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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 100

post #1486 of 3059
Quote:
Originally Posted by neopac View Post

 

i don´t ask you to read the 99 pages of this thread.. but maybe you should read the first post... binaural is what you´re looking for

Ok I went back to read the first post fully, and I'm still not quite sure I understand...

Let me see if I got it right: Basically, any type of surround sound I hear in a headset would be "virtual surround sound" correct? I did hear about headsets that have multiple "speakers" for TRUE surround sound...

 

So when I use my Astro a50s, without using the dolby button, I get surround sound from the games I play in my ears.... Is that virtual surround sound? Because it feels pretty real... It's surround sound processed by my Xonar DX, but I wonder if the TX amp (or the headset itself) is RE-processing that sound or not...

post #1487 of 3059

Thanks a lot Impulse and Nameless, really helpful! No love shown for Sound Blaster Z, then? I found an open box one for ~$60, no warranty but should be mint. It really seems to be between the Forte and the Z now, as Titanium HD is vulgarly expensive still here in Europe, they are asking for almost ZxR kind of $ for it.

 

What Impulse says about amps also resonates loud and clearly with my gadget-obsessed sub-consciousness, and prompted me to calculate the relative insanity of splurging on an Epiphany Acoustics O2; it would cost me £109,99 including taxes & shipping (Fiio E09K would be around the same, but having done some reading on these 2 I learnt that O2 should be better for driving the headset I have)... Between the headset, the soundcard & possibly the amp, my wallet is cursing the day I found this forum. 

 

 

Edit: Pro-ject Headbox S amp seems to cost roughly the same as the aforementioned 2 amps... How does it compare to O2? I read the disclaimer about this not being the correct thread to ask for advice on headphones/amps, hope you don't mind. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 

 

Out of those options, I'd probably pick the X-Fi Forte (especially at that price), though I would try to make sure it has a heatsink on the DSP or some other indication that it's one of the later batch of cards. Also, I'd definitely opt for Daniel_K's X-Fi Support Pack over the Auzentech drivers I had used several months ago.

 

Then there's the X-Fi Titanium HD, which is very capable, but generally around $100-120 these days, thus more expensive. Any advantages over the Forte that aren't driver-related probably wouldn't be noticeable with your headphones.

 

If you want to go Xonar for any reason, I'd suggest either the cheap DG(X) or the high-end Essence ST(X) line.

 

 

For software-mixed games, it's really down to a matter of preference on CMSS-3D Headphone vs. Dolby Headphone, with plenty of outspoken proponents on both sides, myself and Mad Lust Envy among them.

 

They say the Titanium HD has a 35-ohm output impedance on the headphone jack. Didn't seem to faze the HE-400 much, but orthos are known for flat impedance curves, and I don't have any demanding dynamics lying around. (Nor do I plan to buy any when most of 'em are priced in used Stax territory. On the other hand, if someone would kindly lend me some more sets to review...an AKG K/Q70x or Sennheiser HD650 would surely be the ticket for demanding dynamics!)

 

The X-Fi Forte claims to have some kind of headphone amp, but I don't know if it's a dedicated circuit or another Titanium HD advertising incident. It'll get plenty loud, but I don't know the actual output impedance or the control it'll have over more demanding dynamic/ortho drivers.

 

And for that matter, the money spent on amplification at this point would be far better spent just getting a newer headphone, and I'd only consider paying up for the amp if the headphones absolutely require it (read: electrostatics).

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Impulse View Post

Creative cards don't really handle positional cues better in general than Xonar cards, unless you're concerned with older games, but impedance is absolutely something to take into account when selecting your card/amp... AFAIK most of the ASUS Xonars have relatively high output impedance so even tho they have better amps than Creative's older cards they might sound a bit uncontrolled with lower impedance headphones... Dunno about output impedance on Creative's cards...

Those Beyers are actually harder to drive than the average headphone because of their low impedance/sensitivity, unlike most low impedance highly sensitive headphones.

The Titanium HD is Creative's best card and it's often on sale for $100 (should be discontinued for the Z series eventually), doesn't have any discrete amp despite what they advertise tho. A regular old X-Fi titanium seems a little expensive at $70 if it's second hand... I'm not terribly familiar with the Forte, the DX2 is kind of a rip considering you can buy a new DGX for like $50. From what I've read, the THX/SBX headphone surround emulation onthe new Z series isn't as strong as Creative'd old CMSS-3D or Dolby Headphone (used on Xonars), haven't heard one myself though.

