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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 5

post #61 of 3009
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post


With those headphones and one of those cards you won't need a separate amp or DAC.  The hardware in the STX and the Claro Halo are pretty similar.  Both of them have the same amp chip in them and it pairs perfectly with high impedance Beyers like you just got.  It puts out a lot of power into high impedance 'phones but for some technical reasons it often won't perform as well with lower impedance 'phones.

 

They both have great specs in the DAC and headphone sections.  The STX was measured in a review and shown to perform quite well.  I don't think that the Claro Halo hasn't been checked out like that it its probably pretty close.



Wow a $200 sound card can act as a decent DAC/AMP for headphones up to 600 ohms? That seems like a pretty good deal if it works out that well.

 

post #62 of 3009
Quote:
Originally Posted by LilBuck View Post

Wow a $200 sound card can act as a decent DAC/AMP for headphones up to 600 ohms? That seems like a pretty good deal if it works out that well.


All else equal, the higher the impedance the easier it is for and amp to make it sound good but the harder it is for the amp to make it loud and the opposite is true for lower impedances.

 

That chip has plenty of voltage too so volume won't be a problem with a 600 ohm load but it won't do as well into lower impedances.

post #63 of 3009

LilBuck,

 

With a 600 ohm load I would not use a conventional sound card; the head-amp soundcards may be capable or they may not be - depends on what they're using to drive the load (the fan favorite TI chip can do something like 80mW into 600 ohms; that's a hell of a lot of power). If you have a quality sound card, an outboard DAC seems redundant to me. Personally I'm a fan of high-end internal soundcards (I don't have any "head-amp" models though), and using something else to drive the headphones (amp, hi-fi receiver, good thoughts, whatever works). High-end does not have to mean insanely expensive; $200 is absolutely top-end in my book unless you need studio features (in which case you'll be spending more). You can get very good performance from something for less than $200 as well. As far as "the best" - ignoring the head-amp advantages, I'm going to say it's more or less six of one and half a dozen of the other. The TOTL offerings from Asus, HT Omega, and Auzen all use the same DSP and are going to be very similar; the TOTL from Creative is going to be feature-competitive but use a different DSP. If you want to spend more, you certainly can, but if the goal is to use the sound card (or outboard DAC, or even amp) as a means to change the sound of your headphones, I'd rethink that. If that's the case, get an EQ or get another pair of headphones.

 


All Sound Blaster cards since the Audigy 1 can have the Creative DDL encoder added via upgrade pack (and all X-Fi cards support the DTS Connect pack); it costs a few dollars for the licence (and I believe DTS requires Vista or 7). This is unrelated to decoding an AC-3 or DTS signal into analog. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phos View Post


 


First gen PCI X-Fi cards don't have the encoder.  They can output premade Dolby or DTS 5.1 signals but they can't make it.  



It can decode them, feesably, but it's a licence issue. It can pass-through the data though (and I believe it can apply volume leveling, it's been a while since I took it apart; I didn't really worry about this because I didn't use either PC to control the volume in that scheme). So what you'd get is Dolby/DTS into the S/PDIF port, and the same signal right back out the digital audio port. You could have the card add more into the digital audio output, but any mix-down/processing will be done in an outboard decoder. I do not believe any of the Sound Blaster cards are able to take a 5.1 DTS/AC-3 signal in via S/PDIF and downmix that to a stereo output using CMSS-3D Headphone (or whatever else). You can get an AV receiver that will take 5.1 Dolby/DTS and give you an HRTF (Dolby Headphone or Yamaha Silent Cinema) output though; might or might not be cost effective. Don't a lot of the newer games on consoles have a "headphone" mode, similar to what exists on PC? (The newest game console I own is a PlayStation). I think something like the JVC Dolby box or a Mixamp is probably the "easiest" solution, as it pulls the computer out of the loop. Dolby Headphone is fairly universal in implementation - the only thing you'd stand to gain with a PC would be CMSS-3D Headphone (and I swear that Creative used to make an outboard that could be bastardized into doing this, I forget what it was called though). 

 

One thing you could do, and I know for certain this would work, is output a stereo analog signal (or PCM) from the console, and feed that into CMSS-3D. It won't give you the exact same effect, but it would let you route things through the PC. 



Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post



I was assuming that a card with the on the fly encoders for multichannel Dolby or DTS would be also able to read those formats.  Is that true?  Likely?  Possible?

 

Basically I want to use the PC like the Mixamp.  Digital multichannel in > extra DSP mixing options a stand alone unit won't have > Dolby Headphone > and then either 2ch PCM or analog out.

