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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 97

post #1441 of 3278

I'm buying a new sound card and I have some questions. I'm trying to decide between an x-fi titanium HD or a Soundblaster Z. From what I've gathered x-fi has better surround for games that support hardware acceleration and for games that don't x-fi and z will sound the same? Are games from now on going to stop supporting hardware acceleration?

 

Also, alot of people seem to complain about having to switch between headphones and speakers with an x-fi and that is kind of a dealbreaker for me if it cannot be circumvented some way. My keyboard has a goldplated 3.5 mm stereo extension built into it so if i plugged that into the soundcard would I only have to remove my headphones from the 3.5 mm port on my keyboard to use my speakers or would I have to go behind my computer anyway to change it? Also, if I plugged the soundcard into an amp would this circumvent the problem? Maybe if I used the rca outs?

 

I hope this is the case because the z kind of rubs me the wrong way, in't it basically just a glorified extra processor that runs programs that I could just run on my regular processor? It also looks like a toy and the board itself has almost nothing on it, what am I really paying for there?

post #1442 of 3278
Your first few questions have been discussed recently, and it's a little more complicated than having hardware acceleration or not (which is rather irrelevant these days really)... I'd suggest reading the first post of the thread and the last couple dozen posts.

Most games these days do all audio processing in software and can then output a 5.1/7.1 signal (like for a home theater setup) that headphone surround emulation schemes like CMSS-3D & Dolby Headphone can use, which of those you prefer is subjective. A few games, mostly running on older engines can go a bit beyond that and only X-Fi cards can potentially take advantage of that thru CMSS/ALchemy. The Z series cards don't even use CMSS nor DH, they use a new algorithm that's gotten mixed impressions... That's my generally simplified take on the situation.

The X-Fi Ti HD has discrete headphone and speaker outputs but the latter are muted when headphones are plugged in. There's no getting around that, at all, your keyboard's audio extension would make no difference because the card can't sense if there's something plugged in at the end (just that the kb is plugged into the headphone out).

That being said, no one says you HAVE to use the rear headphone output... You could just go from the RCA speaker output to an amp, and if the amp has speaker-pre outputs that'll facilitate everything.

I'm not sure how well those outputs handle headphones plugged straight into them, might wanna ask someone else... Low sensitivity ones might be ok tho, in which case you could plug the keyboard's extension into that and then just plug in your headphones or speakers into the keyboard depending on what you're using, crude but effective.

From the way you're describing the Z cards I think you have them confused with the Recon 3D line... There's quite a few components on the Zx and ZxR, and it's still a vastly better DAC than most on board solutions. They also allow switching between outputs in software, which controls a hardware relay like an AVR receiver or the Xonar STX (you'll hear the little servo click when you switch).

Not that I'm advocating for or against the Z line... Personally I'd go for a Xonar card if you want a cheap all-in solution and you don't care too much about older games (even the lowly DGX has a decent discrete amp), or for the Xonar Essence STX if you want a better amp and you're using higher impedance headphones, or for the X-Fi Ti HD if you're sure you're getting a separate/external headphone amp.
Edited by Impulse - 3/31/13 at 9:21pm
post #1443 of 3278
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 

The "What U Hear" input should work, as it records exactly what the sound card outputs and doesn't rely on the Windows audio stack for it.

 

At the very least, it's always worked for me.

 

"What U Hear" doesn't work. It only captures main menu sounds.

post #1444 of 3278
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizkas View Post

I'm buying a new sound card and I have some questions. I'm trying to decide between an x-fi titanium HD or a Soundblaster Z. From what I've gathered x-fi has better surround for games that support hardware acceleration and for games that don't x-fi and z will sound the same? Are games from now on going to stop supporting hardware acceleration?

 

Also, alot of people seem to complain about having to switch between headphones and speakers with an x-fi and that is kind of a dealbreaker for me if it cannot be circumvented some way. My keyboard has a goldplated 3.5 mm stereo extension built into it so if i plugged that into the soundcard would I only have to remove my headphones from the 3.5 mm port on my keyboard to use my speakers or would I have to go behind my computer anyway to change it? Also, if I plugged the soundcard into an amp would this circumvent the problem? Maybe if I used the rca outs?

