What is better: Dolby surround simulation or authentic, quality stereo?
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rfe777

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I have a sound card(Asus Xonar Essence STX) installed in my PC that can simulate Dolby surround in headphones by a something called Dolby Pro Logic, which gives a good surround effect, nice echo and everything, but is only relevant to movies and computer games, not for music. On the other hand, this simulation looks to me like just compression and mixing of the stereo sound to be as if it came from a 5.1 system, like fooling the ears or something.
 
And, in order to get a really a good, authentic ,quality stereo sound(both for music and for movies and computer games) you need to use a good receiver and/or amp/DAC(again, for headphones only, not for external speakers).
 
What do you think?
 
TIA 
 
 
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cel4145

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I used to have an STX. Nice card. :)

I know that the Dolby Headphone on the STX takes multichannel audio and remixes it into 2 channel audio. So right. Not meant for music or any source that has only 2 channels. Personally, I often didn't care for it with multi channel audio from movies. I tend to like what the human audio engineer decided to do with the left/right channel over what the computer algorithm does. Then there is Dolby Virtual Surround for speakers which does the same thing, but with speakers in mind, taking multi channel down to 2 channel with some simulated surround effects. Dolby Pro Logic does the opposite--takes 2 channel and outputs it as simulated surround over multiple speakers. I don't care for those or any of the surround sound processing that my AVR does, either, in taking 2 channel audio and simulating multi channel audio into multiple speakers.

So yeah. I'm on your side. I'm not a big fan of these simulated surround effects. A lot of people like them. To each his own :)
 
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rfe777

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I used to have an STX. Nice card.


I know that the Dolby Headphone on the STX takes multichannel audio and remixes it into 2 channel audio. So right. Not meant for music or any source that has only 2 channels. Personally, I often didn't care for it with multi channel audio from movies. I tend to like what the human audio engineer decided to do with the left/right channel over what the computer algorithm does. Then there is Dolby Virtual Surround for speakers which does the same thing, but with speakers in mind, taking multi channel down to 2 channel with some simulated surround effects. Dolby Pro Logic does the opposite--takes 2 channel and outputs it as simulated surround over multiple speakers. I don't care for those or any of the surround sound processing that my AVR does, either, in taking 2 channel audio and simulating multi channel audio into multiple speakers.

So yeah. I'm on your side. I'm not a big fan of these simulated surround effects. A lot of people like them. To each his own
Why did you stop using it? because of a better hardware, or just overall wanting something better than a computer sound card?
 
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cel4145

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I have an ODAC and Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amp now. So yeah. Better equipment, but cost a lot more. For the money, the STX is an excellent piece of hardware.
 
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tim3320070

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I am a fan of the Dolby surround for movies and TV over the laptop with headphones- it adds space and more realism.
 
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mindbomb

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I like dolby headphone. It's pretty important for tv/movies and games, giving you the 5.1 experience over headphones. For stereo music, it is more of a preference thing, as it only simulates the experience of listening to stereo speakers. There's a software dolby headphone plugin for foobar, you don't need special hardware for just music playback. There's also razer surround as a free software alternative.
 
I don't care for dolby prologic II unless the audio was specifically made to be used with it.
 
The dac and amp on the xonar essence stx seems fine, plus it looks like it has line out with the rca outputs, so you can use an external headphone amp if you wanted.
 
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The only time I really use Dolby headphone is when I gaming, But for TV and movies I turn it off. I def use stereo with no dsp when I listen to music.
 
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I didn't like it on my HD429. I haven't tried it with my AKGs but then i'd have to plug them into my Xonar instead of my AVR.
 
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I like Dolby Headphone for movies. An open headphone most certainly helps.
 
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gevorg

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IMHO, Dolby HP is pretty mediocre for music. I prefer a crossfeed like Bauer stereophonic-to-binaural DSP (instant improvement in sound) or TB Isone (steep learning curve). Of course, the best way to tell is to try for yourself and see what you like. Even a little EQ like taming down the highs a bit can make music listening better. Just experiment.
 
