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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 168

post #2506 of 3714
Can anyone help me? I am going to be using the V-Moda M100s for PC gaming. I will be usin the Asus Xonar Essence STX as a sound card. Will this set-up allow for positional audio in FPS games, or is that an impossibility with this headset? I will also be using this headset for listening to music on both my PC and iPhone (that is why I don't want to settle for a run-of-the-mill "gaming" headset.) I am obviously not too educated in audio, but I have learned that external DACs will ruin positional audio. Is this true? Because before I chose a sound card I was thinking of going with the FiiO E09K and E17 combo.
Edited by Cruhx - 1/19/14 at 9:35pm
post #2507 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruhx View Post

Can anyone help me? I am going to be using the V-Moda M100s for PC gaming. I will be usin the Asus Xonar Essence STX as a sound card. Will this set-up allow for positional audio in FPS games, or is that an impossibility with this headset? I will also be using this headset for listening to music on both my PC and iPhone (that is why I don't want to settle for a run-of-the-mill "gaming" headset.) I am obviously not too educated in audio, but I have learned that external DACs will ruin positional audio. Is this true? Because before I chose a sound card I was thinking of going with the FiiO E09K and E17 combo.

 

The M100s will never have a huge soundstage, as they're basically closed.  Virtual surround sound will help of course, but they won't be on the same level as the best open headphones.

 

A USB DAC will "ruin" positional audio only in that it bypasses your internal soundcard - thus bypassing any surround sound processing from it.  So you will be playing in basic stereo with a USB DAC, whereas with certain soundcards you would have virtual surround sound.

post #2508 of 3714
Would the AKG K 702 be a good open headphone choice for gaming? It's about the same price range... Would it need an amp or be good with the sound card I mentioned earlier?
post #2509 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acclaim View Post
 

Question re: using sound card as DSP to output to DAC...

 

Creative Settings:

Game Mode

CMSS-3D on

Speakers: Headphones

 

Windows Settings:

Creative X-Fi as default device

Creative X-Fi configured as 5.1

"What U Hear" listening to device, playback output to DAC

 

My question is, do I set the DAC speaker configuration in Windows settings to Stereo or 5.1? I feel like it should be stereo as the input from the X-Fi will be coming in as stereo (albeit CMSS-3D stereo).

 

EDIT: A second question, do I set in-game speaker configuration to stereo or 5.1? Aiiii-yaaa!

 

You answered your own question with the bolded "Windows Settings"-related bits. If you're not feeding CMSS-3D Headphone the extra surround channels, it's just processing front left/right speakers, which is pointless.

 

Also, CMSS-3D Headphone (or any other HRTF surround mix) is NOT stereo, despite only needing two channels. That's an important distinction Mad Lust Envy and I make.

 

For in-game settings, I'd probably set it to 5.1/7.1 just to be sure.

post #2510 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruhx View Post

Would the AKG K 702 be a good open headphone choice for gaming? It's about the same price range... Would it need an amp or be good with the sound card I mentioned earlier?

Your question would be better served in the gaming headphone thread, but a quick answer is the K702 is amazing for competitive gaming as long as it's adequately powered. Get over to the other thread and find more specifics there.

post #2511 of 3714

Alien: Isolation. This game looks scary as ****. I couldn't find out anything about the sound design or engine they are using, but here's hoping they do a good job.

 

 

 

With commentary (same vid almost): http://youtu.be/9lkh0-jPfxs

 

Preview: http://www.gamesradar.com/alien-isolation-why-you-need-stop-worrying-about-colonial-marines-right-now/

post #2512 of 3714

post #2513 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post
 

 

You answered your own question with the bolded "Windows Settings"-related bits. If you're not feeding CMSS-3D Headphone the extra surround channels, it's just processing front left/right speakers, which is pointless.

 

Also, CMSS-3D Headphone (or any other HRTF surround mix) is NOT stereo, despite only needing two channels. That's an important distinction Mad Lust Envy and I make.

 

For in-game settings, I'd probably set it to 5.1/7.1 just to be sure.

Thanks for the reply Nameless!

 

Just a quick rundown of what I think I know, please jump in if what I say is incorrect:

 

Starting with Windows, Creative X-Fi is configured as 5.1 and set as the default device. This 5.1 feed is processed by CMSS-3D Headphone and then output as a stereo feed under "Headphones" in the driver settings. I then have "What U Hear" set to listen and playback through the DAC.