 

Latency shouldn't be too important because I wouldn't be playing any FPS on a console.  Probably just RPGs that don't get a PC release.  I don't need positioning for that but I can't stand to listen to normal stereo on headphones.  I always use at least an analog crossfeed circuit when listening to music.



 


Edited by obobskivich - 2/1/12 at 4:49pm
post #64 of 3009
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

It can decode them, feesably, but it's a licence issue. It can pass-through the data though (and I believe it can apply volume leveling, it's been a while since I took it apart; I didn't really worry about this because I didn't use either PC to control the volume in that scheme). So what you'd get is Dolby/DTS into the S/PDIF port, and the same signal right back out the digital audio port. You could have the card add more into the digital audio output, but any mix-down/processing will be done in an outboard decoder. I do not believe any of the Sound Blaster cards are able to take a 5.1 DTS/AC-3 signal in via S/PDIF and downmix that to a stereo output using CMSS-3D Headphone (or whatever else). You can get an AV receiver that will take 5.1 Dolby/DTS and give you an HRTF (Dolby Headphone or Yamaha Silent Cinema) output though; might or might not be cost effective. Don't a lot of the newer games on consoles have a "headphone" mode, similar to what exists on PC? (The newest game console I own is a PlayStation). I think something like the JVC Dolby box or a Mixamp is probably the "easiest" solution, as it pulls the computer out of the loop. Dolby Headphone is fairly universal in implementation - the only thing you'd stand to gain with a PC would be CMSS-3D Headphone (and I swear that Creative used to make an outboard that could be bastardized into doing this, I forget what it was called though). 

 

One thing you could do, and I know for certain this would work, is output a stereo analog signal (or PCM) from the console, and feed that into CMSS-3D. It won't give you the exact same effect, but it would let you route things through the PC.


Thanks. I suppose I'll have to look into it more.  I don't have any of the latest generation consoles right now either but I'm thinking I should get back to it.

 

Also about LilBuck's question, the STX and the Claro Halo have the same output chip that the Fiio E9 does and can put out about 20V p-p which is plenty for the 600 ohm Beyers.

 

post #65 of 3009

Actually I meant that you could play a DVD and get surround out of the X-Fi's jack.  IIRC, The first gen X-Fi's didn't have DDL.  I seem to recall hearing this from several places.  The PCI-E cards have it out of the box.  

 

I can't help but wonder if there's a true line out somewhere in that breakout box connector on those PCI cards.  You know, the ones that took up half the backplate and were only useful to people who got the elite pro.  

post #66 of 3009

Yes, I was thinking they had that TI chip (it's also found in the CI Audio VHP1 and 2 (at substantially higher cost), and the X-Fi Forte if memory serves). I would see what kinds of options are available for audio with the consoles, perhaps asking someone who has spent time with them (I know the PlayStation 3, for example, is supposed to have tons of audio options and abilities (on-par with many top-tier Blu-ray and SACD players), and it will play more or less any disc you can fit into it - I have no idea about real-life though, as I've only ever seen them in display cases (I'm not a big console person)). 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post


Thanks. I suppose I'll have to look into it more.  I don't have any of the latest generation consoles right now either but I'm thinking I should get back to it.

 

Also about LilBuck's question, the STX and the Claro Halo have the same output chip that the Fiio E9 does and can put out about 20V p-p which is plenty for the 600 ohm Beyers.

 



This is different. The X-Fi and Audigy boards (and most anything else that does 5.1 out) will send out a decoded Dolby/DTS stream in analog (the signal is being decoded by the software player); they will also pass-through the AC-3/DTS signals from their digital inputs (SB Live! can do this) as well as a raw pass-through from a DVD. Again, Sound Blaster cards from the Audigy forward can be made to have DDL - you do have to pay $3 or $4 for the licence on older boards:

http://us.store.creative.com/Dolby-Digital-Live-Pack-SB-Audigy/M/B006GK76ZK.htm

http://us.store.creative.com/Dolby-Digital-Live-and-DTS-Connect/M/B006GK76QE.htm

 

I have no idea what the "out of stock" message is to mean; but the feature does exist. There's no technical limitation. I'm wondering if, however, the licence has expired (hence the OOS message). I know Auzen has stated that DTS is only available for Windows Vista and 7 due to cost issues (Windows XP had or has too large of a userbase to make a DTS:Connect licence affordable). 

 

S/PDIF pass-through is different than taking a Dolby/DTS signal IN via S/PDIF and processing/decoding that signal into something else. I'm unaware of any board that does that (the Auzen X-Fi Theater might actually do this via HDMI, but I think those are fairly rare; never heard much about them, and I recall them lacking an EMU20kx). 