You may or may not eventually realize you actually want an external amp to get the most out of that headset, so I wouldn't overspend on the card. Cheap DGX, the Forte if you read good things about it, or the Ti HD if you find a deal, IMO.

Edited by muksuluuri - 4/15/13 at 1:56pm
post #1488 of 3059

So I just swapped to windows 8 and had a little trouble getting my X-fi Titanium to work with it.  After doing some forum diving I come to find creative's continued support of the drivers for the xfi line are in question which has me worried.

 

Taking that into consideration I am looking to see if there are any worth upgrades from my current card.  I mainly game with my Sennheiser HD555s and play the gambit from shooters, to mobas and mmos. So virtual surround is something I would like to keep in mind as much as possible.

 

I was considering the Asus essence stx, the creative Z or a titanium HD. 

 

As mentioned above the driver support for the xfis and reports of the Titanuim HDs dying prematurely has me worried.  What might you all recommend for me to grab to pair with my current headphones.

post #1489 of 3059
Thread Starter 

My Titanium HD's still going strong. Not sure what's causing 'em to fail for other people, but mine works fine. Seems like I just have a lot of luck with X-Fi hardware, including the X-Fi Forte I had prior.

 

As for Windows 8 support, I recall trying out the existing Win7 drivers back on the Release Preview and them working just fine (maybe with the need for Win7 compatibility mode, I don't recall), but I obviously didn't mess with it for too long because I hate Windows 8 and its mess of a UI that Microsoft's trying to cram down our throats. (Too bad, because some of the under-the-hood enhancements are nice. I just don't think it's worth paying money to downgrade overall because of that mishmashed UI.)

 

...Holy crap, this thread's hit 100 pages already!

post #1490 of 3059
Congrats Nameless!!!

Just finished upgrading from the consumer preview to Win 8 Pro yesterday, I actually like the info-at-a-glance live tiles. I wasn't already used to Vista or 7 though (kinda used to XP), so I had to learn pretty much from scratch anyway, and Metro doesn't bother me at all. Steam is kinda bugging me at the moment though... I played Dishonored for 3 1/2 hours earlier today, and I quit to check out an Amazon lightning deal (Solar panels, very interesting at $60), but when I try to open up the game again I get a dialogue box about "Installing some extensions for the first time setup" and it hangs there. Plugging in my USB Xbox controller and having it instantly recognized and configured was nice, but coming back to windows I'm remembering how much I hate mucking about with drivers and extensions and patches and all the other little doo-dads. Seriously, I spent 5 hours last night watching installer bars after I had finished installing Win 8 pro, and in general I just have to wade through all these configuration and helper file installs that waste my time instead of just letting me play or work or whatever.


Windows is constantly irritating, but Win 8 Pro isn't particularly more so than windows has always been. The UI is the least of my worries.
post #1491 of 3059
I just treat Win 8 like Metro doesn't exist... And I don't even hate Metro, there's just no reason for me to spend any significant time in that part of the OS when I have three 1920x1200 displays worth of work space. If I spent a lot of time on a laptop or a single display config then I might have more of a use for Metro. As a way of accessing seldom used apps I don't think it's any worse than the old Start menu. Who seriously liked the old Start menu anyway?

Until Microsoft did away with it the general opinion seemed to be that it got cluttered and disorganized all too easily and was mostly considered a vestigial reminder of older menu-driven UI paradigms. People actively avoided it with all sorts of 3rd party docks and launchers (until Windows 7's overhauled task bar took some of the wind from that). The Metro hate just got trendy and out of proportion... It's not a great fit for desktops but it's a good fit for the convergent devices the majority of the population's gonna end up using (if they aren't already) and it's no worse at it's basic functionality than the old Start menu.

Well, except for shutdown, they did bury the hell out of that... Pretty sure that was on purpose tho. Laptops have a physical button for this that you can re-assign from sleep/hibernate if you prefer. I've noticed a lot of people (older people particularly) never use it because they think of it like a kill switch (as it was on older computers) so they never use sleep, which is pretty much a crime these days with RAM prices and SSD where they are (and Windows not needing to be rebooted constantly just because).