 

My question is, under Windows, do I configure the DAC audio (which is not the default device) as a 5.1 or stereo configuration? We have past the point of CMSS-3D processing and the signal has now entered Windows sound for the second time.

 

The digital signal then of course enters the DAC which converts the digital signal to analog which reaches my amp and ultimately headphones.

If I can get this down properly I will try to write-up a clear set of instructions of how to do this on Windows 8. I feel as though the initial instructions may lack a few key details.


Edited by Acclaim - 1/20/14 at 4:37pm
post #2514 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acclaim View Post

Thanks for the reply Nameless!

 

Just a quick rundown of what I think I know, please jump in if what I say is incorrect:

 

Starting with Windows, Creative X-Fi is configured as 5.1 and set as the default device. This 5.1 feed is processed by CMSS-3D Headphone and then output as a stereo feed under "Headphones" in the driver settings. I then have "What U Hear" set to listen and playback through the DAC.

 

My question is, under Windows, do I configure the DAC audio (which is not the default device) as a 5.1 or stereo configuration? We have past the point of CMSS-3D processing and the signal has now entered Windows sound for the second time.

 

The digital signal then of course enters the DAC which converts the digital signal to analog which reaches my amp and ultimately headphones.

If I can get this down properly I will try to write-up a clear set of instructions of how to do this on Windows 8. I feel as though the initial instructions may lack a few key details.

 

I must've missed that part...it doesn't matter what the DAC's set to output.

 

However, I should've also mentioned that this method seems to outright DESTROY audio quality for me...though I don't recall it sounding too bad with the ODAC, mainly the Recon3D USB and other devices.

 

Generally speaking, I'd advise using an S/PDIF DAC instead whenever possible, and if it's an X-Fi Titanium HD instead of the "regular" Titanium models, an alternate DAC would be a waste in most cases.

 

Whatever the case, one of these days, I'm going to have to figure out how to rewrite this entire guide from the ground up.

post #2515 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post
 

 

I must've missed that part...it doesn't matter what the DAC's set to output.

 

However, I should've also mentioned that this method seems to outright DESTROY audio quality for me...though I don't recall it sounding too bad with the ODAC, mainly the Recon3D USB and other devices.

 

Generally speaking, I'd advise using an S/PDIF DAC instead whenever possible, and if it's an X-Fi Titanium HD instead of the "regular" Titanium models, an alternate DAC would be a waste in most cases.

 

Whatever the case, one of these days, I'm going to have to figure out how to rewrite this entire guide from the ground up.

Yeah, fair. That's what I was thinking. No matter what it's set to it's still receiving a CMSS-3D post-processed channel in stereo.

 

My X-Fi is a relic XtremeMusic on PCI! If I end up hooking it up to the DAC it'll hafta be through coaxial S/PDIF. Will this bottleneck my system? In the next few weeks (waiting on shipping!) I'll be running DAC -RCA-> Bottleneck Crack w/ Speedball -1/4"TRS-> HD650

 

Maybe I should upgrade to a X-Fi TiHD for an optical output that would support CMSS-3D. (I have an optical out from my mobo already, but again it would rely upon the DAC bypass method for DSP which isn't perfect)

 

Sorry for all of the questions man, venturing into a new world!

 

EDIT: Found a relevant reply of yours from a while ago:

 


Quote:

Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post
 

The reason why some of us would do that is that we're using the sound card's DSP, particularly for gaming effects.

 

DACs are obviously not DSPs...or ADCs or any of the other functions a sound card might have, for that matter.

 

However, while I can understand buying a cheap sound card just for the DSP effects, buying something near top-of-the-line just to ignore their improved analog outputs (which is the main thing they have over lower-end cards) would be a waste of money.

 

 

What about for improved digital outputs? The XtremeMusic is marketed at being able to digitally output 24-bit/192kHz but in the driver settings I only see 96kHz under "Digital Output (PCM) Sampling Rate Settings." 

I'd hate to limit a ~$1000 rig by skipping out on a ~$100 soundcard w/ digital optical output, CMSS-3D (or binaural audio equivalent) and 24-bit/192kHz!
 