 

I hope this is the case because the z kind of rubs me the wrong way, in't it basically just a glorified extra processor that runs programs that I could just run on my regular processor? It also looks like a toy and the board itself has almost nothing on it, what am I really paying for there?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Impulse View Post
Your first few questions have been discussed recently, and it's a little more complicated than having hardware acceleration or not (which is rather irrelevant these days really)... I'd suggest reading the first post of the thread and the last couple dozen posts.

Most games these days do all audio processing in software and can then output a 5.1/7.1 signal (like for a home theater setup) that headphone surround emulation schemes like CMSS-3D & Dolby Headphone can use, which of those you prefer is subjective. A few games, mostly running on older engines can go a bit beyond that and only X-Fi cards can potentially take advantage of that thru CMSS/ALchemy. The Z series cards don't even use CMSS nor DH, they use a new algorithm that's gotten mixed impressions... That's my generally simplified take on the situation.

The X-Fi Ti HD has discrete headphone and speaker outputs but the latter are muted when headphones are plugged in. There's no getting around that, at all, your keyboard's audio extension would make no difference because the card can't sense if there's something plugged in at the end (just that the kb is plugged into the headphone out).

That being said, no one says you HAVE to use the rear headphone output... You could just go from the RCA speaker output to an amp, and if the amp has speaker-pre outputs that'll facilitate everything.

 

That's a pretty good summary of the situation in Impulse's second paragraph.

 

I should re-iterate that the whole "headphone/speaker switching" issue with the Titanium HD does NOT affect other X-Fi cards; the X-Fi Forte (and presumably most other PCIe X-Fi cards) has a checkbox for muting the speaker output or not when something's plugged into the headphone jack, and if that's checked off, both play simultaneously. As to why Creative didn't bother offering such a simple feature with the Titanium HD, I have no idea; I just consider myself fortunate that, as a headphone-only user, it's not a problem at all for me.

 

Even then, Impulse's suggestion is a good one. I just leave my Titanium HD's RCA outputs connected to an old A/V receiver which serves as part of my headphone amp setup, but I could, in theory, connect some loudspeakers to that same receiver if I wanted to and just switch things up through the Titanium HD's control panel and a button or two on the receiver.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ban13 View Post

"What U Hear" doesn't work. It only captures main menu sounds.

 

Is that so? I'm gonna have to look into this myself...wouldn't hurt for me to test some games other than BF2 while I'm at it.

post #1445 of 3278
Kinda baffling how Creative abandoned CMSS-3D when no other solution comes close to it at the lowest level (pure virtualiziation). So they drop everything and bring SBX. Did the engineer/designer team change? What happened? Why would they abandon a solution that is still the most accurate in the market? They could have built upon it, refined it, even cooperate with FMOD.

The PS4 has a confirmed dedicated audio processor, the rumoured Durango an even "better" (due to the next kinect) one.
Maybe the PC can profit from this as it did from multicore utilization in games thanks to consoles. The question is. Will MS deliver a standard in a future DirectX?
post #1446 of 3278
Quote:
Originally Posted by Impulse View Post

Freespace 2 rocked so much... I think that was like the last great big budget PC space sim no?

I'm ashamed to say I ended up copying it for like two or three friends (this was senior year or first year of college for us, neither morality nor funds were plentiful tongue.gif ). Probably contributed to the genre's demise!

I'm gonna have to check that BSG mod sometime...
Hmm, hard to say... Copying games for your friends definitely hurts the developer's bottom line (was the game still "current" when you did this?), and can ruin funding for the next game or put a company out of business. Then again, there's a situation like Starcraft... That first game was shared and distributed like crazy, it kept the game alive in the mindshare of gamers and spread it's popularity like wildfire. I could probably have stolen a copy, but since I could still pick up a physical copy of the battle chest at Walmart (IMO wouldn't be possible if people weren't still playing it like mad), I just bought that instead. Blizzard absolutely doesn't want that to happen again, and has pretty much insured that, BUT Starcraft II is definitely reaping the benefits from the popularity of the first game.

