The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound)
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NamelessPFG

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Apologise if this had been already addressed. But there are just too many post to read through everything.

I'm wondering about how external amps/DACs would compare to these soundcards.
I understand that external amps/DAC generally has better sound fidelity than internal sound cards, mostly because of electronic noise isolation, less space constrains for better layout and in general external "audiophile" amps/DACs would have better components due to its target audience.

However, I'm a gamer as well and would like to experience both high fidelity and surround reproduction from my games.
Based on Nameless's guide, it's based mainly on gaming soundcards.
I've read and watched videos of "experts" saying that soundcards are gimmick and that external amps/DACs are far more superior. They also stated that they get the same level of surround sound.
For the headphone portion, I think it's easier to understand since most people have the same advice.
For headphones with bigger soundstage and opened would have better surround. That sounds like it makes sense.

But there's a very grey area to soundcard vs external amp/DACs. Is soundcard surround sound feature really a marketing stunt or is it necessary?

Thanks and sorry in advance, if someone had already addressed this. Been having trouble finding someone with both expertise to give precise advise.
 
If you're talking about that infamous Teksyndicate video, it's been ripped apart in this very thread countless times for generating more misinformation and FUD. Well-intentioned as it may be, they're only spreading more misconceptions, to the consternation of all us Head-Fi folk.
 
I'll just tell you this: if games mixed headphone surround properly from the outset, then we wouldn't be using virtual surround on PCs or consoles alike to begin with. The problem is that they DON'T, so we get sound cards (or Mixamps/AVRs with Dolby Headphone/etc. for the consoles) and leverage their virtual surround capabilities so that everything doesn't sound one-dimensional.
 
Furthermore, a USB DAC has precisely ZERO gaming DSP features, not even the rudimentary EAX 1/2 you get out of integrated Realtek codecs or any ALchemy-esque wrapper to convert DirectSound3D to OpenAL. Do you have even the slightest idea how lifeless and awful DS3D-based games sound without ALchemy to re-enable hardware acceleration through OpenAL? Sure, they tend to be very old titles from the Win9x/early XP days as opposed to today's FMOD/Wwise software-mixed fare, but I like the classics. (And that's not even getting into how I built a Win9x gaming box with an Aureal Vortex2-based card specifically to get the most out of A3D-based titles...)
 
Yes, there's Razer Surround, which is entirely software-based and could work on USB DACs, but it just doesn't do it for me at all, no matter how I tweak it.
 
Maybe one day, the audio middlewares in common use will have binaural mix options by default, and then I can believe them. But until that happens? I continue to stand by CMSS-3D Headphone.
 
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SaLX

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motorwayne

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  This is completely new to me .. never heard of it.. but the guys on Twitch / DayZ say it's superb: ie it's a viable alternative to TS. Anybody got any opinions?
 
https://axon.dolby.com/
You a DayZ player too?
 
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SaLX

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@motorwayne - yeah really enjoying it even though there's not many zombies to worry about. Played the mod virtually from the beginning. Great game.
 
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motorwayne

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@SaLX same same, looking forward to the hordes if they come.
 
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watsaname

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How does the surround sound VoIP work? I know ventrilo offers it too, or at least advertises it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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SaLX

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Best read up on it here watsa: https://www.tentonhammer.com/reviews/axon. The most exciting is it's API that'll allow devs to implement it in their games. Nice to see somebody else have a stab at the VIOP market.
 
I'm hoping for a solution that has a hierarchical squad management system. I know that TS has something like, that but it's a pain to pull off. 
 
@motorwayne.... latest Exp patch has sorted out the directional sound. When you hear a rifle shot from well over a km away and know where it's from: sweet. Hopefully they'll continue working on the sounds.
 
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motorwayne

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False alarm, not porn..Just more STX garbage 3D positioning junk. What I mean to say is I think I still love my Tit HD
 
 
<------Runs away
 
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driftaholic

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Just found out about this over on occulus reddit. Haven't tested it out yet: http://www.twobigears.com/
 
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watsaname

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  Best read up on it here watsa: https://www.tentonhammer.com/reviews/axon. The most exciting is it's API that'll allow devs to implement it in their games. Nice to see somebody else have a stab at the VIOP market.
 
I'm hoping for a solution that has a hierarchical squad management system. I know that TS has something like, that but it's a pain to pull off. 
 
@motorwayne.... latest Exp patch has sorted out the directional sound. When you hear a rifle shot from well over a km away and know where it's from: sweet. Hopefully they'll continue working on the sounds.

Oh that is pretty cool. It would be fun to see that implemented into games. It make me think of Dayz' and Insurgency's VoIP.
 
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There are a few ways to do it.
 
The most basic - Get a sound card with surround processing and use the headphone out on that. This can vary from ok to great depending on how much you decide to spend on a sound card. The lower end ones like the DG/DGX/Titanium/Z/etc will have everything you need to get started with a basic set of headphones that don't need much amping. If you want to spend more on something like the ZXR or Essence STX, they will have a better DAC and even an amp build in to run some higher end headphones without needing anything external.
 
Upgraded - Get a sound card with your preferred surround processing and then use the DAC build into that and the RCA outs to feed into a discrete amp. This will power any headphone you would like, but the DAC might not be as nice, depending on the sound card you are using. Using the ZXR or Essence STX in this fashion wastes the on board amp on the card.
 
High end - Get a sound card with your preferred surround processing and then use the optical out to feed the signal to a discrete DAC and then have that DAC being fed into an amp (or get a combo unit like the NFB 15.32 or 11.32). This allows you the most freedom and you have access to a wide range of DACs and amps. You can also run with the basic sound cards as all you will be using on it is the optical out to feed into the DAC.
So to clarify, if I want to use an external DAC/Amp combo, can I just get a cheaper card with the processing I like and an optical out?  For example an SB1040 to do CMSS-3D Headphone into a Magni/Modi?  Or wait, Modi doesn't have optical in... so I'll need a soundcard with RCA outs or a DAC with optical in.  That sound about right?
 
EDIT - Duh, sorry, Modi is USB-in.  RCA-in is on the amp.  I'd have to use something like a E17 DAC with SPDIF input or a E07K DAC with 3.5mm input using "What U Hear" from the sound card.  Does that make your heads hurt less?
 
EDIT 2 - Okay now I'm confusing myself.  If I use the What U Hear thing, that's already analog and don't need a DAC, right?  So yeah, a DAC with SPDIF seems like the only way to use the sound card as a DSP with an external DAC/Amp.
 
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wein07

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Hope I didn't go too off topic.
 
Quick qn. Auzentech Bravura user here. Xi-fi card i believe. Is it possible to not install any Drivers for it, to experience positional audio like CMSS 3D on Win7? Thanks. Playing Titanfall only now.
 
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