Edited by Acclaim - 1/20/14 at 8:51pm
post #2516 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acclaim View Post
 

 

What about for improved digital outputs? The XtremeMusic is marketed at being able to digitally output 24-bit/192kHz but in the driver settings I only see 96kHz under "Digital Output (PCM) Sampling Rate Settings." 

I'd hate to limit a ~$1000 rig by skipping out on a ~$100 soundcard w/ digital optical output, CMSS-3D (or binaural audio equivalent) and 24-bit/192kHz!

 

Do you have ANY content greater than 48khz, or even 44.1khz??

 

If you're not sure, then you most likely don't.  Have you bought a lot of music from hdtracks.com?

post #2517 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by chicolom View Post
 

 

Do you have ANY content greater than 48khz, or even 44.1khz??

 

If you're not sure, then you most likely don't.  Have you bought a lot of music from hdtracks.com?

Haha, that's a fair question. NO! ...I guess that's a little bit of OCD kicking in, ya?

 

I was more concerned about the coaxial output vs. optical (and perhaps a bit of future-proofing if I were to get into 24-bit).

post #2518 of 3714

I made a new thread about this, but didn't get many bites, so I thought I might post it here as well, because everyone on this thread seems quite smart.

 

 

I have been using the Creative X-Fi Titanium (Non-HD) for some time now. I do a lot of PC gaming, but sometimes it is difficult for me to determine whether or not CMSS-3D is making a difference in certain FPS titles I play...

 

1. Team Fortress 2 

 

I used to play this game a lot, turning CMSS-3D didn't seem to change much audio wise. This is before I figured out that Creative Alchemy is needed to restore anything running off the Source 2 engine. I still can't figure out how to get Alchemy working with this particular title, as I've read conflicting instructions on how to do so.

 

 

2. Killing Floor

 

I play this game more than any other game. It runs off the Unreal Engine 2, so I thought my X-Fi would benefit it greatly. However, this game is a little rough around the edges in certain ways. The most glaring issue is that when enabling sound hardware acceleration in the game's .ini or in the in-game menu under audio system driver a BSOD occurs every time. This is well documented amongst the Tripwire (development company) and Creative forums. So, I use the lesser quality software accelerated support, which CMSS-3D seems to benefit to a considerable amount. However, I'm frustrated I can't take advantage of my card in the first way. And I also cannot figure out whether Alchemy would make things better yet. I assumed because it uses OpenAL natively, it wouldn't need Alchemy; but this page seems to suggest that Creative Alchemy benefits Unreal Tournament 2003, 2004, and 3. Which I assumed wouldn't need Alchemy because they could they used OpenAL natively? And since Killing Floor is a mod of that game, this could change. And since I'm using software accelerated support maybe that wouldn't matter anyway? I found one person in a Tripwire forum who claimed Alchemy benefited this game, but that the buffers, duration, and maximum voice count settings in Alchemy caused wild fluctuations in game performance and he/she could never tweak it right.

 

 

3. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

 

This one I've been getting into recently. This is game is even more rough around the edges than Killing Floor so I knew I would have questions about it. I would think that it would be once again natively supported, because it uses Unreal Engine 3, but it does not give me the same "exact coordinates in space" feel that the CMSS-3D in Killing Floor gives me. I haven't found any instructions on how to get Alchemy working with this game so I haven't touched it yet. But I thought I wouldn't need Alchemy for an OpenAL game!?!??!

 

 

4. Battlefield 3

 

Turned on CMSS-3D for this game and HOLY SMOKES. I can hear everything in every 3D place. Too bad I NEVER play this game anymore.

 

 

 

So today I started doubting whether having a Creative card was worth it. I could just get a Xonar card and flip on Dolby Headphone. Sure I'd be getting average surround sound, but I wouldn't have to worry so much about getting things working perfectly with legacy titles. It is my understanding that Alchemy is rarely used for newer titles because most audio in new games is software-accelerated.

post #2519 of 3714
Thread Starter 

Coaxial vs. optical/Toslink...I wouldn't expect much of a difference in practice, though some people are known to prefer coaxial due to supposedly lower jitter in the signal.

 

I'm not too concerned about jitter, though. That's going into extreme audiophile territory.