Your actions probably contributed to the death of new games of the genre... but also contributed to why user mods are still made for it and the game still has a following. The genre may well resurface some day (I loved "Galaxy on Fire II" for my iPad!), but right now the mainstream is about getting burnt out on FPS games.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

Yeah, you could say that flipping on CMSS-3D Headphone with a pair of AD700s on my head forever killed my interest in surround speakers.

As for affordable Dolby Headphone receivers, look on eBay for stuff like the Harmon Kardon AVR 254/354 and Marantz SR5001/SR5002, among others. They're confirmed to have DH, and should also have HDMI inputs.

There were still a few notable ones afterward, like Independence War 2. Possibly Freelancer (if the use of KB+M controls at the total expense of joystick support didn't put you off entirely) and DarkStar One as well. Still, none had the sheer following that Freespace 2 did...and then Volition hasn't been able to make the planned third installment for over a decade, along with Descent IV. Great...

Definitely go grab the two Independence War titles off GOG if you're looking for more space "sim" action. Just note that they're very different from most titles in the genre, what with the Newtonian flight model and piloting a corvette instead of a small space fighter and all.

We can only hope Star Citizen delivers on all those promises...it better, for the amount they've raised through crowdfunding!
Star Citizen?
Independence War? Newtonian physics sounds kinda interesting actually, I loved flying in the Escape Velocity series (a golden, classic retro game that's simply addictive and fun to play).

I haven't played Freelancer, my one friend had it for his PC and I think I played it one time. I loved Starlancer on my Dreamcast, but I think my game glitches on the last level and I can't figure out how to beat it.
post #1447 of 3278
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

Is that so? I'm gonna have to look into this myself...wouldn't hurt for me to test some games other than BF2 while I'm at it.

Try Project Reality mod for BF2. With the Sound Mod it has BF3 sounds with BF2 audio engine. It's.... amazing. www.realitymod.com

post #1448 of 3278
Ban13,
I feel like if I had to guess anyone had installed the Project Reality mod, it would've been Nameless. Possibly even have contributed to making the mod.

Fegefeuer,
We can only hope. Some interesting tech going into the PS4 for sure, the first time nViDiA actually is giving another platform it's blessing to use PhysX. Who knows, maybe the PS4 will have DH or similar home theater surround simulator? Of course I'd prefer a "gaming" virtual surround processing such as CMSS-3D, because of the whole 5.1 vs 3D thing, but I'll take wider adoption over nothing smily_headphones1.gif
post #1449 of 3278

I'm confused by this... Is their anyway to get the virtual surround sound with a laptop? My laptop comes with Dolby Advanced Audio, but that seems to only work with the speakers (hacks?).

I bet I'm missing something...

post #1450 of 3278
Quote:
Originally Posted by daleb View Post

I'm confused by this... Is their anyway to get the virtual surround sound with a laptop? My laptop comes with Dolby Advanced Audio, but that seems to only work with the speakers (hacks?).

I bet I'm missing something...


Virtual surround sound can usually be done by software, so you wouldn't need any special hardware, although some sound cards probably have their own processing to take load off of the CPU.

post #1451 of 3278
Quote:
Originally Posted by wlmeng11 View Post


Virtual surround sound can usually be done by software, so you wouldn't need any special hardware, although some sound cards probably have their own processing to take load off of the CPU.


Okay, so what from the first post do I use to do that?

post #1452 of 3278
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post
Star Citizen?
Independence War? Newtonian physics sounds kinda interesting actually, I loved flying in the Escape Velocity series (a golden, classic retro game that's simply addictive and fun to play).

I haven't played Freelancer, my one friend had it for his PC and I think I played it one time. I loved Starlancer on my Dreamcast, but I think my game glitches on the last level and I can't figure out how to beat it.