 

I don't know what you mean by a "true line out" - the X-Fi Elite Pro is a separate PCB than the other X-Fi boards, and relies on that serial-connected affair for a lot of other features. Based on the AD_EXT and AUD_EXT interfaces used internally, it's likely going to be nothing but UART/MIDI and I2S links running down that cable (there's ADCs and DACs in the breakout modules). There's probably a serial data channel for the remote too. It's very proprietary, and "hacking" the devices is fairly limited apart from getting a raw I2S signal (which can be awesome if you know what you're doing with it and have a specific reason for wanting it). 

 

You can read about that interface here:

http://pinouts.ru/Multimedia/sb_audigy2_ad_ext_pinout.shtml

http://www.hardwareheaven.com/audio-general-technical-discussion/51279-creative-audigy-2-ad_ext-pin-assignment.html

 

I do remember that Creative used to offer the Audigy "Live Drive" box as a separate upgrade for the Audigy and Audigy 2, I haven't even seen the thing bundled with hardware in a few years though, but you may be able to find one used. They're nifty little boxes, and it's a shame that the X-Fi moved away from the rich multimedia hertiage of the Audigy series. The new break-out box for the Fatala1ty cards is separate (the one that has the dial in the center); it uses some other connection and deviates from the "Live Drive" scheme (it also offers essentially no features). 

 

I've never seen a pin-out for the Elite Pro's breakout cable (or the Audigy 2/4 Pro; I assume they're very similar), having said all of that. But again, I assume it's just I2S and UART, based on the other Creative expansion boxes.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Phos View Post

Actually I meant that you could play a DVD and get surround out of the X-Fi's jack.  IIRC, The first gen X-Fi's didn't have DDL.  I seem to recall hearing this from several places.  The PCI-E cards have it out of the box.  

 

I can't help but wonder if there's a true line out somewhere in that breakout box connector on those PCI cards.  You know, the ones that took up half the backplate and were only useful to people who got the elite pro.  



 

post #67 of 3009
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post
S/PDIF pass-through is different than taking a Dolby/DTS signal IN via S/PDIF and processing/decoding that signal into something else. I'm unaware of any board that does that (the Auzen X-Fi Theater might actually do this via HDMI, but I think those are fairly rare; never heard much about them, and I recall them lacking an EMU20kx). 

I know exactly what you mean, and on this matter, the first generation of PCI X-Fi cards (XtremeMusic, Platinum, Fatal1ty FPS, Elite Pro) had a "Decoder" tab for Dolby Digital and DTS that did exactly what you'd expect. Unfortunately, you can't simply purchase the Decoder features for other cards, nor do modified drivers unlock them...perhaps for that alone, I'll have to hunt down such an X-Fi card one of those days.

 

Also, the Auzentech X-Fi HomeTheater HD does have an EMU20k2. It's quite clearly visible, and in the same spot it would be on the X-Fi Forte.

 

The only Auzentech-made "X-Fi" card that lacks the proper DSP is the X-Fi Bravura.


Edited by NamelessPFG - 2/1/12 at 11:01pm
post #68 of 3009

Very interesting. On both counts. Thanks for clarifying on the HomeTheater HD. Indeed, the control panel for the older X-Fi boards does not match my Prelude:

http://www.ixbt.com/multimedia/creative/x-fi/ent-mode.jpg

 

What a shame.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 


I know exactly what you mean, and on this matter, the first generation of PCI X-Fi cards (XtremeMusic, Platinum, Fatal1ty FPS, Elite Pro) had a "Decoder" tab for Dolby Digital and DTS that did exactly what you'd expect. Unfortunately, you can't simply purchase the Decoder features for other cards, nor do modified drivers unlock them...perhaps for that alone, I'll have to hunt down such an X-Fi card one of those days.

 

Also, the Auzentech X-Fi HomeTheater HD does have an EMU20k2. It's quite clearly visible, and in the same spot it would be on the X-Fi Forte.



 

post #69 of 3009
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 


I know exactly what you mean, and on this matter, the first generation of PCI X-Fi cards (XtremeMusic, Platinum, Fatal1ty FPS, Elite Pro) had a "Decoder" tab for Dolby Digital and DTS that did exactly what you'd expect. Unfortunately, you can't simply purchase the Decoder features for other cards, nor do modified drivers unlock them...perhaps for that alone, I'll have to hunt down such an X-Fi card one of those days.

 

Also, the Auzentech X-Fi HomeTheater HD does have an EMU20k2. It's quite clearly visible, and in the same spot it would be on the X-Fi Forte.