There's actually a lot more thought and research behind Microsoft's madness and decisions than people give them credit for (particularly over the last few years). Then again, as a student I get a dozen Windows 8 keys so I'm probably not the best judge of it's worth. tongue.gif They did offer it cheaper than ever tho, like $50 for pre-orders I think? No one but geeks and enthusiasts actually care about OS upgrades anyway! wink.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan1107 View Post

Ok I went back to read the first post fully, and I'm still not quite sure I understand...
Let me see if I got it right: Basically, any type of surround sound I hear in a headset would be "virtual surround sound" correct? I did hear about headsets that have multiple "speakers" for TRUE surround sound...

So when I use my Astro a50s, without using the dolby button, I get surround sound from the games I play in my ears.... Is that virtual surround sound? Because it feels pretty real... It's surround sound processed by my Xonar DX, but I wonder if the TX amp (or the headset itself) is RE-processing that sound or not...

Headphones with multiple drivers in them try to recreate the experience of having multiple speakers, but generally fail to do so because stuffing three or five or however many drivers into a tiny cup that's one inch from your ear just isn't very effective and it just ends up hurting the overall SQ... There's a reason you only see that kinda headset from gaming peripheral companies.

The other way to get a surround-like experience from headphones (and what most around here would recommend) is the virtual-ized approach. Algorithms like Dolby Headphone essentially take a 5.1 signal meant for speakers and they process it in a way that sounds natural and for headphones, instead of just downmixing to stereo.

Your DX has a setting for Dolby Headphone, you would want to set the game to 5.1 output and then enable DH on the card's control panel. On a console you'd use something like the Astro Mixamp to get the same effect. Stereo headphones and headsets can't process a signal, they're entirely analog (99% of the time, with exceptions like NC etc.), they simply reproduce the signal they're fed.
post #1492 of 3059
Hello again. I don't know if i missed something, but I cant get 3dsoundback working. When i click on it nothing opens and there is no difference in sound. I cant check my computer now, so sorry for that.
Edit: and now I can.
Edit 2:Okay, I figured out how to get 3dsoundback to at least open, you have to run it through vista (not XP!) compatibility mode. Now then, how do I make it sound things sound as if they are 3d? So far, it doesn't seem to do much.
Edit3:Is it actually possible to tell if something is virtual surround sound with cheaper headphones? they have imaging, but they have never had any depth whatsoever, so while playing games, if I spin around, the sound right now spins around my head, but its very close to the head, you can't tell how far away it is at all, so I don't know if surround is enabled or not...
Edit4: Bethesda games all crash when you enable 3dsoundback on them D:
Edited by daleb - 4/19/13 at 8:20pm
post #1493 of 3059

Ok so I just got the PC360 headset, and right now I'm not very impressed... but I think I need some advice on setting it all up...

 

The PC360s have 2x 3.5mm jacks (mic + headphone) and I plugged them both in the front panel analog inputs (mic + headphone). In my XONAR DX soundcard panel, I have tried these 2 setups:

 

8 channel + Dolby Headphone Enabled (and the directionnal cues are perfect, but somehow the sound quality seems diminished... feels like being inside a can... the trebles are not as clean as when I'm only using 8 channels and Dolby Headphone is off)

 

I aslo tried 8 channel only... Sound quatity is top of the line, but there isnt much difference between sounds cues that are coming from the front vs the back...

 

I also tried 8 channels + Dolby Headphone + 7.1 shifter... Directionnal cues are even clearer than when I was just using 8 ch + dolby headphone... but the sound quality is even worst...

 

When I was using the a50s with a optical cable running from the soundcard to the TX amp (with 8 ch + 5.1 speaker setup on the XONAR panel) everything sounded better than all of these setups...