 

Star Citizen is an ambitious title from the folks behind Wing Commander that raised MILLIONS through crowd-funding. Not even joking about that. It looks really promising, but I have my doubts as to whether it can live up to the hype in the end.

 

I haven't played Freelancer myself...or Starlancer, though I did just score the latter in a thrift shop for $3 (along with Ace Combat 04, but that's not a PC game). Thrift stores are hit-and-miss...mostly misses, but when you hit, you can get some great bargains!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ban13 View Post

Try Project Reality mod for BF2. With the Sound Mod it has BF3 sounds with BF2 audio engine. It's.... amazing. www.realitymod.com

 

Amazing Frostbite-era Battlefield sound samples, with the Refractor engine's vastly superior positional audio (and less "unlock everything" crap in the gameplay, to boot)? Sign me up!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post
Ban13,
I feel like if I had to guess anyone had installed the Project Reality mod, it would've been Nameless. Possibly even have contributed to making the mod.

 

Hah, I wish...can't say I've ever been personally involved in any mod's development.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by daleb View Post

I'm confused by this... Is their anyway to get the virtual surround sound with a laptop? My laptop comes with Dolby Advanced Audio, but that seems to only work with the speakers (hacks?).

I bet I'm missing something...

 

I'm guessing the Dolby Advanced Audio software suite does NOT include Dolby Headphone, otherwise this would be pretty straightforward.

 

As for possible solutions:

 

-Buy a USB audio device, something like a Xonar U3 or Recon3D USB.

-If your laptop has a Realtek audio codec, there are modded drivers with the X-Fi MB software suite (and thus either CMSS-3D Headphone or THX TruStudio Surround) floating around that may work.

post #1453 of 3278
Is there a way or workaround to mute the analog out of the Titanium HD in cases I don't need my PC360 headset (aka Singleplayer). That's when I want to to play over the DAC with my HD 800.
The PC360 can lower the volume via the knob on the right ear but at the lowest setting you can still hear something (since the soundcard output will be 100% when using the DAC)
post #1454 of 3278
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

I'm guessing the Dolby Advanced Audio software suite does NOT include Dolby Headphone, otherwise this would be pretty straightforward.

 

As for possible solutions:

 

-Buy a USB audio device, something like a Xonar U3 or Recon3D USB.

-If your laptop has a Realtek audio codec, there are modded drivers with the X-Fi MB software suite (and thus either CMSS-3D Headphone or THX TruStudio Surround) floating around that may work.

No, it doesn't come with Dolby headphone. I wish it did, ugh. Maybe theres a way to set up the dll for that to run through everything?
 

My laptop does have a realtek, the ALC 271x... According to Realtek's site, that doesn't even exist. Modded version from Acer, maybe? I wonder if these hacked drivers would even work. Is it possible to even attempt that without killing my computer and its audio?

post #1455 of 3278
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fegefeuer View Post

Is there a way or workaround to mute the analog out of the Titanium HD in cases I don't need my PC360 headset (aka Singleplayer). That's when I want to to play over the DAC with my HD 800.
The PC360 can lower the volume via the knob on the right ear but at the lowest setting you can still hear something (since the soundcard output will be 100% when using the DAC)

Umm, strange question, generally when you switch all system playback from a sound card to a USB DAC the sound card will be completely muted, and vice versa, unless you're switching in some other way I'm not aware of or enabled it so both sound devices are active simultaneously... To make switching easier you can use this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Impulse View Post

Quick audio switcher for going between USB DAC and mobo on-board audio or sound cards on PC (or HDMI out via video card, etc etc):

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1656534

Also, I've found that generally if you plug in a USB DAC of any kind and select it, then later disconnect it, when it's reconnected again Windows will auto select it and switch back...

So it's a pretty seamless process if you're using a laptop or something where you'll manually unplug it often (or a small DAC like the U3, which you might plug in on the front ports), wouldn't even need this app.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your question, what DAC are you referring to?
Edited by Impulse - 4/3/13 at 2:58pm
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