I have an extreme music, sorry, I mean "XtremeMusic", and I didn't realize it had anything going for it over the later ones.  I got the Titanium because I wanted an X-Fi with PCI-E.  

post #70 of 3009

Nameless, the cheapest Creative card on Newegg is PCI and looks like it does CMSS, I suspect it also does "What U Hear" and it's only ~$25. Might be worth a look if you're looking for a replacement card. It's a shame you have to use up space in your case to get it, but getting software CMSS into your audio chain for $25 isn't too shabby...


Edited by SniperCzar - 2/1/12 at 8:10pm
post #71 of 3009

Okay, it bugs me now. It's CMSS. Sorry a thousand times, can't ignore it any longer though. redface.gif

 

"What U Hear" is a Creative feature, all Sound Blaster boards (I think back before Live! even, that's a ways ago though, so I may not be remembering clearly) have that as a function to make recording/multimedia stuff (like what you described) possible. I think what PFG wants though is an original X-Fi with the Dolby Decoder. Also, the cheapest I'm seeing is a $40 XtremeAudio - which is not truly an X-Fi, it's an Audigy SE with a sticker on it (and does nothing in hardware). 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SniperCzar View Post

Nameless, the cheapest Creative card on Newegg is PCI and looks like it does CMMS, I suspect it also does "What U Hear" and it's only ~$25. Might be worth a look if you're looking for a replacement card. It's a shame you have to use up space in your case to get it, but getting software CMMS into your audio chain for $25 isn't too shabby...



 

post #72 of 3009

Is this the Creative outboard device that allows transcoding to binaural audio?  FYI, It doesn't do CMSS, it does THX true studio surround malarkey, so it's kind of been replaced by that recon3D thing.  

post #73 of 3009
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Okay, it bugs me now. It's CMSS. Sorry a thousand times, can't ignore it any longer though. redface.gif

 

"What U Hear" is a Creative feature, all Sound Blaster boards (I think back before Live! even, that's a ways ago though, so I may not be remembering clearly) have that as a function to make recording/multimedia stuff (like what you described) possible. I think what PFG wants though is an original X-Fi with the Dolby Decoder. Also, the cheapest I'm seeing is a $40 XtremeAudio - which is not truly an X-Fi, it's an Audigy SE with a sticker on it (and does nothing in hardware).



Ugh, noob derp there. Sorry about that. Fixed now. In my defense, there are about 50 hits for the wrong acronym when you search for it on the forum. As to the $25 card I saw, it was an Audigy SE on Newegg and it looked looked like it did CMSS. If there are people here who desperately want to get in on the virtual surround goodness, all it takes is Win7, a $25 Creative card whose hardware need never be actually used, a spare slot in your PC, and 5 min of software tweaking. Link here - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829102003


Edited by SniperCzar - 2/1/12 at 8:17pm
post #74 of 3009

Just ordered the Asus Essence ST to use with the new Beyers, will let you know how it goes when they arrive :) Thanks for the advice.

post #75 of 3009
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Very interesting. On both counts. Thanks for clarifying on the HomeTheater HD. Indeed, the control panel for the older X-Fi boards does not match my Prelude:

http://www.ixbt.com/multimedia/creative/x-fi/ent-mode.jpg

 

What a shame.


Yes, that's it...those Dolby Digital EX and DTS icons are a dead giveaway that the card has the Decoder features.

 

I forgot to mention earlier that the card you may have been thinking of was the X-Fi Bravura-the only Auzentech-built X-Fi card to be a "fake" in terms of lacking the DSP.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Okay, it bugs me now. It's CMSS. Sorry a thousand times, can't ignore it any longer though. redface.gif

 

"What U Hear" is a Creative feature, all Sound Blaster boards (I think back before Live! even, that's a ways ago though, so I may not be remembering clearly) have that as a function to make recording/multimedia stuff (like what you described) possible. I think what PFG wants though is an original X-Fi with the Dolby Decoder. Also, the cheapest I'm seeing is a $40 XtremeAudio - which is not truly an X-Fi, it's an Audigy SE with a sticker on it (and does nothing in hardware).


"What U Hear" is what most audio devices simply call "Stereo Mix". It's actually a relatively common feature. I don't know why Creative chooses to name it differently.

 

Also, correct on the bolded part. X-Fi XtremeGamer cards lack the Decoder tab as well. It has to be an X-Fi XtremeMusic (the baseline card without any extras), X-Fi Platinum (XtremeMusic with 5.25" I/O box), X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS (X-Fi Platinum with 64 MB of X-RAM instead of the usual 2 MB for PCI X-Fi cards), or if at all possible, the X-Fi Elite Pro (top-of-the-line model with a slightly different PCB and better DAC chip, as well as a huge external breakout box). There might be a few others I'm missing, but I know that those four SKUs definitely have the Decoder feature.

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