 

Have I missed something ? Should my headset be plugged straight to the back of the XONAR soundcard instead of the front panel? (because if I do Im not sure I'll be able to plug  in the mic right?)

post #1494 of 3059

Try Dolby headphone mode 1 or 2 , I find 3 to have way too much effect. I normally used DH1 when I was on a xonar based card. Because Mode 1 is Ref and doesn't add any reverbs.

post #1495 of 3059
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathan1107 View Post


Well, even with DH-1 setup with the PC360s and my Xonar DX, I still feel the decrease in sound quality... that feeling that all the sounds feel like the inside of a tin can... Very annoying... Somehow, when I was using the A50s outputting sound from the optical cable to the TX amp and selecting dolby digital live on the xonar DX, the surround sound was still being emulated, but didn't feel as bad... but I think that is because the A50s have lots of bass and not that much clarity...

 

I'm guessing the PC360s are so good that I can hear all the shortcomings of the emulation quite fast. BUT: When I don't enable Dolby Headphone technology (which means I have stereo sound only with no surround sound at all, because its not being emulated) the sound is crystal clear, almost perfect... I could see why audiophiles are in love with the pc360 for all the stereo stuff... But in MAD'S review, he seems to have enjoyed the surround sound experience quite a lot with them PC360s, I have yet to find a way to make them sound "good" when using the Dolby Headphone technology...

 

I might find a way to remove the Tin can Effect by fooling around with the EQ settings on the Xonar DX panel, or maybe by upgrading to a soundcard that does surround sound emulation better (if there is any) or maybe even use an external amp that does emulating better...

 

I'm curious to know what Mad used for PC360s hooked up to a PC. I wonder whether he used a good soundcard, onboard audio or only used the PC360s on consoles...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Umm, I dont play on PC, ever.

 

 

I'm not sure yet... but I have a feeling maybe my Xonar DX's Dolby Headphone techology is just "weak"... I'm thinking maybe I ought to get a better soundcard... and I might finally enjoy some decent virtual surround sound into my PC360s...

 

I'm tryin to make a smart move: I might get myself a soundcard that is so good, I can use it to emulate surround sound for consoles as well... I've seen some soundcards that have so many inputs and outputs... maybe I can find a sorta "univseral" soundcard...

 

Man this stuff is hardcore learning (definitly not something for your average joe)

EDIT: I have yet to try the XONAR UNIFIED drivers and see if they make the sound quality better when using virtual surround sound on the pc360s


Edited by jonathan1107 - 4/23/13 at 10:34pm
post #1496 of 3059
Why wouldn't you be able to plug the mic into the back?
post #1497 of 3059

i have a problem, i have SR850 + Titanium 7.1.

when i point Creative Alchemy to my CSGO folder it makes my game sound ugly, everything echoed and sounded like my sound card was on the brink of burning.

i try to make the game support 3d sound as you explained, can you elaborate on how to set it up?

 

EDIT - this is from my CSGO console using soundinfo command:

 

 

Sound Device:   Direct Sound
  Channels:     2
  Samples:      32768
  Bits/Sample:  16
  Rate:         44100
total_channels: 33
 
im using 7.1 and everything works fine, the problem is, and thats why i said "7.1 is crap" long time ago, it's cause the game didnt count it as 7.1, but for stereo.
thats why when i play with stereo i get the feeling that i hear stuff much clearer (and i really do)
and when i put 7.1, it turns stereo in-game, making 7.1 seem useless.

Edited by pric0 - 4/27/13 at 5:11am
post #1498 of 3059

Hey Nameless, been a long time since I posted in this thread.

 

Just a quick recap, but I bought the PC360 headset on your recommendation and when I first got it, I was disappointed with it.  However, that was just initially.  It took a while for it to "warm up" or seat itself, whatever.. but it's probably the best headset I've ever owned, so I'm not disappointed with it anymore.  But I don't think I'm getting the most from it or my soundcard (to be specific).

 

I remember talking to you about audio card settings and such (you have an x-fi ti hd, I have an x-fi ti fatal1ty pro) but I think the cards are very close together that whatever settings you use in your console, I could use.

 

So, I've been running with headphones set in the audio console, but 5.1 speakers for windows 7.  I've also been using dolby digital live as my encoder.  It was okay, but I found that I had to use SVM mode (the low and high volume equalizer) and I don't like using it.  Mostly because for music I have to uncheck it but when I play planetside 2, I like to have it checked as I can hear footsteps/cloakers better which helps me track them down.

