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Testing difference Media Player Settings for movies with 5.1 Audio Stream

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I didn't find any specific topic for this, so I decided to create my own.

I was testing using Headphones for Movies today. I made several tests, and there's some questions I can't find answer to.

First, it's a FACT that using Windows Speaker Configuration at 5.1 makes a WORLD of difference to movies with 5.1 information, so there's no doubt we're going to leave it set at that. The good thing is you can test it on the fly, while the movie is playing, try setting it to Stereo and then to 5.1.

So, the next step was to download a Movie with Speaker Identification that allowed me to hear the difference in sound as I changed the settings of my X-Fi Titanium HD Control Panel and also my Media Player, PotPlayer. I downloaded the Dolby Channel Check Video file from that website with lots of Trailers and Sound Samples. It plays a different sound on each speaker, not just a tone, but some kind of music, really cool so I could hear the difference it made on the EQ also. I also used the Avengers movie with DTS 5.1 Sound Track.

So, I started with PotPlayer set at 2.0 Output, and there was no surround effect, and the volume of sound, specially the Rear Speakers sound was really low, so that is obviously a bad choice for 5.1 Movies. Next I tried using the 5.1 Output. Man that sounded great, I could hear the sound of the rear speakers coming from the back, the volume was great, the sound quality wasn't affected.

I don't understand who is doing this Surround effect, is it Windows? From what I know, a 5.1 sound without 5 speakers ends in the Rear sound coming from the front with no difference from the front, but that's not what happened, I could clearly hear that the sound was coming from the back, what was lacking was the feel of being in the middle of everything.

Next, I tried the Dolby Virtual, which I suspect may be something like Dolby Headphone using Software encoding, and what I experienced was a louder, but I don't know if improved version of 5.1. It changed the sound EQ a lot, I could hear the difference, not sure if it was better.

Last, I tried using my X-Fi Titanium HD THX TruStudio Pro Surround Mode, which is supposed to be the Dolby Headphone competitor. I don't know how this works exactly, it doesn't seem to get the 5.1 stream and try to make it sound more surround like, it looks like it's just getting the sound and adding some effect to make it sound more all around the place, and not so focused. It definitely made the sound seem more natural, like it would with speakers, but I think that comes with the cost of loosing the punch and some of the details.

Well, I want your opinion on this! Let me know what you guys think. Can somebody explain to me how I'm getting this 5.1 sounds using Headphone without any virtualization mode? What do you guys use to watch movies with your headphone? What makes the surround better without affecting the SQ too much?

post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 
So, nobody watches movies with 5.1 Audio using Headphones?
post #3 of 5

Personally, If I'm gonna watch a movie, I'm going to turn on my real 5.1 setup. Not that headphones do a bad job but when possible, I like to feel the bass and have better imagining.


I also use a receiver hooked up to my computer via HDMI and the receiver decodes all the audio info so I don't have to mess around with the windows settings. I usually have it set to virtual for headphone use.


You're getting a 5.1 sound without any virtual setting because the sound card is taking the setting from windows and down mixing the 5.1 feed into a stereo feed that has some "virtual effect". Bottom line is that you're plugging in a stereo plug into a stereo jack that powers your stereo headphones. There is some virtualization going on with down mixing the 5.1 track into stereo.

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
I always thought I would have to use Dolby Headphone or CMSS or THXStudio Pro to get this kind of 5.1 virtualization to my stereo Headphones. What a pleasant surprise!
post #5 of 5

I always use 5.1 speaker config for my headphones, doesn't only help with movies, for some games it's a requirement for positional sound (without any virtual processing technologies).

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