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Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR - Page 6

post #76 of 2458
I sold everything, wanted to stop spending money on this stuff due to a baby. Kept an HD650 and K701 (not the easiest to drive), but I have no amp anymore. Wanted to keep my Benchmark DAC1, but I wouldn't be using the DAC and needed echo cancellation for conferencing, so I let it go. I still game and listen music from my desktop PC (headphones and speakers), but the onboard sound card just frustrates me. I need a audiophile gaming card and figured I would get the better headphone amp out there.

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
post #77 of 2458

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.

post #78 of 2458
The other problem I have is I always want the best. For sound cards, it's easy and fairly inexpensive... But for an external amp, I won't be satisfied by a cheap even good sounding device.
post #79 of 2458

Then you have half your work cut out for you. For gaming purposes, the Titanium HD is the best card you can get. Amp wise, you can go as high as you want. Did you have a particular amp in mind?

post #80 of 2458
No I don't. And I haven't thought about that really... And don't want to... It's going to be more money spending... My wife won't like that... :P

But I think I made up my mind. After some more searching, I arrived to this conclusion. Hardware acceleration is bound to disappear. The most obvious exemple is Battlefield 3. FPS is the genre that needs sound processing the most. But developer DICE doesn't support any particular sound card for its game and, still, the sound effects are amazing I think. It probably has something to do with Microsoft ditching DirectSound HW acceleration support altogether since Vista. So based on that and the fact that I don't want to spend more money for an amp (for now), I'm going to go for that ZxR. It has the better DAC and headphone amp. Software-based sound processing will get better with time, I'm not to worried.

Thank you for your help Roller! Though... I'm still curious to know your amp suggestions... biggrin.gif
post #81 of 2458

Hehe, no one said being an audiophile was a cheap hobby wink.gif

 

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 :)

post #82 of 2458
I don't know what you mean by positional cues improvement. Do you mean CMSS-3D, THX TruStudio Pro and SBX Pro Studio?
post #83 of 2458

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.

post #84 of 2458
I can't find any mention of that anywhere. Game mode enables some additional EAX features, CMSS-3D... But nothing else I can find related to positional cues. And when I think about it, having 2 positional cues improvement processes running at the same time can't be good. What's is the name of the technology? Creative loves branding everything it makes.
post #85 of 2458

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)

- MacroFX

- ElevationFilter

- Audio pipeline offloading

 

None of the above features are present on soundcards newer than the X-Fi series, nor on cards from other manufacturers.

post #86 of 2458
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kel Ghu View Post
But I think I made up my mind. After some more searching, I arrived to this conclusion. Hardware acceleration is bound to disappear. The most obvious exemple is Battlefield 3. FPS is the genre that needs sound processing the most. But developer DICE doesn't support any particular sound card for its game and, still, the sound effects are amazing I think. It probably has something to do with Microsoft ditching DirectSound HW acceleration support altogether since Vista. So based on that and the fact that I don't want to spend more money for an amp (for now), I'm going to go for that ZxR. It has the better DAC and headphone amp. Software-based sound processing will get better with time, I'm not to worried.
Thank you for your help Roller! Though... I'm still curious to know your amp suggestions... biggrin.gif

 

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.

post #87 of 2458

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.


Edited by genclaymore - 12/17/12 at 10:40am
post #88 of 2458

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.

post #89 of 2458
It's depressing to see developers abandoning OpenAL. No more true binaural 3D sound. Fortunately, only FPS is really affected... frown.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

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.

I don't agree here. Are you refering to CMSS-3D ability to use OpenAL and DS3D's 3D sound coordinates to create true binaural 3D sound instead of just plain flat virtualization from 7.1 source? Because I can't think of any better way to improve positional cues than using 3D coordinates. CMSS does not just have positional cues improvements as a byproduct of the processing, that's not right. It's the whole point of it. In DS3D and OpenAL games, CMSS uses the 3D sound APIs to render a 3D sonic scene then process it to create binaural 3D on headphone using head-related transfer function (once for each ear), the process is analog to 3D graphics rendering you would see in 3D with glasses (rendered once for each eye). (7.1 surround virtualization is probably rendered the same way, except the 3D coordinates are arbitrary, which are the 7+1 sources arbitrary distance from the listener, and everything is essentially on the same plane. It's binaural 3D on one horizontal plane.)
If that algorithm you are refering to doesn't make use of 3D coordinates which is only provided by 3D sound API, I can't see how it can improves positional sound cues other than doing some kind of in-house virtualization à la stereo to surround virtualization. Furthermore, if I understand it correctly, if one enables CMSS over the "positional cues improvement algorithm", it would mean the sound is processed twice for spatialization. That can't be good, the source for the 2nd processing would already be biased, unless CMSS takes it into account. It makes no sense to me to separate that algorithm from CMSS.
All this to say, I don't get your positional cue improvement thingy. Where did you get the information? I'm a scientist I can't just believe, sorry. :P

With all this, I'm hesitating again... Maybe I should get a Titanium HD for older games and CMSS. CMSS's Binaural 3D sound really intrigues me. The 7.1 surround virtualisation sucks on paper compared to binaural. Damn you guys! biggrin.gif

But I have this question now, can THX TruStudio Pro or the new SBX ProStudio use DS3D and OpenAL 3D coordinates? Or should I say can they produce real binaural 3D sound?
Edited by Kel Ghu - 12/18/12 at 7:32am
post #90 of 2458
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kel Ghu View Post

It's depressing to see developers abandoning OpenAL. No more true binaural 3D sound. Fortunately, only FPS is really affected... frown.gif
I don't agree here. Are you refering to CMSS-3D ability to use OpenAL and DS3D's 3D sound coordinates to create true binaural 3D sound instead of just plain flat virtualization from 7.1 source? Because I can't think of any better way to improve positional cues than using 3D coordinates. CMSS does not just have positional cues improvements as a byproduct of the processing, that's not right. It's the whole point of it. In DS3D and OpenAL games, CMSS uses the 3D sound APIs to render a 3D sonic scene then process it to create binaural 3D on headphone using head-related transfer function (once for each ear), the process is analog to 3D graphics rendering you would see in 3D with glasses (rendered once for each eye). (7.1 surround virtualization is probably rendered the same way, except the 3D coordinates are arbitrary, which are the 7+1 sources arbitrary distance from the listener, and everything is essentially on the same plane. It's binaural 3D on one horizontal plane.)
If that algorithm you are refering to doesn't make use of 3D coordinates which is only provided by 3D sound API, I can't see how it can improves positional sound cues other than doing some kind of in-house virtualization à la stereo to surround virtualization. Furthermore, if I understand it correctly, if one enables CMSS over the "positional cues improvement algorithm", it would mean the sound is processed twice for spatialization. That can't be good, the source for the 2nd processing would already be biased, unless CMSS takes it into account. It makes no sense to me to separate that algorithm from CMSS.
All this to say, I don't get your positional cue improvement thingy. Where did you get the information? I'm a scientist I can't just believe, sorry. :P
With all this, I'm hesitating again... Maybe I should get a Titanium HD for older games and CMSS. CMSS's Binaural 3D sound really intrigues me. The 7.1 surround virtualisation sucks on paper compared to binaural. Damn you guys! biggrin.gif
But I have this question now, can THX TruStudio Pro or the new SBX ProStudio use DS3D and OpenAL 3D coordinates? Or should I say can they produce real binaural 3D sound?

 

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.


Edited by Roller - 12/18/12 at 8:34am
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