 

Also, you'd be hard-pressed to find 96 KHz content, let alone 192 KHz content. Even then, some say that 192 KHz actually degrades sound quality for whatever reason, and sample rates above 48 KHz aren't practical when the Nyquist limit bringing the effective audible range down to 24 KHz is well beyond the average person's hearing range. (I can't hear beyond about 14 KHz myself...)

 

EDIT: Well, someone posted while I was composing this...

 

Source-engine games should be fine with having dsound.dll and dsound.ini in the root of their directories and setting snd_legacy_surround 1 in the console to enable DirectSound3D, which then gets wrapped into OpenAL via ALchemy. Of course, there's a chance that you'll prefer the software 5.1/7.1 mix as the base for CMSS-3D Headphone to work with instead.

 

Strangely enough, Killing Floor and other UnrealEngine2 titles DON'T give me BSoDs with native OpenAL. They just work. How much of this is due to using the X-Fi Prelude, Forte and Titanium HD with their different driver packages, I don't know, but hardware OpenAL works fine in all cases.

 

Setting it to software OpenAL likely makes it use the "Generic Software" OpenAL device, which would suck. Better to try out OpenAL Soft or Rapture3D User Edition, if you can't utilize the X-Fi's hardware mode.

 

I suppose putting the ALchemy dsound.dll and dsound.ini for OpenAL-native games won't hurt anything, but it shouldn't need them since it's meant to wrap DirectSound3D calls into OpenAL, and this would be tantamount to dropping a 3dfx Glide-to-OpenGL wrapper in a game directory that has no Glide renderer.

 

UnrealEngine3 is a fuzzy case; only the very earliest UE3 games like UT3, Bioshock, Mirror's Edge and Mass Effect 1 have native OpenAL. UE3.5 moved to XAudio2, which really irritates me since a lot of the later games like Mass Effect 2 and Borderlands went all software-mixed as a consequence.

 

ALchemy is indeed rarely used in newer titles because it's for DirectSound3D specifically. As mentioned earlier, even hardware-accelerated titles that use OpenAL to do it don't need it.


Edited by NamelessPFG - 1/20/14 at 11:57pm
post #2520 of 3714

So I thought I'd install Bioshock just to test the sound on SBX Pro vs Dolby Heapdhone, but apparently Bioshock's audio is a PITA to get working correctly and prevents the game from even launching.

http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1133842

 

It will only launch with "-nosound", so I scrolled down to this section and tried adding the game to Creative Alchemy list but it still won't launch. 

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
D. Sound Issues: Creative, Creative Soundblaster, Creative X-Fi 3rd party cards.

You will know if you have a Creative card because you installed it yourself, you can see it on the back of your PC or you identified it in the dxdiag under Sound Devices. The Description would be: Creative Audio Output, or Creative "something" will be listed.

1. Ensure you have OpenAL or Alchemy installed.
2. Either search for the program or go to Start > Control Panel > Uninstall Programs. If it is not listed there, you do not have the program installed.
3. OpenAL is an emulator. Creative cards do not nativel support BioShock FMOD sound.
4. Go to Creative's Website and download OpenAL. Follow their directions to get it up and running. Make sure you open "OpenAL" select bioshock and then run it.
5. If you have any issues with OpenAL check their website or search the internet for possible solutions. I am unfamiliar with the program but have helped a fellow steam user get that program to allow him to play BioShock.

D-2. Additional info on OpenAL\Alchemy and X-Fi cards. (From a thread by: wanderofys)

If you have a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio card (or any X-Fi card), you need to download and install Alchemy. Open Alchemy, choose "add", then a box will open. Choose "use game path", then put the path to the file that contains all your Bioshock files into it (for me, I had to put it in steamapps\common\bioshock\builds\release). Once you do that, just choose Bioshock in Alchemy, and click the right arrow that you'll see in the middle of the program. Tada! Load Bioshock, it will work perfectly.

There is one major thing you need to make sure you do before you try this. If you're having problems with Bioshock, odds are good you have tried some other fixes for the game, such as the default.ini fix. You need to make sure you UNDO THESE FIXES. If you use Alchemy and do what I said, the game will not freeze on startup without the default.ini fix, AND your sound will work. So if you changed anything, make sure you change it back, including running it in windows xp mode. You don't need to anymore. Also, if you forget what you changed in default.ini, just verify the integrity of your game cache with Steam and it will automatically fix your default.ini file.

 

This is why I love PC gaming.  :mad: 

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