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SaLX

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Surround works 100% for games. Only 'Audio Purists' say that they can use stereo to get the same effect. Wrong. Plain wrong and wishful thinking. The game itself is mixing the directional cues for the HRTF - using stereo simply negates that - stupid assertion that surround does not work. I hate to say it, but I think these people are just plain disdainful, even snobbish when it comes to gamers and games. Kind of the types who loaf around in large executive padded armchairs and go 'yaw n stuff, yaw - I paid a **** tonne for this n yaw etc'. Stockbrokers or bankers. End result is somebody kickable.
 
Surround does work very well. If I forgot to switch on surround in a game, even with the hassle of reloading it - I would every time quit out to Windows and correct the settings.. It's the 21st Century guys. Surround sound works I'm afraid. Anybody who disputes this has spent an awful lot of money on their gear............ so they can't be wrong... like ever
 
Done. dusted, sorted: and the boxes have been conclusively ticked. So there. Anybody.. and I mean anybody who waltzes in with a pair of HD800's claiming they are the best gaming setup with their Anedio's in stereo should be politely avoided. Gently shush them away, and pretend you've seen your friend on the other side of the road.. even if you don't actually know the b*stard.
 
Sorry .. slightly pissed. Was a good night. Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
 
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Imagine your head has a ring around it about half a metre out. On this ring is where all the virtual speakers are located. Dolby Headphone is unique in that the ring seems much further out but other VSS software sounds about half a metre out.
 
I made some VSS comparisons that have been processed to stereo here so listen to that and see what you like best. You absolutely can't reproduce the same effects in stereo unless the game is already applying a HRTF and most games don't.
 
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cel4145

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Surround works 100% for games. Only 'Audio Purists' say that they can use stereo to get the same effect. Wrong. Plain wrong and wishful thinking.

Just because someone doesn't like Dolby Headphone doesn't mean that they are denying the effects. I don't like Dolby Headphone in movies because I don't think it sounds as good (I have a good HT setup, and Dolby Headphone sounds too artificial in comparison), and I'm a light gamer, so the surround benefit for competitive gaming doesn't matter to me. It has nothing to do with denying that Dolby Headphone creates an expanded soundfield. So I just don't like the effect for movies, and with gaming, I'm ambivalent (I can take it or leave it). I'm also not a 3D movie fan. I would rather have the increased clarity of 2D, but I can see why other people like it. So this is not about being an "audio purist" (or a "video purist"). It's about personal preference of how things sound.

The game itself is mixing the directional cues for the HRTF - using stereo simply negates that - stupid assertion that surround does not work. I hate to say it, but I think these people are just plain disdainful, even snobbish when it comes to gamers and games. Kind of the types who loaf around in large executive padded armchairs and go 'yaw n stuff, yaw - I paid a **** tonne for this n yaw etc'. Stockbrokers or bankers. End result is somebody kickable.

Surround does work very well. If I forgot to switch on surround in a game, even with the hassle of reloading it - I would every time quit out to Windows and correct the settings.. It's the 21st Century guys. Surround sound works I'm afraid. Anybody who disputes this has spent an awful lot of money on their gear............ so they can't be wrong... like ever

Done. dusted, sorted: and the boxes have been conclusively ticked. So there. Anybody.. and I mean anybody who waltzes in with a pair of HD800's claiming they are the best gaming setup with their Anedio's in stereo should be politely avoided. Gently shush them away, and pretend you've seen your friend on the other side of the road.. even if you don't actually know the b*stard.

Sorry .. slightly pissed. Was a good night. Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

That HD800 setup would sound very good, and might even have about as big a soundstage as <$100 pair of closed headphones with Dolby Headphone enabled. Plus, stereo itself does have some directional cues (if well mixed), contrary to your overgeneralization. So seems to me that this "surround purist" perspective is itself a little snooty in its own way.
 
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That HD800 setup would sound very good, and might even have about as big a soundstage as <$100 pair of closed headphones with Dolby Headphone enabled. Plus, stereo itself does have some directional cues (if well mixed), contrary to your overgeneralization. So seems to me that this "surround purist" perspective is itself a little snooty in its own way.
 
Doesn't matter how good your headphones are they aren't going to make stereo better in comparison to virtual surround sound. Besides, HD800s with virtual surround sound > HD800s with stereo.
 
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SaLX

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@cel.. yes, I was being snooty so apologies. I went way over the top on it. @Dreyka - good point there indeed.
 
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