Titanium drivers may work for you. But from what I have seen on forums, it still has instabilities. So I don't know...
Edited by Kel Ghu - 12/17/12 at 5:15am
Ah, for those headphones I do recommend adding an amp.
About the drivers, they work for basically every single person I've seen. Issues stem from poor driver installation procedures, which is why there are guidelines specified by the manufacturer.
Bottomline is, if you do want proper gaming audio features, software based cards won't cut it. Getting a Titanium HD plus headphone amp will provide superior results to anything else available on the market.
Hehe, no one said being an audiophile was a cheap hobby
Given that you wanted an integrated unit with both DAC and amp for gaming, the ZxR is the better alternative. However, there are issues with having combo units, as the system gets less modular and limits upgrading. Also, Battlefield 3 is a good example of a game with a software audio renderer that still sounds better on the Titanium HD than on any other card because of the positional cue improvement algorithms that the X-Fi chip provides, and said algorithms work on all audio renderers. But, you've already made up your mind.
Amp wise, the O2, the Schiit Asgard and the Matrix M-Stage are all worth looking into.
In any case, I'm glad to help :)
None of that.
People often mistake surround virtualization techs, like CMSS-3D, as the sole feature that can improve positional cues. Soundcards with a X-Fi chip have different modes to switch, one of which being Game Mode that has additional features related to gaming, including options to improve positional cue accuracy through the aforementioned algorithms, that can be used by themselves as well as along CMSS-3D. Those algorithms aren't present on any Creative cards older or newer than the X-Fi card series.
Creative is known to have subpar marketing when it comes to advertising supported features on their cards, with something similar happening with the whole DTS support situation.
Also, keep in mind that CMSS-3D is a surround virtualization tech, whose purpose is to add surround to the original signal and just happens to have positional cue improvements as a byproduct of the processing. Specific positional cue improvement algorithms work separated from that, and don't duplicate the improving of positional cues, they simply enhance them on their own.
So, features that are related to gaming and exclusive to Creative X-Fi cards are:
- Hardware EAX 5
- Hardware OpenAL (cards with software OpenAL produce lower quality audio effects and have limited access to advanced game audio)
- Hardware CMSS-3D (some software based cards also have CMSS-3D but done in software, the the processing quality isn't as good)
- Audio pipeline offloading
None of the above features are present on soundcards newer than the X-Fi series, nor on cards from other manufacturers.
I'd say that has more to do with the sound samples and overall sound design used. The positioning itself, if it's anything like Bad Company 2, is total crap, and the first four Battlefield games never had issues with positional audio. Why? DS3D (1942, Vietnam) and OAL (BF2, 2142). (And positional audio is just one of many complaints with the direction the series has taken after Bad Company 2, even 2142 to an extent...)
Microsoft dropping DS3D definitely has a lot to do with it. I don't see any good reason for them to have done that. But even then, OpenAL remained unaffected, so why didn't game developers keep using that? It's quite baffling to me, and probably lies in all the politics surrounding PC game audio implementations that I don't particularly care for.
Software audio may keep getting better, but as it stands, I'm still waiting for Microsoft, Firelight, and everyone else to just catch up to OpenAL + Rapture3D level, let alone surpass it. It probably won't happen unless the most unexpected thing happens and ambisonic audio formats become mainstream.
You might be waiting a long time from how it looks, since they sticking with either their own sound engine or some other forum of api which doesnt use openal. But I agree there no point trying to hold on to hardware acceration unless all the games you play are old ones which has H/W openAL. Because I haven't seen any new games use openA. It been mostly Xaudio2/Wwise or some other software api.
XAudio2 is just so... awful.
Still, it should be noted that aside from being hardware accelerated, X-Fi cards still provide improved positional cue accuracy through their audio renderer agnostic algorithms. While the improvements aren't as large as running pure hardware audio renderers, still provides improvements over regular cards lacking said algorithms.
There are quite some games using OpenAL, however Triple-A games aren't nearly as common as of late.
Actually, positional cues are used on a lot more genres, not just FPS games. For instance, RTS games become much more immersive when better positional cues, as well as helping with competitive gaming by being able to easily pinpoint incoming units or even distinguish friends from foes.
Again, you seem to fail to grasp the concept that CMSS-3D and the algorithms are entirely separate features that can work in tandem. Let me repeat it again, CMSS-3D and positional cue improvement algorithms aren't tied together, they can be used individually or combined, and there is no effect like "double amping". And no, it doesn't do any sort of virtualization, something that CMSS-3D does in the event a proper audio renderer isn't present, akin to what DH does on Asus cards.
It might not make sense to you that CMSS-3D and positional cue improvement algorithms are separated, but that's just the way things are when the card mode is switched accordingly.
It's quite simple, the Titanium HD is the absolute superior card for all gaming, legacy and modern, and there isn't a single card that can even match it, nevermind surpass it.
THX TruStudio Pro has non-gaming features accelerated in hardware on PCIe based cards, with SBX Pro Studio sharing the same features. However, none of those packages have any sort of hardware acceleration for games, therefore no ability to use OpenAL and only basic DirectSound3D features.