same as the top line ZxR card, so sound quality wise they should be on par with each other.  The only thing I can really see that is different is that the Z series cards advertise that they are using gold nichicon caps...but as you may have heard, some of the newer shipments are running with something different.

What do gold nichicon capacitors net you? I'm not exactly sure what causes the improved SNR, but I know there's more to sound quality than the DAC. Also, glad my suggestion made your choice easier smily_headphones1.gif

AzureBeat,
The volume puck is sexy, especially because the front hp/mic plugs on my computer case don't work (probably my fault during the build, but I was so careful...). I think you have to at least get the Zx card to get it though. The "Beamforming" mic is included in all the Z-series cards I think.
Edited by Evshrug - 1/21/13 at 11:02pm
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