 

Today, I thought I'd mess around with DTS Neo:PC and when I check this off and select either cinema or music mode, I find that I can no longer use the x-fi cmss-3d headphone as it will then un-enable DTS Neo:PC.  In other words, they seem to be mutually exclusive.  I hopped into PS2 and I couldn't hear footsteps as well, or cloakers but the positional cues and sounds I heard were amazing.  I was actually able to predict near pinpoint where guys were when they were firing guns or driving/flying vehicles.  So.. naturally, this seems to be the setting I'd like to use.

 

My question to you basically, is what settings do you use?  Also, I looked at my soundcard and compared it to the x-fi ti hd and the features seem to be near identical (except for a couple that don't really seem to interest me).  Should I look into getting another soundcard (either the ti hd or asus xonar?).  I ask because I don't want to spend $150+ getting a new soundcard and only a 1% or negligible increase in performance/quality.

 

Are there some settings I'm using improperly?  I understand that my ability in hearing is different from yours, and different from everyone else's, but I'm really curious how you have your card configured that gives you (in your opinion) such great audio.  I'd just hate to have this good equipment and be using it improperly and not reaping the benefits of my investments.  Especially if I've been listening in stereo and no 3d positional audio.

 

Thanks if you respond, or just reading basically.  Again, been loving the thread.

Oh, that reminds me, you have a link on your front page to a "Daniel K x-fi support pack".  What is this, and do I need it?  I'm running the latest x-fi driver (2.17.9) and I'm just not sure what the support pack actually does.  Looks like it installs some 2.17.0000008 beta driver or something?  Is that a step backwards, or something I should install anyway?  Again, thanks

post #1499 of 3059
Thread Starter 

Wait a minute...why are you using Dolby Digital Live or DTS Neo:PC in the first place with the PC360? Is there also an A/V receiver in the chain that you're also outputting to that I may have forgotten about?

 

If the PC360's connected directly to the card, then I see no reason to bother with that at all. Just turn those off, set the X-Fi to Headphones in its control panel, keep it in Game Mode, and set Windows to 7.1. That's what I do. (I only use 5.1 instead of 7.1 due to a Titanium HD limitation; still, it's no big loss in terms of positioning.)

 

Really, I run Game Mode 99% of the time; I just switch CMSS-3D Headphone on if I'm playing a game that demands positional audio cues, and switch it off whenever I'm listening to music or any other situation where it would be unhelpful.

 

If the X-Fi Titanium (non-HD) works fine for you as is and you want an upgrade, there's always the option to buy a DAC with S/PDIF input and using "Play Stereo Mix using Digital Output" to pass the audio stream to the DAC.

 

The X-Fi Support Pack is meant for use when the official driver release isn't working well enough. If the current Creative driver release is working fine for you, you probably don't have to change drivers at all.

post #1500 of 3059
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

Wait a minute...why are you using Dolby Digital Live or DTS Neo:PC in the first place with the PC360? Is there also an A/V receiver in the chain that you're also outputting to that I may have forgotten about?

 

If the PC360's connected directly to the card, then I see no reason to bother with that at all. Just turn those off, set the X-Fi to Headphones in its control panel, keep it in Game Mode, and set Windows to 7.1. That's what I do. (I only use 5.1 instead of 7.1 due to a Titanium HD limitation; still, it's no big loss in terms of positioning.)

 

Really, I run Game Mode 99% of the time; I just switch CMSS-3D Headphone on if I'm playing a game that demands positional audio cues, and switch it off whenever I'm listening to music or any other situation where it would be unhelpful.

 

If the X-Fi Titanium (non-HD) works fine for you as is and you want an upgrade, there's always the option to buy a DAC with S/PDIF input and using "Play Stereo Mix using Digital Output" to pass the audio stream to the DAC.

 

The X-Fi Support Pack is meant for use when the official driver release isn't working well enough. If the current Creative driver release is working fine for you, you probably don't have to change drivers at all.

 

 

Awesome, thanks for the response.  So don't use DDL or DTS, eh?  Hmm.. okay, I'll give that a go.  Yeah, I really don't know what all these damn features are for, but no, my headset plugs right into my card.  I also use game mode almost exclusively.  I"ve fooled around with entertainment (I think?) a couple of times, but I pretty much just use GM even for music et al.

 

Thanks again.

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